Some businesses just can't seem to get their heads around employee advocacy and how it can be harnessed as a powerful marketing tool; and then there's Reebok (Twitter: @Reebok), a brand which is currently showing their rivals a clean pair of…er…trainers.
Warc recently reported on Reebok's latest approach to social media, a topic also discussed during a SocialChorus webinar by the sports apparel group's social media marketing leader, Ben Blakesley (Twitter: @benunh)
Blakesley joined the company in February last year, at a time when its marketing strategy was shifting focus from professional athletes to all kinds of fitness fans across the US. Realising that Reebok's own employees encapsulated the market they were trying to target, Blakesley set about turning them into the perfect brand ambassadors, encouraging them to share their passion for fitness on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
"Nearly 80% of our workforce is part of our target demographic – the millennial generation that is out there doing the things that we talk about every day," he explained.
The challenge, he added, isn't getting people to share their fitness activity on social media, but figuring out how to connect it with the brand and its overall mission.
One way he's overcome this challenge is by asking staff to post brand-related content that can potentially be shared on the official Reebok pages, as well as hosting regular 'employee takeovers' on Instagram.
A distinctive provocative hashtag - #FitAssCompany - helps the message spread even further and allows the company to keep track of what its employers are sharing.
The desire to like, and be liked, on social media - not to mention the desire of many employees to become a 'mini-celebrity,' - means that the strategy has become a win-win for both Reebok and its staff.
Blakesley stresses that transparency is key when it comes to employee advocacy: "We always ask people to be very forward about their involvement with the brand and that they're an employee of the brand," he noted. "We're not trying to fool anyone."
I confidently predict that employee advocacy will be a huge area of growth in 2016, with other brands following Reebok’s lead in putting their own staff front and centre of their social media strategy.