Who is Your Employee Having a Conversation With?

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Greg Verdino posted a really thought provoking piece On Friday.  Seems that someone created a Delta Airlines Twitter account and the conventional wisdom said that it wasn’t Delta Airlines.  From a scan of recent tweets, it seems that they may be coming from someone inside Delta acting in an unofficial capacity, but the net result is really interesting:

revamped the award ticket system for you SkyMiles me”mbers recently: http://www.delta.com/awardt… – you can shop around, calendar-style

sending out flight notices/reminders to those who’ve signed up for my messenger service: http://tinyurl.com/29xt5f

Happy Mother’s Day! Did you know you can donate miles to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation? http://tinyurl.com/yudbdo

Verdino comments that having “an active Twitterer acting as a mouthpiece for the brand (and responding in real time to direct comments and questions from other Twitter users) is truly revolutionary.”  “Sanctioned or not, the Delta Twitter-er literally is the voice of the brand for anyone following his/her tweets”.  Verdino goes on to discuss the implications of individuals claiming brand ownership and question of whether or not companies should be locking their trademarks.

Using a social tool like Twitter to engage with customers in real time IS revolutionary, but how many companies even understand the potential here?  If it weren’t for the attention that popular marketing blogs (Jaffe, Waldman, AdPulp) have given this story, would Delta even know about it (do they now?).  

So many companies are totally oblivious to how the world is changing around them. They see social tools as distractions and time wasters.  My company, a major US retailer, just blocked access to Twitter from inside our corporate network.  

Why???

At a time when we need to be finding new ways to engage with our customers and employees to design better experiences for both, management is focused internally on productivity and security.  It came as no surprise that company leaders were unaware of the over 350 MySpace pages created by current and former employees.  Every one of them references the company name & logo.  Many of them are private groups for individual stores. The public ones are great resources for gaining insights into cultural and engagement issues.  In an organization of 45,000 people, most of which are 18-25-years old, there is an amazing amount of conversation going on.  Rich consumer insights, potential employee morale problems, operational issues, poor management, you name it.  It’s all there in the conversations that are happening in the “unofficial” channels of your organization.

So here’s the point: Whether your executives like it (get it) or not, your employees are having conversations with each other and with your customers, and are doing it under your company’s brand.  Is that a good thing?  Perhaps, if it is identified and supported.  Your Gen Y employees certainly have a better understanding of the communication tools and channels that their peers, and increasingly, your customers favor.  Sure, there may be messages that aren’t strictly in line with company communication guidelines, but the voices are human.  Internally, they build a sense of family which is much more genuine than what comes out of your periodic employee engagement campaigns.  Externally, they can establish a dialog with your customers in ways that your highly structured, talking point-ladened corporatespeak simply cannot.  Overturn your Orthodoxies.  Let these voices show you the way.

4 comments so far

  1. Liz Strauss on

    It makes sense to twitter for the company with a voice that says something human and something that the company might want to know is being said. . . . but that would assume that the company knew that Twitter existed.🙂

  2. Doug Meacham on

    Indeed. Something as simple as tapping a few leaders in your call center to write tweets could be a great communication channel and cost virtually nothing, IF mainstream businesses knew wjat it was. Most are still trying to grasp what a blog is.

  3. […] image: NextUp  […]

  4. James Wright on

    Use employees as your social marketers

    The tax system in Australia, through the Fringe Benefits Tax or FBT regulations currently allows you to make irregular and unexpected rewards to staff up to the value of $300 per person per year without incurring any liability.

    Employee engagement has been high on everyone’s agenda for a number of years, more recently the debate has shifted and the idea of engaged employees being the new marketers is now becoming more commonplace.

    Imagine you run a business employing one hundred people. That’s $30,000 that you can spend encouraging your employees to talk positively about your brand, products and service; acknowledging and engaging them in the process.

    Let’s take a look at that this in a bit more detail. Assume you decide that $100 is a pretty good amount for each reward. Your $30,000 tax free allowance buys you 300 rewards, an average of three for each member of staff every year.

    Each reward gets talked about. Every time you reward an employee you create a conversation; at the pub, at a BBQ, in the queue at the supermarket, over coffee, at the school gates.

    Let’s assume that each reward gets talked about three times, that’s 900 conversations.

    $33 for a good conversation, a potential new customer and someone likely to tell someone else a positive story about your business. Try asking your marketing experts whether they think that’s good value for money. Word of mouth, social networking, whatever you want to call it, can’t be bought they’ll tell you, well they are wrong!

    Depending on how you structure your rewards program you can buy yourself even more conversations. An accumulative, points based program, allows you to make smaller more regular rewards. Let’s say you run with an average reward value of $25. That’s 1200 rewards a year and 3600 conversations.

    We talk about our experiences even more than we do our possessions and cash.
    RedBalloon Days uses experiences and unique gifts as extraordinary rewards through Gift Certificates and it’s points platform; we work with hundreds of businesses to engage employees and create powerful conversations for their brands.

    From shark diving, to Sri Lankan cookery classes, flying lessons to spa treatments, sleepovers at the zoo to luxury weekends away there is something for everyone in the range of over 2500 experiences across Australia and New Zealand.

    At RedBalloon for Corporate we help business get the most of out the marketing and rewards budgets. I start most of my presentations with a simple question, who has experienced RedBalloon Days before. I can pretty much guarantee that at least one person in the room will have been given, purchased one of our gifts or experienced our brand in the last seven years. People are always keen to share their story with the group; ‘my husband got one through his work’, ‘I bought one for my son’, ‘my friend took me with her on hers’…gossip gossip gossip….sometimes I don’t even have to speak to get the business on board – it’s the power of conversation. How many conversations is your business having?


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