Facebook Not Good Enough for Marketing Execs?

Aside

This week Forrester,the marketing research group, released results from a recent  survey filled out by almost 400 marketing executives. The main question was:  How satisfied are you with the business value your company has achieved by using each of the following marketing channels? Executives were asked to giving a rating for each channel. You can gather from the title of this blog that Facebook did not receive the most favorable ratings. So, are we to conclude that companies should abandon marketing efforts via Facebook? I don’t think so.

I’m not defending Facebook. In fact, I don’t have any particular interest in any paid marketing channel. What rubbed me wrong here is the approach. Why is the conversation still around paid media, like advertising, when it’s the earned media, like employees or customers sharing content freely and genuinely, that can create longer-term business value.  Some of the marketing dollars should be allocated to improve the actual products and services so that marketing efforts can really pay off.

Message to Forrester: If you don’t ask the right questions, you will never get valuable answers. The biggest question that I’m focused on right now is: How can employees bring value to the brand?  By investing marketing dollars internally, it can pay off externally. The internal and the external organization cannot continue to exist separately. While it may not pay to invest marketing dollars directly in Facebook, but it may pay to invest these dollars internally with employees who spread your brand message through their personal Facebook pages. Don’t be fooled. Employees talk. Wouldn’t you rather them spread positive authentic brand messages? Not just Facebook, but any marketing channel, can stand to be leveraged by internal, engaged employees who truly love the products and services they deliver every day.

(see the article about Forrester’s research)

I Quit!

A long time ago, it was rare for someone to quit. People stayed in the same job for years and years, and even more years, until retirement or death, whichever came first. Today, the opposite is true. Change is so rapid that it’s hard to predict the future of any organization, let alone job or role.  So when I stumbled across this video, I thought: “Ah, a new way to say ‘Adios’ to your boss.” Quite creative, especially given the fact that the employer was a video production company…not surprising that the employee’s video of her quitting, went viral immediately. Maybe her boss was  happy that she finally produced a viral video, however maybe he or she wasn’t anticipating it would be her goodbye video that would get the most number of views.

But not everybody quits. Some leave unwillingly. Like the employee who was fired by the AOL Chief during a recorded staff meeting. She was taping the internal conversation, a big “no-no” if you listen to the recording, which shouldn’t have been recorded in the first place. What a way to go, publicly in front of the entire company and then later publicized to the world.

Some folks quit, but go about it in the wrong way, like the JetBlue flight attendant, who illegally deployed a slide. At the end of his flight, he simply slid down the slide and attempted to leave…for good.

Some folks do it the right way. Well at least, it is well-intended, like the Goodwill employee who was just trying to help folks pay for the merchandise by reducing the prices. The teenage employee was only wanting to help and do “good” as suggested by the name of his employer. But Goodwill didn’t see it that way, fired him and pressed charges, according to the news story.

How does this relate to our topic of The Brandful Workforce- which is a workforce that promotes the brand of the organization? In all of the cases above and in most employee departures, it is critical to keep in mind that the brand of the organization, that the employee leaves behind, continues. And it continues with or without that employee. It is incumbent upon every organization to ensure that every departure can reflect the brand integrity – and if it doesn’t, the organization should take a good look at itself. For more about brandful, read my other posts.

“Just Doing My Job” Can Be Extraordinary

The customer is not always right, especially to Joey Prusak, an employee at Dairy Queen in Minnesota. This past week, Joey’s response to a customer’s dishonest behavior made headlines and earned a phone call from Warren Buffet. When Joey saw a customer secretly take a twenty dollar bill that belonged to another customer, he confronted the dishonest customer asking her to return the money. When she refused, he refused to serve her. Then he went a step further, he took out his own twenty dollar bill and gave it to the victim. Interestingly, Joey didn’t believe he did anything special. Others believe Joey’s actions were extraordinary.

At Ritz Carlton, employees have access to discretionary company funds that allow their daily jobs to be extraordinary in the eyes of their customers. Under certain circumstances described in this article, employees can utilize the funds. I don’t have any specific examples such as Joey above, however I would be willing to bet Ritz Carlton has some heart-warming stories of their employees going above and beyond. Even though Ritz Carlton and Dairy Queen can hardly be compared, especially their vastly different customer base, both companies want employees to do the right thing for the customers. Employees honesty and caring should be the norm in any customer service company, rather than the exception, however what makes Joey’s act extraordinary is that too often employees either don’t have the support to do what’s right or just don’t care. In a brandful workforce, which depends on great employees who can just be themselves, Joey’s example could be more the norm, than the exception.

Failing Provides Insight

We held our third executive roundtable at the end of April, hosted by IBM in Manhattan. We had a fantastic, intimate group of folks from different industries and organizations (pharmaceutical, social media, financial, business services, pharmaceutical, publishing, and healthcare), and all came with a similar goal: to share their experiences on specifically how they are creating and sustaining a workforce that truly believes in the products and services they help deliver.

I’m not going to give you a “blow-by-blow” of the discussion, which continued to be just as engaging as the first two sessions, but I will provide some key points that struck me. One is that folks were just as interested, if not even more interested, in what wasn’t working. Due to the confidential nature of the discussion, participants were able to openly and comfortably share their struggles. One executive revealed that some of the work they did over the course of two years – just plain didn’t work. He said: “You can’t just add water and get an instant culture.” Some consultants lead you to believe that they can do the work for you, however, he feels that you have to do the hard work yourself, so it will stick.  While it may be easier to get someone to come into the organization, introduce employees to a set of behaviors or values, or organize your performance management system so that it rewards the right behaviors – this may not be creating the meaningful and real connections needed for brand sustenance and authenticity.

Another participant shared that her organization spent a lot of money “blasting” communications at employees aimed at informing them about the brand. She confided in the group that while this method did get the point across, it was not motivational nor did it inspire employees to want to be a part of the brand. It was more of a “one-way street” approach rather than a way to build a meaningful relationship.

While many of us learn the hard way, by failing and trying again, some of us can learn from others’ mistakes. And that’s what our forum is really about. Once we realized some of the big mistakes, it helped us focus on what seemed to be most important – how to meaningfully involve employees so they can have a direct impact on the brand. Some suggestions that were working within organizations were to involve employees in solving business problems, outside of their day-to-day job. Encourage them to speak up when something’s not working and praise them for doing so. Have direct employee voices be the norm, not necessarily “official” corporate communications.

These were just a few tidbits from our day together. There were many more insightful exchanges. Our next gathering is being planned for September in California. Let me know if you’d like to join.

Employee Rewards Can Be Corrosive

One of my meetings this week was down on Wall Street. It was great to see the progress of the rebuilding going on down there. Lots of visitors to the 9-11 Memorial.

While sitting with a couple of executives (one Marketing and one Human Resources), overlooking the New York Harbor, we discussed what they were doing to build a workforce that can truly be a part of their valuable brand. We talked about their compelling business model and how they differentiated themselves by their innovation. We discussed new uses of social media that would thrust them ahead of their competition. And then they mentioned how to motivate their workforce and I heard the word “recognition” which immediately raised a red flag.  Over my years of experience, I’ve begun to cringe at the whole idea of employee rewards and recognition as a technique to develop a culture, or instill the “correct” behaviors. Shouldn’t employee behavior be a result of something deeper than a $25 giftcard?

The brandful workforce roadmap requires a successful business model and organizational mission. If that’s in place, that should be the motivation behind the workforce – to fulfill the higher purpose behind the organization. Wouldn’t that be more meaningful than a getting recognized for a specific behavior – to know that you are contributing to a greater good?

Then, the executives in the meeting looked at each other and agreed. They told me that in thinking about rewarding employees, they had seen it backfire so much so that they said it was” corrosive.” Recognizing individuals for specific behaviors can actually take focus away from collective efforts and overarching goals and divide employees rather than unite them.

I realize that there are entire businesses dedicated to helping organizations with rewards and recognition programs, but are they really needed? What do you think?

20,000 Clicks From One Employee

One employee can generate 20,000 clicks.

According to the content marketing company, Elevate, employees are able to spread the word, in a way that’s much different than traditional marketing outlets.  Their work shows that just one popular employee, can generate almost 20,000 clicks on facebook and twitter, regarding news about their employer’s brand. Multiply that by many employees and now we are talking about a workforce that is brandful™.

But consider the downside. That was the upside. What if employees are not brandful and not only, not interested in sharing the cool stuff that goes on in their organization, what if they actually wanted to bash it? I recently saw a youtube video of an x-employee discussing the “ins and outs” of worklife and I noticed that her video had 80,000 clicks.

But it’s not just the number of clicks. What happens with those folks who clicked? Do they buy more or less of the product or service? I’m not sure if anyone has an answer to this (if you do, please add to the discussion) but Elevate does report that 92% of customers prefer content shared by someone they know. They may be more likely to believe it and act upon it, coming from someone they know.

It has also been reported that organizations spend seven times more on content distribution than content creation. If every workforce was brandful™ – and truly promoted the products and services – it would seem to have some impact on both the content creation and distribution. But there are many more reasons to consider building and sustaining a brandful™ workforce.  Social media is only one of the six channels in which employees can promote the brand. Please see my other blogs, especially the overview, to learn more. Leave a comment and join in the conversation.