Because social media is 24/7, you need an army of employee champions to be your eyes and ears, and your passionate amplifiers.  However, you can’t simply tell people to be your social champions.  You have to earn their ambassadorship.

The process begins with education and inclusion; getting your own employees to become a part of the social brand building process.  Education and inclusion will get your employees understanding what you’re trying to accomplish and how they can be an instrumental part.  Suddenly, their communication will not be exclusive to what they do on the job, but it will extend outside of the workday and into their social lives.

Here’s the catch…

Every person in the company has the potential to be a social champion – if they’re a brand champion first. I’ve had conversations with employees from small through to large companies who think you’re only designated an employee social champion if you’re in PR and marketing.  This is absolutely not the case.  Every single person, in every single department, can be a champion.

PR and marketing may spearhead an employee champion effort, but it requires many employees coming together.  They all become part of your organization’s vision and strategy, understanding the best ways to share information (especially through social media) and learning how they, too, can be a part of content sharing, engagement and exciting conversations about the company.

If you decide you want more employee champions, then you have to open up the opportunity beyond marketing and PR.  It’s time to go across the organization.  You need to invite people to participate in your efforts.

Remember, these new champions may take on different ambassador roles.  Some will be active listeners for your company, or maybe they will be conversationalists in social communities.  Others may turn out to be great promoters and diligent sharers of content.  But, no matter the level of their participation, the company actively builds more ambassadors in different communities and on a much larger scale.

One big question you need to answer is “how do you get your employees to be more interested in becoming social champions?”  In many cases, your employees are already collaborating online in their social media communities.  However, they’re not choosing to participate with you or on your behalf.  It’s not because they don’t like to use social media.  On the contrary, it’s because the company has not taken the time to educate or involve them.  Now is the time to start.

Here Are Five Ways To Identify And Motivate Your Social Employee Champions:

1.  Survey Your Employee Base To Gauge Their Level Of Understanding, Perception And Use Of Social Media
Use open-ended questions to allow these champions to stand out when they answer questions about their personal social preferences.  In many cases, you will uncover employees who want to learn more about social media for the company, doubling or even tripling your expectations.

2.  Conduct Informal In-Depth Interviews With Potential Champions Who Stand Out In Your Company
Look in your customer service, sales, HR, IT, and other departments for hidden brand champions who want to share their thoughts about their own social involvement, conversations and engagement.  Many employees will happily offer ideas and opinions on what your company could do to ignite deeper social media interactions with employees as well as with your stakeholders.  Ask for an opinion and then be ready to take notes and make some changes.

3.  Create Opportunities To Brainstorm Across The Organization

You can invite your employees to participate in different internal contests, asking them to submit their social media ideas on how they would increase stakeholder engagement and community growth.  You may be surprised at the creative ideas generated and which areas of the company actually produced those ideas.  Brainstorming should not be limited to a small group of employees.  Creativity may be where you least expect it, and small prizes also help to motivate and “sweeten the pot”.

4.  Use A Social Media Platform For Good Communication Within Your Own Four Walls

You can invite people to share, collaborate and innovate together on an internal social media platform.  These platforms are designed for brainstorming, real-time discussion, and document sharing, etc.  When people come together, there is synergy and learning.  Not only will you find great ideas, but also employee champions who will take the time to guide and educate their peers.

5.  Recognize Or Incentivize Your Employees To Get Them Social For You 

There are internal sharing platforms that help companies create healthy competition among employees who share approved social media messages.  The more they share the company stories, the more they are recognized or rewarded.  These rewards can include anything from nominal gift certificates to lunch with an executive.  When you can recognize and reward your employees for their efforts, you boost morale and get employees more eager to participate in your programs.

There are many ways to find and ignite the passion of your social champions, moving beyond your marketing and PR departments.  You have an army of champions within your own four walls. You just need to educate and include them.  Once you tap into their champion power, they will raise the participation bar and share the very best of what your company is doing.  The most meaningful stories will be from the heart and in the words of your own people.

So now ask yourself…

What are you doing to find your social employee champions?

How are you educating them about your brand and including them in your social media programs?