• Russ Fradin
    Russ Fradin on July 29, 2014

    An Introduction to Employee Advocacy

    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.
  • As we enter the last 6 months of 2014, investing in digital spending is quickly becoming a priority with B2B marketers. As ROI and creating a streamlined customer experience continues to prove the power of digital spending, we’re seeing a steep drop in traditional marketing dollars as digital strategy grabs a bigger slice of the overall budget. Digital marketing provides a cost-effective, metrics-driven, brand awareness to businesses of all sizes. By investing in digital, B2B marketers are nimble and engage more qualified audience for their products.

    As we enter the last 6 months of 2014, investing in digital spending is quickly becoming a priority with B2B marketers. As ROI and creating a streamlined customer experience continues to prove the power of digital spending, we’re seeing a steep drop in traditional marketing dollars as digital strategy grabs a bigger slice of the overall budget. Digital marketing provides a cost-effective, metrics-driven, brand awareness to businesses of all sizes. By investing in digital, B2B marketers are nimble and engage more qualified audience for their products.

    Here are 4 key takeaways of this digital spending study conducted by Ad Age.
    • Almost a quarter (23.5%) of B2B marketers expect to spend between 50% and 74% of their budgets on digital this year, up from 17% in 2013.
    • There is a notable decrease in traditional media spend such as Print (-24% decrease) TV (-7.2%) and Radio (-6.9%).
    • Website improvements and spending trends are on the rise with +66.1% increase over last year.
    • Investing in video and social media is high on the digital priority list. This year, companies will allocate 62% more to Video and Social Media spending will increase by 58%.

    With digital strategy on the rise, is your organization embracing new opportunities?

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    via SayItSocial.com 

    I’ve done it. It’s gone. Cold turkey. After years of asserting we need to measure what matters in social business – as opposed to just tracking outcomes we can count easily — I decided to take down the social sharing counter on my blog. Here's why.

    I’ve done it. It’s gone. Cold turkey. After years of asserting we need to measure what matters in social business – as opposed to just tracking outcomes we can count easily — I decided to take down the social sharing counter on my blog. You can still share our blog items on social media tools – please do! – but we won’t be quantifying every act of sharing anymore.

    Walking the talk? Well, the fact is my social sharing tool was unreliable. When the Leader Networks site re-launched about a year ago, we “lost” all our counts. Thousands of tiny emotional validations which confirmed what we say to our readers matters all disappeared. I mourned the loss. Then my trusty tech team went to work, and soon those big braggy bunches of tweets and likes were back. All better now, I thought.

    But as I went on banging the drum of what really matters in social business on stages and talk shows, at conferences and with clients, I realized I had developed a little social sharing addiction. I knew those numbers were not meaningful, but when I posted on the blog I would peek at those numbers over the days that followed. They influenced my satisfaction with my writing. I would feel proud when my posts would trend, and discouraged when they didn’t make a big social bang. I would even tweak a perfectly good post here or there in hopes of improving its numeric fate. Just a few weeks ago, I had a post reach 18,000+ views on LinkedIn Pulse overnight. That was fun, but a closer examination of the comments suggests many people didn’t actually read the article or understand it. Did I achieve my business goals with that post? You tell me….

    I went back to my poor tech team who spent hours restoring my broken social share counter and asked them to drop it. They understood and agreed with the decision when I explained why. If my own behavior is any measure, those little counters have created an army of modern marketing monsters who write for the “hit” and not the POV. The share-counter drug is distracting writers everywhere as they focus on the spinning numbers to “prove” their worth, all the while losing sight of the real business purpose of thought leadership.

    During this journey over the past year, I’ve seen how social share counts don’t matter the way we think they might. This is especially true in the business-to-business world, where decisions are complex and the most valuable leaders and audience members don’t work in a non-stop social sharing environment. Even if my thoughtful missives may not win a “Miss Popularity” contest, their depth and accuracy triggers a response, and people reach out to learn more about Leader Networks and my work. That is the business value – meaningful connections and new clients. They were also the ones I most enjoyed writing. The numbers didn’t matter and did not predict success.

    Taking down the social sharing counter means I’m no longer beholden to the sharing metric. No more temptation to post sexy fluff (haven’t we all done it?) just to boost the sharing number. Instead, I can remain focused on delivering meaningful thought leadership and building mutually beneficial connections.

    After all, that’s why I blog. I want to share what I know with people who need help. I use thought leadership to educate and inspire social business leaders, and build awareness of my company’s services and capabilities. I want social business decision-makers to know I have explored and mapped many paths across the social business landscape. My success has nothing to do with counting social shares. Instead, I value the professionals served and connections established though our content. No more sharing counters to influence my feelings … or your first impressions of our work. Maybe we all should dump the counters. That way none of us will be swayed by meaningless metrics, and we can all focus on what really matters.

    The post Measuring What Matters: Those Addictive Numbers appeared first on Leader Networks.

    New European Union legislation on “the right to be forgotten” allows people to remove themselves from search results. Why hasn’t this been an issue in the U.S.? And what happens when you have the ability to remove yourself from history? There are also some profound implications for marketers and content creators.

    Have you tried The Marketing Companion podcast yet?

    People seem to love the humor and intelligence of our audio marketing adventures. If you have not listened in yet, this would be a great edition to begin with.

    In this show, Tom Webster and I were far too caffeinated to stick to one subject so we decided to go through a grab bag of current topics including:

    Erasing yourself from Google. New European Union legislation on “the right to be forgotten” allows people to remove themselves from search results. Why hasn’t this been an issue in the U.S.?  And what happens when you have the ability to remove yourself from history? There are also some profound implications for marketers and content creators.

    Buyer personas — Tom and I open up a “mental can of worms” when we discuss the use and perhaps over-use of buyer personas and the difference between “audience” and “buyers.” Are you sure you know who your buyers are? Are personas always necessary? Do personas kill great content?

    LinkedIn blogging — An important source of business content, or more Content Shock? Tom and I disagree on this topic.

    Content inspiration — Tom and I share key tips for finding new topic ideas for our blogs.

    My goodness. It is a veritable cornucopia of marketing delight! No time to waste now, click here to dive in:

    Or click here for episode 29 of The Marketing Companion:

    Other Ways to Listen to this Podcast:

    Illustration Courtesy BigStock,com

    The post Would you erase yourself from Google search results? appeared first on Schaefer Marketing Solutions: We Help Businesses {grow}.

     

     

     

    Organizations in the midst of digital transformation need to take another look at how they are managing overall customer experience throughout the complete customer journey. And when they do so, they will realize that social technologies are key in creating connective tissue across that journey. Social is not a channel, it's a core competency of marketing in the post-digital world.

    Recently my colleague David Cushman published an article titled The Strategic Role of Content in Proving Brand Promise -- which I highly recommend. David offers a terrific analysis and infographic on how to think about content marketing. But for me the core message was in the scalpel that David applied to the question of why marketers often struggle to succeed with social technologies. I have often railed against the common attitude that social is a "channel" alongside print, broadcast, outdoor, etc for the marketer to consider when planning a campaign. But David puts it very precisely in the first paragraph of his article:

    Social Media has confused many marketers for many years. Mostly because it isn’t a media. It’s an exercise in relationship building. 

    Right. It's an exercise in relationship building. Or, taking the "exercise" metaphor a bit further, its the connective tissue for customer experience (you know, muscles, exercise...). Marketers are now in the relationship building business, not just the communications business. And that joins them to their colleagues in sales and service who have always been relationship builders. As a customer talking with a company I expect that marketing, sales, and service will all be engaged, or each engaged at the right time in my journey. And social can provide that connection to the company through the different phases of consideration, purchase, and consumption. 

    As I've written about in previous articles, companies in every industry are engaged in digital transformation -- reforming their business to adapt to the changing customer expectations and new opportunities afforded by technology. A focus on customer experience can help align your organization in that transformation process to understand the role of social and how it creates the need for a very different kind of cross-functional behavior across your business. In order to address customer experience holistically (across the complete customer journey) your company will need to develop four distinct types of systems and related operational competencies which will then be utilized across marketing, sales, and service functions. 

    Systems of Record -- Where your transactional information is stored - critical to empowering your employees to know what is happened in the past with your customer in order to track performance, define additional sales opportunities, and provide service.

    Systems of Insight -- The extended data on your customers and prospects which provides the analytical base for insights, both about customer segments and about individual customers.

    Systems of Engagement -- How you engage with the customer and manage those interactions

    Systems of Co-ordination -- The platform for supporting interactions between employees and with business partners

    These four systems together, used consistently across the organization, provide the framework for supporting customer experience. Social is key - providing both a way to link together the touchpoints of customer interaction but also to provide the means by which coordination can occur across the functional teams engaged in that interaction. Social can be a part of deriving insights, can be a part of how interactions are managed, and is core to the collaboration that has to occur in this new interconnected operating model.

    So start exercising - you'll need strong social muscles to work through your digital transformation.

    Sabrina Stoffregen has been running Intel's employee advocacy program globally, since its inception. She brings amazing perspective as the leader of a program that is far ahead of most programs in this space. We are very lucky to have her sharing lessons from her program at the September 15 Employee Advocacy Summit in Atlanta.
    Sabrina Stoffregen has been running Intel's employee advocacy program globally, since its inception.  She brings amazing perspective as the leader of a program that is far ahead of most programs in this space.  We are very lucky to have her sharing lessons from her program at the September 15 Employee Advocacy Summit in Atlanta.
     
    Below is an interview I did with Sabrina last Spring at SXSW 2014.  Transcript is below the video.
     
     
    CHRIS
     
    I know you've done some interesting things around moving away or augmenting in historically using people who demo your products as professionals who are trained and very good at that, to using more regular employees, and had some interesting success with that.  I would love to hear what you guys did, and how that played out.
     
    SABRINA
     
    We did something a little bit different last year.  We created pop-up experiences, these short-term installations all around the world.  We were in Beijing and Sao Paolo and London, and lots of great places, where we wanted to re-introduce the brand and our products to the consumer. Normally what Intel would do, as most companies, I would suspect, is to hire local demo experts to demo our products. And they're brilliant.  This is what they are trained to do.  But we had this idea, that I had Intel Ambassadors at every single one of these places where we were going to have these pop-up experiences, and I thought, what if we were to activate our Intel Ambassadors and to train them to be demo experts?  What I thought would be different about that experience is that they would be able to tell the Why story of our product and our history and our brand.  They are the employees who actually made the product, marketed the product, engineered the product, and the results were spectacular.
     
    What we found was that when we surveyed the customer experience these pop-up experience stores, they (consumers) really engaged longer and more deeply when it was an Intel employee versus a demo expert. From the consumer perspective, that was wildly successful. 
     
    From the employee perspective, the Ambassadors were honored that they were chosen to have this experience -- a direct experience with the consumer.  That was outside of their normal day job.  Instead of being in a validation lab, they were out talking to the customer. They got a fabulous trip to Beijing, and they got to speak to the customer.
     
    Also, what we noticed, was that they brought back that information, that experience with the consumer, back to the labs. They brought that first-hand knowledge of what the consumer was asking for and looking for, back to the labs, which influenced our product development.
     
    CHRIS
     
    That's fantastic because so many brands talk about being connected to the customers, but then they stick these things in between themselves and the customer to create that connection.  It's kind of crazy, right?  Why don't we just let the employees talk to people?  Brilliant.
     
    Looking Forward, How Will Employee Advocacy Add Value to Intel?
     
    CHRIS
     
    More strategically or longer term, as you develop your program -- and you've been working on this for two years -- how have you seen and how do you see, going forward, the thinking of the organization around how this needs to relate to the rest of the business, the value of this, what should it do or how should it create value, and how should it tie into the business... what are you seeing as you look forward?
     
    SABRINA
     
    One of the things that we want to do with this program is to scale.  We started small with 300 people out of 100,000, and we grew that when we had the Tablet Smart Squad, and we've done four other Smart Squads since then.  We've done all-in-ones, two-in-ones, smart phones, so we have expanded.  I think we've had about 2,000 employees who have been engaged in that process. But we need to scale more. 
     
    If you look at the adoption curve, you'll note that you need 16% of the population to hit that tipping point.  That would be 16,000 people at Intel.  I'm not close yet. 
     
    So I have to think about how do we scale in a way that makes sense and will have impact. One of the things that we're thinking about is how to tap into those passionate employees.  At Intel, we have something called Employee Resource Groups, which are like-minded people that come together because they have a common interest or passion point.  It could be women at Intel, as one example.  Those people tend to be extremely passionate about Intel, our brand and our story.  So we're thinking about how we tap into them, to expand our Ambassador base.
     
    Our new CEO has given our employee groups a challenge, saying that he loves the energy and synergy of what happens in the employee groups, but he wants them to tie whatever they're doing to the business. That's something that they haven't done before. So we were thinking, from an Ambassador perspective, we really have that connection back to the business, and we could really engage the employee groups, and activate them that way.