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 Rise of The Social Employee

We are excited to be participating in the upcoming IBM webinar, “Changing the Learning Culture:  That 70’s Show: The Main Star of the 70:20:10 Learning Model,” where Blue Focus Marketing cofounder Mark Burgess and I will join Scott Edwards, Product Manager, Smarter Workforce, for a discussion of social employees—focusing on the best training models and strategies for establishing an engaged, sustainable culture. Join us on Tuesday, March 24, at 11 a.m. EST!

Register Now: IBM Webcast:

Changing the Learning Culture

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What is a social employee?

When Blue Focus Marketing cofounder Mark Burgess and I first set out to research our book, The Social Employee (McGraw-Hill, 2013), over two years ago, we had a good working theory of what we meant by the term. However, it wasn’t until organizations like IBM opened their doors to us that we began to see that theory being put into practice—and the results were truly eye-opening.

Social processes have fundamentally changed the way everything gets done. And while the social business conversation often gets caught up in emerging technologies and trending platforms, it has been our mission to keep the focus on the most important social resource: the employees themselves.

Today’s organizations have a growing responsibility to internal cultures. For a company to stay nimble in the age of social business, its employees must be able to work independently and confidently, representing their brand on both internal and external platforms with a safety net of their organization’s social engagement policy to guide them.

So what is a social employee? Here are some other key concepts:

  • Social employees don’t just do the work, but are invested in both the process and the outcome.
  • They engage through social channels (either internal and/or external) with passion and personality, creating an environment ripe for collaboration, authenticity, and transparency.
  • They participate in active listening, supporting coworker and customer alike. This begins with buy-in to a brand’s mission, vision, and values and is manifested in skillful communication, collaboration, and innovation.


Naturally, building a social employee culture can’t be accomplished overnight, but organizational commitment can drive the process with incredible efficiency. And as we learned with IBM and their social computing guidelines, giving your employees a voice and a stake in the process is a win-win for both brand and individual.

Why is that? As Mark Burgess argued in last year’s TEDx Navesink Talk, at the very least, a commitment to social processes empowers employees to embrace learning, to keep developing new skills, and to network more effectively. The social business prizes all of these traits, so social employees not only create more value for their company, but they make themselves more employable—and more effective at marketing their skills—in the process. Additionally, a plurality of social employee voices engaging through various creates a more dynamic digital footprint for brands, creating more opportunities for external customer engagement.

Ultimately, it is an employee’s ability to learn and adapt that will help drive future success within any organization. The 70:20:10 learning model, promoted at IBM by Scott Edwards, describes a vision for how employees actually learn in the workplace. The breakdown goes like this: 70 percent of employee learning is self-directed as part daily job performance, 20 percent is through mentoring or coaching, and the final 10 percent comes through formal training, workshops, etc.

Examining this model, it seems that one of the primary goals of employee training, then, is to empower them to learn on their own as quickly and effectively as possible. This is precisely the argument put forward by Josh Bersin (@Josh_Bersin) in his report, “Predictions for 2015“:

In 2015, you should reevaluate your learning platform; make sure you have a plan to deliver a “digital learning experience” that lets people rapidly find the content they need, helps them to find experts, and advises them on the formal training appropriate to their roles. (p. 26)

Such an investment epitomizes the win-win scenario: Organizations become more efficient with streamlined employee learning systems, and in turn these freshly empowered social employees develop a wider range of skills and knowledge that make them better at their jobs and more valuable to the company.

This is what the rise of the social employee is all about: building employees with deeper skill-sets, better resources for learning, and the confidence to engage broader communities as authentic brand ambassadors.

What’s not to like about that?


Want to know what all the excitement is about? Order your copy of The Social Employee today!


IBM Book Club Banner FINAL 2015

Below are recent endorsements for The Social Employee (McGraw-Hill, August 2013) by Tom Peters and David Aaker on their social networks, but if you want to see more of their endorsements click here.

Tom Peters CROP_W Favorite Biz Book Nov


Tom Peters (Twitter) attribution PPT

Tom Peters signature copy
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.

See what others are saying about The Social Employee and order your copy today!


Please check out @SocialEmployee media buzz! Click Here

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“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


Amazon_agold-bookThe 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.

FORMcGrawHill_RedEWORD by David C. Edelman, Global Co-Leader, Digital Marketing & Sales Practice, McKinsey & Company

AFTERWORD by Kevin Randall, Vice President of Brand Strategy & Research at Movéo Integrated Branding, and journalist for The New York Times, The Economist and Vanity Fair.

Download ~> Free Chapter 3 – “Brands Under Pressure”




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