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Posted on 08.11.2011

Employee Ambassadors – Use ‘em or Lose ‘em

How far should a company's reach extend into its employees' lives? In other words, how responsible is an employee to represent their company outside of work? When so much of our lives is broadcast on the web, every online action by  employees (email, Facebook posts, Tweets, check-ins) is an opportunity to market their employer. Every update is a way for employees to remind their network about who they work for and the products and services that their company provides. You would hope that each employee would want to promote and bring business to their company, which in turn, should trickle down to increased satisfaction for the employee (whether through higher pay and benefits, more recognition, or maybe just increased corporate pride). But how far should the company go to ensure this is happening? Every company is different, but below is a potential system for companies to consider when creating employee ambassadors. Take advantage of email signatures - Email is still one of the most widely used forms of communication in the corporate and non-corporate world. With every email that goes out from an employee's computer or smart phone, that's one more chance to market the company. Email signatures are the easiest way to send ongoing reminders of the company's mission, products, social media accounts, and blog or email newsletter. If companies are providing the email addresses, it shouldn't be a problem to require employees to add some specific information to their signature line (to include when emailing from their smart phones). Personal email is different, of course, and depends on the company's agreement with the employee. Although I would hope that employees who love their place of employment would want to include a similar (maybe not as 'corporate') signature line in their personal accounts. Below is an example of some information that companies may want to require/suggest in email signature lines: Jane Smith XYZ Company Contact Details "We make the best widgets in the world.  Ask me about our free trial (link)." Read more about using our widgets on our Blog (link) and Newsletter (link) Follow us for special deals: Facebook (link) | Twitter (link) | LinkedIn (link) Use LinkedIn! - LinkedIn is the number one social network for business but many companies are not taking advantage of its full potential. People are using LinkedIn for everything from networking to searching for service providers and products. Plus, major search engines, such as Bing, are pulling data from LinkedIn to display in their search results. Companies need to work to ensure they are maximizing their exposure in these results, and one way to do that is to make sure every employee has a current LinkedIn account. But companies shouldn’t stop there. The accounts must be set-up properly to include keyword optimized profiles, properly named outgoing links and embedded company blogs and/or videos. (Read more about best practices for using LinkedIn.) Encourage Social - Facebook is a true "social" network where many employees enjoy posts about friends, families, vacations, and parties. That doesn't mean Facebook has to be off limits for company promotion. One key area of Facebook that companies can zero in on is the small bio located above everyone's profile. This bio can contain a small job title and a link to a company FB page (assuming the company has a page). The trick to setting up this link is to ensure the Company's page name is typed in exactly as it is listed on the page - otherwise the link won't work. Companies should assist employees in ensuring their bios are correctly set-up. Having the employee actually "Like" the company page should be requested but not required. Marketing and Communications Firm recommendation for using FB Other than the bio requirement, Facebook accounts should remain off limits for  companies to require posting or liking of company posts and promotions. A way around this, however, is to make a company more social by throwing a few off site parties or hosting some office events where taking pictures or videos and sharing them are encouraged. This kind of policy can also work for other social networks such as Twitter or check-in services like Four-Square. On a side note, beware the introduction of alcohol into company social events where online sharing is encouraged! Establish a simple policy - You need to establish a social media policy to govern all this activity but it doesn't have to be a 50-page instructional booklet. Employees don't want another huge document governing every potential action. The more difficult you make it for employees to be company ambassadors, the less likely they are to participate. Policy can be as simple as stating, "Don't write or post anything you would be ashamed of seeing on the front-page of the newspaper," or, "Don't post anything you wouldn't want the boss to see." NOTE: Some companies, especially in the legal or healthcare industries, need to be extremely vigilant with their social media policies to ensure employees do not accidentally publish privileged and confidential information. How much control do YOU think companies should have over their employees' social networks?  

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