Prof. Steven Van Belleghem is author of The Conversation Company and The Conversation Manager (Kogan Page). Follow him on Twitter @StevenVBe.
Every company dreams of having a small legion of employee-ambassadors. After all, employees can and do have a huge effect. The company’s reputation gets a positive push. It suddenly becomes easier to find employees. Customers themselves share their feedback about the company more readily. Having active ambassadors amongst your employees is a big advantage in these digital times.
Each company dreams of this, but just about every company is afraid of it as well. The doom scenarios are never far away in this type of discussion.
A great deal is required in order to successfully activate an employee: you have to train people, set clear objectives and a lot more. In this article, I would like to address one aspect of this discussion, namely the different types of content.
Make agreements about four types of content
There are four types of content that are important when preparing a strategy to develop active employee-ambassadors.
- Corporate communication: these are all the official communications of a company, e.g. financial results, acquisitions, hirings, dismissals, crisis communication… All of this official communication is obviously the responsibility of the corporate communication department or the management. Employees can naturally share the official communication, but they don´t initiate it.
- Customer service: many questions and complaints of customers appear on Twitter and Facebook. Obviously, these questions must be dealt with as quickly and as well as possible. However, it is not the intention to have employees open up a personal helpdesk. Once they start doing this, they create expectations that they might not be able to fulfill. Hence the good decision to have questions and comments handled by the customer service or the webcare team. Employees can play a role by, for example, taking over a weekend or evening shift of a digital customer service team. But even then it is best for this to happen with clear agreements within the company, not spontaneously.
- Commercial content: this content is created by the social media team or by the marketing/communication people. The content is made to be shared by consumers. Naturally, it’s fantastic when such content is also shared by the employees themselves. After all, how can you expect customers to be enthusiastic if your own employees aren´t? The interesting thing is to find a system where you can easily get the content out to the employees and they can also easily share the content externally.
- Informal content: informal content includes all the little things that describe day-to-day life within a company, e.g. a funny event in a meeting, a new Christmas tree or some other striking small event. This content is created by the employees themselves, who then immediately share the content on their own social media channels.
Developing informal content
Of these four types of content, the informal is perhaps the least clear, since this is a new form of content that was inconceivable earlier. It is important that the informal content makes the company values tangible. If you want to emphasize the familial aspect as a part of your culture, it is useful to display images of fun moments where people are experiencing something together. If you want to highlight the innovative character of your company, you look for images from the R&D unit or people who are brainstorming together about a new concept.
Informal content mustn´t have too many restraints imposed on it. Just a single rule and a single objective: the informal content has to make the company values concrete.
Informal content is a useful communication technique for giving your company a human face. Moreover, it lets you make what you stand for very concrete. There is probably no better way to put your culture in sharp focus than via your employees.
Do you see any other content agreements that are necessary in order to make a high-impact program? I’m always eager to hear new insights and ideas, so thank you in advance for the responses.