“Helping your employee build their personal brand is one of the greatest investments you can make, and the greatest reward you can provide to an advocate.” - Fast Company
I’m sure you’ve spent (a lot) of time, effort and money developing the brand of your senior living organization. You’ve nailed the logo, the color palette, the signage and the marketing collateral that will all show off your amazing brand. This is good. Great, even. But unless you’ve developed a culture where your employees act as brand advocates, you’re missing out on one heck of an opportunity to improve your brand recognition—both on- and offline.
The Importance of Great Brand Ambassadors
Let’s define a brand ambassador—or brand advocate—as any person (employee, resident, family member, or otherwise) who promotes your organization through the culture, values, successes and/or setbacks they associate with it. Whether you choose to believe it or not, people are talking about your company.
A resident may be mentioning the benefits of your independent living community in passing conversations to their friends. Maybe an adult daughter is sharing a positive experience on Facebook because she is so excited about the care mom is receiving. Or maybe a disgruntled employee is talking trash about your organization because they had a terrible experience working for you. It happens. The important thing is to recognize this, and to leverage this to your benefit. This is where you have the opportunity to turn these people into your internal brand ambassadors.
Here are just a few ways a great internal brand advocate is an asset to your senior living organization:
- They are great for word-of-mouth marketing (which, hello, is FREE!)
- They improve your chances of hiring the best employees down the road
- They help to create a positive online brand image for you
Really, there are no negatives!
Turning Your Employees Into Positive Brand Advocates
So how do you turn your employees into positive brand advocates for your senior living organization?
- Get the work culture right. Start by identifying the work culture and values that you want your employees to embody. Hire people that fit into this value system. And then identify ways for management to uphold this positive work culture.
- Reward great behavior. Spend some time and money celebrating the achievements, milestones and great behavior that your employees exhibit. Upfront, it may seem like an investment on your end, but a happy employee makes an excellent brand ambassador.
- Make communication a priority. Employees should be encouraged to approach management with any concerns they have. Open dialogue is important. Also, make sure that employees are first to find out about upcoming events, awards the company has received, etc. If they have to find it out through the grapevine, they’re sure to feel like they aren’t valued, and are more likely to talk negatively about the organization.
- Encourage social media participation. Social media has made it easier than ever for people to quickly share their thoughts—both positive and negative—online. If you encourage your employees to stay active on social media, and you arm them with the necessary tools to have an accurate professional profile on LinkedIn, you are one step closer to a cohesive online brand identity. Also, getting your employees to share your company’s Facebook statuses, tweets, photos, etc. will only help promote your brand awareness.
- Make it easy to share their experience. Give your employees the tools they need to share their brand experience online. If you have an upcoming event, supply them with the appropriate graphics to share on their personal social media profile. Place social sharing buttons on each page of your website and blog to make the sharing of content effortless. Give them the links to your online directory listings where they can share the positive experiences they’ve had with your organization.
Do you feel like you’ve created a company culture that sets your employees up to be positive brand ambassadors? To learn more about the importance of online brand awareness and its impact on your census, contact Marketing Essentials today at 419.629.0080.