Last week, we completed our 5th Social Business Exchange at the incredible Gherkin building in London – a chance to bring together change-makers and digital transformers to discuss how best to activate employees on social media.
It wasn’t a marketing-focused event. It wasn’t a communications event. In fact, we had all kinds of roles represented in the room, from internal communications to sales enablement. The consistent thread that resonated for all being that they’re on a mission to activate employee voices on social media - whether executives, sales teams, employees as influencers, or employee advocates and champions.
Aileen Scriba, Digital Communications Manager at Henkel
I absolutely love these events for three reasons:
- It’s practitioner-led, focused on the community sharing their insights and experiences with each other.
- It’s wonderfully diverse and inclusive including different industries, countries, sizes and types of programs.
- It’s community-based focused on inspiring and connecting, not products or pitches. When you bring like-minded people together who are facing similar challenges, the room ignites!
For most of the day, it felt like an out-of-body experience – utterly mesmerised at how well our tribe had delivered an amazing experience for our guests.
But as the day went on and we heard from organisations such as Ericsson, Henkel, Generali, IBM and SSAB, I realised that the similarities were far more prominent than the differences. Regardless of the industry, the program, or the person leading the program, all were experiencing similar challenges.
You can find the presentations here.
Ignacio Lancuba de Caro, Group Distribution Experience Manager at Generali
Start Small. Grow Intentionally.
The consistent message across all programs was to start with a pilot and then evolve the program with a laser-focused and targeted approach. If you’re taking a broad-brush approach to activate the masses, then you’re losing focus and likely losing your patience.
A pilot will (or at least should) give you both the confidence and the data to build the business case for program growth. In all our examples, they talked about this approach, intentionally scaling up by targeting groups e.g. key account managers, 1st line managers, and accelerating influential employees.
Nada Alkutbi, Geo Social Media Lead at IBM
Resilience And Persistence
It takes a certain type of person to inspire and enable employees to use social media. First, you’ve got to be practicing what you’re preaching. If you’re not active on LinkedIn, you’ll have a hard time convincing leaders, employees and sales teams to take heed of your advice.
But more than that, you need resilience and persistence because you’ll face knockback after knockback. Non-believers, excuse givers and (in the case of leadership activation) the executive gatekeepers.
Sarah Winter hosts our panel discussion with David Want, Fiona White and Peter Marshall
Peter Marshall, Ericsson, spoke as part of our panel discussion and recorded a video for LinkedIn afterwards.
“Can we do something different? What’s stopping us from doing that? I love being part of these communities… but actually when you learn something and you challenge yourself, you have to think: why am I not doing this more often?”
“To get the opportunity to learn new things, gain more awareness of a different aspect of your work and to share best practices – how can you not enjoy it!?” – The Accidental Tech Influencer
Peter’s journey also inspired a video post from Charlotte Lander, Standard Chartered Bank, too. Her top tips are:
- Do something that scares you
- Personal branding is key
- Social selling needs to be underpinned with relevant content
Think Like Your Audience
What struck me most about all of the practitioners was the language they used. They talked like their audience!
- Ignacio Lancuba de Caro, Generali, spoke about sales agents and pipeline – language of sales.
- Rachel Burdus-Cook, Ericsson, talked about talent retention and attraction – language of leaders.
- Danielle Guzman, Marsh McLennan, discussed influence and trust – language of employees.
Whatever program you’re leading, ensure that you understand the language of your target audience. Make it relevant to them, their role and their goals. Understand their motivations. Walk in their shoes. Try to connect the dots between how social media can help them achieve their goals.
Rachel Burdus-Cook, Global Social Advocacy Manager at Ericsson
Be A Networker
Something that struck me in the room was the noise. The chatter and conversation that surrounded the breaks and workshop sessions. People who run programs are networkers. They give generously, share openly and listen attentively. They’re curious and have a hunger for learning.
If you’re leading a program, be everywhere. Audiences won’t come to you. You need to go find them where they’re hanging out. Embed yourself into meetings that already exist. Tag yourself to the end of the next leadership meeting. Grab a slot in the sales kick-off. Make yourself relevant by finding those in your organisation that can fast-track you to the audience you want to get in front of.
Kristina Lawson, Communications Manager for Global Events at Siemens Digital Industries Software, shared her key takeaways afterwards in a LinkedIn post:
“Encouraging employees to move away from thinking of social media as a routine and part of their “to do” list, but instead to think about engaging with their social community naturally; to the point it becomes a habit.”
Jean-Louis Benard, Founder and CEO at Sociabble
Think Laterally. Not Literally.
Finally, every speaker shared how they had connected their program into wider organisation initiatives. Nada, from IBM, spoke about IBM Blue Points for influential employees. Danielle, from Marsh McLennan, talked about generating a report for leaders so they can engage with employees on LinkedIn.
Thinking one dimensionally about your social media activation program will only get you so far. If you want to build a sustainable program that will continue to scale, it’s important to think creatively about incentivising and reporting. Connect your program to existing reward schemes. Provide useful reports that are actionable.
Crucially it’s a long-term game, as explained by Anita Veszeli, Director of Social Media and Advocacy at Ericsson.
“Employee Advocacy is nothing new, it’s been around for about 10 years. The concept is simple. However, enabling employees, leaders, experts and sales teams is complex. It requires a business case, strategy, buy-in, preparation, enablement, trial and error and constantly challenging flexibility and endurance. It's a long-term game.”
Danielle Guzman, Global Head of Social Media at Marsh McLennan
Thank you to all those that joined us for our 5th community event, especially our amazing speakers who took the time to travel and be with us, our event partner, Sociabble for allowing us to go bigger and higher than ever before.
If you missed out, don’t worry – you can find a copy of the slides here, but I’m afraid the conversations were kept in the room!
The Tribal Impact and Sociabble teams
Finally, my biggest thanks go to our Tribal team – those there on the day but also those behind the scenes. Without them, we wouldn’t be working with such incredible customers.