How to build an army of brand ambassadors

“Video Killed the Radio Star,” that’s the song running through my head as I think about the world today and what it takes to develop marketing that connects with prospects. A current version of the tune might be called “Social Media Killed the Formal Company Message.”

Social media has become the norm for how people interact with each other. Today, customers and prospects are demanding accessibility to experts within companies, and social media has enabled organizations to make those people accessible in real time. Because of this, companies can no longer afford to only have a formal company voice and presence.

Another interesting dynamic is that because of the speed with which social communication is made, are more tolerant of informal voices and tones. We expect personality, entertainment and even taking a position on a topic or issue. Social media has fueled a desire for “authentic” communication.

So what does this mean for the future of your company’s marketing program?

You need to be prepared to build the personal brand of key employees within your organization as an outgrowth of your corporate brand. Think of it as building an army of brand ambassadors.

So how do you get started?

1. Identify subject matter experts (SMEs). These are the people everyone turns to for answers internally and whom customers seek out at industry events.

2. Select two or three SMEs to develop a pilot program. These should be people who are willing to try something new and are interested in having a voice.

3. Develop the messaging platform. Brainstorm possible topics for the pilot program: What questions are they constantly answering? Have they worked to solve a tough problem recently? What is the hot industry topic and do they have an opinion?

4. Develop content. SMEs may be experts on a specific topic, but many struggle when it comes to writing. For this program to work, you need to find a process that allows your SMEs to develop content. Consider assigning copywriters to work with SMEs to develop written content.

5. Identify marketing channels for dissemination. If you’re developing industry content and important customer how-to pieces, set up a company blog to house the content. Create personal social media accounts for the SMEs so they can promote their expertise and link back to the company blog.

6. Extend the reach of your brand ambassadors. After you’ve developed a messaging platform, find ways to build exposure in face-to-face environments. While social media is digital, it is also a relationship building platform. Your SMEs need to connect with people in live settings so they can continue the conversation.

While video may have killed the radio star, social media doesn’t have to kill your company message. Use today’s social platforms to build personal relationships with your customers and audiences by putting a face to your company through the personal brand of your employees.