• Russ Fradin
    Russ Fradin on July 29, 2014

    Why Employee Advocacy Matters

    Employee advocacy is an emerging new marketing strategy where companies empower their influential employees to authentically distribute brand approved content, create original content, and in turn earn recognition and rewards for their activity and participation.
  • alexmoffit
    Alex Moffit on September 4, 2014

    John Doerr on OKRs and Goal Setting at Google and Intel [VIDEO]

    “Ideas are precious, but they’re relatively easy. It’s execution that’s everything,” says John Doerr, partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and the man who introduced Objective & Key Results (OKRs) to Google. Google widely credits OKRs for helping the company grow from 40 to 40,000 employees. Other businesses including LinkedIn and Twitter have also embraced OKRs.
  • Greg Gerik
    Greg Gerik on September 16, 2014

    Shaking Up Social: Attending the Social Shake-Up in Atlanta

    Last year, the Social Shake-Up was one of the best social conferences to attend and this year promises to be even better. Here are a few of the hottest topics and sessions at the Shake-Up this year that are sure to deliver and drive this industry forward.
  • Using Facebook’s own free feature to boost your social media campaigns, branding, and reach is currently very under-utilized. However, it is a built in reminder function that can help your social media department automatically alert both followers and employees to your updates.

    One of the most under-utilized features or functions on Facebook is the ‘Get Notifications’ feature. The average Facebook user likely doesn’t even know it’s there or what it does. What does the ‘Get Notifications’ function do anyway?

    When you click the option, which appears in a drop down menu under the ‘Liked’ button, you simply click it. A check mark will appear to signify that you are signed up to receive notifications when that company page posts to Facebook. This gives businesses with a Facebook page the opportunity to educate their followers about the feature and incentivize them to activate it for their page.

    A Marketing Tool[[{"fid":"165431","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_caption[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_caption[und][0][format]":"filtered_html","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","attributes":{"style":"margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; margin-top: 5px; margin-bottom: 5px; float: right; ","class":"media-element file-default"}}]]

    Some simple marketing messaging on Facebook and via email communications can educate consumers and clients about Facebook’s ‘Get Notifications’ feature and explain to them what it’s about. Of course, when your followers get those notifications every time you post an update, your company and your brand will remain top of mind with them on a daily basis. However, what’s in it for the consumer? Structuring contests, coupon offers, and other deals you post about on Facebook to require fast action can act as the incentive for followers to get notifications from your page. When they want to be alerted so that they can enter a contest or click to download a coupon or special offer, the ‘Get Notifications’ function begins to work to their benefit.

    Don’t Abuse the Notification Privilege

    You will want to be careful not to over saturate your followers with posts if you do opt to try this type of campaign. Use social media tools to schedule posts throughout the day rather than posting all of your messages at once. If you post to your page very frequently (i.e. more than 5 to 7 times per day), this might not be a good option for your Facebook page. The last thing you want is to inundate users with notifications once they do opt to turn this feature on. For this reason, be sure to include instructions on how to stop notifications easily (with just one click), so that your Facebook fans know that they can turn this off at any time.

    Internal Benefits of the Facebook ‘Get Notifications’ Feature

    How else can your business’ social media efforts benefit from the ‘Get Notifications’ feature? Ask all of the staff, including management, to opt in to ‘Get Notifications’. This way, the staff will be notified automatically when the social media team posts an update. This eliminates the need for internal messaging and reminders for the rest of the company departments to help boost social media by liking and sharing each post. This idea also works well for groups and organizations as well.


    Using Facebook’s own free feature to boost your social media campaigns, branding, and reach is currently very under-utilized. However, it is a built in reminder function that can help your social media department automatically alert both followers and employees to your updates. Incentivizing followers to opt in for notifications can be a part of a contest, coupon, or daily deal campaign so that they have a reason to want to accept notifications. Once they do, your company will remain top of mind with those followers on a daily basis.

    It’s clear: to fight and win more budget for social marketing, brands need to show how their budget is bringing real business returns. Connecting the dots between social handles, email, the customer journey and ultimately sales is becoming a critical career skill for in-house social strategists.

    “We’re the red-headed stepchild.” My friend Dave, who is a global social director at a major fashion brand, lamented as we commiserated over oysters and drinks at Island Creek Oyster Bar in Boston (a must to visit if you’re ever in the area).

    No offense to red heads or step children, but the phrase has meaning, especially among social media teams at big brands. And Dave isn’t the only one who feels this.

    Most social media directors have difficulty proving the value of social media marketing at organizations. Sure they can measure it, but they cannot attribute it back directly to things like sales. With Dave’s case, his brand has some of the largest social media followings of any company, and fans around the world post pictures of the product, like, share, re-tweet all to the millionth degree with no incentive to do so, only because they love it. But, when it comes time to ask for budgets for staffing, marketing programs, and the like, Dave’s got an uphill battle because he can’t offer a solid ROI.

    “From the outside looking in, we’re perceived as best-in-class in social. But behind closed doors, our company has gone bankrupt two times already. We really need to prove that we drive the business,” says Dave, who often times is asked to dumb down his presentations when explaining social to his colleagues. “There’s always an elephant in the room about the business meaning of a ‘like’.”

    Luckily, Dave’s got hope. I shared the following ways to prove social media ROI based on what I’ve seen from my clients—it all comes down to understanding what the business values.

    Start gathering emails

    TaylorMade knows for sure that once someone signs up for a brand email, they’re on that path to purchase and becoming a loyal customer. And even Craig Brommers, SVP of marketing for Abercrombie and Fitch said that loyalty club members are, on average, six times more valuable than nonmembers, and the top 10% of club members purchase eight times per year. Which means there’s value in an email.

    While Dave is in no way connected to his brand’s email program or has knowledge of the ostensibly complex systems, he can work on a series of promotions on social that will ask his social media followers for emails in exchange for brand relevant things like content and prizes. TaylorMade did a series of bursts just like this on social, and within a course of a year, was able to hand over more than 60,000 emails to the CRM team. This left little question on whether social media marketing delivered value to the business.

    Help with Ad Targeting

    Promotions on social media can offer an opportunity to gather social media identities such as individual handles on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Those handles can then be fed into ad buying systems, which then can target the ads on the applicable social media channels. The handles themselves can be targeted, as well as friends of those handles. For the media buying department at Dave’s company, this would help them deliver proven ROI, such as click-throughs. By connecting better click through rates to those handles who participated in the promotion, then the reasoning and value of doing a promotion on social media increases.

    Find out which social media followers are customers

    To give you another example, one retailer I worked with wanted to know which subscribers of their list were also following them on social media. To do this, they offered their email list subscribers a special if they tweeted a special hashtag. The tweet intent was embedded in the email, so once the subscriber responded to the call-to-action directly from the email, we were able to get their social handle. From there, we compared their social handle to their Twitter followers and was able to discern which followers were customers as well. This helped the strategy team figure out which customers were the most valuable based on spend and advocacy.

    As I talk to more and more friends like Dave, it’s becoming clear that to fight and win more budget for social marketing, brands need to show how their budget is bringing real business returns. Connecting the dots between social handles, email, the customer journey and ultimately sales is becoming a critical career skill for in-house social strategists.

    How can brands convey the brand promise through content? Hint: It's about showing, not telling. You don’t need a viral video, you want to make something that they want to watch. Something that educates them, makes them laugh or speaks to them.

    I was fortunate enough to talk to Steve Farnsworth recently, a great discussion with a fellow marketing geek. I was interviewing him for an upcoming magazine article about content that lives the mission statement. I’ve riffed on this before, noting brands like Subway that do a great job of it, and some that need some work.

    While talking to Steve, we started refining this idea to “content that lives the brand promise.” I’m using some of the excerpts from our interview that aren’t going into the magazine for this post, because I thought Steve’s insights were really helpful.

    Here are a couple of Steve’s thoughts on businesses that are living the brand promise through content.


    I come from the thinking that most mission statements are bulls**t. They’re concocted by CEOs to make themselves feel better about themselves. When you are talking about the mission statement, are you talking about the bullshit one that they write or one that shows the corporate culture?

    If you are talking about showing the brand’s culture, what you’re really getting into is brand promise – forming, developing and communicating the brand promise.



    home depot content marketing

    Home Depot does content marketing at a very personal level.

    One brand I actually like is Home Depot. They do content marketing at a very personal level – you can go there on a Saturday and spend and hour and a half in their branded environment with one of their people and learn about how to remodel your kitchen. They don’t sell those services at all. They just provide the materials and free education to get in there and do it.

    People spend a fortune just to get a few minutes of your attention through interruption-based advertising. These classes are very late stage in that most people are pretty serious when they come to a class and they can learn all of this stuff with no obligation. It’s a “do-your-own-home-improvement class,” and they not only have the stuff to sell you, they provide the knowledge to you to go and do it.

    One of the problems with content marketing is that people  fail to map their content to the business ecosystem. If it’s B2B, somebody’s who’s got budget authority has to understand who all of these buyers are and what their pain points are. You have to ask “Who are these people and why do they care?”

    I don’t think Home Depot did this intentionally, but they mapped it directly to the people who would be doing it. Content marketing is built to gain eyeballs, but some companies continue to make it about them and not about what their customers want. You have to see it from the outside in, from the customer-centric, not the product centric.


    Jay Baer has described Taxi Mike before. It’s this wonderful story about a guy who has a taxi and makes little guides about places to eat, places to go, and he goes back to all of the bars and restaurants around town and people call him.

    I’m not sure how much time Taxi Mike spends on these, maybe a hour a month, but this effort is saying – “Hey, if you’re in town visiting, I’m your guy!”

    If he spends $20 a month, it probably turns into hundreds of dollars of taxi business and people will go home and talk about him, tell friends that whenever you’re in town you need to see Taxi Mike.

    How hard is that? It doesn’t say “You should call me because I have a taxi.”  It’s the difference between talking about what I have to sell and saying, “Here are some cool things to do and if you want to get there, here’s my number.”


    oreo moment

    You don’t need an Oreo moment. Try to do something solid instead of trying to recreate a moment in time.

    Fundamentally, it’s because senior executives are risk-averse and being risk-averse does not lead to smart decisions. It leads to decisions everyone else is making which are typically middle-of-the-pack.

    This kind of leadership permeates the organization. This kind of mentality flourishes when that drive to keep everything safe leads to the brand not having a close relationship with customers by going out with them and talking to them.

    Back in the old days when people went to the town square, they met the person who actually made the product. The industrial revolution brought an incredible separation between people making stuff and buying stuff. Social channels allow us to break that separation.

    Each company wants to have their own Oreo cookie moment. That’s come and gone – it’s a one in a million moment. So many are trying to do something derivative. Try to do something solid instead of trying to recreate a moment in time.

    You don’t need a viral video, you want to make something that they want to watch. Something that educates them, makes them laugh or speaks to them.

    The Congressional Budget Office is now on YouTube, as well as Twitter. Government delivered to you! You might be thinking, “I have enough TV to watch. Why would I watch CBO testimonies?” Good question.

    While the battle over the annual federal budget in Congress has become a political circus, it is the Congressional Budget Office that is responsible for bringing the debate back to reality. When a Member proposes a new piece of legislation, it falls to the non-partisan CBO to score the proposal to determine its impact on the budget. CBO is non-partisan, but to listen to Senators and Representatives talk about it, you’d think that the CBO was the tool of the “other” party. Well, depending on what the CBO says.

    Typically, when the CBO concludes that a Democratic proposal will reduce the deficit, the Republicans blast it for being biased. But when the CBO says a Democratic proposal will add to the deficit, the GOP lauds its objectivity and trustworthiness. And then there are times when the Democrats accuse the CBO of being biased in favor of the GOP.

    The back and forth between the parties hating and loving the CBO is legendary in Washington, and frankly a bit ridiculous. The bickering is so much all over the map that it is hard to take either party seriously when they go after the CBO. Perhaps pissing off both parties at times is truly a marker for the CBO’s non-partisanship. When you really dig into the facts on Congressional policy proposals, the conclusion is bound to anger one side or the other.

    Historically, most Americans were at the mercy of the hurled accusations among legislators when judging proposed laws. It was all “he said/she said” stuff. Sure, a citizen could visit their nearest Federal Depository Library and read the hard copies of CBO reports, but who does that? Well… I used to do that all the time when I was in high school, but not without undue hassle.

    My local Federal Depository was at the college library down the street. But I was not a student at that college, so I was always harassed by the librarian. She tried to kick me out all the time because I wasn’t a student there. Each time I reminded her that the library was a partial Federal Depository, so I had a right to use the documents. She’d grumble and walk away.

    But now (oh joy), thanks to the internet, all of those exciting documents are available online. They have been available on the CBO’s website for years. But recently, the CBO has become proactive in pushing its reports out to the public. First it joined Twitter to share its reports with the public. And now it has launched a YouTube channel, so we can all kick back and watch CBO Congressional testimony.

    You might be thinking, “I have enough TV to watch. Why would I watch CBO testimonies?” Good question. For me the answer is simple. If you want to know whether the CBO findings about the budget impact of legislative proposals is fair or biased, it is better to listen to what the CBO has to say about its reports than it is to listen to the partisans whining from the losing side of its conclusions.

    An informed citizenry is the key to a healthy democracy (ok… republic). And what better way to be informed than to listen to the analysis of the researchers at CBO who spend their entire workday digging into the data to evaluate the bills Congress is considering. And now that the CBO is on social media, that valuable research will be delivered to you as it is delivered to Congress.

    Now that is how government should work.

    Brands Rising advises companies on creating a more authentic, impactful brand experience by implementing employee advocacy programs.

    September 15, 2014 - Susan Emerick, a trusted advisor to Fortune 500 brands, today announced the official opening of Brands Rising, LLC  The new consultancy was founded by Emerick in collaboration with partner Jeanne Murray, also a former IBM Business leader, to help brands create trusted relationships in social media.

    Brands Rising advises companies on creating a more authentic, impactful brand experience by implementing employee advocacy programs. Specifically, “These are programs central to a brand’s success, led by engaged employees who’ve earned trust and inspire advocacy. They’re built on analytics and valued for driving measurable business results at scale,” states Emerick.

    At its core, an employee advocacy program is about enabling an organization’s best brand ambassadors - its knowledgeable employees - to build trusted relationships with prospective and established customers through social media. “The ultimate goal for any employee program should be satisfied customers, shared expertise and an enlightened network of people who learn from each other,” says Murray.

    [[{"fid":"165346","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_caption[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_caption[und][0][format]":"filtered_html","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"brands rising logo","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","attributes":{"alt":"brands rising logo","style":"line-height: 1.538em; float: right; margin-left: 7px; margin-right: 7px; height: 193px; width: 225px;","class":"media-element file-default"}}]]Already established marketing experts and thought leaders, both Emerick and Murray became pioneering industry leaders in social media, and social business transformation, while working at technology giant IBM - where they first met. Emerick led the team responsible for the company’s social media strategy including social media listening and analytics, influencer, employee and brand engagement, social media governance and policy and measurement standards. (Emerick details lessons learned and best practices in her recent book, “The Most Powerful Brand on Earth,” published by Prentice Hall. Murray led customer engagement and employee collaboration efforts in the IBM Software Division, pioneering innovative internet projects including first-of-a-kind audience web marketing, social learning and social media measurement programs.

    “Most importantly, Susan and Jeanne are helping brands scale,” says Greg Gerik, Vice President of Industry Solutions for Shoutlet. “To truly scale a program, it isn’t enough to simply deploy technology. Effective programs must help employees build skills to engage and gain trust while managing risk, and use analytics to improve results - and to achieve this at scale is a constant challenge for even the most advanced companies.”

    Says Emerick, “We look forward to working with global brand leaders at all stages of the maturity curve. Brands Rising will offer the full range of services for clients interested in raising their brand’s impact, from strategy and planning, legal and compliance, education and training to performance measurement and quantifying ROI.”

    Contact information:




    LinkedIn: Brands Rising

    brands rising / shutterstock