Brand Ambassadors: EllisDon’s Social Media Evolution

MeganOutLOUD    June 5, 2014

Award winning, Influential and Ahead of the Curve


It’s hard to imagine that ten years ago, the term “social media” was only just stepping foot onto the main stage of popular culture and that social media giant Facebook was in it’s infancy. What’s more; Facebook “Pages” for businesses (as we know them today) were not even a “thing” yet (launching some few years later in May of 2009).

So it’s no wonder businesses around the world continue to amend and adjust their internal social media policies; some loosening up restrictions and others barring the online communications forums altogether.


There is no black and white, “one shoe fits all” answer to how a business should handle social media during, and even after work hours. However; it’s hard to deny the impact a more recent trend called “Employee Evangelism”, seems to be having on the success and influence of a corporations online development.

The idea behind it is nothing new;  drill  the company’s branding identity into the very soul of a new employee through reading materials, orientation and training. However, take a moment to review Canadian-made EllisDon- a global construction services company, owned by 50% of it’s employees- and you can clearly see a road map that has been laid out to take employee branding advocacy into the future and throughout social media channels, using none other than the very bodies that do the doing.


Geoff Smith is Canadian winner of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2013, President and CEO of EllisDon and a regular contributor to the company’s website on his blog. Photo cred: Tim fraser Taken from “CEO of the Year” article featured on the Financial Post website 02/18/2014 by Dan Ovsey

Through the posts on his popular blog; President and CEO Geoff Smith almost paints a picture of the decision-making that has led to a thriving social media presence (boasting the largest Twitter following in the construction industry), an award-winning corporate environment and forward thinking branding advocacy programs like EllisDon University and projects like the Social Media Masterclass series delivered together with Reed Construction Data.

“A couple of years back, it was suggested that our company should ban access to Facebook and other social media sites, as these were obviously ‘personal use’ applications irrelevant to ’doing your job’. My reply was that I would support this when we also banned football pools – a significant Friday afternoon time waster at EllisDon. ”  Excerpt from ‘When does ‘Reasonable Supervision Become Big Brother?’ May 30 ,2010

The basic idea behind developing brand advocacy is to: educate employees so that they not only understand your branding identity but that they embrace it. Empower them with the ability to engage through social media channels (offer workshops if necessary) and provide them with a message they can stand behind. Have clear-cut policies that protect employees, the business and your clients and continue to guide and facilitate content (through newsletters, professional development opportunities etc)

Wondering how you too can develop a successful employee branding advocacy program that embraces social media and in turn; develops an award-winning corporate environment? Take notes from the best, adapt it to your own industry and continue to educate yourself! Social media is an ever evolving animal, one which can be understood, embraced and used as an incredibly effective way to reach clients,leads and – as we have seen here; a means to engage employees and create a positive work environment.

Do it Like EllisDon: 6 Steps to Employee Branding Advocacy

Step#1 Know Your Brand

From the beginning EllisDon knew who they were and allowed that to weave itself into every aspect of their expansion and growth. If you have not done so already, make sure to develop a thorough and well thought out branding identity. You can’t expect employees to “get it” if you don’t understand it yourself!

“We are thinkers before we are builders. In fact, that notion permeates every facet of our enterprise. Why? Because we want to get as much out of our employees as our business can possibly muster. We begin by giving them freedom – because every job is different and we need to be flexible enough to accommodate anything that comes our way.” taken from ElisDon website ‘The Way We Think’


Step#2 Develop an Employee Branding Advocacy Program Built for Longevity

The day long orientation that some corporations have new employees participate in is not enough alone to create an atmosphere ripe for branding advocacy. You must integrate your brand through any and all aspects of training. EllisDon developed “EllisDon University” or “EDu”, meant to bridge inexperience with the experienced and cover areas such as technical training and cover changing industry standards.

Step#3 Empower Employees 

EllisDon prides itself on respecting the intelligence and dedication of it’s employees and, as Geoff Smith clearly outlines in the same blog post mentioned earlier, allowing the “ROWE” or “Results Oriented Work Environment”theory to guide management decision making. If you have a pretty tight grip on the access that employees have to social media channels; consider loosening your grip for a measured amount of time and seeing whether there is a definite need for limited access. Go further and empower employees as EllisDon has; granting access to social media “How To” courses and further, industry related “How To’s”.

Step#4 Clearly Define Guidelines & Expectations

EllisDon is very clear about what employees are allowed and not allowed to post to social media channels. Especially when it comes to ongoing projects and the privacy many of their client’s wish to hold on to. Have a thought out Social Media Policy available and accessible and act on situations that need be dealt with.

Step#5 Maintain Open Communication and Facilitate Employee Involvement in Social Media Marketing Strategies

EllisDon hires in house marketing and communications staff, which is what should be done if it can be done. Should an outside agency be involved, there should still be plenty of employee involvement in the development of campaigns or policies relative to social media. Continue to keep employees informed of upcoming campaigns, posts and contests and how they can participate. Employees often have more reach then just a business page or profile alone and even a handful of influential employees can make all the difference in your business’ online success.

Step#6 Engage, Engage, Engage!

@EllisDon is sure to ReTweet employee mentions as demonstrated tonight after an employee wished Geoff Smith luck in Monte Carlo. This widens the reach of the message, which by all intents and purposes is to further solidify EllisDon as a great place to work! Time, money and potential are all but wasted if employee posts, comments and shares are left un-attended to. Act on employee posts and be sure to post content that drums up employee interaction.


You can find a downloadable pdf version of the above list by clicking here.

To remain on top of your game, keep your ear to the www and visit this site often for tips and advice on applying social media in business!

Dustin Luchka (Director of Marketing and Communications) and Geoff Smith (President and CEO) have been contacted regarding this post. Both have been invited and encouraged to review and comment.
Submitted By: Megan Clark (Inbound Marketing and Online Communications Consultant at Outloud)
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or; should you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Programme Director, Social Media for Business Performance.