In this age of social marketing, why not use your employees to help sell the company’s products? A new whitepaper from Dachis Group gives ten steps on how best to do that.

The whitepaper, "10 Steps to Supercharging Your Brand with Employee Advocacy," (registration required) says that many marketers have “not yet learned how to harness their employees” in social media marketing, in spite of the tremendous resources right at hand -- employees.

Employees are experts in your product and have professional networks, many of them deal with your customers all the time, and outsiders are more likely to trust staff than, say, the CEO or outside experts.

Users, Champion, Goals

Step 1: Find your existing social media users among your employees by looking for blog posts, outstanding LinkedIn profiles, regular Facebook page updating and other indicators. The Dachis Group also points to its software tool/service, Employee Insight, that identifies employees engaged in company-related social conversations.

Once you have ID’d the social leaders, the next step is to assess the company culture. Take note of regulatory issues, company policies, employee tendencies like sharing job openings and the general workforce comfort with consumer technology. A bank has a very different environment to deal with than, say, an advertising agency.

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from 10 Steps to Supercharging Your Brand with Employee Advocacy

You’ll need a champion to convince departments and individuals. The whitepaper is somewhat vague about the champion’s requirements, but that is probably because the range of duties can be so wide. Basically, the champion is the team leader, ready to get permissions from legal, overcome marketing’s objections, smooth out customer service’s ruffled feathers or get a budget for some personnel time if needed.

Learning Opportunities

Goal-setting is a key step, and can range from such engagement metrics as logins, to number of tweets and followers, to some measure of brand mentions. The whitepaper advises that the goals include numeric benchmarks so progress can be measured, even if you need to make the goals smaller than your ultimate ambitions.

Program, Story, Training

Now comes the program itself. Based on goals, the report suggests four Ws for marketers who want messages disseminated -- what should I share? Why? When? Where?

No self-respecting marketing program these days can look itself in the mirror without having a story to tell. The Dachis Group advises having the champion position the whole effort within the company’s larger goals and efforts, so everyone knows what part they’re playing.

You’ll also need to train employees, not only about tools they may not yet know, but about company policies, the preferred voice and tone and other necessities. Then, the community of employee advocates has to be continually managed and coached, data has to be monitored, captured and analyzed and, preferably, a dashboard has to be created to clearly present progress to management and, most importantly, to the employees themselves.