Susan Emerick: The Most Powerful Brand on Earth — Live from the Brands-Only Summit

Coverage of this session by Ryan Ronayne of Connect with him by following him on Twitter.

1:30 —'s Brian Parks introduces Susan Emerick, author of The Most Powerful Brand on Earth.

1:31 — Remember, don’t hesitate to tweet all the great things you’re learning with #socialmediaorg!

1:32 — What is employee advocacy? Brands empowering employees to support the goals of the brand, using content and employee-owned social. Individuals are actually using their own social media accounts through their own professional voice.

1:34 — Why should you care? Customers are the most trusted sources, especially those who are technical or subject matter expert.

1:36 — People trust employees more than official brand sources. Largest growth share of trust over the last 5 years comes from the regular employees. Why? They know the product and their the most authentic voice.

1:37 — Employees rank highest as the most trusted source from your company in terms of engagement, integrity, products, service and operations. The only one they don't rank as high in is the purpose.

1:39 — It's important to build a level of trust. Sales often correlate with the total number of people who advocate for a brand across industries.  It also helps with decreasing costs. You have to think about how employees can play in that mix.

1:40 — At IBM traffic from employee-owned social media converts at 2x the conversation rate of traditional marketing tactics.

1:42 — This finding alone helped change the way they thought about their spend. We shifted dollars towards getting employees involved.

1:44 — Common reasons brands hesitate to empower employees. Fear of damage, regulatory concerns and their unsure how to begin.

1:45 — Most important tips for launching a successful employee advocacy. Set goals aligned to company objectives, the number one most important thing to focus on. You have to think about what your business objectives and priorities are? Everything needs to rally around that. Be very specific.

1:47 — Find a champion or better yet, be one! This don't have to be an executive. This is a big undertaking, Rome wasn't built in a day.  You will need executive support but they don't have to be the champion.

1:48 — Build a pilot with early adopters. Look for expertise aligned to business priorities, those that are comfortable collaborating, committed to sustaining activity and willing to leverage internal listening capabilities.

1:49 — Focus on relationships. Think about this as a relationship play. Most brands think of it from a social media platform standpoint but it's really about forming community and creating a relationship (specifically with individuals with me).

1:50 — Focus on more than just select influencers. This can be more than employees. Think about this using a portfolio approach. Look for employee diversity not everyone has to be active in social. Last but not least make sure you enable those individuals.

1:50 — Measure and demonstrate value. The chapter will show you how to show employee advocacy value and identify your advocates.

Q & A

Q: What about incentivizing employees to advocate on your behalf?

A: Employees don't want to be your marketing shill. Number one thing employees are looking for when participating in an employee advocacy program — recognition for them. Give them a shout out to be recognized in front of the company or executives. Show business value linked back to their time and effort. They want more than meaningless stats.

Q: How do you separate corporate and retail employees? How do you handle rogue employees, especially once senior leadership sees it as a problem.

A: Understand governance and compliance.  Set and separate goals for each. At IBM it was segmented into privileged users vs. non privileged users. Specialized training might be needed for rogue employees creating their own grassroots communities.  You likely need help from HR & Legal.

Q: Best practices to overcome the approval challenges?

A: Make sure that legal and compliance have a seat at the table at the beginning. They will know the standards. Just make they don't take the lead but a partner of the team.  That's most critical.