Competition is fierce. Now that most people are online and customers can find what they’re looking for with a quick Google search, it’s getting harder and harder to differentiate your burger restaurant from the one across town.
So you have to get personal. You have to get on social media. And you have to tap into something you have that your competitors definitely don’t: your employees. No matter what traits you may or may not share with the competition, your set of employees is uniquely yours.
There’s also the fact that people don’t want to have relationships with brands; they want to have relationships with people. So why not encourage your employees (who most likely love your company) to interact with these potential customers?
Here’s how a few organizations and industries have embraced their employees as brand advocates.
Even though movies have a wide audience base, they’re facing more challenges than ever before. More people are choosing to stay home to watch TV, cruise the Internet, or watch Netflix. Social media isn’t a catch all solution because once the movie has been released in theaters and on Blu ray, what’s the point of following those accounts for updates?
This is why studios are turning to their stars to help them raise awareness and excitement for their films. Since actors continue to work and share details about their lives, they build up audiences of tens of thousands to millions of people. Need an example? Vin Diesel has over 43 million fans on Facebook. The Riddick fan page has only 491 thousand likes.
Many studios have started sponsoring tweets from specific celebrities so that both fans and non-fans are aware of an upcoming movie. Nick Offerman – Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation – stars in the movie The Kings of Summer. This tweet of his was recently promoted:
Dear America, Now u can know delight in 44 major cities at this finely crafted film which features my beautiful wife: http://t.co/bHScXvyOdT
— Nick Offerman (@Nick_Offerman) June 7, 2013
Actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson mentioned the sixth Fast and Furious movie all over his twitter feed. From tweets about the production, to sharing clips, to thanking fans for going to see it, one actor was able to generate a ton of buzz.
Because of you, FAST 6 breaks box office records ($120m). Thrilled you love the character. More thrilled you love the movie. #HobbsTheBeast
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) May 26, 2013
Along the same vein, TV is also getting a boost in interest thanks to its stars maintaining popular social media accounts. I mentioned Dwayne Johnson in the movie category, but he’s also promoting his new show on TNT: The Hero.
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) June 6, 2013
And this tactic doesn’t just work for huge celebrities – it will work for any celebrity who seems genuine, personal, and absolutely grateful. For an example of a celebrity like that, look no further than the star of Arrow, Stephen Amell. Amell has been active in Hollywood for a couple years, but just recently found a larger audience with his starring role in the CW’s Arrow. Amell is on just about every social network, but has a particularly impressive Facebook page. He runs his own fan page and updates it multiple times per day with statuses, pictures, and videos. He’s very grateful for his job and his fans, and expresses it in his many videos on Facebook. He’ll also reply to many of his posts During Arrow’s season, he would post pictures from the show to get fans excited for the upcoming episode. These pictures would get thousands of likes and hundreds of shares and either match or out-perform the pictures that the official Arrow page posts. Amell is personable, charming, and candid. He is also very transparent and shares his workout and diet plans for getting in shape. Fans feel very connected to the actor, and thus, they will feel very connected to the TV show.
Marvel Entertainment / Comics
Marvel Entertainment doesn’t really need their employees to be brand ambassadors since they are already grabbing plenty of attention with their movies. But Marvel employees are some of the best examples of brand ambassadors, and it’s clear that Marvel supports and appreciates their employees’ efforts to reach out to fans. Marvel has a little under 700 thousand followers on Twitter. That’s nothing to be ashamed of, but one of their employees, Agent M, has 1.3 million followers. So you can bet that anything he’s evangelizing about Marvel is going to be noticed.
— Ryan Penagos (@AgentM) June 21, 2013
The company also has the distinction of working with dozens of artists and writers. These creative are passionate about their craft and want to share their work with the world. Fans may start following them for their comic work, or for something completely different, and end up following their career.
This is why there are sections of conventions called Artist Alley. Hundreds of artists come to promote both personal artwork and artworks that they’ve done for comic book companies. By getting to meet with creators, fans can pick their brain, get autographs, ask questions, and form an attachment to an artist (and thus, brand) that no Facebook post can ever recreate.
Similarly, many of the Marvel writers shine on social networks like Tumblr. Writers like Kelly Sue DeConnick, Matt Fraction, and Brian Michael Bendis are all active on the platform. They will reblog fan art, cosplay pictures, and reply to dozens of asks. Like in Artist Alley, fans can connect with these writers, ask questions, get more involved with their favorite comics, and get interested in new titles to purchase.
Sure, the entertainment industry is different from most other industries, but there are a few takeaways that anyone can apply to their brand and employees.
- Don’t be afraid to let your employees use social media. People want to connect with other people, not brands. Your individual blog authors or sales people could grow very unique followings.
- Create guidelines for what they can and cannot share. Having your employees share your latest blog post is great; confidential information, not so much. Craft a social media policy and make sure that all of your socially-active employees are aware of it.
- Encourage them to reach out and chat. You never know where your next customer is coming from. So encourage them to join appropriate Twitter chats or reply to comments on Facebook.
With more and more business decisions being made from family and friend referrals, reviews, and social media accounts, your business needs to get personal. And your employees can help.
These examples should be enough to get you started. But stay tuned in because I’ll be sharing another post about how other industries use their employees as brand advocates.
Are your employees on social media? Do you have any reservations about letting your employees be your brand advocates?