Marcel Molenaar, Country Manager & Head of Marketing Solutions for LinkedIn Benelux explains that companies are missing a trick if they don’t draw on their employees’ networks
Do you know the theory of six degrees of separation? In six steps you are connected to everyone in the whole wide world. The majority of companies today are not taking advantage of what could be their biggest marketing asset: their employees and their networks.
With over 450 million people on LinkedIn a member is connected to the world. Globalisation and increased connectivity means that companies can have a worldwide presence online easily. If employees talk about their company positively across their professional and personal networks, they can become some of the most effective ambassadors for the company’s brand.
People focused marketing
Research has found that company culture is the most important factor in enticing new, young talent to a company. In this social media age, one of the best places for companies to promote their culture is within their own employees’ worldwide social networks. Businesses should be using employees’ personal branding to their advantage.
Possibilities for employees include posting company stories, projects they are working on, successes and pictures of the office ‘behind the scenes’ to show off the company culture. Ziggo, Google and KLM are good examples of companies that have used LinkedIn to post updates, visuals and blogs from their employees. Not only does this build an employee’s ‘personal brand’, it also helps to keep followers and potential new talent up to speed on the company.
A moment for self-reflection
The focus on employee advocacy also calls for companies to self-reflect and assess if the environment they are selling is one that is easily sold.
It is important firstly to create and nurture the right environment for employees where they are excited about the work they are doing. Forrester has found that employees are most likely to be company advocates when they are trained on how to promote the company brand effectively. It is also worth asking, does the company culture actually represent what the company stands for as a brand?
A lesson from Starbucks
Starbucks is a great example of a brand that promotes working life at the company positively. If you work for Starbucks at any level you are not called an employee but instead a partner. They have social media channels for their partners, which carry out polls on the day-to-day life of being a barista and offer a scheme dedicated to funding hundreds of partners’ university educations. Starbucks is leading the way in employee advocacy: showing how employees can be an incredibly valuable way to create, promote and protect a brand.
Ultimately, companies can see the importance of building a clear brand and encouraging employees to share this outside of work. Employees can be a company’s best ambassadors because they make it human. By guiding your employees about how to talk about the company on sites like LinkedIn, companies can ensure they remain on brand.
By Marcel Molenaar
Country Manager & Head of Marketing Solutions
On Thursday 13th October 2016, branding automation company Bynder is holding the Leading Branding Conference for Marketing Professionals, ‘OnBrand’ where Marcel will be speaking. Find out more about the event here.