Archive for Employees as Brand Advocates

Should Booz Allen Use Social Media in Managing its Crisis?

As you’ve no doubt read, the individual who admittedly leaked government secrets about the National Security Agency’s data-collecting programs was an employee of consulting firm Booz Allen. To make matters worse, this flash appeared late Monday afternoon, June 10th, for the Twitter hashtag @boozallen.

Booz Allen N.S.A. documents leak 90,000 military files stolen

The link led to a story in Forbes magazine that said “anonymous hackers penetrated a server belonging to the defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton and released what it claims Read More→

Employee Social Media Communities Not Top Priority for Companies

Organizations are not tapping social media’s full potential, according to a Deloitte study I just came across.  It was released at the end of 2009 so I don’t expect that much has changed since then.

Entitled  “2009 Tribalization of Business Study,” the survey measured the responses of over 400 companies, including Fortune 100 organizations, that have created and maintain online communities today. The communities ranged from fewer than 100 members to more than one million members.

Marketing continues to be the primary driver of online communities, according to the study, with the following business objectives.  See if you can guess what’s missing.

  • Increase word-of-mouth (38 percent)
  • Increase customer loyalty (34 percent)
  • Increase brand awareness (30 percent)
  • Improve idea generation (29 percent)
  • Improve the quality of customer support (23 percent)
  • Employees can be your best brand ambassadors

EMPLOYEES.  That’s what missing in this study, conducted in conjunction with Beeline Labs and the Society for New Communications Research.  The study reports that while companies are using communities to engage with customers, partners and employees, only 20% of respondents have set up formal “ambassador” programs, and these give outsiders preferential treatment in return for being more active in the community.” Any rewards for employees being active social media ambassadors?  I discussed this last month in my blog “Make More Money Through Employee Engagement.”

Companies are missing a big bet if they don’t engage their own employees as brand advocates for the company.  They are the ones “touching” customers every day and should be rewarded accordingly.  Give employees a chance to become more active in social networks, and they will boost the metrics most important to their companies – the ones that ring the cash register.

Why is Coke, the #1 Brand in Economic Value, Only #12 in Mentions Online?

You’d think that Coca-Cola, long #1 on Interbrand’s “Best Global Brands List,” would achieve the same prominence on the Internet.  But, no, Coke only ranks 12th based on number of mentions online in 2009, according to an analysis by Sysmos, a company that provides business intelligence on social media.

There could be many reasons for the variation, including a lack of social media communications programs.  The variation is also seen among other top ranked Interbrand brands.  For example #2 IBM slides to #15 in online mentions.  Conversely, and perhaps not surprisingly, Google is #1 in online mentions while #7 on Interbrand’s list, which is based on financial data, international scope, and value added.  Only Microsoft achieves equality, at #3 in both the “Best Global Brands List” and with mentions online.

So, why does it matter that a company is tops in economic value but below par online?  I believe that it will begin to matter much, much more in coming years, as the Internet increasingly becomes the principal source of information about companies and everything else.  If your company is not commanding the Internet among consumers, you may no longer be dominating the marketplace.  But leading brands have it in their power to improve their online rankings.

One way is by enlisting their employees as brand advocates in corporate communications. Employees are already surfing the web and participating in social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  Large companies have a golden opportunity to dominate the Internet “air waves” with their employees as their most important cheerleaders, commenting on corporate and employee blogs, and engaging in online conversations with consumers.

Getting back to Coke, the company has 3.7 million fans on Facebook, and 92,4000 employees spread across the globe.  Just think of their cumulative power to communicate key messages about Coke that zoom around the world on social networks.  I wonder if Coke has an organized program for their employees to reach out to Coke’s followers on social networks?  I read through last year’s Annual Review and didn’t see anything.  I don’t mean to pick on Coke.  I’m just using the company as an example of a missed opportunity.

Employees in all companies will welcome the opportunity to be empowered to represent their company in the blogosphere.  All it takes is trust:  trust your employees to promote your brand well in online communications.

Employees as Company Change Agents

[tweetmeme]No question, companies are struggling to control their brand essence and key messages during this economic slump.  Communicating positive news is more important than ever in the 24/7 news cycle and with an Internet that can circulate good – and, let’s face it, mostly bad – news around the globe in a matter of seconds.  But companies are overlooking their most important advocates to the outside world – their own employees — because of a lack of internal communications.  And this can torpedo a company’s reputation.

It is employees who are most often the primary interface between the company and its customers.  But the media is an increasingly intrusive “partner” as reporters pounce on every bad piece of company news – often coming from the mouths of unhappy employees who are left out of the loop about important new company developments.  Online chat rooms and networking sites like Twitter and Facebook provide a public platform for employees to vent their grievances and the media and customers are tuning in.

New technologies are transforming the way companies do business. But employees are underutilized as advocates of change. They are not being motivated to rally around the company’s mission and goals.  It’s not an overstatement to say that business transformation will only be accomplished by gaining the commitment of employees at all levels to drive growth and performance.  The key to ensuring success is consistency of communications to the right people at the right time with the right messages.

Internal communication efforts often fall short because:

•    Behaviors don’t match the message, especially senior executive behaviors
•    Communicating is not viewed as an important process
•    Communication is blocked at many levels – up, down and across
•    Complicated and lengthy approval processes prevent timely distribution of information
•    Employees don’t hear things first, thus a loss of faith develops
•    Too much is communicated and more important messages are lost in the clutter
•    Employees are turning to their external message boards for news about their own company

Companies that find their employees turning to the Internet as their primary source of information about the company they work for have lost their most important change agents.