Turning Employees to Brand Ambassadors

This morning I attended my first ever PRSA Coffee and Conversation. I usually don’t think of myself as a PR person, usually I see myself as more in the digital humanities realm than anything else, but the topic was one that I’ve been increasingly interested in and think is important for museums: turning your employees into social media ambassadors.

At a museum, there are often so many different things happening at the same time, it can be hard to know all of them, and sometimes, these missed opportunities are really cool and fascinating. By having staff at the museum share what they are doing, it provides a behind the scenes look for visitors, is an easy way for other staff to see what’s happening, and it provides the museum with easy re-shareable content.

There are downsides, of course. By getting staff to share, you run the risk of them sharing something inappropriate or just “not quite right” or off-brand. There’s also the chance that their personal social media accounts aren’t appropriate or are highly political and if they don’t make it clear that these aren’t the views of the museum then you could be in trouble.

Instead of thinking of all the ways that having employees as ambassadors could go wrong, I want to focus on how it can go right and the tactics we discussed for doing this. Here are some of my top takeaways from this event.

1. Reward employees who share great content

You probably already have people in your organization that are sharing great content and just need a little extra encouragement to share even more! Reward employees who share by acknowledging the great post in person, re-posting on the institutional account, or mentioning the great share to their boss. One person suggested making brownies for ambassadors!

2. Have a broader code of conduct that covers behavior on and offline

In order to protect your employees and the institution, you probably already have a code of conduct or handbook that outlines what types of behavior are appropriate and what are not. These often apply online and offline, so if employees are interested in sharing, remind them to check that code of conduct before they do.

3. Provide employees with training and examples of good sharing

What someone considers a “good post” can vary dramatically, so it’s a great idea to provide employees with examples of appropriate posts, like sharing photos that demonstrate good museum behavior and using the right hashtags. You may want to provide some positive guidelines and examples. Other institutions suggested creating a bank of images and text that employees are allowed to use if they want to share.

Personally, I provided the staff here at the museum with a list of ten things that make a great social media ambassador, including:

  • Identify yourself online as a member of staff
  • Be authentic and positive
  • Share amazing things behind the scenes (if you have permission)
  • Be a digital docent to our online guests
  • Model good museum behavior
  • Tag us, tag them, tag everyone
  • Get involved with digital communities
  • Provide details about collection objects if pictured (if you have permission to share)

Of course… the full presentation was illustrated with cat photos. But I’ll save that for another day.

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