NEW YORK: Reebok, the sporting-apparel group, has successfully harnessed employee advocacy to spread the word about its refreshed brand positioning on social media.

Ben Blakesley, the firm's senior manager/global social media, discussed this subject on a webinar organised by SocialChorus.

He joined the company in February 2014, the same month that it unveiled a new positioning based around targeting fitness enthusiasts across America, rather than placing a sole emphasis on elite-level athletes.

And he found that his colleagues embodied this commitment to exercise as a way of life, thus making them the ideal ambassadors for Reebok's refreshed purpose.

"Nearly 80% of our workforce is part of our target demographic – the millennial generation that is out there doing the things that we talk about every day," said Blakesley. (For more, including further ways the brand is prompting employee advocacy, read Warc's exclusive report: Reebok employees … just do it.)

Its staff not only enjoy staying in shape, but also share their passion on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. "That's an amazing thing – that they are doing these things anyway," said Blakesley.

"For me, the challenge is less, 'How am I going to get people to share them doing physical activity on social media?', but, 'How do I bring it closer to the brand and tie it into our brand mission?'"

In achieving this goal, Reebok has used employee "takeovers" on Instagram and asked staff to submit material that might potentially be shared on Reebok's official channels.

Both tactics play into a widespread desire to be a "mini-celebrity", as their output will be seen by all of the brand's followers on the relevant social platform.

"Everybody who is sharing on social media loves to see all of those likes show up on their pictures. So that's one of the ways that we incentivise people with a low- or no-cost reward," Blakesley said.

A special hashtag, "#fitasscompany", also allows employees to express their enthusiasm for exercise on their personal posts.

"We always ask people to be very forward about their involvement with the brand and that they're an employee of the brand. I think that's a key component, also. We're not trying to fool anyone," said Blakesley.

Data sourced from Warc