I’ve recently published a book about social media use in a business setting. It covers challenges and approaches to employee social media advocacy. Employee social media advocacy is the act of employees sharing employer-provided content online on their own social channels. Such initiatives have been known to increase brand reach, thought leadership, shorten sales cycles and improve company culture. Personal branding is an integral part of employee advocacy. It gives the employee credibility such that what they share online is believable and accepted as you would accept information from an expert.
More and more, it’s becoming crucial to have an online presence, to be findable and credible. Even if you are not part of an employee advocacy programme, boosting your personal brand could help you get a new job, change your career, successfully launch a business, find experts in your field or find a business partner. The possibilities are endless!
Many people worry that a strong personal brand means that you have a million followers on Twitter. No. I believe building your personal brand needs to work for you. That’s why I developed the 4Ps of personal branding. I highlight four key elements to getting started. They are Profile, Platform, Participate and Persist. I’ll briefly explain each element:
What do you want to be known for? What do you want to achieve with your online personal brand? This element is a key starting point. There are incredible amounts of distractions online and on social media. Decide early on what your goals are. Having goals makes it easier to focus on what is important.
On which social platforms do your target audience hang out? How do these platforms work? The number of social platforms out there keep growing. There is often pressure to join as many of the platforms as possible. But that’s exhausting, and may not be worth your while. You need to identify the platforms that will bring the most value to you. Are the companies you want to engage with there? If your target audience is the oil and gas industry for instance, there is probably no point being on Snapchat. You might find that you get more engagement from LinkedIn.
It’s not enough to set up a profile on a couple of social platforms. You must participate. Personal branding requires that you engage in conversations through commenting or asking questions. 90% of people on social media just watch. They don’t comment or “like” content, they skim and move on. 9% of people on social media engage with content. And then there’s the 1% of people actually create content. Think about how you are going to engage because this could set you apart. Creating content might be writing articles, producing videos or sharing interesting information you find online. Make sure it’s relevant to your audience.
There’s nothing worse than arriving at a website and finding that it hasn’t been updated in a year. Personal branding requires maintenance and persistence. When you start participating, make a plan for how you are going to keep going. It might be once a month or once a week. Whatever it is, keep at it. Don’t give up. It takes time to build relationships online like it does in real life. Consistency pays off.
Start building your personal brand today.
I originally wrote this post on the LR Senergy blog in February 2016.
On Sept 11th 2015, I hoped for an honest discussion about why some organisations appear to have a cultural advantage over their peers. The right corporate culture provides an edge in several areas of organisational performance such as innovation, employee engagement and digital adoption. I got an honest conversation when I interviewed Enda Logan, CEO of The Fifth Business and Visiting Professor at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen. The interview forms one of four case studies in my book, The Smart Sceptic’s Guide to Social Media in Organisations (Rethink Press, 2016), launched on Feb 16th 2016. I based the book on real life case studies from multinational firms, It is especially relevant to corporate culture.
As part of Enda’s interview with me, he emphasises that change always starts at the top. This is true for all lkinds of change initiatives. These include the use of social media for business and regulatory changes in addition to other strategic initiatives. I couldn’t agree more. Culture eats strategy for breakfast any day. A 2014 Forbes article even concludes that your company culture is every bit as important as your pay cheque.
Here are 7 ways to ensure your corporate culture allows for sustainable change:
1. Cross-functional ownership
An organisational culture that supports effective change does not allow its business consequences and power to reside in one department. This can make it difficult to change quickly. Instead, smart corporate cultures ensure shared ownership across the organisation. They do this through aligned goals and cross-functional leadership.
2. Continuous improvement
Spend time reflecting on what’s working and what’s not, by observing and sharing lessons learnt and through tools such as root cause analysis. Identifying success and failure causes is not enough. When companies discover the causes, they must implement plans to replicate what is working. Then eradicate what is not working.
3. Honest feedback
Enda’s story of a man he once met with the job title, Corporate Jester fascinated me. This man’s job was to sit in his employer’s board meetings and say the unsay-able. He got paid to challenge ideas from senior executives. This was clearly an enlightened board that actively sought honest feedback. They consider different views to encourage a questioning mentality – starting at the very top.
4. Employee engagement
A corporate culture must enable employees to challenge and share ideas without fear of being penalised or fired. Engaging employees requires them to believe in your purpose and to share their knowledge, knowledge that they regard as power. If your employees don’t feel trusted and empowered by the organisation, you need to revive your company’s culture quickly.
5. Lead by example
It’s not lip-service. It is also not a matter of sending memos to announce new initiatives in the organisation. Senior leaders should be the first seen to live the values they want their employees to adopt. The traditional model of top-down is dead. Such models consisted of a manager telling his staff what to do and think without much responsibility for acting out those desired behaviours himself. It is crucial that change begins at the top to ensure lasting results.
6. Employee empowerment
The future of work is that employees will spend more and more time on social media, using their networks to share knowledge with colleagues, customers and stakeholders. Shama Hyder, author of The Zen of Social Media Marketing notes in a recent Forbes article, “People are now media… how organisations leverage people as media in a smart way is here to stay.”
Companies can leverage the power derived from having their employees share content online that is beneficial to the business. As a result, companies could increase brand awareness, effective recruiting, more sales leads and enhanced customer engagement.
7. Future-proof strategies
Finally, a smart corporate culture allows change to occur repeatedly and rapidly to survive the marketplace. There is a delicate balance between sustainable change and being agile enough to change again. Companies must become good storytellers, internally and externally to ensure that people are aware of the good things happening as a result of the changes. At the same time, operational processes should help to monitor the progress of change and flag when things need to be reviewed, and changed again.
In conclusion, these seven tips can help companies develop an engaging corporate culture to support lasting change whether you are introducing social media, a new e-learning system or an HSE policy.
This article was first published on The Fifth Business blog on 19 April 2016