The Competitive Advantage that’s a Best Kept Secret among the Fortune Companies

Hello there, to that world of HR, Business Owner, CEO or Marketing Head!

Can we take a few minutes in your busy schedule today? We wanted to let you in on a secret that could turn your brand around or enhance it manifold without having to spend a dime! 

I know it sounds too good to be true. Your inbox is inundated with drip emailers exhorting you to buy this product or that service. Every link on the net seems to be clickbait for some enterprise hustle. But give me the 6-8 minutes, and I promise this will help you.

Think about the last piece of long form content you read on the net. The in-depth analysis, business review or opinion. Think also about the person who wrote it – I bet you scrolled down to the top to find out who that was. This person helped you shape your worldview about something. This person added value to your thought process. It’s most probable that this person was the employee of the media house or enterprise that published the piece.

I think you see where this is going: your greatest intellectual capital as an employer lies with your employees. They are the heart and soul of your company, building your products and services, going the extra mile for your customers and helping you build a healthy top and bottom line.

54% of people find information very credible when it comes from a ‘regular employee’ rather than the CEO.

Edelmann Trust Barometer 2020 

Should these employees stay anonymous? Are they to be shoved into a collective of nameless, faceless ‘resource pool’ while you, the founder (and a select few top managers) glories in the reflection of your company’s brand?

If this is the approach you’ve been following as the promoter of your brand, we have some news for you. You’re sitting on the motherlode of competitive advantages in this digisocial era – help your employees build their brand, both offline and online, and watch how that burnishes your enterprise brand.

This is something traditional companies started as a policy once they grew to a certain size: designating ‘spokespersons’, getting blogs ghostwritten for the CxO suite, building on the names of some leaders or key faces. But I’ve got news for you – you need not wait to be a certain size or in a certain space to start.

You can start today.

The engineering manager who’s the bedrock of your product development probably is blazing paths on Twitter opining on emerging technologies: have him link his handle to the company’s while he’s at it. The marketing maverick who’s churning out superb collateral and campaigns: feature her in your “People of..” series on social media. The young Production Head who moonlights as a dancer – who better to burnish your brand as a Great Place to Work?

Caselet: How 100 billion$, 114-year old IBM leverages Employee Brands to encourage collaboration and innovation and keep the company relevant

  • No corporate blog or Twitter account
  • 17,000 internal blogs used by 100,000 employees 
  • 53,000 members on SocialBlue (IBM’s version of Facebook for employees)
  • A few thousand “IBMers” on Twitter
  • Thousands of external bloggers
  • ~200,000 IBMers on LinkedIn
  • As many as 500,000 participants in company crowd-sourcing “jams”
  • 50,000 ex-IBMers in alum networks on Facebook and LinkedIn.

I hope you’re seeing the possibilities now. Employee personal branding can be a huge competitive advantage and game-changer for organizations. At the risk of sounding redundant, let me list the reasons why:

  • People connect with people, not with anonymous brands. Help them see the people behind your enterprise. Tell your corporate brand stories through your employees, building voices of trust.
  • Social media is a game-changer in giving a human touch to brands. Leverage it to the hilt
  • As you grow, great employee branding will help you attract better talent
  • Employee retention numbers will improve: when employees see a supportive workplace that encourages them to grow and build personal brands, they have very little reason to look elsewhere for professional satisfaction.

Is there anything to worry about? Many employers worry that if they showcase star employees, they’re opening the doors for poaching of said employees. This may certainly happen with some employees – but those who tend to leave will do so anyway, so this should not be a major concern.

What may be of bigger concern is if an employee brand takes a nosedive – say, a report of plagiarism in a book they’ve authored, or a negative video that went viral. There are well-honed stratagems to handle the fallout – If the employee is truly at fault, encourage a public, honest retrospection. Be supportive, but be honest. The authenticity will help the company brand. In the worst case, you may have to take steps to disassociate.

But such cases are rare. In fact, some social media strategists believe that any publicity is good publicity. While I wouldn’t advocate such negative strategizing, I would encourage you to think of employee branding for all the positives I laid out for you.

I leave you with some stories of world-renowned companies that have to build awesome employee branding: thinking SalesForce’s social media that regularly features cupcake bakes and family milestones, to Google employees rating the tech giant a whopping 4.4 on 5 at Glassdoor for all their famous perks, to team member interviews on Lithium’s website or Intuit’s “People of Intuit” campaign, enterprises around the world are shining in their employee brands’ haloes.

Shouldn’t yours?

Author –  Rohan Krishna Co-Founder & CEO @ EdSanta Education

Krishna’s career has been focused on building great brands in the education space. He has been responsible for crafting operations strategy, marketing, branding, product development and growth at many organisations. He has been a passionate advocate for giving the power of learning into the hands of the learner, by enabling each learner to choose the right course for his/her unique re/skilling. His analytical mind and meticulous approach have helped Get Me A Course become the world’s largest aggregator for global learning courses with 300,000+ courses from 7000+ global providers. 


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