Employees are more productive and eager to produce quality results if they enjoy or value the job they do. This idea forms the basis of internal communications across all industries, the world over: Driven staff will pay dividends for a business. In the context of aglobal B2B agency and the marketing industry at large, however, this idea has an added effect, and one that is equally, if not more, crucial.
Staff who believe in the brand, product or service they are marketing can become or act as “brand advocates.” It therefore makes absolute sense for businesses to take advantage of this opportunity. There are no additional marketing costs, and the staff effectively market a brand or service to a wider yet targeted audience of their friends and family. Office dynamics can help by creating the right breeding ground for brand advocates. But how do you create this?
Digital has had a revolutionary impact on the ease with which people now communicate and no less in internal communications. Social networks present a realm of endless possibilities for employers to provide places where staff can discuss their work and how it inspires them, spreading a positive message to the rest of the company. Creating staff-only social network pages is a major step toward cultivating brand advocates, and it’s something that many companies forget when setting up pages for clients or fans.
gyro’s Facebook page, for example, is a place where internal communications and personal employee messaging combine, enabling staff to feel truly involved with the company whilst also providing a place for internal communications to be less corporate.
One such gyro communications scheme epitomises what can be done through this platform. As gyro rebranded itself last year, employee buy-in for the new ethos of the company was essential. Creativity is intrinsic in everything we do, and so we challenged staff to be creative with the new brand ID, incorporating their own personal images within it, offering an overseas trip to another office as the prize. Not only did this approach offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for an employee to travel, but it also let different global offices feel connected and motivated as part of one community. An overwhelming response saw employees from all 18 global offices uploading countless inspiring works that our Facebook community discussed and judged.
The use of digital was the driving force behind this competition, letting the creativity present in the marketing industry not only flourish and spread but also promote integration and company buy-in across gyro’s global network. Employees bonded over their work, becoming motivated as part of one community, despite living on different sides of the globe. This is something not possible without digital technologies. Moreover, employees became empowered by their work and the clients for whom they produce such work. These employees quickly became brand advocates, extolling the virtues of both their agency and their clients.
What other digital channels can marketing agencies use to create brand advocates? In an extension of social networks, blogs have become increasingly popular in many industries, not the least of which is marketing. An outlet previously reserved for those in senior roles (often limited to CEOs), blogs are a great way of giving employees at all levels the chance to air their views on anything from topical events to the latest office Christmas party. This transparency and inclusion can serve to make employees feel empowered and integral to a business far more than social networks can, where single contributions are often devalued by the deluge of comments. Encouraging comment through company blogs is a key stage in creating a dedicated workforce.
Dedication comes when employees feel like they actively contribute to the business, and blogging for a company is an apropos way of achieving this goal.
And what about apps? They’re often overlooked, but businesses are using apps to communicate with their customers, so why shouldn’t there be a corporate app for internal communications that can be delivered straight to employees’ mobile devices? Such a tool could be an attractive alternative to blanket company emails on topics suitable for a more sociable and less formal platform. Employees would be able to engage with their employer on their own terms, as app content is consumed when and where the user sees fit. This permission-based interaction constructively grows the employee-employer relationship. An internal communications app just makes sense.
Digital also can be used to promote, support and raise awareness of initiatives that staff may not be aware of. For example, gyro works with Business In The Community (BITC), an organisation that gives businesses and their staff the chance to volunteer for good causes on Give and Gain day. Such activities promote well-being and goodwill amongst staff, and so are well publicised through digital internal communication channels to encourage staff buy-in and involvement.
Involving and inspiring employees are the main goals of internal communications. It enhances productivity and can produce those all-important brand advocates who can turn a good campaign idea for a client into a great one, while also promoting that client amongst their social circles. Digital technologies can play an integral part in this, giving staff the chance to socialise online, develop working relationships and inspire each other. Integrating current communication programs with digital tactics can spread the company message throughout the entire business via all formats, be they Twitter, the blogosphere or apps.
Remember, a company is no longer a specific place or office building. It is made up of the thoughts and ideas of its employees, and so creating a positive working dynamic that utilises this source of creativity is integral to a successful business.
by Patrick Danaher
Director of Marketing
Cross posted at Ignite Something on the Forbes CMO Network
Follow Patrick on Twitter @PatrickDanaher.