Harnessing the Power of Internal Influencers: A Cornerstone in Communications Strategy

What’s the secret sauce of charisma? Is it confidence, intuition, or simply a magnetic presence? Well, whatever it is, some individuals are just born influencers. And no, we’re not referring to the world of TikTok or Instagram. Within every organization, there exists a cadre of natural-born influencers, strategically integrated into communication strategies worldwide.

While many companies have traditionally relied on external influencers like industry experts and thought leaders to disseminate their message, a new breed of influencers has emerged: internal influencers. These pivotal figures, nestled within the core of your organization, wield considerable influence in shaping your employee communications strategy.

Research from HBR Ascend reveals that a whopping 70% of employees place more trust in information about their company when it comes from their colleagues rather than official channels. It’s a logical premise, really. Who better to decode the decisions of the leadership team than those directly impacted by them? Who better to champion a new policy or initiative than someone from within?

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the significance of internal influencers and how they can be the linchpin of your employee communications strategy.

But before we proceed, let’s establish a clear understanding of what internal influencers are and what role they play.

Decoding Internal Influencers

Internal influencers are those employees who possess the ability to shape the opinions, beliefs, and behaviors of their colleagues. Sometimes dubbed as employee influencers, these individuals command respect and trust within their peer groups. Leveraging their sway, internal influencers can profoundly impact your company’s culture and communications landscape.

It’s crucial to note that influencers aren’t confined to the upper echelons of your company; they can emerge from any level, be it entry-level employees or executives.

Yet, all internal influencers share certain common attributes. They often boast specific expertise or skills that set them apart, be it keen insights, rich experience, or natural leadership qualities like wisdom, empathy, and confidence.

Many internal influencers possess a profound understanding of human emotions and their role in influencing behavior and decision-making. Those with high emotional intelligence excel in navigating intricate social dynamics, fostering robust relationships, and influencing others’ behavior.

Regardless of their archetype, internal influencers play a pivotal role in enhancing communication, fostering trust among employees, and nurturing a positive company culture.

The Role of Internal Influencers in IC Strategies

As established, internal influencers wield considerable sway over employee communications within your organization. They accomplish this by fulfilling various roles:

1. Role Models

As esteemed members of your organization, the actions of internal influencers wield significant influence over their colleagues. For instance, if an internal influencer positively engages in a newly introduced wellness initiative or volunteer activity on a shared communication platform, it encourages others to follow suit. Moreover, internal influencers offer valuable feedback to refine messaging effectiveness.

2. Community Builders

Internal influencers foster a sense of community and collaboration, amplifying employee engagement and participation in company initiatives. By sharing their own experiences and stories, they underscore the impact and value of their work, aligning employees with the organization’s overarching goals.

3. Agents for Change

Regarded as trusted sources of information, internal influencers can champion organizational change initiatives, lending credibility to new policies or directives. They humanize messages, making them relatable to employees and facilitating smooth adoption of new practices or technologies.

4. Social Media Stars

In the era of social media dominance, internal influencers leverage platforms like LinkedIn to amplify their personal brand and that of their employer. By sharing work-related experiences and insights, they become go-to sources of information, not only for colleagues but also for potential recruits and external stakeholders.

5. Comms Champions

Internal influencers play a pivotal role in nurturing a culture of communication within the organization. By encouraging collaboration and information sharing, they ensure alignment with business objectives and foster informed decision-making.

Identifying Internal Influencers for Your Organization

To identify internal influencers, look for employees revered and respected by their peers, whether they’re natural leaders, subject matter experts, or simply passionate about their work. Ensure alignment with your brand values and messaging.

Once identified, provide them with necessary training and support, including social media training and access to resources, to enhance their effectiveness.

Navigating Internal Influencer Challenges

Before diving into internal influencer programs, consider potential challenges:

  1. Diversify Your Pool: Avoid overreliance on a select few influencers. Cultivate a diverse team across age groups and hierarchical levels.
  2. Promote Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Ensure your influencer program represents diversity across demographics to prevent perceptions of favoritism and exclusion.
  3. Maintain Consistent Messaging: Establish guidelines and offer training to ensure consistent communication styles across influencers.
  4. Embrace Omnichannel Communication: Don’t limit influencer outreach to social media. Embrace multiple communication channels to engage all employees effectively.
  5. Mitigate Conflicts of Interest: Set clear guidelines to prevent personal agendas from overshadowing organizational goals.

Final Thoughts

While external influencer marketing holds its ground, the potential of internal influencers shouldn’t be overlooked. Who better to champion your organization than those nurtured and developed within? By harnessing their relationships, expertise, and credibility, organizations can foster trust, drive engagement, and achieve key objectives. As the landscape evolves, prioritizing employee empowerment will position organizations as leaders in this arena.