Corporate Influencer Program

LinkedIn Ambassadors: How to start a corporate influencer program for your agency

It's a people's business - people would rather interact with people than with faceless brands. This can be seen, for example, in the follower numbers of Johannes Kliesch as Managing Director of Snocks (person 97,493 vs. company 24,434; as of June 2024) or Alisa Jahnke as co-founder of Purelei (person 62,719 vs. company 15,900 followers; as of June 2024). More and more companies are realizing that they have great marketing potential within their own ranks and are turning their employees into the face of the company. And that's damn clever, because they are often keen to do so and are highly motivated to get involved. In this article, you will learn what corporate influencers are, why they are important and how to start a corporate influencer program. We also reveal which corporate influencers you can learn from at LinkedIn .

What are corporate influencers and what does a corporate influencer do?

Corporate influencers are employees who act as ambassadors for their employers on social media. They provide an insight into the company and its values and share their expertise from their niche. Corporate influencers are therefore part of a company's marketing mix. At best, they are intrinsically motivated, which enables them to communicate authentically and credibly, interact and build their network.

It is important to note that employees who are active on social media or privately recommend their employer are not automatically corporate influencers. Corporate influencer marketing is a targeted marketing measure as part of corporate communications.

Why are corporate influencers important?

Why corporate influencers? We give you an overview of the advantages and disadvantages of corporate influencers.

Pros:

  • Employees are more credible, authentic, personal and approachable compared to brands, their ads or even mega influencers
  • Employees each have specialist expertise that they can report on (general company profiles do not usually do this in such detail)
  • users follow corporate influencers of their own free will (keyword: pull marketing)
  • Applicants are more likely to feel addressed (employer branding) 
  • Existing employees feel more committed, more motivated and more loyal (better corporate culture)
  • Employees can have a positive influence on the company's reputation through their postings (multiplier effect)
  • Posts from employees have higher reach compared to posts from company pages or ads
  • By involving several employees, companies can distribute more content much faster and gain visibility and attention
  • Diverse content can be distributed with the help of your own story and new perspectives from corporate influencers
  • The marketing measure is cheaper compared to external influencers, ads, trade fairs, etc.

Disadvantages:

  • The clearly visible technical expertise of employees increases career opportunities and thus the risk of being poached by competitors
  • Profiles belong to the employees and go with them if they leave the company
  • (Residual) risk of a fail/shitstorm (despite the issue of guidelines)
  • Voluntary and therefore less plannable marketing measure

There is a risk that your corporate influencers, in whom you have invested money, diligence and effort, will leave the company. However, don't forget that your employees can identify even more with your company values through their work and their own motivation and loyalty can potentially be strengthened. 

How to: Build and maintain a community

In this article on community management, we explain step by step how you can build and maintain a community.

Start a corporate influencer program in 6 steps

How do you become a corporate influencer? I'll show you how to start a corporate influencer program.

Step 1: Define goals and target group

First, you need to determine what you want to achieve with your agency or company. This is particularly important for the choice of topics for corporate influencers. For example, postings from company trade fairs or the fruit basket in the office do not contribute significantly to the desired image change.

Examples: 

  • Addressing highly qualified specialists
  • Increase awareness as an attractive employer
  • Establish a certain image

If possible, you should set measurable goals. It also makes sense to narrow down the target group as precisely as possible.

Step 2: Determine time and money resources

Firstly, you should think about working hours : How much time do you give your employees each day for this new activity? And who will take on the rest of the work?

On the other hand, you may be asking yourself: Are corporate influencers paid? We can't give a general answer to this. This is handled differently in different companies. As a rule, companies simply provide the time resources or free capacity so that tasks can be completed during working hours without any problems. However, there are also companies that establish reward systems or bonus payments for employees who promote the brand online. However, we see two difficulties in particular:

  • Firstly, not all employees usually have the same starting conditions (e.g. number of followers), so KPIs such as reach are difficult to compare.
  • Secondly, a certain amount of authenticity is lost with the reward approach. After all, intrinsic drive should be the driving force for corporate influencers.

Step 3: Selection of business influencers

Which people are suitable as brand ambassadors? In short: First of all, anyone, as long as they fit in with the goal of the program. It's best to make sure that you have a diverse group of corporate influencers. There are no limits, from trainees to management level and from HR to design. This way, you can appeal to the masses, tap into new target groups and fight the shortage of skilled workers.

What characteristics and starting conditions should the people bring with them?

  • Satisfied with the employer, the values and the job
  • Intrinsically motivated, so that posts appear authentic and unbiased
  • Social media savvy with a knack for marketing and creative ideas
  • Strong communicator, personable demeanor and open to new connections
  • High level of technical expertise and enthusiasm for a relevant topic
  • Responsible as the face of the company
  • Understanding of the company, the brand, the products and services

Another nice-to-have criterion is an existing range. Conversely, it should not be an exclusion criterion if this is not yet available.

Step 4: Development of a guideline

Corporate influencer marketing is about providing an insight into the corporate culture as well as exciting insights from the respective professional environment. You should keep a balance when it comes to guidelines. This means: don't set too many guidelines and give your team freedom so that the prospective corporate influencers can contribute their own personality and interests and not lose out. The guidelines should be supportive. After all, the posts should not appear scripted by a social media agency, but authentic. And you should be aware that personal and professional content will be mixed and that you won't have complete control over the profiles anyway.

Guidelines should therefore facilitate posting and make it fun and not stressful. For example, people should not have to write about topics with which they have no experience or points of contact or with which they do not feel comfortable.

You can pick up on the following content:

  • Permitted topics on which you may write and comment (e.g. corporate culture, everyday working life, current projects, corporate news and updates, team and company events)
  • Taboo topics that are better avoided
  • Focus on added value and exciting insights instead of boring and meaningless statements on the career page
  • Tips for finding topics (e.g. researching trending topics)
  • Design: style, length, address, post templates and instructions if necessary
  • Company-specific aspects: Wording, hashtags, links, mentions of people
  • Measure of interaction: commenting, liking, replying to messages
  • Measure of confrontation
  • Workflow/instructions for negative feedback 
  • Workflow/instructions for new leads

Step 5: First training

Have you completed the selection of corporate influencers? Great, then you now have a comprehensive briefing ahead of you. This applies both once for the start of the corporate influencer program and over time when new participants join.

You should discuss the following points:

  • Introduction to communication strategy and online marketing
  • Definition of goals and target group of the corporate influencer program
  • Establishing a common understanding of values
  • Definition of contact persons
  • Determination of time resources
  • Scheduling regular meetings to exchange ideas, plan content, etc.
  • Procurement of image material (e.g. regular photo shoots, possibly also training in the use of a camera and editing programs)
  • Definition of tools (e.g. content platform on which posts can be worked on collaboratively)
  • Definition of a fixed number of regular posts, if applicable
  • Negotiation of additional remuneration, if applicable
  • Handing out of the guide/guidelines

Step 6: Further support

Later on, you could schedule regular workshops or lectures on current and relevant topics such as storytelling, but also legal topics such as copyright, trademark law, data protection and competition law.

You should also think about how you deal with finding topics and feedback - in other words, how you work together as a team.

How social media monitoring works

From the basics of social media monitoring to a selection of suitable social media monitoring tools, you can find out everything in our article.

LinkedIn Corporate Influencer: Best Practices Deloitte, Siemens & Co.

The social network LinkedIn is growing rapidly and currently recorded 1.7 billion monthly visits and 24 million users in the DACH region in June 2024. According to Statista, LinkedIn is becoming increasingly relevant as a business platform in particular. How can corporate influencers best use LinkedIn for themselves? And what are general corporate influencer program best practices? Below we present some examples - from B2B and B2C companies, large and small.

Otto

Otto is considered a German pioneer in the field of corporate influencing (source: Otto). In fall 2017, the company started training over 100 employees to become ambassadors for the first time. Otto's aim was to appeal to IT specialists in particular and to credibly convey the cultural and working atmosphere. What once started in the tech sector has now been extended to many other areas (source: Otto). One well-known face is Dr. Frederike Fritzsche (Tech Ambassador), who currently has 19,884 followers (as of June 2024). She shares her knowledge particularly in the areas of #WomeninTech, #SnackableTech and #OTTOinside.

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Deloitte

Corporate influencing has also become an integral part of the auditing firm Deloitte (source: Horizon). Lara Sophie Bothur has made a name for herself in the industry as LinkedIn Top Voice 2023 with 282,846 followers (as of June 2024). She regularly exchanges ideas with experts in the respective fields, attends events and analyzes new technologies - and packages the topics in appealing LinkedIn posts.

LinkedIn Ambassadors: How to start a corporate influencer program for your agency

Deutsche Bank

Another well-known business influencer is Jürgen Schmitt from Deutsche Bank (source: Business Insider). What makes him special is that he has been with the company for over 30 years and started out as a trainee back in the 90s. It couldn't be more credible! Under the hashtag #somethingwithbank, he gives exciting insights into his job in the financial industry.

LinkedIn Ambassadors: How to start a corporate influencer program for your agency

Snocks

However, it is not only renowned, large companies that are venturing into corporate influencing. One recent example is the lifestyle company Snocks. Founder Johannes Kliesch (97,585 followers; as of June 2024) regularly offers his followers exciting insights into work culture (e.g. new work, appreciation at the employer) as well as insights into successful and less successful sales and marketing campaigns (e.g. email marketing, TV advertising).

LinkedIn Ambassadors: How to start a corporate influencer program for your agency

YOYABA

Another example of how not only large companies rely on corporate influencers and how agencies can also use corporate influencing successfully is the SEO agency YOYABA from Hamburg. We at Raidboxes have been a YOYABA customer for many years and are supported by Oleksandra Lazarchuk, among others. She shares her extensive SEO knowledge and exciting hacks not only in our regular collaboration, but also with her LinkedIn community.

LinkedIn Ambassadors: How to start a corporate influencer program for your agency

Raidboxes

We at Raidboxes have definitely recognized the benefits of the Corporate Influencing Program. However, we currently lack the capacity to systematically build and develop this internally. However, we would like to change this in the near future. Nevertheless, we already have some motivated employees like our People Lead Melanie Lubbe, who shares exciting insights from the areas of Recruiting, Learning & Development, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and New Work on her channel.

LinkedIn Ambassadors: How to start a corporate influencer program for your agency

Conclusion

Our conclusion on corporate influencing is: seize the opportunity! You're not too late - even if the LinkedIn bubble may sometimes give you that feeling. Take a look to the right and left in your industry - we are sure that you can still make a difference and exploit your potential. Show your face and benefit from approachable, likeable and credible postings from your employees. And if you're starting out, bring patience and time. Let your team grow into the task first and don't judge whether it was worth it after just one month. 

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