Unleashing the Inner Storytellers in Your Employees

Employees already have plenty to keep them busy. They sell. They help customers. They write code. And so on.

Now organizations also want them to be . . . storytellers?

They already are, explained Michael Brito, the executive vice president at the Zeno Group.

“Employees have a strong affinity toward your brand,” he said. “They’re probably talking about where they work on social media right now. I’m a believer that if you can mobilize them and equip them with knowledge and technology, they can have even better conversions on your behalf with their networks.”

Brito recently joined Robyn Hannah, the senior director of global communication at Dynamic Signal, for a webinar called “Employees: Your Brand’s Most Valued Asset and Most Powerful Storytellers.” Their fireside-chat conversation focused on how strong internal communication is the foundation for building a company culture where employees are motivated to become brand ambassadors.

The author of “Participation Marketing: Unleashing Employees to Participate and Become Brand Storytellers,” Brito has literally written the book on advocacy. The webinar was an opportunity for Brito to outline the many ingredients to a successful program. But it all starts with creating an environment within the organization that naturally breeds advocacy.

“You can’t ask employees to do something that’s above and beyond their jobs,” he said. “Every employee has deliverables. You want to create an advocacy program in a way that they don’t even want to ask the question about what’s in it for them. They should already know that it’s the success of their company.”

In other words, employee advocacy should be structured so people want to be involved.

Hannah agreed that communication needs to be the foundation for a strong culture at any organization. But, she asked, what the heck does it even mean when you’re asking employees to be storytellers?

Think about your social media presence, Brito explained. You might be on Facebook. Twitter. LinkedIn. Instagram. Snapchat. If you’re posting on those platforms, you are telling stories about your life and your interests through words, photos, and videos. Things that happen at your job probably are part of what you’re sharing.

But organizations need to harness that energy and arm employees with great content so they can truly become brand advocates, he added. Brito is a believer in the “1/9/90 rule” about how social media networks engage people. Of your employees:

  • 1 percent post content about your company
  • 9 percent share that content on their networks
  • 90 percent just follow that conversation

“You don’t need everyone in the organization involved,” Brito explained. “If you can get the 1 percent of storytellers and the 9 percent engaged, then you’re going to win. That 1 percent is going to write the blog post, write the Glassdoor review, start a discussion. Then the 9 percent is going to amplify it by sharing. That’s a huge opportunity for a company.”

Employee advocacy is not a set-it-and-forget-it strategy, Brito emphasized. It involves considerable effort and planning from departments that include communication, human resources, and marketing. It requires identifying the right technology platform, creating rich content that employees will be proud to share and training them on social media best practices.

Brito said that while organizations may understand the importance of advocacy, most are not yet investing enough in programs. But it also has never been more important. He noted that the level of trust throughout society has plunged. That fact was captured in the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, which revealed the largest drop in the survey’s history among the general population.

It’s a reflection of the times where people hear constant claims of “fake news” and can question the veracity of everything they read.

“Credibility is the key,” he said. “People just don’t trust organizations. But what they do trust is people.”

That’s the biggest selling point of employee advocacy. Brito added that there’s a very important group of people who notice – customers.

Watch the recording of the webinar “Employees: Your Brand’s Most Valued Asset and Most Powerful Storytellers.” If you’re interested in pre-ordering Michael Brito’s book, “Participation Marketing: Unleashing Employees to Participate and Become Brand Storytellers,” get 20 percent off the regular price with this discount code: AMKPART20

Post Author

G.I. Sanders

G.I. Sanders is Senior Director, Creative Services at Dynamic Signal. He specializes in entrepreneurship, digital and social media, design, and marketing. G.I. is based in Dallas, TX with his wife and two sons. Passions include technology, startups, music, fitness and sports.