• 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.
  • Social media training is a balancing act between teaching employees the risks of social media and how to be active on social for business benefits and closer customer relationships. There are ten steps to consider when launching a social media training program across your organization. Read on to find a recap of these insights, presented at the first Employee Advocacy Summit in Atlanta (#EASummit14).

    Social Media Training is challenging.  It is a balancing act between teaching employees the risks of social media and activating employees to be more effective in their roles.  

    A few years back in a previous corporate role, I recall taking a compliance training course and being informed not to leave candles burning on my desk.  I was surprised to be told this, as it seemed like a no-brainer, but then realized there must have been a prior incident for this message to be shared  broadly across the organization. Social media risk management training is like the candle in this example: we have to inform our employees that there are risks, and there can be damage for the employee and the brand. But on the flip side, candles provide light and warmth, and can be very powerful.  Social media, too, is a powerful tool that can bring us closer to the customer, make our business more effective, and help us become better listeners.

    In the first Employee Advocacy Summit of its kind, I was provided the opportunity to present ten steps to consider when building out a social media training program, teaching employees how to use social media effectively without burning the building down.  

    One of my favorite steps is going back to the old marketing creative brief.  Remember answering the question of what you want your customers to think, feel and do?  It is the same for our employees.  What do we want employees to think, feel and do with social media?  I've recommended this exercise to numerous customers, encouraging them to write the actual answers down.  This will help inform the training content, plus activation plans.

    Another favorite tip: get employees to understand a two-page legal document (insert your social media policy here).  The reality is that none of your employees are going to read the social media policy.  This is the foundation of risk management, and you need to think creatively about how to message this content to your employees.  Also, use your Executives: employees tend to listen and follow their input. 

    You can find the remaining eight steps in the SlideShare presentation below:
     
     
    Here's the reality: the role of the employee is changing.  It is our duty to protect our employees, as well as inspire them to build their personal online brands, while listening and meet our customers in this new era. I believe a strategic social media training program has the power to protect and inspire action.  
    Back in the early 2000s, there were visionaries who saw the promise of social and what it could be, and it didn’t have anything to do with technology. One of those visionaries is Brian Solis, the principal analyst with Altimeter Group, which helps companies adjust to technology disruption. He's also an author and in-demand speaker on the startup circuit. He opened the first morning of the The Social Shake-Up 2014 on Tuesday, Sept. 16, with Social Media Today’s co-founder and CEO, Robin Carey. Read on to figure out how you'll strike back at technology with human-to-human connection.

    Back in the early 2000s, there were visionaries who saw the promise of social and what it could be, and it didn’t have anything to do with technology. One of those visionaries is Brian Solis, the principal analyst with Altimeter Group, which helps companies adjust to technology disruption. He's also an author and in-demand speaker on the startup circuit. He opened the first morning of the The Social Shake-Up 2014 on Tuesday, Sept. 16, with Social Media Today’s co-founder and CEO, Robin Carey.

    “Business has never been human,” Solis said. “There is nothing about relationships in CRM. We could be more human. Some of us are still fighting the same thing today as we were in early 2000. Just because you come out on social doesn’t make you social. You really have to try to be transparent, to connect with someone. That’s the core of what makes business social. A lot of us lost sight of that.”

    Carey put Solis on the spot right from the start, asking him his opinion about Scott Monty’s departure from Ford Motors as its social media pioneer. She asked specifically, “Has marketing taken over social business?” Solis was taken back, responding that the coffee is still digesting. Of course, the audience laughed with them. And then Solis said Scott never lost sight of the human side of social. Ford became more human under his lead. But he reassured Robin and the audience that just because such a high-profile social leader left a large corporate brand, it’s not the end of social—we just have to figure out what we want to do with social. Do we stay or leave? We’re at a crossroad.

    “We got comfortable with what social should be but never got it to where it could be,” he said. “It’s mired in politics—who does what, who funds what?"

    At the end of the day, is your energy spent better elsewhere, as in Scott’s case? Well, let’s compare Monty’s exit from Ford Motors to when Luke left the planet Hoth to go the planet Dagobah to train under Jedi Master Yoda. While Luke was training, Darth Vader captured Luke’s friends, so he had to decide whether to complete his training and become a full Jedi Knight or to confront Vader and save his comrades. Perhaps Ford Motors was Monty’s Hoth and Shift Communications is Dagobah. Have we been captured by Darth Vader, which, in this case, is technology? Will Monty save us from technology, continuing to be our Jedi Master of social media and reminding us of the human side of it?

    This Is the Crossroad

    We have to answer these questions with other questions first. Do you see the future of your company as more responsive and listening more to customers? That’s what social brings to the party. If your company isn’t responsive, and if it doesn’t listen, what are you going to do? Our Social Change Agent survey shows many of you are willing to push for social and stand up for it to colleagues and superiors despite the risks. Some of you are even willing to lose your job versus compromise your social beliefs.

    “If you ask a CEO what keeps them up at night, their typical response is technology," said Solis. "If you ask a CMO, they say we don’t know our customers as well as we’d like to know them. But we know them. There’s a gap between us and the C-suite. Although none of them would say, ‘We don’t care about our customers,’ if they were truly customer-centric, CEOs and CMOs would put people first.”

    Solis’ research, in fact, found 88 percent of CEOs said their companies are undergoing digital transformation; yet only 25 percent studied the digital customer. “The problem with any executive is that I honestly don’t believe they think they’re selling to humans. I don’t think we appreciate when we talk to someone else, the opportunity to talk to someone else. I have your attention and you have mine. Now what are we going to do with it? What happens next? What’s different about this? We don’t know. We have so much structure, etc., it doesn’t allow the natural progression of an embrace.”

    The “embrace” Solis spoke of isn’t the typical hug, of course. It’s the “gift of empathy” on social. We’re measured by transactions, he said, which come after the embrace. So don’t just tweet back to solve a problem. Get to the root of the problem. Practically share the bad experience to counter all of the other stuff, Solis suggested. “People don’t share good experiences as much as they share bad experiences, but we have to inspire behavior we want to see, and stop reacting and start cultivating this community.”

    None of us have come out and said, “It’s not about me, it’s about community,” he continued. “It’s not about technology, it’s about real problems that we’re trying to solve in the real world,” Carey added. “It’s really about taking this collaborative global thing and plugging into solutions.” 

    But Solis said you actually have to care. Mediumilism is a term he came up with to explain how we jump on everything, such as infographics as the new press release. “Every content piece you’re going to create, whether it’s an infographic or tweet, you’re faced with what do I want to do next, how do I want people to use it?’

    Content is a means, Solis explained, and social is a means. But what do you want to have happen from it, he asked? It’s not just that you want to feel good, but you want someone on the other end to feel good. Imagine a world in terms of content where we all truly cared about the person on the other end of the infographic or tweet. That’s the core of social business. And Solis believes that’s what will convince the C-suite.

    Although Monty moved on from Ford Motors, he continues to guide us in social media marketing. And as you probably know, Luke left his training with Yoda to save his friends. What are you going to do? As long as you have the person on the other end of the content in mind, no matter your business goals, social strategy, or audience, the empire will surely strike back. The best possible case is that human connection will collaborate with technology. Reminds you of when Darth Vader saves Luke in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, doesn't it?

    We've only been at The Social Shake Up 2014 for a little over 5 hours, but we're already learning valuable takeaways about content creation. Here are 5 tips for more effective content creation and what to watch for as we look to develop creative, engaging, and relevant content for our brands.
    We've only been at The Social Shake Up 2014 for a little over 5 hours, but we're already learning valuable takeaways about content creation. Here are 5 tips for more effective content creation and what to watch for as we look to develop creative, engaging, and relevant content for our brands. 
     

    1. Your Audience: Know 'em and have 'em know you

     
    While you may have the resources to spew out content all day long, if it's content that your audience doesn't care about, then you're essentially wasting your resources. Be sure that if you're talking to Millennials, the look, feel, and tone fits them. It's probably not the same content that you'd serve up to Baby Boomers. The more often that your content is geared to the right audience, the more likely they'll notice you. You need to cut through the clutter, so audience understanding is at the heart of that. 
     
    Watchout: While it may feel right to jump on the latest trending conversations, it might not be anything your audience is talking about. Don't always feel compelled to just "join in" because everyone else is. Join in the conversations relevant to your audience, your social media team, budget, and resources will thank you. 
     

    2. Update Your Brand Book: social media needs a chapter

     
    In the days of traditional advertising and marketing, imagery, logo usage, colors, brand voice, and vision were all mandatories in your brand book. Today, in our digital world, social media standards need a chapter of their own. 
     
    When you clearly define your social media standards and how you want to come across in the digital world, like the social appropriate voice, the campaign goals, the standard visuals, etc it can help speed up the content creation process since you have a guide in place. It allows you to limit the number of approvals needed to publish content since you've already identified and agreed upon the standards in the brand book. Setting up a solid foundation for your social media just like any other branding attributes will set you in the right direction. 
     
    Watchout: make sure your guidelines don't limit the creative process. While you want guidelines for consistency you don't want monotony. Ensure you create guidelines with some flexibility to allow your creativity to still shine. 
     

    3. Be Organic: don't force everything, let it happen on its own

     
    "The best moments are unplanned", according to Andrea Harrison, Head of Platform Strategy for RebelHouse. Andrea emphasized that it's important to let some things happen on their own. One of the examples is instead of just creating custom branded hashtags to interject into the social space, maybe it's better to listen and jump on the hashtags that are already part of conversations. Sometimes reinventing the wheel isn't how you'll get skin in the game. Talk about what others are talking about so you are part of what's already happening. 
     
    Watchout: make sure that you can cut through the clutter. When you jump on the bandwagon you're competing with everyone else on it too. When you have compelling and innovative content it will help you standout amongst the crowd.
     

    4. Creative Content Sandbox: have a place for creative minds to generate ideas

     
    If you don't create a space, the time, or group of people to get social media content created then you'll go nowhere. Remember, you need resources and talent to get things done. We live in a world where people are actively wanting new things all the time. It's the advent of we will not wait for it. So if you don't have people and resources at your company coming up with content, then some teenager in their bedroom and/or a YouTube sensation will be doing it on their own time, potentially taking away your audience's eyes and time to their content. Invest in a team so you have a quality social presence.
     
    Watchout: don't bite off more than you can chew. The last thing you want to do is not keep up on your content if you start publishing. It will deter your audience from continuing to engage. To help combat this, developing a well defined social media calendar will help you stay on track. It will hold your company accountable as well as setting up a publishing pace that's appropriate for the time and resources that you realistically have. 
     

    5. Consistency Leads to Discovery: importance of unified naming conventions 

     
    In the sea of users and companies on social media, getting noticed can be a problem in and of itself. Do yourself one favor and start by unifying your naming conventions. If you have your Twitter handle named a certain way, use that same name in Instagram, Facebook, etc. It can already be hard enought to get your audience to find you once, let alone as differing entities. The more consistent you are with your naming the more you can heighten your discoverability across channels. 
     
    Watchout: try to find a name that works across as many networks as possible. One way to check and find the best name is through the website http://knowem.com. Knowem scans hundreds of social networks and shows you which networks have your name available. Quick, down and dirty way to checking your name all in one place. 
     
    Be sure to join the conversation and add your own tips and learnings on Twitter with #socialshakeup.
    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.

    Last year, the Social Shake-Up was one of the best social conferences to attend and this year promises to be even better.  In addition to a speaker line-up that includes the “who’s who” of digital marketing, this year’s event focuses on a few key emerging areas in digital marketing that every brand should pay close attention to.  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: 

     

     

    Data and Security

    Data has been the buzzword of the last 18 months but security is closely following.  I’m constantly amazed at the lack of thought that goes into data security in social programs.  With the EU focused on personal data privacy and a forecast of more to come globally, businesses need to understand the guardrails of data use and personal information.

    This is not just a topic for credit card security anymore – it’s a richer discussion on when, how, and what to leverage when social interactions offer so many opportunities to garner more and more personal data.  At Shoutlet, data and security are a top concern we have taken extremely seriously for years.  This will be one of the more exciting tracks to follow at Shake-Up this year as we are still in the midst of writing the rules.

    Key Sessions:

    5 BS Facts about Data Privacy Everyone Thinks Are True

    Tuesday, September 16 • 11:45am - 12:45pm

    Speaker:

    Tamara Dull

    Director of Emerging Technologies, SAS Institute, Inc.

     

    The Art and Science of Data: Engaging Audiences the Data Science Way

    Tuesday, September 16 • 3:15pm - 4:15pm

    Moderator:

    Andrew Gardner, President & Founder, Momentics Inc.

    Panelists:

    Megan Kelley, Vice President, Center for Social Media, Fidelity Investments

    Will McInnes, CMO, Brandwatch

    Jola Oliver, Assoc. DIrector Data Strategy & Activation, Kraft Foods

     

    Find Me an Audience: How to Target Socially

    Wednesday, September 17 • 11:45am - 12:45pm

    Moderator:

    Adam Wexler, Chief Strategy Officer, Insightpool

    Panelists:

    Adam Naide, Executive Director of Mktg - Social Media, Cox Communications

    Ben Nemo, Business Lead, Restaurants, Facebook

    Allison Sitch, Vice President, Global Public Relations, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C.

     

    Strategy & the C-Suite

    With our industry maturing, brands are finally starting to ask the right questions. What is the value of the digital program? How does it contribute to our revenue? Identifying the ways that social activities can support business goals is finally becoming recognized as best practice.

    While it’s true that many organizations are still focused on likes, fans, followers, and engagement, many are starting to identify and operationalize integration opportunities that provide business value.  Customer care support, lead generation, and operational efficiencies are just a few areas the c-suite is examining with social programs.  This topical track should attract a large following during the event this year.

     

    How CMOs Drive Innovation and Revenue Growth

    Wednesday, September 17 • 10:30am - 11:30am

    Moderator:

    Jason Breed, Partner, Global Leader - Social Business, IBM

    Speakers:

    David Davidovic, President, PathForward

    Tim Minahan, CMO, SAP Cloud and LoB, SAP

     

    Social Selling: How Companies are Transforming Sales

    Wednesday, September 17 • 11:45am - 12:45pm

    Moderator:

    Anneke Seley, Author, Sales 2.0

    Speaker:

    Liz Gelb-O'Connor, VP, Inside Sales Strategy & Innovation, ADP LLC

     

    The Social Organization

    For several years this has been a growing topic: How do you create a social organization and scale the enterprise? That’s now changing.  Social capabilities are just one part of the digital story that brands can take advantage of to influence the buying decisions of their customer.

    Additionally, the role of the employee is emerging. Beyond digital skills and knowledge, employees are starting to have the opportunity to tell their brand story and represent their business beyond their job function.  Most brands are very new to this approach, with most programs resembling a “spray and pray” parroting approach to social engagement. We all know there’s a smarter, more intentional way to go about it, but where do you start? I’m looking forward to hearing insights from the session below and being a part of the discussion that identifies possible solutions and best practices.

     

    Social Brand Sabotage: Tactics to Secure Your Social Presence

    Tuesday, September 16 • 11:45am - 12:45pm

    Moderator:

    James Foster, CEO, ZeroFOX

    Speaker:

    Tracy Bell, SVP, Enterprise Media Monitoring Executive, Bank of America

    Kristina Libby, Consumer PR, Microsoft

    Alexis Schulze, Corporate Director of Social Media, Capella Hotel Group

     

    Key Influencers Who Can’t Be Ignored

    Shake-Up will deliver a few shining stars this year, one of which is IBM’s Susan Emerick.  Susan’s Employee Advocacy Summit before the Shake-Up will feature many discussions around how businesses can truly drive employee advocacy.  Susan led IBM’s research in this area to enable IBM employees to become trusted brand advocates.  Her pre-Shake-Up conference is a must-see event.

    • September 15, 2014
    • 12:00 - 8:00PM Eastern Time (including cocktail hour followed by Welcome Party, hosted by Social Shakeup)
    • Location: W Midtown-Atlanta Hotel, Atlanta, Georgia
    • Organized by Chris Boudreaux and Susan Emerick, Co-Authors of The Most Powerful Brand on Earth, in collaboration with Social Media Today

    Purchase your tickets and select Employee Advocacy Summit or buy the Employee Advocacy Summit + The Social Shake-Up Full Access Pass for a discounted ticket.

    Lastly, join Shoutlet and others for a sponsored lunch at 12:45pm on Wednesday, September 17, in the Great Room.  It’ll be a great time to connect and talk about what’s transpired at the conference thus far.

    Marketers have a tremendous opportunity to shape how they work with media companies. But to do so means moving beyond the click mentality.

    Which of these two stories from The New York Times is the more compelling: this piece about the mainstreaming of the Brooklyn beard, or this piece about women inmates in American prisons?  

    The first article comes from the editorial pages of the Times; the second comes from its content marketing studio and is promoted through native advertising. 

    The comparison is, perhaps, unfair, given how lightweight this particular piece of Times editorial is. (What is it about Brooklyn that brings out the worst in the Times?) But in the wake of recent shouting about the wall between church and state in journalism being torn down, I’m not above taking a cheap shot.

    My larger point: Quality rules–and quality can come from either side of the wall. In fact, the phenomenon to pay attention to is not that quality is being drained out of the church side, but rather that it’s finally being built into the state side. The insight driving the rise of content marketing is that quality in the form of authenticity, transparency, and rigor is what drives connections. And that is raising the level of quality of content everywhere.

    Or it will, over time. Plenty of poorly thought-out and poorly executed content marketing initiatives exist; brands are still learning what is effective and how to develop them. But they will get better at it as content creation becomes more ingrained in the corporate culture, and as they see how quality content rises above the rest.

    We see it already in the brands that are truly trying to serve their audiences through content. Our own experience at The Economist Group working with GE over the past year-and-a-half on the “Look ahead” project together has taught us the power of a new kind of media-brand partnership. Together we are creating a distinctive information experience for our audience by bringing our collective capabilities to the task. Neither of us could do it on our own.

    Still, there’s a difference between content marketing–content that is sponsored by a brand–and native advertising–sponsored content that is camouflaged to blend in with the pure editorial offerings of a publication. Native advertising seems to be an attempt to blur the distinction in order to fool the reader. The argument is that the reader is smart enough to know the difference, but if that’s true, then why the blurring? For the click, of course.

    Media companies would be better off ensuring the quality of their clients’ content rather than developing cheap techniques to trick their readers into reading it. And brands and their media planners would be well-served to think about the success of a content program differently than they would a banner campaign.

    The click misses the point of sponsored content. The click is why digital advertising is giving way to sponsored content in the first place. It’s not about getting anybody to click; it’s about getting the right people to engage. And that comes from creating a high-quality, content-driven experience, like the Times did for Netflix with its piece on women in prisons.

    (By the way, that piece on women in prison helps to fund such truly outstanding editorial work as this exploration of the life of a homeless child.)   

    The best media companies hold their sponsored content to a high standard based on what they understand about their audiences; the worst focus on fooling their audiences into clicking. 

    Native advertising is just one symptom of an industry still struggling to find its way. But the core value that media companies bring to the mix must be the trust they have built with their audiences. Sell that out for a click, and media companies will have little to offer either their audiences or their sponsors.

    Marketers have a tremendous opportunity to shape how they work with media companies. Together we can develop new models of collaboration to create content that provides real value for the audience, for the brand, and for the publisher. But to do so means moving beyond the click mentality. There’s no better time for marketers to partner with media companies; use the moment to create a new relationship that holds you both to the highest possible standards.

    Your audience will reward you.