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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. 
To learn more, visit www.hearsaysocial.com.

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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!
Related Resources:

Stop Making Sucky Enterprise Software

Note: You only have until September 5 to influence the final sessions for SXSW 2015. Head over to the PanelPicker now and vote for Hearsay Social’s proposed session, “Stop Making Sucky Enterprise Software” Thank you!

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Bryan Schreier (Partner, Sequoia Capital) and Steve Garrity (CTO and Founder, Hearsay Social) chatting at @StartX.

In addition to Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih’s proposed session, we’re also backing an engineering-focused session led by our CTO and co-founder Steve Garrity (@stgarrity) for next year’s SXSW Interactive:

Many people in the technology industry believe you have to work in the consumer space to have the biggest impact on the most people. Everyone wants to build the next Facebook or Snapchat, the next app that captivates the minds of millions and gets called “sexy” in TechCrunch articles — simple, beautiful, impactful. People say it’s hard to do this with enterprise software citing how painful most enterprise software is and how many people waste countless hours of their lives fighting it. But why does it have to be that way? Hearsay Social Founder and CTO Steve Garrity, an expert in software development and architecture design, believes we deserve better and will convince SXSW audiences to fight sucky software and demand better experiences with their enterprise business software.

We’re excited about having Steve share his insights and experiences, from developing the Azure.net services platform at Microsoft to founding and scaling Hearsay Social to where it is today, at SXSW 2015. Help us by voting!
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Human & Robot: Friends or Foes in the Digital Age?

Note: You only have until September 5 to influence the final sessions for SXSW 2015. Head over to the PanelPicker now and vote for Hearsay Social’s proposed session, “Human & Robot: Friends or Foes in the Digital Age?” Thank you!

Vote-Session-15Two years in a row, supporters like you have helped bring our ideas around social business and innovation to SXSW Interactive by voting for our sessions in the yearly PanelPicker process.
Thanks to you, we brought Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih on stage with Renee Brown (SVP/Director Social Media, Wells Fargo) in 2013 and then last year had Jason Suen (Director, Global Customer Success, Hearsay Social) lead a discussion with Patrizio Spagnoletto (Head of Digital, Farmers Insurance, @patospago).
Next year, we want to take Clara’s expertise back to SXSW, but we need your votes!

Fortune Brainstorm TECH 2014
Maria Klawe (President, Harvey Mudd College) and Clara Shih (CEO, Hearsay Social) in a session at Fortune Brainstorm Tech this summer.

Across the business world, not just in the financial services sector, organizations are grappling with the rise of increasingly intelligent technologies. The question on everyone’s minds is how this affects the human element so closely tied to business. An expert in social business and technology innovation, Clara will be sharing unique insights you won’t hear anywhere else:

Does technology replace humans or supercharge productivity? Clara Shih, CEO at Hearsay Social and board director at Starbucks, will share her vision of a working world in which technology both replaces and enhances human capital. While we can imagine how disruptive drones and self-driving cars will affect transportation and hospitality, changes in other sectors seem less clear. For example, will there still be a human element in retail? And how will technology disrupt the work done by relationship managers like financial planners? Drawing from her experience working with a diverse set of Fortune 500 companies, Clara will illustrate where the world is headed.

If this sounds like a session you’d like to see at SXSW next year, then head over to the SXSW PanelPicker. Voting opened up this week and runs through September 5th, so get voting!
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Deepening relationships through social business: Recap of our session with Farmers Insurance at SXSWi

1780680_10202697926883121_876302824_nThank you to everyone who attended our session at SXSW earlier this week! We had a full room of around 70 people participating in our “Core Conversation,” dissecting the ins and outs of successful social business.

The session was led by two experts when it comes to using social media to grow business: Jason Suen (Director of Global Customer Success, Hearsay Social, @JasonSuen) and Patrizio Spagnoletto (Head of Digital, Farmers Insurance, @patospago)

Here were some key takeaways:

1. Social media’s greatest impact is relationship building and retention. By allowing company representatives (like advisors and agents in financial services) to keep in touch with many more current and prospective clients at a time, social media enables more efficient relationship building than ever before.

2. Social media needs to be considered as part of an omnichannel strategy. Customers can and will use whatever channel works best to reach a business to buy a product or to reach customer support, so you need to embrace that.

3. Social media allows you to be top of mind with people that you otherwise wouldn’t get exposure to regularly. By having a regular presence on social networks and sharing great, relevant content, you establish yourself as a trusted source for your product or service. In this way, you stay top of mind with people who normally might not have engaged with you regularly.

Because the session was a Core Conversation, Jason and Pato encouraged questions and comments from the diverse audience, which included salespeople and marketers in financial services and other verticals. A few attended simply to learn more about the power of social business.

Photo courtesy of Search Engine Journal.
Photo courtesy of Search Engine Journal.

Wrapping up the session, Jason walked through the four steps to social business success, which was well-received by the audience:

1. Get found: Clients want to communicate with you via social media. Be there to provide the level of service they’re seeking.

2. Grow your network: Tell your clients you’re on social media. Start sharing content relevant to your business and build up your connections.

3. Research and act on social signals: Listen for important life events, like buying a new home or having a baby, that contacts in your network share on social media. This is information you can use at your next meeting to offer that person the right services or products.

4. Build credibility: Don’t fall silent on social media. Regularly update your networks with the best, most relevant articles and trends that your audience will find helpful, and establish yourself as a leader in your business and on social media.

Thank you for helping to make our 2014 session a success! Read more about social business and SXSW:

#SXSWi 2014 Recap: Sales in Social: You Can Sell, But You Can’t Hide

SXSW in 60 seconds: Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih on the most exciting innovation of 2013
“The Death of Marketing” at SXSW 2013
Brian Solis and Clara Shih discuss social content marketing at LinkedIn’s #SXSW Influencers Reception

You Can Sell, But You Can’t Hide: Join Hearsay Social and Farmers Insurance at SXSW Interactive 2014

SXSW_Blog_image (1)Going to SXSW? We’d love to see you there!

There are over 800 confirmed sessions for SXSW Interactive alone, featuring a host of influential technology and business leaders including Anne Wojcicki (CEO and co-founder of 23andMe), Biz Stone (co-founder of Twitter and CEO of Jelly), and Chelsea Clinton, who is currently Vice Chair of the Clinton Foundation.

Here’s one session you don’t want to miss: On Monday, March 10 at 11 AM, Hearsay Social and Farmers Insurance will be leading a talk titled You Can Sell, But You Can’t Hide, which will explore the state of social media in today’s business landscape.

We’re especially excited because our session is a “Core Conversation,” meaning that instead of being a traditional single person or panel presentation, all attendees are invited and encouraged to participate in the discussion. That means we want you and your colleagues to attend our session with fresh ideas on how social media can make an impact across businesses. Come ready to talk!

You Can Sell, But You Can’t Hide

WHEN: 11 AM on Monday, March 10

WHERE: Hilton Austin Downtown, Room 616AB, 500 E 4th St

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WHO: Jason Suen (Director, Global Customer Success at Hearsay Social, @JasonSuen) and Patrizio Spagnoletto (Head of Digital, Farmers Insurance, @patospago)

WHAT: Social media has changed the game for salespeople, who can no longer survive without adopting new technologies. Today’s buyer is more informed and more connected than ever before, and this change has forced salespeople to adapt or become obsolete. In this session, Hearsay Social and Farmers Insurance, two leaders in the world of social business, will walk through the changing landscape of the connected buyer, and discuss why and how salespeople have to step up their game.

Learn more about our session on the SXSW website or check out one of the below resources from SXSW 2013:

SXSW in 60 seconds: Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih on the most exciting innovation of 2013

“The Death of Marketing” at SXSW 2013

Brian Solis and Clara Shih discuss social content marketing at LinkedIn’s #SXSW Influencers Reception

You Can Sell, But You Can’t Hide!

Note: You only have until September 6 to influence the final sessions for SXSW 2014. Head over to the PanelPicker now and vote for Hearsay Social’s proposed session, “You Can Sell, But You Can’t Hide.” Thank you!

Vote_My_Session
Last year, supporters like you helped us bring “The Death of Marketing” to SXSW Interactive by voting for our session with Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih and Renee Brown SVP/Director Social Media, Wells Fargo. The panel ended up being a huge hit: Clara and Renee shared all their thoughts and engaged with a packed room on all things social sales and marketing. (If you missed it, you can hear the session in full here.)
We want to take Clara’s expertise back to SXSW 2014, but we need your votes!
Most SXSW attendees understand why social media makes sense for advertisers and marketers, but here’s something less commonly understood: why do salespeople need to be social too? As one of the few social sales-focused events at SXSW, this will be one session packed with unique insights you won’t hear anywhere else.
Social media, mobile interaction, and other tech resources are essential to the salesperson’s toolkit today. Here’s why, and here’s what we have to offer:

Social media has changed the game for salespeople, who can no longer survive without adopting new technologies. Today’s buyer is more informed and more connected than ever before, and this change has forced salespeople to adapt or become obsolete. In this session, Clara Shih, a leader in the world of social business, will walk through the changing landscape of the connected buyer, and discuss the why and how salespeople have to step up their game.

You need to be where your customers are, which is why we’ve titled our session “You Can Sell, But You Can’t Hide.”
If this sounds like a session you’d like to see at SXSW next year, then head over to the SXSW PanelPicker and vote! At the event, Clara will explain what market trends are driving social selling adoption, what today’s buyer looks like, and how to establish a presence on social (as a salesperson).
PanelPicker voting has already opened up and runs through September 6th at midnight, so get voting!
Want to know just how inspiring social sales can be? Hear it from these Farmers Insurance agents:

"The Death of Marketing" at SXSW 2013

Couldn’t make it to SXSW this year? Not to worry.

Set aside some time to listen to the above recording of a session led by Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih (@ClaraShih) and Renee Brown (@ReneeDBrown), SVP/Director Social Media, Wells Fargo, on “The Death of Marketing.”
In the first portion, Clara talks about the shift of power from traditional brands and institutions to individuals, and what that means for marketing. Then Renee, who heads up social media for Wells Fargo, talks about the changing rules of marketing based on her extensive experience running social media for the major global bank. Finally, the session concludes with an informal conversation between Clara, Renee, session attendees, and virtual attendees on Twitter.
See our other SXSW 2013 coverage:

Brian Solis and Clara Shih discuss social content marketing at LinkedIn's #SXSW Influencers Reception

One of the most engaging events of SXSW this year was the LinkedIn Influencer Reception, where Brian Solis, Principal at Altimeter Group, and Clara Shih, CEO of Hearsay Social, discussed the value of layering social graphs and relationships on top of content.

Clara Shih, Brian Solis, and Francesca Levy, Editor at LinkedIn

Shih and Solis were two of the earliest thought leaders in using social media for business; in fact, both spoke together on the very first Facebook for business panel at SXSW back in 2009 at the time when social media in the business world was still focused on blogs and wikis. As Shih discussed in this most recent fireside chat, however, “layering identity and relationships on top of content” with social networks helps bring order to the deluge of content now available on the Web.
“We bring order to the chaos and we bring trust to the chaos because we trust our friends, our families, and our colleagues,” said Shih.
The challenge that Clara discussed in this panel is that with social networks, many publishers have started to move away from substantive content and more towards the short-form content shared on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. The most successful influencers, according to Shih, are ones that build trust with their constituencies and use short-form sharing platforms to distribute more substantial pieces of content.
Watch the whole fireside chat below and see photos/tweets from the event: