Every business founder wants to find new ways to promote their message; this common conundrum is one that keeps new entrepreneurs up at night all too often. After all, how aware audiences are of your brand is a direct indicator of your brand’s success. Share of voice competition is fierce today; brands must maintain strong presences across every social platform. Luckily for brands, influencer marketing has made message amplification easier than ever. While influencer marketing is effective, there may be an even easier, and cheaper, approach you’re overlooking: your own employees. That’s right, your own employees have the potential to become influencers and brand evangelists in their own rights, but it may require a subtle nudge from you.

Engage with Your Employees on Social Media

Follow your employees on social media and encourage them to follow your company’s channels. Your employees are likely already creating and sharing content pertaining to their professional lives across all of their social accounts and your brand can amplify their efforts. Everyone wants to see their projects and insights reach new audiences. The more you comment, like, and re-share their work, the more likely your employees will be to create positive content around your company for their followers to see. Some of the most successful brands on social media today know that branding starts from the ground up, and they empower their employees to actively participate in the brand-building process on social media. By amplifying employee content, brands are showing their appreciation for those who enthusiastically speak about the organization’s updates and initiatives; which, subsequently helps employees to feel more confident and supported by their employers.

Highlight Your Employees

Social audiences love seeing behind-the-curtain glimpses into the inner-workings of their favorite companies, starting with the employees. Because your employees work with your product on a daily basis, they possess a deep understand of the field and the trends impacting it. Take J. Crew for example; in recent years the retailer has begun featuring its employees in its social content initiatives. Their magazine feature the current selections and outfit ideas from the staffers and their J.Crew Style Hacks Hotline video series gives customers the chance to ask the company’s stylists and designers fashion questions. The retailer has put their employees front and center, which has not only added another more relatable layer to their digital persona, but it has also created a deeper sense of community among the employees; they want to be involved – and featured – in the brand’s social initiatives and they’ll continue creating content around the brand to share with their own followers.

Offer Ongoing Social Media Training

Some brands fear asking their employees to engage on social media because they’re worried that employees may cross a line or create content that is not in line with the brand’s values. While most employees will engage with their employer in a strictly professional demeanor, companies can ease their fears by offering employees ongoing social media trainings. In addition to helping them stay abreast of the latest social trends and updates, ongoing trainings also empower employees to feel more comfortable sharing company successes and updates. Social media has disintegrated traditional company hierarchies; everyone from interns to CEOs has the potential to be a positive company spokesperson. In addition to technical social media tips, brands can also offer employee tips on how they can positively reflect on their experiences as an employee in a way that feels open and natural.

Don’t Force It

Every employee is different; some are more comfortable sharing regular professional updates on their social profiles than others. For employee social programs to work, they must be voluntary. If employees feel forced into social sharing on behalf of the brand, resent will brew. Additionally, forced employee social content will feel forced to the audience and evoke the exact opposite sentiment you are trying to achieve. Unless it is specifically written in the job requirements to post about the company, brands should take a gentle approach to employee social evangelism.

Creating a social army from within is entirely possible, but it’s not something that happens overnight. Brands have to take the initiative to arm their employees with the right training and resources to feel comfortable enough to promote the brand in the first place. Furthermore, the brands that empower and encourage their employees on a daily basis will see higher participation and enthusiasm from their organization.