Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Social Media Employee Empowerment - What Works

Social media "employee empowerment" is catching on in a wide variety of companies.

It helps a brand leverage the social reach of its employees to talk to an audience that can be 10 times larger than the brand’s.

Russ Fradin of Dynamic Signal quote on employee advocacySocial media employee empowerment programs are proving highly successful at brands such as Lenovo, Oracle and Cisco where employees using their own social networks become brand ambassadors.

Increased reach and engagement are just two of the often-cited benefits for brands.

I recently became aware of just how widespread employee empowerment is thanks to Stephanie Dobyns who does marketing at Dynamic Signal in San Francisco and who, via a Twitter conversation, pointed out some great examples of employee empowerment going on in various companies.

Her own boss, Russ Fradin, CEO at Dynamic Signal, has predicted that in the next 12 months a majority of top companies will be use employee advocacy (see image).

So, how do companies implement a social media employee empowerment program?

Social media employee empowerment resources:

Inbound Marketing: What Comes After the Tipping Point? - (a Cisco blog post by Dr. Christine Bailey, Marketing Director, EMEA & Russia for Cisco) says five big changes are coming to marketing in the coming year and No. 5 is: "Employee advocacy will fuel marketing.”

From Oracle: 4 Steps To Create A Culture of Employee Advocacy - looks at four key areas that companies and their employees need to learn to trust each other.

Leveraging Employees through Social Media with Charlene Li (email address required to view) - In this 55-minute video of a Dynamic Signal webinar Charlene Li, founder of the Altimeter Group, reports on research showing that a vast majority of companies are going through digital marketing transformations and that employee advocacy through social media is a key part of that change.

Lenovo created an internal social network to improve employee engagement - talks about how the China-based computer manufacturer got a huge lift in its marketing efforts by encouraging a relatively small proportion of employees to first share information on an internal social network before sharing elsewhere. It also reports this interesting detail: "Studies have shown that employees who are encouraged to share stories about the company on social media tend to stay with the company longer and are more loyal."

Employee Advocacy vs Social Selling & How to Drive Revenue Using Both - looks at the similarities of employee advocacy and social selling. Author Anna Stevens, Digital Marketing Manager at Recall, says brands can create long-lasting circles of trust. "Here's how. Your employees trust you >> Their social networks trust them >> So, your company's message, products, and events authentically reach new people."

5 Common Problems with Employee Advocacy - is an Oracle blog post that identifies some typical objections/hurdles to employee advocacy programs and offers solutions.

So, is social media employee empowerment for you and your brand? I’d love to hear other examples.

Related posts
Employee empowerment drives massive social media results for brand
2015: The Year of SM #EmployeeEmpowerment and How to Create a Successful Program

2015: The Year of SM #EmployeeEmpowerment and How to Create a Successful Program

2015 - the year of social media employee empowerment
As 2015 is shaping up to be the "Year of Employee Empowerment" in social media more and more companies are wondering how they might benefit. 

Social media employee empowerment programs are proving highly successful at brands such as Lenovo, Oracle and Cisco where employees using their own social networks effectively become brand ambassadors.

Increased reach and engagement are just two of the often-cited benefits for brands. But how do you set up an effective employee empowerment program? 

During a recent Brandwatch webinar called Social Monitoring & Gamification: Creating Employee Advocates at Cisco (the slides from the webinar are here) Brandwatch’s product manager Caroline Goodwin outlined one possible approach: 

Raise awareness of the value of social. She said organizations can do this by:
  • Putting social up on screens in the workplace where everyone can see social activity around the brand and its products and services.
  • Using reports to regularly show employees at various levels what is happening with social efforts and how they help the brand.
  • Integrating social facts and figures for the brand with other numbers employees are more comfortable and used to seeing such as sales figures or call numbers. 
Enable your employees by:
  • Training them and providing tips and guidelines about what kinds of information can and can’t be shared about and around the brand. Also share how social media efforts are measured.
  • Promoting the type of content you’re hoping employees will share, the hashtags your brand prefers and any tips on the ways to share content from the company website.
  • Collating all of your employee’s social handles so you can accurately track their efforts. Goodwin says the surprisingly easy way to do this is to "just ask" for each participating employee's social handles.
Encourage healthy competition by:
  • Creating a table showing who has the greatest impact (either by using an existing commercially available tool or creating your own measurement) that looks at frequency of sharing, numbers reached, and numbers of responses and re-shares. 
Harness the power of your advocates by:
  • Planning ahead, for example, by giving your employees a heads up on an upcoming marketing campaign and share the relevant hashtags and links to the content that will be going out in the near future.
  • Monitoring results by tracking specific links and hashtags and who is sharing them and how far they are going. Brands can also keep the momentum going by providing very regular updates to employees during the campaign so everyone feels involved.
  • Recognizing all participants once the campaign is over and sharing its success with all. But then also recognize the most successful social media advocates.
So that’s one approach to employee empowerment in social media, what about others? My next post will look at that and provide links to some great thinking around the whole topic.

Related posts
Employee empowerment drives massive social media results for brand 
Social Media Employee Empowerment - What Works

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Employee empowerment drives massive social media results for brand

Increasing social media reach by 1,000 percent might seem like an unattainable goal for any business.

Well, that’s exactly what Cisco’s Marketing Manager Alex Montuschi reports as a chief advantage of his company’s empowering employees to use social media to talk about Cisco.
Statistics re Cisco employees' reach on social media
He was speaking during a recent Brandwatch webinar called Social Monitoring & Gamification: Creating Employee Advocates at Cisco. (Also, the slides from the webinar are here.) 

The webinar was looking at what is turning out to be one of the hottest trends in social media in 2015: Employee empowerment.

In a nutshell employee empowerment (as it relates to social media) is a conscious move by a brand to empower/encourage employees to support the goals of a brand using content and social channels owned by the employees. 

Why do companies use employee empowerment?Among the reasons cited by Montuschi:
  • Cisco employees have 10X the followers than the brand
  • 90 percent of employees’ audience is new to Cisco
  • An employee advocate is likely to score 2X on any measure of trust than the CEO
  • Content shared by employees receives 8X more engagement that content shared by brand channels 
 According to Montuschi, whose particular piece of the Cisco pie is the area known as Europe, Middle East, Africa and Russia (EMEAR), one of the most-effective tactics his company employed was creating a social leaderboard table that recognized the most-influential employees on social. 

These were not always those with the most followers or the most posts on channels such as Twitter and Facebook.

In addition to the massive increase in reach for Cisco message son social in the EMEAER region, Montuschi listed other benefits:
  • Cisco employees’ social activities increased by over 140 percent in 6 months.
  • Average number of tweets posted by employees increase by 5 percent.
  • Some 232 employees are using the social leaderboard tables to measure their social impact.
Cisco also used the introduction of the leaderboards as an opportunity to offer 120 hours of social media training to 200 employees. The result of this, said Montuschi, was that those employees became better users of social media and more aware of their social impact.

So how do Cisco and others set up its employee empowerment program for social media? More on that in my next post.

Related posts
2015: The Year of SM #EmployeeEmpowerment and How to Create a Successful Program
Social Media Employee Empowerment - What Works

Friday, August 21, 2015

College freshmen needs – laptop, books, oversized sheets and caring about your online rep NOW

All across the United States this month a few million college freshmen will be heading off to college for the first time … and one thing they probably aren’t considering is how little time they have to perfect their online reputation.

Yes, four years can seem like a lot of time. But before most of these students realize it they will be applying for jobs and sending out resumes. And that is when employers start checking them out online.

College freshmen
If you’re a college freshmen – or if you know one – now … right now … is the time to start thinking about how to perfect that online first impression.

From social media posts to pretty much everything else that goes online about a student a lot of "stuff" can build up online. Whether it is a positive or a negative impression can depend on what happens between now and about 3.5 years from now.

So what should all incoming freshmen do?

Here are a few tips gleaned from a presentation I will make to freshman at the Rochester Institute of Technology (where I teach in the School of Communication). It will be part of a “Digital Self-Defense” session for all 2,900+ freshmen and owes a debt of gratitude to an earlier presenter Hannah Morgan (aka the Career Sherpa):

Before Year 4: College Students Must Think About ...

1. Yougle: In other words: "You are what Google says you are." Stay on top of how you look to others in search results. And make sure you are doing the search of your own name on a device that either has no record of your preferences or you should select the "globe” symbol to the top-right of the search results page … that way you see what the world sees, not what Google thinks you want to see.

2. A better you: Your goal is to dominate Page 1 of Google search results with positive links about you. First, be sure that any "bad stuff” you have control over is taken off the web. This can be harder than it seems since removing material from a website may not remove it from a search engine's database.

Then, to improve both how high up your best links show up in search - and perhaps bury the ones you don’t want to be so easily found - there are numerous tools worth checking out. I’m a fan of Brandyourself which offers a decent set of tools for free and, obviously, a broader range of tools for those willing to pay a monthly fee. For more on other services see my earlier blog post: Professional Reputation Management Services.

3. Own your name:  If you don’t already own it you should buy the URL of your name or one with a version of your name in it. If you don’t own someone else will. Then use it with one of the great free website-building sites (Wix, Weebly, Wordpress, among others) to create a simple website that tells your story and shows off your talents and experience.

4. All of you: Make sure you own your name on the biggest social media sites – even if you have no immediate intention of using them. A good place to start is to see if your preferred social media handle is available across all the networks you’d like to be on. Best practice? Keep looking until you find a name that is available everywhere and use that everywhere so you control it.

Also, be sure to have at least one professional-sounding email address that you use for business communications. Yes, you’ll get a school (.edu) address right away, but will that stay with you long after school? A Gmail address or something similar is fine as long as it sounds professional and is not like – I once really did receive a job application from a 22-year-old who listed this as their email address.

Linkedin logo
5. Connect – a lot: It goes without saying that you need to create and manage a solid Linkedin profile. It may be thin on details initially, but it is the primary professional network and provides the opportunity to build a long-term group of professional connections and to develop an online identity and reputation among the people you know. It can also serve as an online portfolio of your work. More and more employers are using LinkedIn to find and hire employees.

Then be sure to volunteer, join clubs, and to be active in campus groups and professional organizations while in school. This will provide things that can flesh out the picture of you online in places such as Linkedin.

6. Guard your image: Stay on top of how you are portrayed by others. This means keeping track of where your image appears and your name is mentioned. Start with some basic Google alerts so that if your name shows up on the web you will know it. Then recheck all your privacy settings across all the social networks you’re on and don’t forget the cardinal rule: When something goes online it likely is online forever.

7. Stand out – for something: Last, but not least, find a way to differentiate yourself from the millions of other college students who will graduate at the same time you will. Ways to do this include blogging on a topic you care about, sharing stories or images on various social networks that relate to causes you support (just stay away from the two toughest ones – politics and sex).

It helps if your public interests online align with your career goals, but it is not essential. I had, for example, an accounting student who blogged about making milk carton-furniture and that blog helped land her her first accounting job because, as the hiring manager said, “it shows you have interests beyond number crunching.”

Overall, this seems like a lot to think about, but freshmen have four years (well, maybe a little over three years) to get this sorted out. They should start now.

Was this helpful? It wasn’t my usual social media-heavy type of column, but I hope it helps. 

Related posts:

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Importance of Personal Branding for College Students #infographic

Ahhhh … the start of a new college school year and the excitement of heading off to or back to college…. 

One thing many college students won’t be thinking about at this time of year, but they absolutely should be, is their personal brand.

By the time they’re preparing to graduate – hopefully at the latest they’re thinking about this in Year 3 – they should have a strong personal brand that is obvious to anyone who finds them on the web. 

A solid personal brand means that a future employer, landlord or even significant other finds a well-rounded and positive (or at least 99 percent positive) image of you when they Google your name.

So how do you get a great personal brand? You build it over time and you do it methodically.

This means students entering college now have the greatest opportunity to build up that personal brand. And yet … 

Many won’t think about this until it is too late – Year 4 – or not at all.

The time is now in terms of building that brand.

This infographic might help. It spells it out in basic terms anyone can follow. It seems particularly relevant to college students:

Infographic source: Original in Italian by Enrico Bisetto and the English version by Jorgen Sundberg