What if you treated your employees like you treat your customers? What if you got them to agree that acting in the company’s best interest is also in their own best interest?
If you could do that—if you could put together and share a message so honest and compelling that they volunteered to make it part of their social identity, you could then align them such that together, they amplified a single, consistent brand message across all of their social networks…
They’d look better, the company would look better, and everyone on the front line—recruiters, hiring managers, sales professionals, and marketers—would find their work buoyed by the strength of the team.
That’s workforce marketing. It’s a powerful idea… especially on social media, where 97% of people are there to interact with each other rather than brands.* When personal relationships rule, the best brands are not the ones with the slickest ads, or even the ones people talk about: they’re the ones people identify with.
The biggest challenges I’ve heard so far to this concept are these:
- “External and internal communications are owned by separate departments.” Solvable with good project management.
- “Employees’ and employers’ interests are inherently at odds.” This conflict is a choice, not a given. There is over half a century of organizational science showing how much more efficient companies become when managers and employees work together.
- “Employees will assume that internal marketing = propaganda and reject it.” Trust your professional employees will have the intelligence to internalize a message and decide for themselves how much credence to give it. The process they’ll go through will simultaneously help them internalize the message and also send feedback to leadership about what’s not resonating. The resulting dialog will lead to an increasingly more compelling message. If you then iterate the process, you will achieve increasingly greater alignment.
- “We don’t need it.” Once upon a time, people didn’t need to be literate, either. But social media, like the printing press, represents a massive democratization of communication, and that means that tomorrow’s haves and have-nots will be defined by their ability to engage with this new media. Social literacy, for organizations and professionals alike, is a must in today’s world.
- “I don’t have time.” I love this objection. It always reminds me of this scene from Predator:
Employees as advocates? It’s a brave, new, world…
* According to an Invoke Solutions study.
Jason Seiden is CEO of Ajax Workforce Marketing. Ajax amplifies brands by aligning employees' online messaging.