Let me share what I’ve learned.
A common saying suggests that “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” And research supports this colorful expression. Gallup states that “companies with highly engaged workforces outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share” (“Employee Engagement,” 2018). In 2016, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, citing Schatzky, shared a report that said “the way people think and act within an organization is visible to customers and partners on the outside” and that misalignment between internal culture and “strategies, operations, service or branding designed for external consumption … undermines performance and results” (as cited in Ernst et al., 2016, p. 3). According to this article from Forbes, a “rich” company culture produces several cost-saving benefits. These benefits include reducing employee absentee rates, turnover and required management (Craig, 2018).
These sources (and hundreds of others) make the case for building happy and healthy cultures. We must cease the whole strategy-being-swallowed-like-pancakes scenario.
But what if culture and a strongly developed social media strategy could join forces? What if they could perhaps create a killer brunch?
And what if the ingredients to this secret sauce (er, syrup?) sit at the cubicles surrounding you?
I’ve spent the past year intrigued by employee ambassador programs. I want to establish one within my workplace. I want to leverage the 45-person staff of our private family operating foundation. I want everyone to play a role in our social media strategy. As the Communications team, my boss and I strive towards one key goal. We work to ensure the foundation is “known, trusted and respected by key audiences who endorse our work and are enthusiastic about partnering with us.” So we should amplify the voices of our internal influencers/true insiders. We should showcase our expertise and commitment. And we should we promote ourselves as a great place to work. Because we must recruit and retain the best talent possible to advance our mission.
So I’m making this vision a reality in 2019. Most of our staff have LinkedIn profiles, so my endeavor starts there. Plus, it’s an easy sell. People are more likely to share work-related content on a work-focused platform. It just clicks.
I’ve started to deploy a few nascent tactics — and with the traction they’ve gained, I believe they possess great promise for our brand. And I believe the same could hold true for any other workplace.
1) Leveraging the LinkedIn Publishing Platform
So, your organization has a blog. And that blog spotlights your successful external efforts and your external-facing leadership staff. But does it showcase your successful internal efforts? Does it celebrate your rockstar colleagues who excel in their support functions? LinkedIn’s publishing platform supplies immense potential for these purposes. Your HR team may have an incredible onboarding process that quickly equips staff to succeed. Your Finance team may have developed a hassle-free check request process. Share these insights so others can learn from your team. And provide kudos to your support-function staff. They make your day to day a reality.
The best feature of LinkedIn’s publishing platform? It only permits personal pages to use it — not company pages. Yes, I believe this feature is the platform’s greatest strength. It requires staff members to publish under their own names. And it forces companies to share the post from the staff member and link to his or her page. This process spotlights the contributor and gives him or her full credit. Brilliant.
2) Polishing Personal Profiles
Help your staff take their personal profiles to the next level. This will help both them as individuals and your overall brand. Why? Potential partners and prospective employees often peruse profiles to assess your team. And you want everyone to put his or her best foot forward. At the foundation, my boss and I supply staff members with a template for their job descriptions. Then, we help them customize it.
With the template, we ensure every staff member has a professional headshot. To do this, we hire the same top-notch photographer to take each one. These photos give our staff a consistent look on LinkedIn. And our photographer always works his magic to make everyone look his or her best. Witness his wizardry:
Just look at those pretty and professional faces!
Beyond the headshots and template support, we offer one-on-one profile assistance. We help staff members complete their profiles/digital resumes. And we make sure they capture their impressive experience. At the end of the process, most staff members feel proud of what they’ve accomplished. And they’re excited to share their backgrounds on LinkedIn. At this point, we encourage them to engage more with the platform..
3) Supporting Shares, Captions, Comments and Connections
In tandem with the above efforts, we help staff add the “social” element to social media. Some staff members are social-friendly/tech-savvy, and others are not. Most are quick to identify themselves regardless of the side on which they fall. Either way, I help and guide the process.
When a staff member publishes a post on our blog, I help them share it on his or her page. Then, I encourage the staff member’s supervisor and close colleagues to do the same. This showcases a celebratory spirit both on- and offline. And it looks a little something like this:
Posting/Sharing can seem simple. But remember, drafting a caption can be daunting for many. Offer to help. Your coworkers will both welcome and thank you. Believe me: A little goes a long way.
There’s one critical component of this work. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention it. You must first build and sustain a strong culture before embarking on any employee ambassador efforts. Otherwise, you will come across self-seeking and slimy. Social media thrives on transparency. And all brands must be sincere.
In an article from the Foundation Review, Celep et al. cite Chancialosi to note:
“When you develop a brand image before firmly establishing it within your organization, you create a potential disconnect between your internal culture and the face of your brand. When your brand promise doesn’t measure up to your audience’s expectations, you won’t just disappoint; you’ll also lose their trust and loyalty” (Celep et al., 2016, p. 118).
Don’t let your culture eat your strategy for breakfast. Instead, unite the two with these strategic LinkedIn efforts. Go make some workplace-friendly mimosas and build the best possible “brand brunch.” Best of luck!