No one can speak with more passion and credibility about your bank’s brand than your own employees: They’re your bank’s best brand ambassadors. They understand your vision and brand promise. They’re well informed about your products and services. And they live the brand each day.
Your employees’ word carries weight. According to the 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer, “Trust in employees as credible spokespeople for companies is on the rise. In 2016, 52 percent agree that employees are a credible source of information.” That’s four percentage points greater than a year ago.
Compare that to what customers hear from corporate sources or the news media. When an employee shares information about the bank with friends and family, they listen. And when they talk up the brand over a social media network, that message is amplified many times over. Audiences your bank’s corporate channels can’t reach are now receptive to positive messages about your brand.
Here’s a case in point. Avidia Bank, a community bank in Hudson, Mass. with $1.2 billion in assets under management, created a brand ambassadors program in 2015. It’s given a big boost to the bank’s social media presence and has helped to drive sales of new personal banking apps for iTunes and Android. A 10-person, cross-departmental team called the “Avidia Smarties” represents the bank at special events and in employees’ preferred social media channels such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
Avidia’s team members received social media training, including a briefing on the bank’s social media policy. They learned how to use social media management tools, including one that flags questionable or noncompliant content, a major concerns for most banks. In addition to their social media savvy, employees chosen for the team shared a passion for their jobs and Avidia’s mission.
Even without a formal program, many employees will eagerly serve as brand advocates via social media. Here are three ideas that can get you started with an employee advocacy program for social media:
- Start small with a marquee bank event. Focus on one community-oriented event and a handful of passionate employees. Give them specific guidelines with dos and don’ts for posting on their social platforms, and the voice and tone your bank wants to establish in social channels. Have them report the feedback they received from their social networks. Use the banks’ platforms to share the employee posts to magnify the reach.
- Create a content library for employees. Have a wealth of relevant articles, videos, podcasts and the like at the ready for your brand ambassadors to share with their network. Send them links and consider using an editorial calendar so that messaging is coordinated and consistent.
- Pick a specific theme tied to your bank’s mission—and create a custom hashtag. Ask employees to submit a photo or brief story to your marketing or corporate communications team that symbolizes the mission. With the proper vetting, you’ll have an arsenal of genuine brand experiences to integrate into your social media posts. Tag the specific employees and encourage them to share the posts with their network for added exposure.
Remember that your ultimate goal is to deepen your bank’s customer relationships. Employee advocacy—amplified through their personal social media messaging—is a great way to reflect their passion for the brand and credibly engage your customers. Taking a test-and-learn approach can help you gain momentum over time and refine your strategy as you go along.
Holly Hughes is the Chief Marketing Officer at BAI.