Last week I had the privilege of presenting at the 2014 LinkedIn Talent Connect in San Francisco with my colleague Natalie Kessler who leads our employment branding initiatives. With over 3,700 attendees at the event, it was refreshing to be speaking in good company on the topic of storytelling, evangelism, and establishing a social culture. As part of a team tasked with making Adobe one of the most social brands in the world, I spend a great deal of time trying to help our employees feel empowered as social ambassadors for our brand. In the beginning of my career, I spent countless hours trying to get C-level employees to tweet and blog- with little success. What I’ve learned along the way is that carrying the flag for the brand didn’t need to fall to the CEO. In fact, in many cases, it’s actually day-to-day employees who are more socially relevant. Here’s why you need to activate your team.
In an earlier post I cited the Edelman Trust Barometer, which showed how much people trust the various stakeholders in the average corporation. It’s the every day employee who is trusted most—in some cases, twice as much as the CEO. With the right program in place to empower, and a few helpful social publishing tools, your employees can have tremendous impact.
At Adobe, social measurement provides insight into how we’re doing with our social media programs. Yet interestingly, the top performing social networking accounts are not always our branded accounts, but individual employees. Take LinkedIn for example. Our cumulative employee connections are 7 times greater than the number of followers we have on our corporate LinkedIn pages. And they’re engaging twice as much as the core set of technology companies we’re benchmarking against. In fact, 91 percent of LinkedIn members who engage with our employees’ content about Adobe aren’t engaging with Adobe content anywhere else on LinkedIn. What does that tell us? We have millions of customers following our branded pages, but people want to see more from our regular employees and are engaging because they know them and trust them.
They Make the Best Brand Ambassadors
Today’s customer expects the personal touch. So how do you become the most social company in the world? Join the conversation. To date, we’ve trained nearly 30 percent of our employees in the company with the majority of our training success coming through our Adobe Social Shift Training Program. The program allows us to move employees gradually from a state of social awareness to a state of social excellence. As a result, we’re seeing more sharing without concern of retribution. Our curriculum focuses on teaching not just policies and guidelines, but what it is that we are trying to accomplish with corporate social media. We teach our advanced employees how to build a strategy that can empower their efforts, and we’re building training modules that show how to use social media to achieve very specific business objectives like generating leads, raising awareness, and hiring top talent. We want fully empowered employees who are capable of taking social tools and talking about their experiences with our brand. We want thousands of brand ambassadors that not only feel empowered, but also aren’t programmed as simple bots for our business.
Putting Your Best Advocates in a Position to Share Their Brand Experiences
Enabling your team and encouraging them to share, even among themselves, creates camaraderie and engagement. For us, the Social Shift Training program works because it gives people a baseline of what they should and shouldn’t be doing, teaches them social judgment, enables a social culture and puts some of our best advocates in a position to tell the brand story as they’ve experienced it. Our experience has shown that customers are twice as likely to buy if they have a social experience, and employees may be the best resource to help facilitate the very thing it is you’re trying to accomplish.