16 Practical Tips to Start or Enhance an Employee Ambassador Program

Recently, ERE hosted a “Fireside Chat with Leading Brand Ambassadors” webinar with panelists Rachel Kennedy, Mike Ambassador Bruny, and Kelby Tansey. The following details key takeaways from the session.

Employee ambassador programs are powerful: They empower people to serve as internal cheerleaders to articulate their unique experiences in ways that drive better applications. They foster a sense of belonging, appreciation, and the ability to shape company culture. They connect teams. They scale recruitment.

Ambassador programs are the force multiplier of your brand, so it’s worth examining how to build one at your organization.

For starters, our job as recruiters and employer brand practitioners is to identify and amplify ambassadors’ stories that align with the brand. This goes beyond just sharing job content. It’s about encouraging employees to share their experiences living inside the brand. GitLab says it well:

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“Candidates will do their research in places far beyond our jobs site to find out more about whether GitLab is the right fit for them. We want to be sure we’re telling an authentic story about life at GitLab, and one of the best ways to do that is through our team members.”

To be clear, ambassador programs are not designed to coerce employees to pay lip service to the organization. Rather, they should share authentic stories using people’s own voices for the benefit of the organization, candidates, and employees themselves. Mainly, ambassador programs can help you:

  • Scale and support recruitment 
  • Promote internal alignment
  • Build community
  • Engage existing employees
  • Increase brand awareness

Creating an Employee Ambassador Program 

  1. Build a platform. Southwest Airlines hosts a weekly webinar for interested job seekers to get interview tips and publicize open jobs. These webinars are hosted by internal ambassadors, giving them a wider platform to share their unique stories.
  2. Watch and listen. Create a careers hashtag like #HootsuiteLife or #InsideIndeed. Watch for employees who create quality content and point to them by resharing their content.
  3. Give employees permission to remix. Leave room for employees to use their own voice and language.  Genuine messages from your employees are far more convincing than corporatespeak.
  4. Go to places where employees naturally gather. Employee resource groups are voluntary, employee-led groups that center around a shared experience, interest or commonality, like Pickleball, Women in Tech, Latinos, or Working Parents. These circles of segmented employees can bring forward networks and job boards that your recruiters may not be aware of. Attend ERG meetings and listen for employee stories to share.
  5. Create space. Start an employee ambassador Yammer group, Facebook group, or Slack channel for employees who want to share their experiences. Publicize the opportunity: “If you are interested in being an ambassador, join our Yammer group.”
  6. Build a strategic framework. Often employees don’t know what to say or how to say it. GitLab outlines key themes for employees to speak to, like the benefits of remote work and transparency.
  7. Start small. Build a pilot ambassador program with one employee group, like your technology team, for example. Test, learn, and grow. It’s easier to get leadership buy-in once you have proven results.
  8. Educate. Show employees what engaging content looks like. Provide a Twitter 101 course, or offer a LinkedIn lunch-and-learn. Educate employees on social media best practices, like the power of a Glassdoor review.
  9. Recognize and reward. Everyone likes a pat on the back. Reward stellar ambassadors with swag, gift cards, conference attendance, or a referral bonus. Include a shoutout to top participants in your next meeting or in your company newsletter.
  10. Provide resources. Build a library of branded LinkedIn banner images. For instance, create a 15-second video about your “Wellness Week,” and ask employees to share. 
  11. Squeeze the lemon. Use what you have. Instead of investing in a massive tech tool, leverage email, Slack, and your intranet portal to communicate with ambassadors.
  12. Recycle content. One employee testimonial can be posted on your careers page, LinkedIn company page, pulled into a blog article, and pasted in your email signature. Use the content that you have in multiple places to get maximum value.
  13. Seek to understand. Know your employees, what drives them, which platforms they live on, and where they come from. By connecting with your people, you can better help them tell and share their stories.
  14. Recognize employees’ own brands. Acknowledge that employees are the brand inside your brand. It’s OK if they choose not to use your company LinkedIn header on their personal profile.
  15. Include everybody. It can be tempting to focus on A players. However, ambassador programs offer the opportunity for even disengaged employees to come alive. Offer ambassadorship to anyone who wants to join.
  16. Just start. 

Rachel Kennedy believes the most powerful lighthouses shine from within, and helps brands tell their unique stories to recruit better candidates faster. She is an employer brand consultant, copywriter, and founder of the marketing agency, Southern Lighthouse. Connect with her on Linkedin.

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