Recently, my TEDx Navesink talk, “The Rise of the Social Employee,” was released online, along with all of the other wonderful talks from that day. As I explain in my speech, we’ve entered an era where brand eminence lies in the ability of social employees to engage authentically through social media. While this may seem like a frightening prospect to some, I argue that it’s a win/win for both employee and employer:
- For companies, empowering social employees enables them to (a) become more authentic in their branding efforts, (b) retain high-value employees, and (c) increase leads and sales by meeting prospects at their preferred touch points.
- For employees, being socially engaged helps them (a) build their personal brands, (b) earn rewards and recognition through increased visibility within an organization, and (c) become more employable down the road.
Social engagement can be a tricky prospect, and the wrong approach can end up doing you and your brand more harm than good. So what is the right balance to strike? Keep reading after the video to find out.
Master the 80/20 Rule
At Blue Focus Marketing, we are big fans of the 80/20 rule of social media, which states that 80 percent of what you share should serve your audience, while the remaining 20 percent can be self-promotional.
What should that 80 percent be composed of? In the broad sense, it should be about things that are going on in your industry and community. This can mean a lot of things, but the bottom line is that it’s not about you. If there is valuable content that is relevant to your field that neither you nor your employer generated, share it. If there is a product or service that you are really enjoying that makes your life easier, advocate for it.
This really boils down to the nature of earned media. People don’t listen when you sell your own stuff; they listen when you sell others’ stuff. That’s how word of mouth works—a kind of pay-it-forward process of advocacy.
Why It’s Good to Advocate for Others
To some, this may feel like a bummer or an unnecessary workaround to try to generate benefits for yourself, but there are reasons it works:
- Authenticity: Showing that you are willing to advocate for others without receiving any direct personal gain gives your opinions more value because it shows that you mean it. So be mindful of who/what you advocate for, as you will be staking part of your own earned cultural cache each time you advocate for someone/something else.
- Gratitude/Reciprocity: By building a culture of gratitude and mutual assistance, people will remember what you did for them the next time you need some help getting the word out on a new product or service. Of course, it’s important to remember that you should never be helpful just because you’re expecting a favor in return, but if you’re genuine in your advocacy of others, people will want to help you out in the spirit of goodwill.
- Authority: An often overlooked consequence of talking about yourself and what you do/sell all the time is that you’re not presenting any depth. Show that you understand and participate in the world/industry in which you interact. Sharing and engaging in the larger conversations in your field builds authority because it shows that you’re not shortsighted, but rather active in a larger conversation. Being involved builds authority through demonstrating awareness—a very trustworthy trait indeed.
Making the conversation less about yourself and more about others is going to feel counterintuitive sometimes, especially to more traditional thinkers leery of social business models in the first place. But social branding is about generating awareness and staying in front of people; it doesn’t have to be all about you in order to bring you attention.
In The Social Employee, we go behind the scenes with several leading brands—such as IBM, AT&T, Dell, Adobe, Southwest Airlines, Cisco, Acxiom, and Domo—pulling the lid off the inspiring social business success stories that have propelled these companies into the 21st century. These cutting-edge brands have all come to the same realization: the path to social business lies through empowering the social employee.
“Great brands have always started on the inside, but why are companies taking so long to leverage the great opportunities offered by internal social media? . . . The Social Employee lifts the lid on this potential and provides guidance for businesses everywhere.” —JEZ FRAMPTON, Global Chairman and CEO, Interbrand
The Social Employee offers an unparalleled behind-the-scenes look at the social business success stories of some of the biggest brand names in the business world, including IBM, AT&T, Dell, Adobe, Southwest Airlines, Cisco, Acxiom, and Domo. These cutting-edge brands have all come to the same realization: the path to social business lies through empowering the social employee.
The brands that leverage their employee base in order to engage customers and prospects through social media are the ones destined to win the marketing wars. This book not only details the astronomical rise of the social employee, but also outlines the innovative methods that leading companies have employed to foster cultures of enthusiastic and engaged workers.
AFTERWORD by Kevin Randall, Vice President of Brand Strategy & Research at
Movéo Integrated Branding, and journalist for The Economist and Fast Company