Mark and Cheryl Burgess have set out a challenge to everyone who has a brand: listen to what is happening in the world of social business if you really care about the future. In their thought-provoking new book The Social Employee: How Great Companies Make Social Media Work they propose that social media has “redefined the way customers interact with brands and the way employees interact with their employers.”
Following the journey of some of the world’s top brands, I found myself thinking the real lessons are from those who are getting it wrong, as well as the brands that are really succeeding with social media. I was also reminded of the famous opening lines of A Tale of Two Cities: ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...’ The best of times, as it has never been easier to communicate brand values around the world at such little cost. The worst if times because it has also never been easier for a customer to damage your brand with a negative review about a product or service. Social media has empowered customers like never before – and they DO get listened to. Would you choose a hotel or even buy a book with bad reviews?
You may know that Charles Dickens (writing in 1859) continues, “…it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…” The wisdom is of course a universal truth and The Social Employee eloquently reminds us, “Social employees are the windows into a brand’s soul, the gateways to brand awareness.” Amazingly, the ‘foolishness’ is that many top brands are failing to realise we are in the social media age. If they take nothing else from this book, they should hear the stark warning: “Companies risk extinction if they aren’t having internal discussions about what social businesses mean for their organisations as well as for their employees.”
Yes, there are risks, there is great uncertainty and the rate of change means that ‘evidence’ is transitory - but the greatest risk is to do nothing. Mark and Cheryl Burgess conclude that, “brands waiting for some perfect formula for success before they engage in social business are wasting their time.” The Social Employee should be compulsory reading for managers of every type of organisation in every sector.
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The Social Employee highlights five major innovative companies – Cisco, IBM, AT&T, Southwest, and Dell – that are frontrunners in the space of social branding and engagement, each with a particular strength in social media that brings in clients, strengthens the connection between employee and company, problem-solves, and creates new business opportunities. These five companies are case studies in creating social culture from the top down, starting at the highest corporate levels and cascading down, to drive employee engagement, brand awareness, and overall profitability.
Mark and Cheryl Burgess, experts in social media branding and marketing, reveal what makes each company unique and how savvy business leaders and marketers can apply it to their own employee culture and media strategy. The brands that focus more on understanding, engaging and remaining relevant to consumers are the ones destined to win the marketing wars. Embracing change, rewarding loyalty and innovation, inspiring trust and quality, empowering the employee – these are all beneficial by-products of having Social Employees.
The Social Employee is available