As I shared in my last post, this year’s Amplify Festival (@AmplifyFest) was a thrilling ride. In addition to delivering my talk, “Rethinking Employees, Rethinking Brand, Rethinking Culture: The Priceless Power of Socially Savvy Employees,” I also had the privilege of sitting on a panel titled “Revitalizing Employee Engagement,” which featured social business leaders Katryna Dow (@katrynadow) and Michael Weeding (@michaelweeding) in addition to myself, and was moderated by Rawn Shah (@rawn).
I was very grateful to hear my colleagues’ insights on where we are on the social business curve, what this means to organizations, and how it affects employees. Here are some key concepts from the panel.
On the subject of industry-wide change:
- Dow used the work of poet David Wyatt to discuss how we process change, explaining that a part of us subconsciously tends to “scout” the future as a way of preparing ourselves for what’s in store. Because of this, Dow explained, it’s not so much that we’re being pushed into the future as much as we’re being pulled by our advance scouts—but the tension comes when we must confront our own natural resistance to change in the process.
- Dow also discussed the concept of social proof—the idea that more people will embrace an idea or practice when they see others doing it too. Dow acknowledged that, while things can move quickly once an innovation has reached a certain point of adoption or exposure, the innovators themselves rarely have that comfort of others validating their ideas until much farther down the in the adoption process.
On segmentation—marketing to groups vs. marketing to individuals:
- I thought Weeding did an excellent job of clarifying the role of data and technology when it comes to the idea of marketing to individuals. While one-on-one interactions between brand and consumer do happen all the time in the social web, individualized experiences can also be created through the application of user data to generate customized content, creating an individual experience.
- Weeding also alluded the effect these kinds of customer-to-brand interactions can have on an organization, and the responsibility it then has to keep these exchanges authentic by empowering employees to engage these customers directly.
On the value of social employees as a part of humanizing brands:
- Following in the arguments of our book The Social Employee (McGraw-Hill, 2013), I discussed the importance of empowering employees to be digital brand ambassadors, to embrace the fact that consumers are craving human interactions above all else, and to establish the proper internal protocols to make this humanization an essential part of every brand’s identity.
- Dow echoed these sentiments, using the term “personal sovereignty” to contextualize what it means to serve an organization and a parent brand but to also serve and express ourselves as our own individual brands.
We closed in discussing that convergence and the individual and the organization, and how the personal brand is not only an essential consideration in career development, but also in how it has come to impact organizational culture and the value companies have come to place on it. I’d say the big takeaway is that the biggest thing workers are bringing to their jobs today are themselves—and they are curious, asking why as part of their natural process in order to not just perform their job, but also to find ways to do it better.
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 New York Times, The Economist and Vanity Fair.