Don’t Keep Your Thought Leaders Hidden
Embrace your Inner Thought Leaders
Follower and friend counts are only part of the story. When the impact of their social messaging is considered, employee advocates look like marketing powerhouses. The Edelman Trust Barometer reveals that 50% of the international public consider employees either extremely credible or very credible sources of information when forming opinions about a company. The numbers are even more impressive for specialized employees: 65% of respondents regarded “a technical expert within the company” as either extremely credible or very credible, just one percentage point less than an academic expert.
Enterprises strengthen their brands enormously by activating these internal thought leaders on social media. Employee blogs and social media profiles allow workers to build personal brands online and form public records of expertise that also reflect well on their employer. Hewlett Packard, for example, has leveraged the vast knowledge base of its employees by encouraging them to share their thoughts about computing and other topics on personal blogs. These thought leaders aren’t just executives, or project leaders, but people from all areas of the company.
It’s not hard to see why workers of HP, a technology giant, would attract an audience, but is that the case for employees in a grocery store? Or a car dealership? Or a hair salon? In fact, these hypothetical workers probably know more about organic vegetables, antilock brakes, or shampoo, respectively, than any of their friends. One of the first questions we typically ask a new acquaintance is, “Where do you work?” The answer to that question greatly influences what topics of conversation we are likely to pursue with them. Social networks make those conversations visible to a wide audience and confirm the employee’s knowledge.
Adopting these communication technologies for professional use is not a difficult transition for employees. Statistics show that people are embracing Twitter, for example, at the same rate personally as they are professionally.
Today’s workers see social media as a basic way to communicate, so they don’t miss a beat when companies introduce internal social tools like Yammer or HootSuite Conversations to help them collaborate and amplify external messaging on behalf of their brands. Corporate education programs can accelerate the workforce transition and turn typical employees into social media power users.