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The Rise of the Social Employee: SXSW 2016 Session Recap

sxsw pederson photo 1Last week, I had the pleasure of presenting at SXSW on the topic of the Rise of the Social Employee: Rewards and Risks.  With my background in social media analytics and helping brands structure for social success, I was excited to share some of the learnings I have gathered over time watching brands struggle to find their social voices, at both a corporate and employee level.
Today, it seems that brands are even more focused on empowering their employees with social access, but many are confused about how to do this in a way that mitigates key risks.  This session, with 100+ participants, was a perfect venue to discuss ways brands can reap the rewards of their social employee base, and protect their reputations at the same time.
Here are my key recommendations for leveraging your social employees in a thoughtful way: 

Have guardrails and a disaster plan in place

You cannot control everything that is put into the social sphere.  That means that things can and will go wrong.  Show your employees how to leverage social channels appropriately through your social media policy (using specific scenarios and examples), evolve your policy to match technology and know your brand values and voice when responding to a disaster.  Remember that you can often show more about who you are as a company during times of crisis, rather than throughout the course of business as usual.  

Let your social employees’ voices be heard

Encourage your employees to speak up, to share their experiences and welcome others to the company through internal and external social channels.  When you encounter negative feedback, try to get to the root of the issues before just deleting the comment and moving on.  Listen to your employees’ ideas — your next best product might come from your newest employee!

Social championship starts at the top

Executives should lead by example when it comes to leveraging social.  Not only do employees think that C-suite participation in social media leads directly to better leadership, but they will also learn to follow the good example of the managers above them.  Show them how to listen to and serve prospects and encourage fellow employees through social channels.  
It was clear that while many audience members were excited about “the social employee”, many were still wondering whether it made sense for their own brand, from an ROI perspective.  
To capture the power of social, I shared this paraphrased analogy from Mark & Cheryl Burgess, authors of The Social Employee to inspire:

Think of your corporate social media presence like a baseball, and your social employees like a bag of marbles.  They may weigh the same and be roughly the same shape, but there is one big difference: surface area.  The marbles — your social employees — have roughly 300x the surface area compared to the baseball.  In social speak, this means that they have roughly 300x the first degree connections of your corporate social media assets.  Rolling out a new campaign?  What better way than to allow your social employees to share your brand messages with a touch of their own voice directly to their massive, and personal, networks.

sxsw pederson photo 2_mrrobot
After talking tech, look who I bump into–actor Rami Malek who plays a ‘techie’ on USA Network’s “Mr. Robot”.

While my time in Austin was short, it was both inspiring and eye-opening.  Not only did I get to speak with dozens of other conference-goers who were passionate about content marketing, social recruiting and expanding digital access to employees of all types, but I also got to see social bring together individuals from around the globe…in person.

Thank you to all who attended for helping to make this 2016 presentation a success!
Sarah Pedersen (@sarahcpedersen) is Director, Customer Success at Hearsay Social. 
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Vote to Get Hearsay Social on Stage at SXSW 2016

Head over to the SXSW PanelPicker and give our two proposed sessions, “The Social Business Imperative” and the “Rise of the Social Employee,” a big thumbs-up!
Vote-PanelPIcker-Idea-2016-InstagramFor those in entertainment, technology and marketing, the annual SXSW music, film and interactive festival is one of the hottest conference tickets of the year. Thousands descend onto Austin, Texas, for a week of networking, learning and inspiration with some of the biggest leaders and talents in their respective industries. Thanks to your votes, Hearsay Social has been honored with the opportunity to present at SXSW Interactive every year since 2013. (See our 2013, 2014 and 2015 recaps.)
But! We need your help to bring our CEO and founder, Clara Shih, and other members of the Hearsay Social gang back to Austin in 2016, where we hope to share our vision on how predictive analytics and big data are changing the way we do business, and how social media is redefining the employee/employer relationship.
Our proposed sessions for SXSW Interactive 2016 are:
“Staying Relevant: The Social Business Imperative”Today’s buyers share more details than ever before about themselves, their preferences, and their opinions about your business online in real-time. This offers unprecedented data from which you can capture sentiment, respond quickly, and make improvements. As such, the sales process is no longer linear; it’s a non-linear, omnichannel path where integrating social business into the buyer’s journey across all mobile and digital channels, and across marketing, sales, and service, is mandatory. In this presentation, learn how big data and predictive technology are transforming the way we do business.
“Rise of the Social Employee: Rewards and Risks”With and often without your approval or knowledge, employees are talking about your company on social media with friends, in public, for all your customers to see. Employee social engagement can be wonderful brand ambassadorship, providing others a genuine glimpse into your company’s mission and influence. But disgruntled or careless employees also can share damaging information that can profoundly impact your brand. In this presentation, learn how to empower social employees to evangelize authentically on your company’s behalf while ensuring they follow guidelines to mitigate brand and company risk.
Head over to the SXSW PanelPicker today to register and vote for “The Social Business Imperative” and the “Rise of the Social Employee.” Voting opened this week and runs through Sept. 4. Want to do even more? Add a comment and/or share your support with your social networks by clicking on the “share this idea” buttons on the left-hand side of each session entry. Thank you!
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