Brand Resources By TRIBE

48 Ideas to Kickstart Your Employee Creator Program

There are two core reasons more and more marketers are cleverly turning towards their employees to solve their branded content needs.

 

1. RELATABLE IS THE NEW ASPIRATIONAL

It’s not a coincidence the light shining on the aspirational celebrity influencer has dimmed in favour of talented, everyday people celebrating brands they genuinely love.

Authenticity is the key to successful user-generated content because people relate to REAL people, and relatability builds trust.

The rise of TikTok and short-form video has only increased how much more we want to connect with everyday people. Just compare Selena Gomez - the most followed person on Instagram, to Khaby Lame - an ex-factory worker whose infectious authenticity has earned him the same badge on TikTok.  

 

2. NO ONE KNOWS YOUR BRAND LIKE YOUR OWN STAFF

It might seem obvious, but who better to talk about your product than those who already do it for a living?

If you have likable characters in your workforce, consumers will connect with them now more than ever because they’re just like them.

Take Adobe for example, who don’t just encourage their employees to use social media, they provide free training. Why? They know the average employee is trusted significantly more than a company’s CEO and want to engage with employees beyond social media managers.

 

48 clever ways to unlock your staff's creativity

Whether we’re talking beauty, fashion, retail, food, transport, education or software industries, most brands have employees with the personalities, talent and smartphones to craft content for social media, and beyond.

Innovative brands across the globe are unlocking their creative workforces with dedicated Employee Creator Programs, while others are expressing their brand’s DNA via engaging social media content.

From customer-facing employees to those behind-the-scenes we've collected our favourite best-in-class examples to inspire your own program.

 

ICONIC BRANDS LEADING THE WAY WITH EMPLOYEE CREATOR PROGRAMS

1. Marks & Spencer: Inspo from experts

The UK department store unleashed an army of insiders like Jess, Rob and Dominique to appeal to their diverse customers with style inspo and their latest products.

Check out their launch video below showcasing the employees behind the content that racks up 30% higher engagement than their external influencer programs.

 

2. Macy's Digital shopfronts

Macy’s eComm strategy is the definition of turning your employees into their content, sales and marketing departments.

Originally opening up Macy’s Style Crew to 3,300 employees they’ve since expanded to their most loyal customers bringing in massive social exposure with over 100,00 posts under #macysstylecrew.

 

3. Walmart: Going all in

Imagine unlocking over 2 million Store Associates. That’s exactly what Walmart is doing with their Creator Program. Creators can earn via commissions, access products & training and track their performance & earnings without even needing a large audience of their own.

The program has barely launched and already has tens of thousands of followers on their dedicated Instagram account. The content itself ranges from tips, outfit ideas and product reviews and is an extension of the excellent employee-created content they’ve been generating for years.

 

4. Dunkin' Donuts: Know thy customer

There’s a reason huge brands like Dunkin’ are investing in a less polished style of video for their socials - TikTok. The popularity of TikTok for Gen Z is evidence of authenticity being key to engaging them as a customer.

Their ‘Dunkin’ Crew Ambassador’ program doesn’t just use employee-generated content as a key pillar, they also use it to recruit and qualify new creators to brief on more videos.

 

5. Starbucks: A holistic approach to social consciousness

Starbucks’ Partners program not only generates compelling content across several pillars, they’ve also created a dedicated space for employees to tell their stories on Instagram.

From cool behind-the-scenes chalk artistry to raising awareness for events like Disability Pride or Mental Health Awareness Week it’s clear their staff members genuinely care about the topics. A clever, and more importantly, authentic way for a brand to talk about diversity & inclusion without falling victim to tokenism. D&I is only 1 of the pillars they’re nailing, so take a browse.

 

Keep reading to discover how dozens of leading brands are unlocking creativity in unexpected ways.

 

FRONT-OF-HOUSE STAFF

The day-to-day face of any brand. No one knows your customers more than those who connect with them every day.

6. Foot Locker: Making the staff, and their store, the hero

As marketers, we know personalisation is key. But, crafting the volume of content needed to connect with key demographics, like location, can be tricky. Foot Locker has an opportunity to solve this problem by recruiting their staff to craft videos dedicated to increasing the foot traffic to their individual stores.

 

7. American Eagle: In-store antics = affiliate link earnings

#ae_employees can cash in via affiliate links by publishing content about the latest products and outfit inspo to their socials. The content is a true representation of the diverse, young and fun culture at the heart of American Eagle and is perfectly aligned with their overall TikTok presence.

 

8. Best Buy: The in-store experience

Buying tech is a daunting task that is made significantly easier when consulting with in-store staff. By replicating the in-store experience on their socials, Best Buy employees can educate their customers while showing off their knowledge and passion.



9. Chick-fil-A: Bring the comedy

Cheeky comedy is the perfect recipe for so many brands on TikTok, and Chick-fil-A knows how to make their audience chuckle.



10. Woolworths: Untapped talent

Proving a strategy doesn’t need thousands of creators if you have one exceptional one, Aussie supermarket Woolworths knows they’re sitting a goldmine with a home-grown hero, Liam Kirley.

Liam was already shooting TikToks while working his shift before Woolworths made it official by inviting him into their content team. Watch some of his hilarious content reaching a new generation of shoppers.



11. Lufthansa: There's no such thing as too niche

Ideas like “Let’s have Thomas from the cabin crew sing a song about travel while playing his sparkule” aren’t born in marketing team meetings.

Put a call out to your staff like Lufthansa, because if it’s good enough for Michael Buble, it’s good enough for us.



12. LEON: Fielding complaints with sass

TikTokker @aidthomspin, who created a niche around ‘complaining in jest’, took aim at LEON by sharing his unusual experience at one of their restaurants. Instead of responding privately, they shot a ‘Love Actually’ inspired video to apologise.

Meeting sass with sass is an effective way to get your customers back on your side. You have to pick your targets carefully, but how can your brand create fun ways to respond to negativity?



13. Chemist Warehouse: Insider knowledge

A staple in the Australian retailer landscape, Chemist Warehouse empowers Retail Manager Jess to shoot dynamic, in-store content celebrating new and popular products. With over 20k followers on TikTok, it’s clear her content is engaging and packed with insider knowledge - a concept they could easily roll out with their 1000s of staff across the country.

Or, they could tap into suppliers like Davey, a skincare expert who sells his range of products in-store. With a connection to the brand, expertise and passion for all things skincare and the ability to create excellent content it’s no wonder this partnership works so well.



14. Pure Gym: Social expertise

Pure Gym’s high-quality content features trainers bringing their expertise to social media. By bringing a powerful advantage of going to the gym (advice from trainers) into their socials they’re creating an effective way to inspire their customers to get into the gym IRL.



15. Uniqlo: Trade secrets

Ever wondered how the shelves in Uniqlo are SO perfectly stacked? It turns out it's not magic, but rather the meticulous folding skills of their staff maintaining their signature aesthetic.



16. Subway: The artist's POV

Watching an iconic Subway sandwich artist at work is the perfect way to see the love and creativity that goes into their craft. Seeing how it all comes together from their POV is a playful way to tempt customers to drop in for a sub.



17. Glossier: Emotive storytelling

Glossier produced a stunning series through the lens of those closest to the brand, like Ernest. With his great personality, Ernest captures what it feels like to work for Glossier while communicating their brand values in an authentic and heartwarming way.

 

BACK-OF-HOUSE STAFF

The backbone of your operations, your BOH staff hold the key to your brand’s DNA covering all angles from marketing, sales, product innovation and more.

18. Glossier: Experts behind-the-scenes

Glossier didn't stop there. By looking to their staff behind the scenes, audiences can connect further through this glimpse into how their products go to market. By working with Victoria, they’re able to show the thought and care that goes into their design and packaging from the perspective of who actually designs it.



19. Adidas: Collaborating with an established creator

Not everyone will have employees who can ideate, present, shoot and edit their final content. By inviting in established creator Hunter Prosper, Adidas was able to shoot a series interviewing their employees AND gain access to Hunter’s audience of 5.6 million in the meantime.

The series saw Hunter interview some of the minds behind Adidas’ efforts to build a more sustainable brand. Hunter’s storytelling approach guided the campaign away from greenwashing territory and towards authentic content featuring the people most passionate about the purpose.



20. Coach: Artisans at work

Coach captured the journey of a retail staff member entering their world of craftsmanship. Not only could they give their customers an inside look into how their products are made, but they’re also showcasing the brand as one that uplifts and upskills their employees.




21. The Ordinary: A spotlight on ordinary people

To position themselves as the antithesis of celebrity-founded skincare brands, The Ordinary adopts a playful approach that highlights the experts behind the products as just that... experts - not influencers.

 

22. Neutrogena: Innuendo where you'd least expect it

Standing out in the beauty industry is a constant goal for brands like Neutrogena. This daring and innuendo-filled series featuring their dermatologists is educational and memorable - at least we can’t think of anyone else replicating a late-night adult line.



23. Walgreens: Calling out misinformation

In the age of social media, misinformation about your brand or products will happen. Walgreens’ use of their pharmacists reacting to health-related tips making the rounds on social media presents them as true experts who genuinely care about their customers.



24. Levi's: History of an icon

To celebrate the milestone of their 150th anniversary, Levi’s ‘historian’ told the historical story behind the brand in a video series. The result? Engaging and informative content that celebrates the iconic brand while showcasing the passionate people behind it.



25. Dr. Martens: Meet the makers

Another iconic brand, Dr. Martens engages their customers via stories from those who are crafting their famous boots. For a brand whose identity is deeply rooted in creativity and quality, showcasing the care and love that goes into crafting their products speaks volumes.



26. Dyson: Busting myths

We all know there are some incredible minds behind the development of Dyson’s innovative products. By engaging with some of their engineers, Dyson humanises their brand by busting common misconceptions of the world of engineering - turns out it isn’t as ‘boring’ as you might think.



27. Kroger: Storytelling and brand values

No one will ever express your brand values as powerfully as someone who has dedicated 55 years to them.



28. Ford: Storytelling sparks awareness

It’s not enough for a brand to simply say they care about movements like Black Lives Matter, nor should it be. Ford’s incredible ‘Driven to Succeed’ series surfaces stories from people like Karen, a Ford dealer who beautifully shifts them away from tokenism and straight to uplifting and relatable content about adversity and representation.



29. LEGO: Getting playful behind-the-scenes

It’s probably not hard to make LEGO fun, but their employee-generated customers give customers a glimpse into what life is like doing what we already assumed is one of the most fun jobs ever.



30. McDonald's: Product education

Who else would know the history of the Chicken McNugget or make the function of the McFlurry spoon funny better than the McDonald’s crew? For a brand with arguably the most globally familiar marketing, their use of employee-led content brilliantly educates consumers in a relatable, human way.



31. Huel: Cultural content pillar

For Huel, featuring their staff is a go-to content pillar to show their active and fun culture. Check out this fun workout challenge in their on-site gym.



32. Elle Magazine: Testimonials

While a lot of magazines are talking about celebrities on their social feeds, Elle Magazine brings another huge component of their magazine to the forefront; beauty products. By capturing a collection of their beauty editors trying a product they produced honest and informative reviews that strike a balance between relatability and expert opinion.



33. Abercrombie & Fitch: Brand loyalty in action

It’s a common requirement for retail staff to wear the brand’s clothing while working in-store, but A&F’s approach to capturing their behind-the-scenes office staff dressed in their threads is brand loyalty in full force.



34. Delivery Hero: Heroing humans

Delivery Hero ‘heroes’ series explores the real humans behind their brand, like this example with one of their UX designers. While it’s packing higher production quality, it’s the people and their stories that make it engaging.



35. Aldi, Kellogg's and Warburtons: Mascots

Unlike Delivery Hero’s focus on humans, brands like Aldi, Kellogg’s and Warburtons celebrate their brands with larger-than-life mascots. Bringing a mix of playfulness and nostalgia they’re able to increase brand recognition and highlight their products with lighthearted content.



36. Wendy's: Hidden talents

If your content stops thumbs from scrolling you’re 95% of the way there on TikTok. There are fewer rules and being able to surprise your customers goes a long way towards standing out from your competitors.

Apparently, they advertised kitchen staff Dave’s single status in exchange for his hidden crochet talent.



SUPPLIERS

Who are your biggest brand allies? For some brands, looking beyond their day-to-day staff and towards those who supply products, skills and expertise captures their story like no one else can.

37. Ocean Spray: Showing where you come from

What better way to show your customers how fresh your product is than showing them exactly where it comes from? Ocean Spray calls on its suppliers to give a fascinating look into how their ingredients go from farm to bottle.



38. ASOS: Endless variety

How can an online-only brand with no front-of-house staff, or brick-and-mortar store like ASOS generate this kind of content? By having their social team visit their supplier where THEY work. With hundreds of suppliers, they're sitting on a goldmine of creative content with endless variety.



39. Depop: Leveraging talented creators

Depop has quickly become a launch pad for designers. The potential here is massive because the designers selling their products on Depop are high-quality creators already doing it for their brands.



40. Oral B: Credibility goes a long way

By enlisting professional Dental hygienists, Oral B builds trust with their customers by offering their certified tick of approval.



41. Living Proof: Tips from the experts

Like Oral B, Living Proof takes a similar approach with hairdressers, it’s less educational and more about showing off their products - while still packing that credibility.



42. Spotify: Premium personalisation

Can you imagine the opportunity Spotify has in recruiting their artists to connect with their users?

Releasing exclusive content from their most listened-to artists is a brilliant way for personalisation to encourage upgrades to Premium.



43. Figma: Learning... but make it fun

Figma is dominating the design industry with their dedication to giving designers the tools they really want. But, they don’t stop there. Their community of design advocates also bring the know-how with tips & tricks to upskill their users.

Our favourite? UX/UI designer and founding member of Figma’s Education Board; Zander Whitehurst’s dynamic tutorials.



44. Naked Wines: Storytelling from the source

Naked Wines enlists their winemakers to shoot simple content telling their own unique stories and how they’re connected to the brand. It’s simple but it highlights the makers, their products and Naked Wines’ values all at the same time.

 

PARTNERS

A common thread in all employee content is relatability which is why it makes sense some brands look to their super fans or even athletes they might be sponsoring.

45. Hollister: Peer-to-peer advocates

To help tap into their core youth market, Hollister recruited 75 high school students as ‘brand agents’ to generate content and drive peer-to-peer influence on socials centralised in their authentic love for the brand.



46. Gatorade: Casting call

Gatorade looked beyond the employees on their payroll and towards brand fans they’re associated with by assembling their ‘Social Squad’. By recruiting student-athletes they were able to craft highly engaging, sports-related content for TikTok.



47. Chicago Bears: Front-line athletes

The Chicago Bears shine a light on their charismatic players, giving fans another reason to engage with and relate to the team.



48. Cadbury: Sponsoring community

Cadbury has built an entire community around Cadbury FC where customers can participate in competitions etc. Their content series, featuring players showcases Cadbury’s partnership with the team while celebrating the camaraderie of the players and their love of the game.

 

Creating an employee advocacy program

As you can see, there’s no shortage of brands generating awesome content. By opening up your creative department to your employees, the ideas are endless.

The need for content extends far beyond social media. Fortunately, what resonates on organic social will resonate in paid ads, eComm and beyond which is why brands like Macy’s, M&S and Walmart have created dedicated programs to employee creators.

But, where do you start?

Enter BWS. With almost 1,500 stores and over 9,000 team members, BWS is one of Australia’s largest retailers.

By partnering with TRIBE, they’re solving the problem of generating the massive volume of mobile-first content they need - while sharing an inside look into the values and culture they are so proud of.

Together we’ve developed solutions for the manual processes of managing a program like theirs at scale. With their out-of-the-box approach to using our industry-leading tech and dedicated team, BWS has streamlined everything from employee creator recruitment, onboarding & training to content briefing & delivery and incentive payments.

Click here to discover how they got their program off the ground.

 

Feeling inspired? Get in touch with our team to discover how we can tailor a solution to deliver employee advocacy to your marketing strategy.

 

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