Twelve months ago, I was chatting with Danielle Guzman from Mercer and Anita Veszeli from Ericsson on a call, and we made a pact that one day we would meet in real life. Last week, we made that ‘one day’ happen.
Our tribe hosted our fourth Social Business Exchange community event at The Shard in London, bringing together sales, marketing and HR professionals from global enterprise B2B organisations to talk about activating employee voices on social media.
After a two-year hiatus, for obvious reasons, we focused on connecting the dots between social programs including social selling, employee advocacy, employees as influencers and leadership activation.
The discussion was open and transparent.
The speakers were generous in sharing their experience.
The ideas and inspiration that it left folks with were palpable.
I was buzzing with insane excitement and grinning from ear to ear throughout.
So, as always, I like to record my key takeaways. Here goes:
One interconnected network
The social media ecosystem is wider than marketing. It touches and supports all aspects of the business from the organic brand presence and social listening to employee advocacy and influencer marketing. Organisations that take a holistic approach to social media activation connect the dots, optimise license spend and provide a standardised enablement framework for all employees.
58.8% of employees in a formal employee advocacy program spent more than 5 hours per week socially promoting their employer.
Source: Hinge Marketing
It’s not a program, it’s a culture
Danielle talked about embedding social throughout the fabric of Mercer including employee advocacy activations (including #MercerActive and #MercerCares) thought to external activations (including #MercerChats and #MercerPartner). This approach recognises that “every employee has a voice and should be listened to”.
Practice what you evangelise
It’s difficult to have conversations with leaders, executives and sales teams about being on social media if you’re not active yourself. Walking the talk is essential if you want to drive change within the organisation. As a leader of change, ensure your knowledge is up-to-date and that you build community along the way.
Personalise enablement, at scale
Every employee is different. Different roles, motivations, ambitions, experience, confidence and competence levels. That’s even before we overlay cultural, geographic and demographic impact. Personalisation is key – meet your employees where they are Social media provides a platform to showcase the diversity, put employees in front of the logo and for the brand to step back and showcase
Every employee can influence – not just sales!
Whilst many organisations focus on sales first (social selling), every employee has the power to influence a potential stakeholder. Seek to enable and empower every employee to find their voice and then provide the tools to help them communicate it. Influence happens at all levels in an organisation – it’s where trust begins and your entire organisation can impact that. Don’t limit it.
The number of interactions required to make buying decisions significantly increased from 17 in 2019 to 27 in 2021, indicating a new level of attention and due diligence.
Source: Forrester 2021
Change transformation takes time
Instead of driving the initiative centrally and waiting for people to volunteer, make sure you join team meetings and evangelise across the organisation. Talk about the benefit to them, the benefit to the business and how they can engage to get started. This is a change management program that is connected to employee engagement, culture and learning. It will take time.
Employees as influencers
Social activation can move beyond traditional program boundaries. Successful organisations, like Mercer and Ericsson, are now engaging expert employees to create content themselves and even co-create content with industry influencers. Most importantly, employee-generated content is often more credible, trustworthy and authentic which, according to the Edelman Thought Leadership study, is what B2B buyers are looking for.
71% of Decision-Makers say that less than half of the thought leadership they consume gives them valuable insights.
Source: Edelman B2B Thought Leadership Study
So, now I know that anything is possible if you set your mind to it, I’m already planning our next community event.
I made a commitment to the room on the day that we’d host the next event in either Tower Bridge (with the glass floor so you can watch the traffic below) or the Sky Garden (which is literally a huge garden overlooking London). I’m literally working my way around the London landmarks.
So, who’s in and which location? Should we host in North America too?