January 15, 2021 • 5 min read
Building a Brand Ambassador Program Isn’t as Difficult as You Might Think
There’s no more compelling sales pitch for your workplace than one from the mouth of a worker. Anyone considering a position at your company would be wise to seek out the thoughts of one of your current and former employees, who come armed with firsthand experience, and are able to offer an unbiased view.
It’s this truth that forms the foundation of a site like Glassdoor, that collates the experiences of a company’s workers. It’s also this truth that makes brand ambassadors so incredibly valuable to a modern organization.
A brand ambassador program brings structure to the generation, collection and distribution of employee experiences, getting them in front of top talent, and positioning your organization as an employer of choice. Creating such a program might feel like an intimidating prospect to the uninitiated, but the truth is that almost any organization, no matter their available resources, can do it.
What is the purpose of a brand ambassador program?
The purpose of employer branding is to position yourself as an employer of choice to the type of talent that will drive your company forward. Brand ambassadorship is an element of EB, focused on ensuring that individual employees regularly play their part in attracting talent.
Over the last few years I worked as the Global Employer Brand Program Manager at software development company Informatica. Tasked with attracting the best and brightest minds in tech, I saw brand ambassadorship as critical to both this mission and the organization’s ongoing success.
Brand ambassadorship is an element of EB, focused on ensuring that individual employees regularly play their part in attracting talent.
The purpose of the program that I put together was to enable brand advocates to share important information about the company – the stuff that potential employees would like to know. I made sure that the program was focused, targeting specific areas of Informatica’s employer brand, like culture, jobs, employee spotlights, team features and industry content.
In a world where talent is becoming ever more savvy around researching potential employers, the most important thing is to simply get started.
While the overall goal was for my teammates to share content, this was far from a one-sided deal. In creating and sharing EB content, brand ambassadors grow their own networks, and position themselves as influencers and thought leaders. When done well, a brand ambassador program is a win for everyone involved.
Considerations when planning a brand ambassador program
Armed with the why, let’s now look at the how.
To succeed in creating a brand ambassador program, you first and foremost need the support of leadership. If the C-suite isn’t willing to direct resources to the effort, you’re doomed to fail – the program will only go so far before it begins to die off.
To succeed in creating a brand ambassador program, you first and foremost need the support of leadership.
The support of leadership secured, you’ll need to invest in the following resources in order to turn the program from idea to reality:
● Content: You’ll need to create content or leverage that which already exists, and share it through a variety of channels.
● Creative: You’ll need support from a creative team to develop a signature look for your communications – one that ensures they stand out.
● Trusted sources: When sharing third party content, it’s critical that you ensure it is trustworthy and reliable to use.
● A platform: You need to leverage email, social media, messaging apps, and/or a purpose-built employee advocacy platform in order to distribute the content effectively.
In EB the objectives and motivations of the employer are clear, so in creating a brand ambassador program, the most important questions I asked myself revolved around the employee side of the equation. Why would it matter to my teammates? What were they going to get out of it? Unless I’m able to provide value to the team, there would be no reason for them to join.
Which brings us neatly to our next point.
Advice for incentivizing and identifying ambassadors
The value of incentives in a brand ambassador program cannot be underestimated.
Your initial advocates are crucial to the success of the program.
My first selling point was that by sharing the employer branding stories and industry content, participants would grow their social networks, and develop into influencers and thought leaders in their space.
Secondly, I started a program that rewarded four people every month – two for the most shares and two for the most engagement. The monthly winners received points that they could use in our company store to buy items or gift cards.
Finally, I reminded my team that we had a great employee referral program. By sharing the content that we were creating and curating, they would attract talented people in their networks, who they could in turn refer to secure their referral bonus.
As to identifying employees who will make for the best ambassadors, my advice is to get to know your team. You’ll soon see who stands out as a true brand advocate – those that have a genuine love for your company, and who aren’t afraid to show it. While you can grow the program once there’s enough buy-in, the first step is to identify the people who are already spreading the good word of the company without any sort of persuasion or motivation.
Your initial advocates are crucial to the success of the program, and if you pick wisely, they’ll be excited by the prospect of being chosen, and will get your program off to the perfect start.
Tips for tracking and measuring success
Once set up, how do you know whether or not your employee advocacy program is working? Here are some of the most effective ways:
1. Every employee engagement platform worth its salt (EveryoneSocial, Bambu, etc.) will offer analytics. You can use this functionality to see who is sharing, what they’re sharing, the platform they’re using, and levels of engagement.
2. Use source IDs on shared content. This is especially important if you’re not using an employee engagement platform, as it helps you tie back foot traffic from your content to your ATS or careers page.
3. Learn to love Google Analytics. If you’re tracking correctly, you can go to your dashboard and see where all of your traffic is coming from.
4. To get even more granular, connect your advocacy app to Tableau/Google Data Studio or download a weekly CSV to track usage. If you’ve listed your ambassadors correctly, you can track who’s using the program by name, position, department and location.
Build it and they will come
As with anything unknown, building a brand ambassador program can feel intimidating at first. But the truth is that such an effort can be as simple or as complex as you like. In a world where talent is becoming ever more savvy around researching potential employers, the most important thing is to simply get started.
If you do build a brand ambassador program, and if you build it well, you can look forward to a future in which you don’t have to go hunting for the best and brightest. They’ll instead come hunting for you.
About the author: Alex Her currently leads the Global Employer Branding and Recruitment Marketing at Informatica across 26 countries, driving the candidate experience from start to finish. His passions include employer branding, recruitment marketing, and the candidate experience. Alex resides in Austin Texas and when he is not leading the Global Employer Branding at Informatica you will find him blogging and travelling the globe.