In our “Charting the social universe” study, we observed that while most organizations recognize the potential of social technologies, many don’t know where to start or how to advance their goals. In fact, only 20 percent believe their organization is currently acting truly social.
To learn more about how some enterprises and industries are becoming more inherently social, Steve Rogers, Director of the IBM Center for Applied Insights, spoke with Brian Fanzo, Chief Digital Strategist at Broadsuite and social technology evangelist.
Listen to the full podcast here:
Highlights from our conversation with Brian
Social authenticity starts with company culture
Employees are the stitching behind a company’s story and, ultimately, its greatest social tool. Therefore, brands must embrace employee advocacy to have a truly authentic social presence. This begins with hiring employees who embrace the company culture, trusting employees to be good brand ambassadors and empowering them to amplify the story of the brand through social.
“I think oftentimes companies are afraid of employee advocacy maybe because they’re not as authentic or maybe their story isn’t as true to tell as they’ve been telling everybody on their website because I think the true sign of a great culture is not what’s on a website or not what a CEO says in the presentation but it’s on the faces of their employees and that can be a scary element for a lot of leaders
Millennials can act as social mentors
The growth of social will follow the growing ranks of employees from the millennial generation, who are inherently familiar with social technology. Millennials are better suited not only to take advantage of social but to promote it through the company. Acting as “reverse mentors” to senior level executives on being social, millennials can stay engaged, and the organization as a whole can become more social and connected.
“It really helps the social business space if you’re able to connect millennial new hires with a senior level executive and really do that reverse mentoring where that senior level person is now all of a sudden blogging or maybe they’re adding more updates to LinkedIn because they were mentored by a new hire. And now that new hire has a connection with someone that is high visibility in the company, and they feel that what they are doing is actually being heard.”
Social as a sales tool
Making sales starts with building trust and relationships, and social is a great tool for building those connections. While business may have been done on the golf course in the past, social is a new, broader type of relationship-building platform. As Brian says, “it won’t replace a handshake, but it’ll turn that first handshake into a hug.”
“My dad taught me to play golf, and really the reason he taught me to play golf is he said, ‘All business is done on the golf course.’ I tell my dad now, ‘Well, a lot of business is done on social,’ and really you know, it bridges that gap when we can create that same relationship that we would on the golf course, we would at a happy hour, via these social tools.”
Ultimately, your employees are your customers
Social technology makes it so that brands are no longer defined by top-down initiatives but rather by their employees and customers, who are armed with a platform for expression and the ability to be brand ambassadors. As a result, the community and employees that make up a company are going to be more important than the brand name. Brands should embrace this and partner (instead of competing) to create experiences that bring true value to these communities.
“So I believe that we’re going to focus a lot more on the community and the customers. And I like to call the customers both internal and external because your employees are not only your biggest fans (or should be your biggest fans) but also your biggest customers.”
To learn more about social authenticity and employee advocacy, listen to the full discussion. For more information about how leading companies are becoming truly social, read the IBM Social Insights study and related blog posts.
“Talking Insights” is a podcast series aimed at exploring business and technology topics through candid conversations with industry experts. Tune in to learn about everything from social business to start-up partnerships from the people who are actually doing it.