2 min Read
September 22, 2015

Ready to launch a brand ambassador campaign? Read this first.

Sarah Mahran, HR Manager at NYC Bike Share (Operator of Citi Bike)

Search for “employee brand ambassador” and you’ll find pages of articles hailing employees as the key to reaching new audiences, to developing an authentic, trusted voice, and to showing the world an inside view of the amazing work your organization is doing. Nokia, Adobe, and NPR are amongst some of the big names that have successfully tapped into the energy of their staff and, in the process, have driven revenue, bolstered recruitment efforts, and positively engaged new online communities. An employee brand ambassador campaign can sound like a dream come true for a nonprofit hoping to increase its online presence or grow its mailing lists on a shoe string budget. But before your organization starts dreaming too big, here’s a basic checklist you should run through before crafting recommended tweets for your employees.

1. Establish goals first.

Knowing what you’re hoping to accomplish will help direct your overall strategy and how you’ll message the program to your staff. Organizations should consider creating SMART goals to begin to develop a framework and timeline for measuring success.

2. Assess what you have in place.

Your employees should be building off of and contributing to what exists already, so as their followers gain interest in your organization, there is up-to-date engaging content that supports your goals. For example, if your organization is trying to cultivate new volunteers, make sure the volunteering section of your website is visible and polished.

3. Know your voice.

Employees should be encouraged to share content in a way that feels genuine to them, however, understanding the tone, look and online identity of your organization will help them assess what’s an appropriate post.

4. Gauge employee morale.

Employees need to be happy with the direction of your organization and the way that they are treated in order to become genuine brand ambassadors. Times of instability, low morale, or cultural shifts may be poor times to launch brand ambassador campaigns or trainings, particularly if your goals are externally oriented as opposed to using the campaign as a tool to improve employee engagement.

5. Understand what it takes.

Just like any social media effort, building brand ambassadors will take time, will require time, and likely encounter bumps in the road. Results will not happen overnight and it will require staff time to create social media policies and training as well as to monitor, maintain, and contribute to the program. There are also likely be mistakes along the way.

Sarah Mahran is the Human Resources Manager at New York City Bike Share, which operates NYC’s Citi Bike system. She was a student of Big Duck’s VP, Farra Trompeter, this past summer in her “Online Engagement Strategy – Leveraging the Web and Social Media for Good” course at The New School for Public Engagement.