We’re fortunate to work with a wide variety of customers at various stages of their Employee Advocacy or Social Selling journey, some right at the beginning and some, later on when they need to re-energise their program.
What is interesting and encouraging however, is that we are now seeing more of our customers, and potential customers, interested in becoming a ‘social business’, a much wider and longer-term initiative.
Which begs the question, what is a social business and how do you create one?
What Is A Social Business?
In answer to the first question in simple terms, a social business is encouraging your entire workforce, across all levels, to utilise social media to build their own personal brand and ultimately, drive benefits (soft and hard) to the company brand.
At the heart of a social business is employee advocacy and I think this quote from Melanie Dodaro, CEO, Top Dog Social Media, describes the opportunity perfectly.
In reality though, whilst it’s simple enough to understand what a social business is, becoming one is not a quick fix. This is a journey the whole business needs to engage and commit to and most importantly in my view, gaining C-Suite support is critical to its success; becoming a social business is a cultural change, not just a program initiative.
For the sake of this blog, let’s just assume you’ve got that C-Suite buy in, stakeholders across the business are engaged and you’re all set to go…. What’s next?
Building a Social Business
At Tribal, we work along the basis of 3 core pillars when building the foundation – Activating the Workforce, Socialising the C-Suite and Empowering the Sales Team. We believe that getting this right will deliver traction, engagement and importantly, results.
Activating the Workforce
Right at the heart of any social business is the employees and of course employee advocacy. Your employees are your best asset, they understand your business, your customers and your products and by supporting your employees with training, tools and the right content, they can become the voice of your company, far more powerful and effective than any brand channel.
Advocacy is something that should be open to all your employees although recognising that not everyone will want to take part, and that’s okay. In fact, you only need a small percentage of your workforce engaged to be effective; just 3% of your employees can drive 30% of your traffic (source: LinkedIn).
Finding the right people though is a priority and at Tribal, we developed a social media maturity model to help with that but otherwise, businesses can find out who their ‘champions’ are by checking out current social media activity and by asking within their teams. Those who have a natural digital preference will most likely be already sharing and engaging with company posts.
At the same time, you should be auditing the company social activity, filtering out irrelevant and ineffective channels and building a robust social media strategy , ideally including an advocacy tool that enables you to provide great content for your advocates.
With the right tools, the right people and training and content in place to support them, it’s now time to get the program underway. As mentioned previously, employee advocacy is a long term, ongoing strategic plan with regular training, support and constant reviewing and refining.
Socialising the C-Suite
Separately targeting and supporting the C-Suite is a key part of the building your foundation for success.
The C-Suite should lead by example and employees seeing their leaders active on digital channels can make a huge difference to advocacy participation and indeed, overall business performance as this article from Forbes discusses.
Companies with social CEOs drive a number of benefits, not least of which is the impact on employee engagement. Research from Hootsuite and LinkedIn found there was a 40% increase in employee engagement as a direct correlation to C-Suite involvement and as we know, high employee engagement generally leads to a better performing business.
Firstly, though you need to review each leader individually to understand what their own level of social media maturity and affinity is. As with the workforce, it’s likely that some members will already be active and comfortable with social media whilst others will not even be online.
In this study from Hubspot, they identified 3 key reasons for Executives not being online:
- Not enough time
- The perceived risks
- Social media is not for the C-Suite
It’s worth taking your time to help the leadership team with time saving tips and tools that can help make social media a whole lot easier. Showing them examples of senior execs and peers already active and most importantly, the ROI opportunity, normally gets them on board.
However, as with the wider workforce, social media may just not be for all of them and again, that’s okay. You will probably find that once you get some champions in the C-Suite, it won’t be long before they all engage.
Empowering the Sales Team
The last foundation pillar is focused on supporting the Sales team with social selling. Whilst the beauty of employee advocacy is that everyone can, and does, drive sales, the accountability for hitting targets will nearly always sit squarely in the Sales team so it’s important to support them separately when building a social business.
You’re probably already aware of how much the buyer journey has changed with up to 70% of the buyer journey completed before engaging with Sales and nearly 75% choosing the company that first added value to that journey.
By empowering your Sales team with training and tools, they are best placed to create expert content for each stage of the buyer journey given the close relationship they have with existing customers. Their knowledge and understanding of what it is the customer needs, what problem they have that your product/service can solve together with offering guidance and advice, is priceless in creating content that adds value at the early stages of self service.
With the wider workforce we suggest people choosing whether or not to get involved with employee advocacy, with the Sales team our approach is different as we wholeheartedly believe that an active online presence is now critical to anyone working in Sales.
Focused training around LinkedIn is essential, their importance in the B2B market is as yet, unchallenged and if your sellers are active on LI, you will see the benefits with an increase in new customer leads, faster lead conversion and longer lasting customer relationships.
So, if you’ve taken the decision that creating a social business is right, I wish you good luck on your journey, it’s an exciting one!
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