Episode 30: Serious Social – Why businesses not utilising staff’s social media profiles is a key business fail
Given our need to be more authentic in a world fuelled by mistrust, employee advocacy is more important than ever. Businesses need to start utilising their employee’s social profiles to promote smarts and awareness.
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Welcome to the Serious Social podcast, created by the straight-talking social media experts at immediate future.
Good morning and welcome along to serious social live. I’m CJ, Colin Jacobs Managing Director at Immediate Future. This morning I’m going to talk about what some of you will call employee advocacy, some of you would call it inside out voices, some will call it PR or thought leadership.
But I want to talk to you about the importance of your staff having communications with the outside world, without having to rely on media, without falling into the pitfalls of being really salesy. I’m going to talk to you about how the power of a connected employee network can and will benefit your business.
I’m going to show you some proof points of where we’ve been doing this in professional services, particularly for the last three to four years. Right now in industry there’s a need for businesses to be more transparent isn’t it, there’s a need for businesses to be more authentic society has more cynicism than ever, technology whilst brilliant has caused a lot of mistrust. Problems, well documented problems with artificial intelligence
problems with, I hate using the word because of the original author, but fake news and the proliferation of fake news; and as I’m sure you’re all seeing on social media right now with Covid-19, sadly there is a lot of people sharing misinformation that confuses a lot of us. So society the point being, we don’t trust easily, so enter salespeople or marketing people.
If we come across two sales here we’re beating the drum about how good a company is or how good a proposition or service is, guess what happens that’s It, we shut down don’t we.
But there is a way of communicating and getting through to people without being salesy. About four or five years ago we were asking ourselves a question and I take a lot of flack, justifiably for talking a lot about Fujitsu, and the work we do with Fujitsu. Well look they are six year old client they are a genuine technology disruptor; they don’t just talk the talk they absolutely walk the walk; and they empower us to do a lot of industry first.
So four or five years ago when we were having a conversation about why we are waiting for media opportunities to arise before we go and share opinions from our leadership, or our senior team, addressing key elements within industry. Whether that’s a provocative technology cynicism around it artificial intelligence I’ll come on to that shortly, or whether it was imparting some intellectual property around a core problem. We wanted to prove to both Fujitsu and industry that there was a way to do this without relying on responding to an editorial agenda, or securing a sofa placement, or securing a feature in the Sunday times, which are all amazing things and if your PR teams can get you them fantastic, that’s only going to help the journey. But why rely on an outside influence the media agenda to unlock all of those opportunities for you, we wanted to show that we could actually drive that internally. Some of the pushback that we were faced with that you are probably thinking yourself: my staff aren’t going to realise that they’ve got smarts that the outside world is really interested in, fair comment I’ll come on to that and we’ll talk about how we convince them that they do. Not media trained don’t know how to start doing interviews, and certainly don’t have the skill set to host a stand-alone interview; they can they do they will we’ll get on to that. What do we talk about well not sales stuff because I think we’ve already landed; businesses help solve problems at their essence, whether that’s your products, your service, philosophy, consultancy, and at the nub there is a need or a requirement from the outside world that your product or propositional service will address.
Yet few businesses still speak to the very challenges that cause “sleepless nights” in the world of technology, which is big bucks business right, a lot of companies invest big money into bringing in technology that’s going to transform their business, overhaul the employee experience, drive greater efficiency, unlock better profitability, ultimately big technology investment helps drive companies forward. But when you’ve got so much choice of where and how to invest, it’s more important than ever that businesses stand out and the businesses are doing it in a transparent and an authentic way. If you get the sales chat or lady coming to the fore chest beating saying we’re great, you’re not going to do your numbers, you’re going to switch people off.
Some years ago there was a challenge around data, and it largely still exists today because we’ve got so much data, but one of the questions that was constantly coming up in the technology industry about four or five years ago is, our businesses collecting the right data do they know where they should apply data collection and then are they processing that data. And it was a fair question because essentially we got carried away with data being lifted from all of our devices, and whether it was from your email to your smartphone, to your tablet the applications that you were using, there was so much data flowing up into the cloud there was a real challenge in being able to process that. That problem still does exist although the move towards quantum computing is helping to ease some of those pain points and better advice around what you should apply data To, versus what you shouldn’t, it’s helping to also address that problem. Stick with me I promise there’s a marketing angle to this.
One of the challenges that businesses had was knowing where to start and how it proved value. I did, I had a coffee with a gentleman in Fujitsu who wasn’t a presenter, and I asked him to give me an example of how data collection was proved successful. He said well think about the printers and there’s mine over there, bigger ones that we have in the office. imagine there was a sensor on it that actually showed you the frequency with which you’re printing, what you were printing, who was printing, and how that data could actually inform whether you were getting best value out of just your printer use. So they applied some sensors to inkjets and they collected some data over a six week period, and here’s a shocking piece, in just six weeks they’d collected enough data to prove a business case, for the application of census to inkjet across the big enterprise organisation; but they proved the business case in just six weeks because they started small collected data they looked at the challenges from it and then they went and took that solution to the business.
I was quite taken by that discussion, that we went and did a Q&A interview where we pretty much repeated that interview, four years ago that simple example about data application became one of Fujitsu’s most viewed videos.
More interestingly off the back of this very interview, the vertical that the gentleman in question worked within, the utilities team, they had a significant uptick in the number of business inquiries that they were getting. The reason this is an interesting example, the person in question wasn’t media trained, they certainly hadn’t done any form of media appearances previously, they had scepticism around the knowledge that they harboured; and how the outside world would be beneficial to it and their social footprint was non-existent. Yes they had a LinkedIn, page but there was nothing on it beyond saying that he worked at Fujitsu, and he had a twitter profile but in two years of inception there was five posts, though this really was ground zero.
But this one incident, this one video that we produced and shared, the engagement and the response that tangibly came over the ensuing six weeks, led to the individual in question embracing the importance of the inside out voice. They empowered us to come up with more challenges that they were facing in industry, and how their smarts and intelligent could be shared. The person in question was a gentleman called Graham Wright, a lovely chap really knows his stuff. But because Graham wasn’t your archetypal go-to media person, the broader business really woke to this scenario, because they thought that if Graham was able to do it, and deliver the impact he has within his vertical, or if we do this in other parts of the business surely we’re going to get the same results, and it all took off. Today we have stakeholders all across Fujitsu participating in Q&A’s.
Why Q&A’s, well if you’re not used to interviewing or hosting stuff on your own, having somebody ask questions to you for you to answer is far easier, you can move your head away from looking at the camera, you can be facing the interviewee who’s asking you the questions, you don’t have to worry about engaging audience, and you don’t have to worry about asking the questions and then imparting the information. The key point to this though, the messages that went out spoke to a very problem in industry they, gave away a little bit of intellectual property about how those problems were solved, but as we now know the consumers of that information were then going back into their business and having copy meetings, and discussing the very problems. It was driving widespread awareness of the business without being salesy. The requirements all came the opportunity for the sales team to get involved in enquiry down the pipe, that all happened in the months following the broadcast of this concept. The best tip I can give you for success, is getting the questions right, and those questions, pardon my language, has to start with why will the audience give s**t a about this opinion? Focus on the sleepless nights that your industry is facing right now; is it that there’s cynicism within artificial intelligence, is it that there’s cynicism within a specific legal process, is it that we’ve still not got to grips with GDPR?
Whatever the resonating problem is find somebody within your business that has knowledge and opinion on it and put a camera on them in a Q&A and get them to share some solutions to the very problem. Help peers in industry overcome something. If enough people in your business do this, the outside world sees your organisation as employing the amazing talent it does, entrepreneurs always tell us that the employee resources are our greatest assets, yet few businesses are actually broadcasting their wares and talents to the outside world; and if the outside world sees how talented your workforce are then the opinion of your business is going to go through the roof, and we all know what happens with business opportunity following thought leadership perceptions being held.
What about social profiles. I said how our example had no social footprint, is it important what they have on social, well this is where comms professionals can help them. Make sure that there is impactful dialogue on their LinkedIn, their Twitter, their Facebook pages; yes their Facebook pages I promise you it’s a business and driving channel. I could share statistics, I don’t have time to do it, but I could share statistics with you showing how it is a critical channel for professional services, we’ve got endless case studies that justify that statement. Then help them to get curated content from both the business and the industry, that can consistently go out on their profile. By them doing Q&A’s, and solving industry problems, more people will become aware of them. Then you need to make sure that content is going out in a consistent way and this is where your content engine and your power of a connected network can come together. If you’re pulling together insightful
snippets, and small pieces of content that’s being shared with the business, and they’re dropping onto their social calendars. It’s not a huge task but collectively it can all ladder to achieving thought leadership status very quickly.
The fail point is too many people think you have to go up the chain of command before you start doing thought leadership, as somebody that’s been in BBC studios and another network studio many many times, hand on heart anyone, anyone, can do a broadcast interview; because they’ve got the talented presenters there to ask you the right questions to get your smarts across. Think about your colleagues, if you stopped them in the corridor right now, assuming that we weren’t all working from home and that you’re in the office, if you stop them in the corridor right now and ask them a question about a resonating problem relevant to your own propositional service; could they give you an insightful answer or would they go “I don’t know the answer to this”, I bet it’s the former. I bet they’re able to speak from the heart and tell you what the solution is, and if they can do that in the corridor, if they can do that over a coffee, they can answer a question with the camera rolling; and the most authentic and transparent content you can produce is people who aren’t sales orientated people delivering solutions for the outside world, helping your peers in industry and I promise you if you do that with enough consistency and regularity you will achieve thought leadership status very quickly.
Go and check out some of the Fujitsu content we put out there, and now we’ve revealed all of this if you look through the lens of what we do, you’ll see we’ve just given you some really cool tips on how to make some pretty impactful content. We’ve delivered this mantra for many professional services companies we even do it for consumer brands, I promise you it works. Start today don’t put it off, figure out a plan of how you’re going to get this off the ground and go and find those talented people in your business and start advocating them externally, whether you call it employee advocacy, inside out voices, thought leadership, comms plans, whatever start today your business will benefit from it.
As always if you’ve got any questions don’t hesitate to drop me a like I will happily pick them up.
Thank you very much for watching see you next week.
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