• 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.
  • BeverlyMay
    Beverly May on August 13, 2014

    Countdown to the UX Awards: Get Discounted Tickets and Vote Now for the Winners!

    We're a partner with the UXies, the premier global awards for exceptional digital experience, which is in downtown San Francisco on September 11 after 3 years in New York!
  • Social media coverage of the unfolding events in Ferguson, MO continues to shine a light on real-time, unfiltered news reporting from both professional and citizen journalists. There was a time when the defenders of professional journalism would denigrate the citizen journalist as lacking in ethics, objectivity and, sometimes, even veracity. But those criticisms have lost some credibility.

    Social media coverage of the unfolding events in Ferguson, MO continues to shine a light on real-time, unfiltered news reporting from both professional and citizen journalists. There was a time when the defenders of professional journalism would denigrate the citizen journalist as lacking in ethics, objectivity and, sometimes, even veracity. But those criticisms have lost some credibility since “weapons of mass destruction,” Jason Blair, Judith Miller and, more recently, the mis-identification of the Boston Marathon bomber smeared professional journalism with the taint of inaccuracy and fraud.

    As reports, photos and video clips flow from Ferguson in real-time, it is more important than ever that people have fully developed web, media and information literacy skills in order to identify which reports are credible and which are not. When you see breaking news on social media, even if it is from an established news organization, you have to look for corroboration before you accept it as true. And be sure that your corroboration is not just another source citing the same original source.

    Even videos and pictures can be misleading. We cannot rest easy just because visual evidence is provided in social posts. Pictures and videos can be deceiving. Take, for example, reports that Pro-Russian rebels used a Russian missile launcher that they rolled into Ukraine to shoot down MH17, which they then rolled back into Russian. The photo shared as evidence for this claim was debunked because it was taken last March in a different city (based on the ad in the billboard).

    The bottom line is that reports of breaking news on social media should be a trigger to find corroborating evidence and not be taken as the final word. Especially for fast moving stories, such as the police killing Mike Brown in Ferguson, the reports coming across the transom from many sources are not all credible and unbiased.

    [[{"fid":"147526","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_caption[und][0][value]":"

    Militarized police approach an unarmed man in Ferguson, MO.

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    And even when looking at reputable sources, you still have to ask questions about what you are seeing. Take this photo from the New York Times, for example. We see militarized police bearing down on an unarmed man with his hands raised. On the face of it, it looks disproportional. But we have no idea what is behind the unarmed man or what is happening behind the police. This could be a picture in the center of a violent riot that is taking place just beyond the edge of the photo. Or it could be the isolated image it appears to be. But the meaning is vastly different depending on which is the underlying truth.

    “Seeing might be believing,” but seeing a photo is not the same thing as seeing events unfold in person. The eye of the camera, and to some extent the “eye” of a tweet, is a snapshot out of context. Being literate when it comes to information and media presented via social media takes a bit of skepticism, sense of perspective and research. Without that, people might as well believe everything they read and see on Twitter. And we know that is a bad idea.

    I am not saying that social media is a bad place to get your news… far from it. I am saying it is a great place to get your news, but you have to exercise caution, exercise your mind and make sure what you see there can be believed before you take it for fact.

    Instagram's platform continues to generate impressive metrics from year to the next. Since the acquisition by the parent company Facebook it has been nothing short of social media success and victory for users actively posting on the platform.

    The photo and video sharing social network has proven to be a force to be reckoned with. Not only does it have the photo-editing features people enjoy but has over 200 million active users (MAU). The parent company, Facebook, put all the eggs in the right basket when it acquired the company. Companies or brands have to adopt their own brand of marketing and identity on the platform while respecting the rules of engagement.

    What certainly became an internet sensation for fans of Instagram was the addition of the video feature in 2013. This not only dazzled its user base, but marketers certainly found a useful way to present products and services to better target their messages to these masses.

    As with any existing social media networking service there are a few strategies to consider and certain practices to stay away from. Whatever the hobby, activity or job-related venture you are currently in chances are you have a story that you can tell with Instagram’s phenomenal visual power.

    Instagram milestones and trends in 2013

    When the company was initially bought out by Facebook the transaction was met with plenty of skepticism and criticism. Since that time both companies financial status have proved wrong the critics.

    According to Mashable Instagram not only looked like a billion dollar company yet it accomplished some impressive metrics in 2013. The 150 million-plus users share 55 million pictures through the app on a daily basis. Look for this activity to continue to grow in 2014 as well.

    The top Instagram post goes of course to longtime social media celebrity Justin Bieber. Upon creating an account the young pop star sensation he immediately generate one million likes for his photo posted.

    If you feel uncomfortable with using hashtags well get in the habit of using them if you want good organic exposure. The top performing Instagram hashtag was #love in 2013. Other notable categories hashtags to make the ranks included #tbt (throw back Thursday), #friends, #fashion, #food, and #selfie.

    Tips and tricks to apply on Instagram

    Bearing in mind getting familiarized with social media etiquette comes with moderating the activity and the types of posts you should steer away from. In social media marketing trends change from one year to the next radically so be mindful of the content you are going to share.

    According to Thoughtcatalog.com these were the list of trends Instagram that came to mind that you must stop:

    • No more than one sixth of your photos should be selfies
    • Do not post more than twice a day
    • Pictures of food should not exceed 50 percent of your posts
    • Do not overuse the black and white filter
    • Posting pics of your baby, pet or significant other
    • Limit the reposts of inspirational quotes
    • Stay away from using words like “bae” and “hipster”
    • Do not post pictures from more than one app
    • Use hashtags moderately

    To succeed on the platform staying away from these practices will certainly give you solid and measurable results. Unlike any other time everyone now has unlimited and uncensored access to posting information about themselves, so balance your professional and personal life on social networks.

    Takeaways or benefits of Instagram

    Now that you have learned a bit the ropes on how to tackle this social networking service (SNS) there a couple of resources to consider. Each individual social media site has a set of requirements on how to get setup and what specs go into creating an account.

    Infographics are all over the web these days, but Visual.ly for example provides plenty of useful cheat sheets for Instagram. Pay attention to this section as it will give you all the specs you need to create a beautifully designed profile.

    Growing followers is no easy task unless you have some form of celebrity status or you just invented a revolutionary hack. Telling your own story is definitely start and being original too.

    One other area that sometimes comes into debate is the strategy of buying Instagram followers. Even though the practice is heavily discouraged, why is there a category that quantifies how many followers each individual account has?

    Each social platform has had their hands full with cracking down on fake accounts, comments or likes these days. But there are a few services out there and let’s face it for a company or brand to take your expertise into consideration the numbers will speak loads.

    There is definitely nothing wrong about trying to get a lot of followers quickly. However, do not revolve your business as a scam because anything related to bad publicity travels extremely fast on the web. Find a balance is key if you are considering the purchase of followers.

    Nevertheless, do not heavily depend on this method entirely because once you organize a campaign to action the little or no engagement will permanently taint your reputation as a professional. 

    At the 2014 Employee Advocacy Summit in Atlanta this September, Liz Bullock will share lessons on training and making use of insights from data from her experience leading Dell's employee advocacy program for 3 years.
    At the 2014 Employee Advocacy Summit in Atlanta this September, Liz Bullock will share lessons on training and making use of insights from data from her experience leading Dell's employee advocacy program for 3 years. Below is a short interview I did with her at SXSW last Spring, where Liz shares valuable tips on how training and using insights from data are critical components to running an effective employee advocacy program.  
     
     
    Here's the full transcript of the video: 

    Susan Emerick: Hi, I’m Susan Emerick. I’m here with my guest Liz Bullock who has been a gracious contributor to our book, The Most Powerful Brand on Earth, where we cover a case study of the work Liz did when she was at Dell as Director of Social Media and Community. I’d like to talk with you about your experience there and how social media impacts every stage of the customer life cycle and how employee advocacy is a part of that.

    Liz Bullock: Yes, absolutely Susan. It’s a true honor to be here. You and Chris (Boudreaux) did an amazing job on the book. When you look at how customers are buying today, it’s fundamentally changed. They’re basically going out and researching products beforehand, whether it’s B2B or B2C and they’re making decisions through their peers. Once they make those decisions, they’re expecting the brand to engage and thank them for their purchase and if something’s not right, they expect an immediate response, usually within an hour. Companies really need to think about social throughout the customer lifecycle and how are you activating employees to go out there and listen and learn from both customers and engage in peer to peer networks. Be a part of the conversation where it makes sense.

    Susan Emerick: You’ve done a significant amount of work to establish the SMaCU (Social Media and Community University) training program at Dell. Would you please share more with us about that?

    Liz Bullock: Yes, absolutely. So I was part of the Center of Excellence team and our focus was around how could we drive social media strategically into the business, as effective tool across HR, Sales, Product groups etc. So we began with training. Dell being a data company, in some ways we started with the data first. We said, let’s start by looking at what our customers are doing and what we found there was 10,000 conversations per day in English and this was 3 years ago. Then we said, employees are out there, what are they doing? So we started by looking at 400 employees across the board representing different parts of the organization – marketing, product group, and sales. We started to dig in and see what they were doing. Some were fantastic, really engaging with customers in really rich and authentic ways. But, there was a mid-section, where we saw an opportunity for these employees to be more savvy in how they had used social media. So we decided to launch a training program called SMaC University – it stands for Social Media and Community University. We basically opened it up to all employees, but there was a requirement that any employee engaged in social on behalf of Dell, had to be certified. The requirements went into our policy. What are the risks, what are the best practices with Dell’s strategies. what was Dell’s point of view on employees roles, and last thing was teaching them judgment. There’s a lot you can teach, but I think it’s important to share best practices and ensuring they are doing the right things.

    Susan Emerick: It’s really interesting that you describe a data driven approach to employee advocacy and how you enabled employees at Dell. At IBM we’ve been transforming our marketing and communications function from social intelligence. Gathering data and adjusting our strategic approach based on insights that come from the data. I think this is a significant change as a marketing professional over the years, having been involved in marketing and communications myself since pre-internet days. I’m curious to know how you think data is changing your role.

    Liz Bullock: There’s such a rich amount of data now. With social you can get more insights into customers likes and dislikes through sentiment. I just heard Sandy Carter (IBM) speak about how from 200 tweets you can see 52 personalities – that’s incredible data. As a brand, I think you need to leverage that information to really understand you customer and how to service them and support them. So I think it’s the data pieces that are fundamentally changing the way marketing and communications teams have to advance. I don’t know if they’re aware of that yet, but that change is coming and they’ll have to embrace it.

    Susan Emerick: Thanks for being here today, Liz, and all of your contributions to the book. 

     

     

     

    Your LinkedIn profile is vitally important. This is what other people will see when they have to decide whether or not you are a person worth doing business with. You only have to do this once so you should take the time to do it well. Complete all of the sections and make sure that you make it all look professional and accurate.

    There are a number of great ways to do your B2B marketing online these days. Any business owner that wants to grow and increase their reach would be wise to consider multiple options.

    With this in mind, it is now worth considering whether or not the time is right to use LinkedIn for this important job. The answer is that it could be very worthwhile if you take the time to go about it in the right way. So how will you do this?    

    Spend Time on Your Profile

    Your LinkedIn profile is vitally important. This is what other people will see when they have to decide whether or not you are a person worth doing business with. You only have to do this once so you should take the time to do it well. Complete all of the sections and make sure that you make it all look professional and accurate.

    If you are self-employed then give yourself a good title. Swap in ‘Director’ for ‘Business Owner’, ‘Marketing Director’ for ‘Internet Marketer’. You need to think about the people you want to engage with and place yourself at their level.

    Add a Picture

    As with just about every other site you use online, adding a picture can make your profile stand out. A good clear picture will let others feel some sort of connection with you the first time that they come across your profile. You should use a picture that is friendly, yet professional at the same time. If you aren’t sure whether or not you have got the balance right then you could check out a few profiles from your rivals, or potential customers, and see what kind of picture they have gone with. 

    It is well worth getting the photo done professionally. This small investment can make a huge difference to the influence you develop on social media.

    Add a Company Page

    The company page you set up on LinkedIn can give you a wonderful opportunity to showcase your business to a wide group of receptive people. This might not seem like something vitally important when you first start out but if you spend time on it at the start then it is just a question of adding updates later on. You might get more visitors on here than you do on your main business site, so it makes sense to let people see what you do well.

    Make sure your voice is consistent across all social channels, and across your website and marketing. Think carefully about how you want to say what you have to say. Just as you choose certain fonts and colors for your business consciously choose a style and tone for your corporate voice.

    Start Sending Mails

    Once you are happy that you have your profile and company page looking good it is time to reach out to some of the other business people you are interested in dealing with. LinkedIn has a very good data analysis tool that you can use to build a list.

    Once you have the list ready you need to write the messages you want to send to them. At this point, it pays to keep it short and simple. If the person is interested in finding out more after receiving your message they can check out your profile and company page. If they are excited by what they see then you can expect to get a reply from them before too long.

    Think about the time you are sending the messages. When dealing with organizational decision makers you are normally talking with very busy people. They will have hundreds of emails through daily. Many are in the habit of clearing their inbox on a Sunday evening. It is therefore a great idea to try about 8PM on a Sunday. At this time you might get responses from people that will simply not be motivated enough by your message to reply at any other time of the week.

    As you can see, using LinkedIn for B2B marketing campaigns takes a bit of time, but then what worth doing doesn’t? Reach out to people based on what they need and you will get results.

    One might think that confidence is broadly speaking a positive thing in the workplace, as it provides one with the necessary belief to do unusual or innovative things without doubting your abilities or the potential outcome. Take it too far, however, and it’s easy to see the pitfalls.
    One might think that confidence is broadly speaking a positive thing in the workplace, as it provides one with the necessary belief to do unusual or innovative things without doubting your abilities or the potential outcome.  Take it too far, however, and it’s easy to see the pitfalls.

    At an organizational level, we see this writ large in the innovators dilemma, where companies achieve a degree of success by doing things in a certain way or with a certain product.  It then becomes hard to see past that, blinkering both the organization and its managers to potentially better ways of doing things.

    A similar malaise can affect executives on an individual level.  A recent paper published via INSEAD highlights the challenges executives face.  A particular obstacle to overcome if we’re to learn from our environment is to first seek out feedback and then to absorb it in our future behaviours.

    The paper highlights how overconfident people are so often excessively optimistic, which causes them to underestimate the chances of them making an error.  What’s more, such folks tend to have a rather polemic approach to success.  When things go well, they prefer the limelight to fall purely on themselves, but when failure looms, that is then deflected onto others as much as possible.

    The preponderance of narcissism within the boardroom is quite well known; the INSEAD paper looks specifically at how these traits hamper managers ability to receive feedback.  The study saw some 300 CEOs given feedback over a 15-year period on the accuracy of the various forecasts they made over that period.

    The study saw overconfidence measured in one of three ways.  These included the way the executive was portrayed in the media, their tendency to keep hold of stock options and of course, their recent record.

    As one might expect, the study discovered that the more overconfident the executive was, the less likely they were to pay any attention to past errors when making future forecasts.  This in turn meant that their future performances showed minimal signs of improvement compared to their less confident peers.

    Studies into narcissistic leaders have shown a panapoly of negative traits that hamper everything from team performance to innovation.  So why do companies persist in hiring such people?  Much of the roots of attraction rest in the hope that this one person can save a struggling organization.  That person is often charismatic and larger than life.  They’re also likely to have achieved success previously.  Sadly, that doesn’t create a magic recipe for success, and there are all too many examples to highlight that.

    It does however underline the critical role feedback plays in a social business.  Indeed it is one half of what it takes to be a sense and respond organization.  So just as you can’t afford to be too entrenched in your organizational strategy, nor can you be too confident of yourself as an individual.  After all, feedback only works if you actually take it on board.

    overconfident leader / shutterstock