Social Employee Cheryl Burgess Blue Focus fw.fw

Master the “why“, and barriers to effective social engagement will dissolve before your eyes.

It truly is remarkable to watch the power of social employee evangelism at play. Recently, I was browsing a post by Dan McDade (@dandade) over at the PointClear blog. In this post, McDade was interviewing Jill Rowley (@Jill_Rowley), social selling evangelist, self-professed “Eloqueen” at Oracle (@Oracle), and one of our winners of this year’s #Nifty50 Top Women Writers award. Their conversation is quite captivating, as both McDade and Rowley are clearly two social branding ambassadors who really get it.

While watching the interview, I have to admit I was a little floored when around the 17-minute mark Rowley held up a copy of our book, The Social Employee. It was great to see how much time Rowley had spent with the book, filling its pages with sticky notes, dog ears, and highlighted passages. Seeing this, I thought to myself, “This is what engagement looks like.” We were told as we were writing that our book would take on a life of its own once it was released, but to actually see this process at play, to see somebody living with our book and absorbing the ideas inside…well, it’s a very special feeling indeed!

So thank you to Dan McDade for the skillful interview, and thank you to Jill Rowley for your kind words! If you have about 20 minutes, I highly recommend watching the whole interview from start to finish, as it’s full of some great ideas and perspectives about personal branding from someone who’s working to build an army of social brand ambassadors from the inside out behind Oracle’s walls.


It always starts with “why”

As Rowley says at one point in the interview, “It’s great that companies are embracing social media, but it’s sad that they’re not investing in social training.” This is also a point that we make in The Social Employee, and it’s a disconnect that unfortunately we see happen all too often as brands struggle to figure out what going social means to them.

Social media is a powerful tool that is transforming the workplace, the marketplace, and even our personal spaces. However, to embrace social media without the proper training and context can be akin to giving a book to a caveman and demanding that they figure out what to do with it on their own. Where would that person even start? Where do you start with social media?

In an interview with Jeff Simmons (@B2BJeff) for B2B Marketing Portal, Rowley explains that training at Oracle reflects championing the why of social engagement—the same philosophy we champion in The Social Employee:

Before I can teach someone what to do or how to do it, they need to understand why. …[M]y program at Oracle starts with educating the sales professionals on the change in the buying process, and in the B2B buyer, and really helping them understand that the buyer today is very different than the buyer 10 years ago.

Of course, as Rowley is quick to point out, understanding the difference between yesterday’s buyer and today’s is only one element of the “why” of social branding. At Oracle, every one of Rowley’s social training lessons begins with a video recording explaining the value of that lesson, and what it means to Oracle’s business processes.

This philosophy is built into everything Oracle does online: “The ‘why’ is so important,” Rowley says, “because that is the mindset shift that reps need to have. They need that new ‘aha’ moment. And then once they get that, then you say, ‘Here are the new skills, and here are the enabling tools.’”

Just like a caveman can’t learn to read a book until he knows what the purpose of books are and how they might be able to help him, you don’t begin to engage on social media until you get the underlying philosophies and processes of engagement that will unlock its usefulness as a selling tool. At its heart, social engagement is about who you are. It’s about personal branding, about painting an authentic picture of what you do, what drives you to do it, and how you combine these traits to provide interactions of real value in the digital bazaar.

Master the “why, and barriers to effective social engagement will dissolve before your eyes.

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