The rise of the social employee: Mark Burgess at TEDxNavesink


Thank you. Really excited to be here today. Today I am going to talk about a revolution and what that means to you. And I want it to be a specific take away and I will even give you a little short action plan at the end. Something you can think about while you are here and while you go back to your home or your offices. So let me give you a little background. A few years ago I was involved in advertising on Madison Avenue and I would travel around the world shooting commercials with production crews and you know, that is pretty cool A pretty good job. I enjoyed that a lot. And I can remember shooting commercials on maybe the back lot of a Hollywood studio. Here is a good example. Shooting what appeared to be the front of the building when in reality it was fake. It was a facade. It wasn’t real. So as I traveled through my own journey my own advertising and marketing journey I came to realize that for the most part advertising pitches, kind of like this image, were really just pitches They are really trying to sell me something. They weren’t authentic. They weren’t believable. And all of a sudden go forward a few years and you’ve got social media and a huge power. Something we are probably all tweeting and blogging, and doing things exciting in social media. Now social media, the opposite of advertising, it is authentic. It is real. Maybe sometimes, too real. It’s transparent at the same time. And the power of social media in many ways has given rise to something else that´s I want to talk about today. And I call it the rise of the social employee. So this is a blog that my wife, and business partner and co-author of a book, The Social Employee, Cheryl Burgess, co-wrote. There she is, she is here today. Thank you Cheryl Okay. all right And the blog that she wrote was called The Rise of the Employee Brand. It was the catalyst. It was the beginning. It was an idea that found its way into a book called, “The Social Employee.” And I remember when we finished writing the book, we both kind of looked at each other almost at the same time and said, you know we wrote a book, but I think we started something bigger. Maybe we started a revolution. So some of the revolutionary brands that are involved that we talk about and there are many, are household names: Dell, AT&T, IBM, Cisco, Southwest Airlines. So these are brands that are investing tremendous time and energy into training their social employees that we will define. Okay, so, what is a social employee? So first of all they are very different than your regular or normal employee, who is perhaps not empowered and isn’t a true change agent. It’s a different way of thinking. A different way of being motivated. They are highly skilled in the use of social media tools. They are engaged. They are believers in the mission and the vision and the values of the brand that they work for. But what is really important and what is the difference with the social employee is the integration of our personal brand and of our professional side. So if you stop and think for a second, everyone in this theatre today has a personal brand. It is something we all need to think about. We need to work on. We need to nurture. So the value of bringing those two together is powerful and it forms the social employee. So here’s a great quote from Ethan McCarthy who is a social business kind of evangelist at IBM. And he tells us that employees are the brand at IBM. Now interesting, he doesn’t say the advertising, the marketing campaign. And he also will tell you that fundamentally, the employees are the voice of IBM. So here is a simple analogy to give you a general sense of what a social employee is. So you take a baseball and a bag of marbles. So the baseball and the bag of marbles weigh about the same. They are about the same shape and in fact if you put them in a bucket of water they would displace the same amount of water. But the difference, the big difference is in the surface area. The marbles, think of that as your social employees represent 300% greater surface area. So think of the interaction, think of the connections. Think of the engagement. Think of the collaboration between those marbles as opposed to the baseball which is kind of like the overall organization on the other side. And the power of that. They are collaborating across organizations, across business units. They are working with their customers and their clients everyday in social media. Social employees and social customers like to work together. And fundamentally, the other feeling about the brand is that the brand is in some ways is the sub-total of the personal brands of the social employees that work for it. So why are social employees important? All right, so I brought some heavy statistics with me today. Ninety percent of people don’t trust traditional ads. So if you think about that that is about 9 out of 10 of every row we would go through in the theatre. But, in a very positive way, almost 80% trust recommendations. Think of the last time somebody recommended a phone, or a car or a software program or whatever. You are getting it from people that you know. People that you respect. And that word-of-mouth is like ten times more powerful than traditional ads as well. So, here is the win/win. And there is a clear win/win for both the company and the employee and this I think is the power behind the idea. So the benefits to the company is authentic branding. It’s real. It’s believable. It isn’t the advertising campaign. The benefits to the employee, and what I would like you to do when you are looking at that slide behind me, is to mentally erase the word employee and put yourself in. This is really more, this is really you. It is not just a title on a slide. So what you are doing is building your personal brand. This is your own portfolio of skills, what you have to offer. It is what you are doing on LinkedIn. What you are doing in a digital world. It is who you are. And what that does is it adds up to that last bullet, wich I call employability. There is another little statistic that 94% of corporate recruiters will screen candidates in social media before they decide who they are going to interview. So think about that: 94%. You want to be where they are going to find you. All right, so let’s talk a little bit about engagement. How many of you have seen the picture on the left? Okay, just about everybody, all right? Ellen DeGeneres, the Oscars? So when you look at that first of all you talk about engagement, what I call social currency. That basically, with that photo, she is representing, she is the ambassador for her personal brand. She is the ambassador for the Oscars brand. And even the ambassador for the brand of phone that was used to take the photograph, which was the Samsung. So now, since we are not all mega-celebrities, I don’t think most of us are, like certainly not me, like Ellen DeGeneres, what about the personal side? Let’s say you had a cause, something important to you that you wanted to do. Let’s say you wanted to organize a 5K run for breast cancer. So you are able to cash in some of your social currency. You can tap into your network. Your personal network. Your professional network. And you can pull the whole thing together and you can make it happen. So you are leveraging social currency that you have built. All right, so another question for the audience. How many of you are hockey fans? Okay, there are a few. Okay, now, even if you are not a hockey fan, you know that generally the team that shoots the most goals, the most attempts on the goal, called shots on goal, basically, ultimately should win. Well, Wayne Gretzky tells us that you actually miss 100% of the shots that you never take. So think about that. What does that mean relative to be innovative? To thinking differently, that famous phrase from the Apple campaign that made that company come to life a number of years ago and where they are today. Thinking different. Innovative. Creation, creativity. All these things come together. So what I want to do in the next slide is to give you kind of a short four-step action plan for how you could implement some of these things. And, to hopefully give you a little catchy name with it so that it will kind of be memorable when you leave here. Alright, so basically, I am asking you to take a leap. So this great photo of the young boy diving into, you know, face first into these freshly raked leaves. He is anticipating hitting those leaves and there is no fear. He is just going to go for it. So, the first step is Listening and this is really involved within an organization, within a company, listening to their employees. Talking to them. Getting feedback. That is a novel idea, isn’t it? Getting their input on different tools, different opportunities. Working together. Finding the right social tools that maybe work for them. There is a company in Utah, named DOMO, that prides themselves on hiring social employees and they refer to the people they hire as Domosapiens. In fact they even have a hashtag, #Domosapiens, and that is how they talk to each other. Education is about social media policy. Developing the policy so that the employee knows what the guidelines are. What the rules are. Kind of where the boundaries are. Adobe has a terrific name for their social policy. They call it guardrails. So think about that. The implications of what that means. You know, no hard and fast rules other than you know where you are. where you sit. You want to be an engaged employee. Activation is really about getting them turned on. It is looking at education, education and maybe is helping to do writing, if you are going to be doing blogging or building out your network or whether the right tool But it is doing it within your own comfort zone. It is never dictating you are going to this or do that. It is very participatory with the employee, with the social employee. So, this to me culminates in, Play to me represents a combination of you have built your personal brand. That is powerful in the marketplace. And your personal brand and your professional self. And it is bringing them together in a very positive way. And it is the realization that whether a company has one employee, or four employees or 400,000 employees in the case of an IBM, the same basic thoughts, the same basic process really kind of applies. So, there is an old expression that works here: Look before you leap. So, when you think about that, there are certain employees that will dive right in. Right? “This sounds good to me. I am going to go for it.” Right? “You’ve got the right policies and I am going to participate.” And they are going to do that. Others may sort of hesitate but want to learn more, but that is not bad because that means they are curious and curiosity leads to wanting to dive in. Wanting to take the leap. So, I think the opportunity today is thinking about the social employee and what that means to business and how business is done And I like to think that in many ways, that the social employee is about the future of business. And, so I invite you today to take that LEAP with me. To join the social employee revolution. And to realize that fundamentally, the future of business is in your hands. Thank you.

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