I live on the south side of Brisbane in an area on the M1 motorway. There are several yellow silhouettes of men along some roadworks near Eight Mile Plains, which have been part of the Gateway Motorway upgrade for the past year or so. It turns out the silhouettes are part of a safety movement created by civil construction company Fulton Hogan. Other construction businesses have adopted the initiative as well.
The reason they’re there is because of some ground-monitoring equipment that needed to be protected. The company tried to flag the equipment, but it kept getting knocked over. One of the team members said, “Well, they wouldn’t get knocked over if a human being was standing there.”
So, the company decided to create figurines to act as markers. They tapped into the psychology of safety and shame, getting people to draw parallels between the equipment and workers on site. They assigned the name of a real worker to each yellow silhouette, and if one was knocked over, the person who did it had to apologise to the real person, which created the link with safety. As a result, the amount of damage to onsite safety equipment was significantly reduced. The construction company has used the silhouettes for other projects as well.
What does this mean for organisations trying to tap into business growth? Well, you don’t have to be a construction business to use these principles as part of your strategy. With the shift towards social media building businesses through social networks, using internal influencers to help you grow your brand is your secret weapon for business growth. The benefits are huge: not only can you save money, you can engage your team in the growth of the brand so they have more connection with its identity.
And the impact if you don’t use internal influencers? You continue to spend money on costly, time-consuming marketing activities such as Google AdWords and search engine optimisation. Meanwhile, influencers are often sitting under your nose at very little cost.
For example, in 2014 I ran a superannuation campaign for a financial services organisation when there was a change in legislation. My team and I wrote the LinkedIn profiles of about 70 staff and taught them how to reach out to their connections. The organisation was on board with finding ways to educate their market. As a result, the company received 500 new leads from that campaign.
It’s no secret that LinkedIn has incredible power. In fact, the average user has 750 LinkedIn connections. And according to Fast Company magazine, the open rate of content from a personal account is eight times higher than the open rate of content on a business account. So, each person in your organisation has the opportunity to become an influencer for your brand. The good news is that you don’t have to coerce all of your staff to be influencers, but even tapping into one of them can be a valuable business-growth activity you may not be taking advantage of yet.
There are typically four levels of opportunity within an organisation that could be used to humanise a brand and access new markets. Each has a different purpose and value proposition to be effectively leveraged:
Level 1: Business Development: Customer Connection
These are people who have access to large social connections and followings that can be used for business-to-business growth. For example, if you have a sales team, use your sales team’s LinkedIn profiles to grow the employer brand and access new clients.
Level 2: Managers: Culture
The role of managers and leaders is to attract talent. This means tapping into LinkedIn social networks to access ideal talent for the organisation. This is particularly important when you consider that 97% of job seekers validate their potential employer online as part of their job search.
Level 3: Executive team: Credibility
These are roles that set the tone and culture of an organisation. They also have the ability to attract talent and opportunities to the organisation. Typically these team members have great connections and need to have a professional digital touch point. They may also be on tender documents and need to be validated well by those engaging with and assessing them.
Level 4: The CEO: Captivation
A founder will generally have a stronger connection to the organisation’s brand and identity, as opposed to the CEO, who has been appointed to the organisation. But both can still be ambassadors. The CEO is the rainmaker. It’s about sharing content, having a profile that attracts talent and opportunities, and setting the tone. This is the most leveraged profile of all the influencers in the organisation and need to captivate, engage and inspire customers and talent to take the next step to being part of their vision.
The key is not to coerce or make people become influencers through platforms such as their LinkedIn or Twitter profiles. Employees own their own LinkedIn and social media profiles and it is up to them to be involved.
Becoming an influencer and social media use is voluntary, in which case you can only put guidelines in place to encourage people what to do. And yes, there is some brand risk in terms of how that person is perceived online. However, if done well, using the social media profiles of your team members can be a cost-effective way to create a human connection with your brand, build the visibility, access new clients and have a competitive edge in your industry.
I’d love to hear what you have done to humanise your brand and tap into the influencers within your organisation.
Jane Anderson is a communications expert, speaker and the author of 5 books including “EXPERT to INFLUENCER: 12 Key Skills to Attract New Clients, Increase Sales and Leverage your Personal Brand to Become an Industry Leader.” With over 20 years experience helping people step into their personal power, she is obsessed about creating human connection to drive business growth in a world of disruption and automation. To inquire about her working with you or your organisation please contact us here.