At Tribal, we love a good success story. Creating a social business is not an overnight task as you’ll see from our latest guest blog, by Keith Lewis, UK Social Media & Social Business Manager at Zurich Insurance. You’ll also see, as you read, that tenacity and focus will get you there in the end. Or as near as dammit, anyway.
Like many people operating in the social media and social business space, I came into this domain from a media and PR perspective. The principles of media relations and PR are pretty similar - you have to work out how best to get your message from A to B - in our case, from our business to our customers. From a media relations perspective, that route is obvious: newspapers, TV, radio, etc. From a wider PR perspective, it may be more about addressing the organisations' publics (to use the old traditional word) using different channels.
All The World’s A Stage (or, at the very least, a social media platform)
Clearly in 2019, that route has been thrown to the dogs as the world of social media purveys all. But, from a professional perspective, we still have messages we want to get from A to B. From an institutional perspective (all of my career has been working in, or with, large corporates) this has created a challenge.
I spent the first eight years of my Zurich career in the media relations/press office team. While we never put it as bluntly at the time, our mindset was - and I’m paraphrasing a little here - “Shut up, we’ll deal with speaking out loud” - in other words, we took the media’s questions, created brilliant messaging and quotes and articles, or lines-to-take for our spokespeople, and then it could all be said out loud.
The social media world has fundamentally shifted that. Edelman has been telling us for years that trust in the media is very low (although it’s on the bounce again now). The Trumpian wail for “fake news” is now common parlance - in jest or in reality. Social has given communications to the people. It’s given a voice and a platform for anyone to speak. Influencers are no longer the chosen few from the C-suite. They’re on Instagram, Facebook or Youtube.
Our Social World
Fortunately, most companies have now come around to the fact that social media is something that’s just not going to un-invent itself. While the world has probably gone over the top of the social media change curve and growth is slowing, the vast majority of people use social in their day-to-day lives. So businesses need to embrace the same. Are there risks? Of course there are. All perfectly manageable. But social creates huge opportunities for us as well. And for our employees!
Our Social Business
At Zurich, we’ve started to address this thinking and are really on a drive to empower colleagues to be out there in social media spaces. No, not sharing pics of their meals, or their holiday snaps (well, not all the time). We want them to be engaging with their respective professional communities. Why? Because better connected people do better business. Or they learn new tools, techniques, trends. And as a result they become better professionals. And then they do better business. And they become more engaged employees. Who share and shout about their work. And then we do better business. Spot the theme and the opportunity here?
Real Actions Create Real Results
That's all very good on paper. What have we done to embrace all this at Zurich? We’ve tightened up our social media policy (we’ve reduced it from a handful of pages people assumed said “No”, to a one pager) and created a video version of it. We’ve opened up our IT firewall so all social platforms can be accessed. We launched Workplace as our enterprise social network. We’ve embraced the hashtag internally and externally (subtle nudge theory - people see hashtags and link it to social media). We’ve given everyone ‘permission to operate’. We’ve introduced an employee advocacy tool to help colleagues with great content for their own channels (yes, some of it is Zurich content, some of it isn't).
We are now really starting to become a social business. But we’re not there yet. Employees are still wary and cautious about what they can and can’t do. They still ask what they should and shouldn’t do probably because our culture isn’t yet fully that of a social business.
Do we want people to shut up? Hell no! We’re now empowering people to get out there and use social to be proud of what they do and talk about #LifeatZurich.
We want them to use social to learn; to use social to connect; to use social to generate leads. Because if they use social to keep networks warm to them, they are effectively using social to keep networks warm to us. And a more social business makes for a good business.