The Key Considerations
Congratulations! Your organization agrees that leveraging key employees as brand ambassadors will lead to better reach, credibility and engagement than your own company channels can achieve.
Scenario planning, creating guidelines, training and selecting the right employees and the best content to share are the key considerations in designing and launching an Employee Ambassador program.
Developing clear guidance: It goes without saying that you must get the buy-in of senior management – particularly because of its potential impact on corporate reputation. After their buy in, your next meeting will be with your legal/regulatory and medical team to create an issues preparedness plan and program guidelines.
The development process may take several months to a year. But when completed, it will serve as the working guidebook for employee ambassadors and the internal team that manages the program.
- Issues preparedness: Working with your legal, medical, social media, communications and HR team, identify potentially negative scenarios and issues related to employees engaging in social media on your company’s behalf. Use these findings to develop a “Regulation Roadmap.” This roadmap will provide communications guidance and responses – including messages and social media copy aligned with Food & Drug Administration (FDA), Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations – for the most likely scenarios.
- Employee guidelines: Your employees need to abide by clearly articulated rules. The purpose of these rules is to influence employees’ content without telling them exactly what to say. Their content is liked and shared by others because they inject their own character and personality into posts.
Guidelines should include background on the company and what it stands for, program goals, the brand voice, how to stay compliant with regulations, responsible social media strategies and how to handle questions on their posts. They should also include information about who to contact in case of a question or issue.
Choosing the right employees: Recruiting employees to become advocates isn’t as difficult as you may think. You can start with enthusiastic employees who already share your company’s message. Or just ask for volunteers and triage the employees who opt in. Prioritize those who have large online followings and an online voice consistent with that of your organization. No matter your method, you’ll need to audit their social media channels to identify any red flags or opportunities. The audit will also help inform your training program.
- Training: The employees who volunteer as ambassadors will probably be social media savvy. Still, you need to ensure they are savvy about the rules and expectations of your program, so we always recommend conducting a formal training program for all participants.
Content: Employee ambassadors should be viewed by their followers as healthcare influencers, not as a mouthpiece for your company. Therefore, most of the content you provide should focus on general health and wellness; only a third to a half should be about your company.
Before making content available, seek your employee ambassadors’ input on the type of content they like to share. The more relevant the content, the more likely they are to use it.
Via the company intranet or another easily accessible online storage unit, curate a variety of approved articles, visuals and video they can easily share and continually encourage feedback. Health and wellness content may include tips, recipes, photos or infographics developed by your company for your own channels or by third parties. While expensive to produce, video and visuals are more frequently shared than articles, so try to include some in the mix.
Keep content fresh by ensuring that future corporate initiatives and marketing programs include development of ambassador materials as part of the plan. Communicate with your ambassadors first about updates and changes, new products and other company news.
Measurement and analytics: There are many ways to measure the success of your employee ambassador program and the metrics you choose will be based on your goals. At a minimum, you should be analyzing the following:
- Program reach: How many people did your ambassadors reach with company related content? How many posts contained the company hashtag?
- Traffic on company sites: Was there an increase in traffic on your owned and shared sites during the program?
- Ambassador engagement: What percent of employee ambassadors participated in the program and how frequently did they participate? Who were the most and least active ambassadors? Which ambassador’s posts had the most engagement (likes, comments, shares)?
These metrics will help you understand how active your employees are and the type of content with the most engagement – information fundamental for continuing the program – and hopefully for the program’s continued success.