Being able to relate to a brand is huge. A customer that chooses to trust and even support a brand is excellent. Some brands go as far as having a celebrity – recognizable and relatable to endorse, wear and evangelize the brand. There is a gold mine of brand, company and culture evangelists right under the nose of big brands. They are the people the company has already hired, learned to trust, trained and empowered to build the business – Employees.

In response to HubSpot’s Blog post: Personal Brand: Good or Bad for Your Company?

There has been a good deal of discussion around whether having a strong personal brand is beneficial or detrimental to a company.

I immediately started writing a comment… which turned into a page which then made more sense to create a blog post.

There are people under the company roof that have prepared elevator speeches, expressed their love, trust and pride in their company to anyone that will listen.  They participate in industry events and continued education that they’ve often sought out on their own. They are high energy,  excited to be apart of the company culture  and often have have very strong personal brands. These kinds of employees are pillars of knowledge, and experts connecting outside the walls of the company. They build trust in their personal brand.

Social Media Marketing + Employee Engagement = Happy & Loyal Customers

In Vegas, the Wynn and Encore Hotels are great examples of big business, big brands diving deep into social media.

Give fans and followers the tools to spread your message. It’s fantastic to have a fan base, but how can they tell their friends and family if you don’t make it easy? Even a luxurious 5-star resort like the Las Vegas Wynn takes the time to create enthusiasm. Among general tweets and discussion, the Wynn takes the opportunity via Twitter to seek out hotel visitors and recommend everything from entertainment to meals to drinks. “Nice to have you back! Thanks for checking in on Foursquare!” reads one tweet. “What are you looking to drink tonight?” reads the next reply. Arming visitors with this information leads to accessible retweets and information sharing, all with the click of a button. – Social media best practices for hotel marketers, by Annemarie Dooling

With employee social media policies in place and actively engaging online with their customers, you might think the Wynn’s big hotel brand is enough. They have all the right tools in place, they are staffed to be able to respond across multiple social media channels and are engaging well. Recently a pair of very expensive and somewhat rare shoes were offered on the Wynn’s Facebook page for sale through the hotel’s luxury shop.  A customer asked a question and an employee who was not part of their marketing or social media team jumped right in to serve the customer using his personal account stating he would have the rare shoes ready and, if needed, shipped to any customer who wanted them.  That is pretty awesome and the social media policy of the Wynn didn’t crumble when someone interacted with their own personal account; in fact, the employee’s outreach to the customer supported the brand. Listen to the whole interview with @shanselman with @JadeEmily from @wynnlasvegas!

Scott + Nerd Dinner  + Me = Refreshed look at Microsoft’s Product

Recently I attended a Nerd Dinner where I met Scott Hanselman in person. I am not a huge fan of Microsoft’s development tools. Mostly because they are expensive and hard to sell being a small fish in a big sea company. At Nerd Dinner, Scott demonstrated a free web development tool called Web Matrix: an easy way to start an ecommerce website. So easy that I can’t think of anyone that wouldn’t find this free tool useful when creating their own ecommerce site. Scott wasn’t sent from Portland to Bellevue to show off Microsoft tools, he was there attracting nerds, seriously nerds, developers from all kinds of companies, backgrounds and interests. His positive and passionate energy lends itself so well to organizing these events I met people that traveled over 100 miles to be at Crossroads Mall eating in the mall food court. When a young accountant expressed a need to know how to create an ecommerce site Scott without hesitation stepped up. He has a strong personal brand online, even runs his own non-Microsoft radio podcast – Hanselminutes. When he speaks of his employeer it isn’t all flowers and unicorns which to me makes the often mysterious Microsoft a little more human and maybe a even a little more relatable.

Overcome Concerns

Empowering and encouraging passionate employees to step up and build the brand sounds scary, however, it works. From marketing, customer service and even sales, all of the rough edges that a brand might be worried about will be polished out by regular communication between company and employee.

A personal brand is a perception in the minds of others that must be developed, nurtured and managed by younger partners and rising stars—the notion that there is no one else in the marketplace quite like them. Their personal brand will stand at the forefront of influencing all types of stakeholders in the niches your firm serves via their experience, expertise, thought leadership, honesty, integrity and capabilities. – Developing Your Personal Brand Equity by Alan Vitberg

One difficulty for a brand and an employee is the question of what happens when they decide to move on from one another? Someone who has a strong personal brand and leaves could have a major impact on the corporate brand. Is it worth having a ghost brand or associating minimally? Neither! When someone is passionate, has experience with the company and is empowered to represent the brand well then that is a strength and an asset. The conversation needs to happen on how the employee plans to communicate about how and why they are leaving. Shauna Causey did an excellent job doing this when she announced she was leaving Comcast.

Employees with Strong Personal Brands

Not every employee with a Facebook account needs to be involved with your online marketing. Look for people that are:

– Customer service oriented

– Understand online media tools

– Share the company/brand’s value and vision

By acknowledging employees’ personal brands, you will open doors to creating a dream team of online marketing. Research the employees’ interests and see where they might have experience in areas where the current marketing campaigns haven’t ventured. Maybe they have experience creating Facebook applications or developing interactive Flash? Maybe they talk to customers all day giving them great insight into every day customer concerns, questions and needs that could be met online.

Communicate a common vision that allows the employee to act online and with their brand for a win-win scenario.

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About the author

Lyndi Thompson wrote 114 articles on this blog.

Online startup marketing strategy & solutions. Customer focused, high energy, creative & thankful. I love connecting good people to create great communities. New Mom. Fan of chocolate & the smell of horses.