This article is written in collaboration with Wisembly, the web & mobile solution which you can use to prepare and hold your meetings, and ensure they are followed up.
Strategically managing your brand’s community will bring value to your brand’s image and your business profit. Your internal and external communities are an extension of your brand and positive feedback from third-parties like brand advocates are the best endorsement you can get.
Read our best tips to get your brand started with building and managing external and internal brand advocates:
Managing your external brand advocates
Nowadays, businesses need to build robust customer engagement strategies to not only acquire new customers but also to retain existing ones. A community of current loyal customers is essential for driving growth. Customers are a never-ending source of benefits for brands: happy customers won’t hesitate to refer brands they like to their networks.
1. Use your customers to promote your products
Loyal customers are valuable for brands: if they are delighted about your product they will help you improve it and also put passion into promoting it. Partnering with your customers to promote your products is one of the smartest strategies you can build up for customer service: they are more credible because they are independent, authentic, and they always take the pulse of the market.
While professional agents are available during working hours, there are missed sales and contact opportunities during the evening or on weekends. Brands usually have their existing community of loyal customers, who know their products very well and believe in them. Businesses can connect with this community of brand aficionados and offer them the possibility to respond to questions from online visitors on their website using a Community Messaging solution like iAdvize.
2. Recruit your best brand advocates
But how can businesses build a community of brand advocates and nurture it? First, they need to find experts and enthusiasts among their most loyal customers. To do that, they can either send out a newsletter to their customer base that will be dedicated to this recruitment process or look for their future brand advocates via social media.
The recruitment process primarily depends on how the brand’s target audience interacts. Brands will have a special trusting relationship with the advocates they will select to represent them online. Because this relationship is crucial and unique, brands need to make sure they choose the best possible applicants. Using a questionnaire to test their knowledge about the brand and ensure their profile is a good fit will find you the best possible advisers.
3. Offer training and support
Brands also need to offer support and attention to their brand advocates. At all times they should have a resource available for questions. After the advocates are recruited, training needs to be provided to understand the brand values and customer service strategy. Brands usually give their advocates best practice via their blogs or directly or using a dedicated community messaging tool.
Managing your internal brand community
Your brand’s community isn’t just about customers: your community also includes your employees. Employees can be a brand’s most active advocates, yet when it comes to community they often get ignored.
So how can you tap into your brand’s most valuable asset and turn employees into vocal members of your community?
1. Make them feel like they’re part of something
Communities are established and strengthened through shared values and experiences. For organisations, this means making your employees feel like they are a part of the bigger picture.
Involving employees in shaping company strategy or direction and consistently asking for their feedback is a great way to do this. Having a multi-directional feedback loop helps you tap into their collective brainpower – after all, it’s not just senior management that can have good ideas.
2. Create open channels of communication
A community can’t be a community without connection to others. Your employees must genuinely feel connected to the business and their colleagues, no matter how large the organisation or how dispersed your teams are.
Think about ways in which you can encourage communication across teams. For example, you can use a collaboration tool like Wisembly where teams discuss and share everything that’s important in one place. Having open and accessible channels of communication can create a feeling of community even across teams that span the globe.
3. Know what you want to achieve
In order for employees to be vocal about your brand, they must have something to talk about. An employee advocacy programme therefore starts with clear objectives. What do you want your employees to love you for? What message would you like them to be promoting? What impact should this to have on your organisation?
Once you’ve identified these goals, set in place a programme to achieve them. Remember, you can’t force (or pay) employees to share or tell them what to say, so authenticity is really important here.
For larger organisations, this can be a main reason employee advocacy on social media goes untapped – it can seem hard to police. Set guidelines rather than restrictions and set up processes for training and support, as you would with other initiatives. A good tip is to involve employees in the process of setting guidelines themselves. You could also appoint advocacy champions or officers.
4. Monitor sentiment and take action
Finally, it would be hard to improve or maintain employee advocacy without a good understanding of how employees are feeling about the brand. In fact, negative employee sentiment is usually one of the first red flags of something wrong within a business.
Give employee sentiment monitoring a place in the management’s agenda and set KPIs and resources to make sure you’re regularly monitoring it. If sentiment changes, identify the cause and take action. Support your goals for employee advocacy as you would with any other aspect of the business: set expectations, measure them and improve.