It’s reported that Fortune 500 companies spend over $100 billion annually to improve employee engagement. But why has this new shift occurred and what does it mean for organizations today? Ad Age touched on this in early 2019, saying, “Once solely the domain of the HR department, employee communications are increasingly being routed through the chief marketing officer’s office. A number of factors are driving this change, including the need to improve retention rates in the face of record unemployment, a recognition that a strong culture can make or break the customer experience and that employees can be deployed as persuasive brand advocates.”

As an agency that builds brands, we see this as pressing branding need for companies around the world. When employees understand and are aligned with their company brand, it’s a direct correlation of the organization having articulated brand identity through its leaders to create a strong, positive connection with their employees. The goal is to make sure employees know what the brand stands for and are committed to supporting it with their actions. This can be done in waves and phases, through small roll-outs like a branded employee handbook, and brand toolkit, or go so far as to have a brand roll-out event, etc.

But, don’t just take our word for it. Even today’s prestigious list of Best Places to Work (2019) in the advertising world scores today’s top agencies by only six criteria: employee benefits, company culture, employee development, company environment, employee perks and employee engagement.

But, even when the C-Suite is committed to employee engagement, what’s the next step in getting staff on board?

 Participation is everything. It’s crucial that employees understand how they fit into this equation, and know that while it’s essential to have an individual or a team managing a business’ brand, marketing efforts will find much more success if most, if not all, employees are involved as well.

“When employees understand and are aligned with their company brand, it’s a direct correlation of the organization having articulated brand identity through its leaders to create a strong, positive connection with their employees. The goal is to make sure employees know what the brand stands for and are committed to supporting it with their actions.”

  • 84% of people trust recommendations from friends, family, colleagues over other forms of marketing
  • Today’s global employees have an average of 1,090 social connections
  • Employees have 5x more reach than corporate accounts
  • Employees social followers are 7x more likely to convert

So while your company’s social accounts are important for sharing, interacting with clients, and establishing a brand presence, employee’s social connections can actually amplify brand visibility, increase lead quality, drive web traffic, and boost social recruiting. This is why companies like Dell have actively pushed for employees to get social and the company also runs their own unique internal social campaigns, and why Southwest unveiled a new corporate vision to its employees with the goal of leveraging “the power of storytelling to make sure each one of its 46,000 employees pursues the company vision each and every day.”

At Fose + McKay, we’ve conducted a range of internal social media audits for clients and anonymously interviewed staff about the effectiveness of their company’s social media channels. Results have been similar to the following:

  • Staff Engagement. Most internal employees admitted to only following 1 — 2 company-owned channels, and while there is good engagement from internal staff on these channels (with 36% saying they engage with content 2-3 times per week), an equal percentage said they only engage every once in a while. In this case, we usually recommend using the ideas shared in the survey to chart the path forward for different kinds of content to feature.
  • Channel Purpose. Staff opinion of the purpose of their company social media channels are typically equally split between: (a) providing information; (b) Image-sharing and visual appeal and (c) news. In this case, we typically recommend using this as an incentive to develop different channel-specific strategies to ensure that all social media content and interactions are intentional and ladder up to the larger channel objectives.
  • In today’s day and age, staff typically see strong consistency of content across all company channels — which is great news! We believe the regular updates and averages of 1+ posts a day per channel are catalysts of the steady interaction from followers, and always encourage brands to continue this cadence.

Often times the best place is start is with a staff survey and opening the door for honest feedback and ideas. But whether it’s the beginning of a conversation around branding, an employee retreat to garner understanding around a corporate brand, or a full-blown brand relaunch, it’s crucial for employees to know that not only can be they be a part of shaping and molding a brand, but that their leadership team sees them as the most important part of the brand.

Wherever your organization falls on this spectrum, best selling author and organizational consultant, Simon Sinek gives us a powerful North star saying, “When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.”