Rackspace Hosting: How to address the “what if’s” when starting a social enablement program — Live from Member Meeting 39

Coverage of this session by Cale Johnson of SocialMedia.org. Connect with him on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter.

1:30 — SocialMedia.org's Erin McDaniel introduces Rackspace Hosting's Social Enablement Strategist, Elizabeth Jurewicz.

1:31 — Elizabeth: Our enablement program began in 2014 as a 30-minute training presentation I would give to employees and leaders. So, there I am, hopping from team meeting to team meeting — and I'd get a lot of smiles and nods, but then I'd get the dreaded “What If” questions.

1:31 — Employees would say, “What if I say something wrong?” And leaders would say, “Yeah, what if employees say something wrong?” They also worried about hurting their personal brands, or having employees get poached. I would do my best to help with these fears, and I really emphasized that, “Look, I'm only asking for 30 minutes of your time to teach you the basics.”

1:33 — After six months, I was excited to see the results from all of these meetings. Guess what? There weren't any. What I was missing is that at the heart of any enablement program, you're asking employees to do something differently. I thought I was just asking them to update their profiles, but what they were hearing was, “Hey, change the way you work.” I wasn't addressing the real issues that were facing in our enablement program.

1:34 — Elizabeth started by identifying the three fears: Time management, risk mitigation, and reputation management. “I had a path to pick. My first option was to avoid it and focus on a utopian view of a social workforce. The second was to agree, because they felt big and difficult to overcome. Maybe we just didn't have time. Or, I could act — but time management, risk mitigation, and reputation management weren't going anywhere.”

1:35 — Elizabeth changed her focus. In early 2015, they launched their new program, which is now their social enablement program.

1:36 — The first thing she tackled was time management. Rackspace already works on this “buyer's journey” — and it maps from the buyer phase to the customer phase. She used that model to create a two-track system for employees and leaders.

1:37 — It starts with the awareness track for Rackers who are thinking about getting involved. It includes social guidelines, tutorials, case studies, and videos. For employees who are ready to get involved, they have an Advocacy Track — and all the training takes place in two long meetings, which includes: Social advocacy, LinkedIn workshop, and social strategy.

1:38 — She also created a class that was requested by demand for employees who wanted to create lots of content — blog posts, videos, etc.

1:38 — By mapping these out, she created a program that could help employees with time management wherever they were on the scale.

1:39 — Elizabeth moves on to Risk Mitigation: In her advocacy classes with employees and presentations with leaders, she walks through real-life scenarios. Then they walk through these scenarios, and they're given 5 minutes to come up with a response. The discussions that come out of these scenarios have really shifted the conversation. It shows employees that social media is tangible, with real consequences. And it shows leaders that these are real-life situations, and that they need to be prepared for them.

1:39 — Elizabeth then moves to Reputation Management: One of the first things she does is ask employees and leaders to Google themselves. Sometimes it's an old MySpace page that shows up. Sometimes it's an unflattering blog post. Sometimes they realize their personal Facebook accounts aren't as private as they thought. Then she asks them, “Would you buy from this person? Would you trust them?” This really shows them how important it is to manage their online presences and do basic things, like update their LinkedIn profiles.

1:41 — Elizabeth shares her social enablement program timeline. On the horizon next are social selling alignment and social compliance e-learning.

1:42 — Elizabeth shares the results she's seen: 73% reported updating their profiles. They've also seen 37% of all Rackers sharing content on LinkedIn. That said, only about 1/4 are sharing Rackspace-specific content (about 9%), but that 9% almost doubled Rackspace's organic engagement on LinkedIn. This makes them excited for getting the rest of that 37% sharing Rackspace content too.

1:44 — Elizabeth briefly shares their Rackspace Social Ambassadors program. Right now they're at 45 employees participating. They're capping it at 65 (1% of their employee base) to keep it elite.

1:46 — Elizabeth closes with talking about the “what if your employees leave, get poached” concern. She says that investing in your employees while they're there makes them more loyal. Elizabeth shared the story of someone who reached out to an employee saying she was impressed with his online summary. The employee explained they had a social team training, and she asked which vendor did it. The employee was beaming with pride to report it was Rackspace's internal social media team who did it (and did it so effectively).

1:45 — Elizabeth: Your “what if” questions are going to be different. But I really encourage you to take some time with them, and find out what is at the heart of those “what if's” — because addressing them head on is what it takes to get your enablement program really moving.


Q: How did you sell this program to leadership? It's really impressive and I can tell there was a lot of time put into it.

A: It's a little bit of divide and conquer. The Awareness Tracks and Advocacy Tracks are open to all employees. By driving awareness to employees, they start to tell leaders about it — so it trickles up. We also did a presentation to our CEO first and got his buy-in, which made it a lot easier to work with other leaders after that.

Q: Are you thinking of rolling this out to other networks beyond LinkedIn?

A: I chose LinkedIn for this presentation because I thought it was specific to dive into, but yes, these practices can work on any platform. But the platform employees use depends on their role. But we're seeing similar results across all platforms, not just LinkedIn.

Q: Do you have any tools or editorial processes in place to let employees know what's being published?

A: Content creation is hard. We're trying to tackle this one, but we're starting to see momentum organically.

Q: How are you integrating LinkedIn Elevate?

A: We have talked to them. It's still under discussion, we're thinking about it. But to me, tools always come last. I've noticed a lot of employees don't log into LinkedIn daily — so adding a tool on top of this just adds complication. We work in tech so there are already a lot of log in portals just to do your job, so adding another seems overwhelming to us at this point. We really focus on good behaviors, one or two platforms, start there.

Q: Our company blocks all social accounts. We're in healthcare and are a hospital, so a lot of regulations along with that.

A: What I would say for that, is, approach it less of a social content strategy and more of an employee enablement strategy. You're a modern-day employee, you're going to be using social media, here are some tips to put your best foot forward. Just encourage them to be a modern-day professional.

Q: How do you deal with employees who do break the guidelines?

A: We call those coaching opportunities. There's far less than you think there's going to be. We deal with them as a one-off, and we're always very encouraging with how we work through it — but as part of my training, I tell them they're not going to be perfect and encourage them to ask us first if they're not sure.

Q: Do you have separate guidelines for hourly workers?

A: We haven't developed that, per-se. At the heart of our program, we focus on simple behaviors that relates to all employees. But, this might also be specific to our industry. It might be different for yours.