Christine's chat with social media strategist Jay Baer

Jay Baer is a social media strategist, author and speaker and President of consultancy Convince & Convert. Founder of five companies, he’s worked with over 700 brands since 1994, including 25 of the Fortune 1000. His Convince & Convert blog is ranked among the world’s top marketing resources. He’s the co-author of the forthcoming book The NOW Revolution: 7 Shifts to Make Your Business Faster, Smarter, and More Social. He’s on Twitter as @jaybaer

I asked Jay if I could chat with him and ask for his two cents on social media and employee engagement. He graciously accepted so here it is!

CHRISTINE: I think most executives would now realize that being more “open” with customers and tapping into tools to help them with that is not a fad but the way customers now EXPECT to interact with you. When it comes to applying that same thinking internally with their own workplace culture and employees, there seem to be still so much resistance to going there. What are some of the beliefs you encounter when it comes to employees and “social” workplaces?

JAY: I’m not sure I agree that most executives realize this. Certainly, more and more do, but an open culture is by no means the norm yet. Real-time business and heightened customer expectations around reaction time put a tremendous emphasis on internal communication and information sharing.

How can you ask your employees to interact with customers and prospects quickly and effectively and authentically if those employees don’t really know what’s going on in your organization. Transparency starts on the inside, and works its way outward.

CHRISTINE: What are the links between a more social workplace and engagement?

JAY: Today, we talk a lot about who “owns” social media, and how to staff the social media roles within a company. Soon, we’ll realize that centralization of sociability doesn’t allow for enough speed and breadth to meet the growing demand for social interaction from customers. Thus, decentralized sociability will become the norm.

At that point, there becomes a tremendously important link between the workplace and social engagement, because every employee is in marketing, whether they are or not. Everyone is a potential first point of contact. Recognizing that the combined social graphs of all your employees are greater (usually) than the centralized social graph of the enterprise, is the key to making this transformative leap.

Social needs to become a skill, not a job.

CHRISTINE: Imagine I am a forward thinking line manager or department manager who is super comfortable with social tools in my personal life. I want to start using some of these tools with my department, without having to wait for a big company policy or program to roll out. Any tips for a particular tool to start with that can potentially show my bosses some results to work with?

JAY: I’d always caution getting too involved without a policy. I’d rather lead an ad hoc effort to get a policy created first. However, if that’s not in the cards, I’d first audit social conversations about the brand. Showing leadership reports that illustrate just how much social chatter exists about the company, competitors, category often is the crow bar that gets the ball rolling.

CHRISTINE: Alright Jay, rapid fire style……. what are your thoughts on…

1. Top 3 companies you think are doing an outstanding job using social tools to create more collaborative and innovative workplaces:

  • Radian6
  • IBM
  • Humana

2. Top 3 tools you would play with to become a more “social” workplace

  • Some sort of internal story harvester and communications vehicle like Yammer
  • Internal blog
  • VIDEO!!

3. Top 3  proven benefits of being more social in the workplace

  • Shared culture
  • Reduced meeting/pondering time
  • More collaboration and cooperation

4. Top 3 ideas for increasing technology literacy in organizations (ie. some people may not even have a facebook account or know what twitter does so won’t use a social network at work)

  • Mobile (phones are less scary than computers)
  • Ongoing (not just once) training
  • Breaking social into very small, specific chunks.

5.  Top 3 mistakes not to make when moving towards a more social workplace

  • Not getting executive buy-in
  • Moving too fast
  • Not measuring success coherently

CHRISTINE: Thank you so much Jay for your candour and thought!

Sometimes the first step is just that…. a first step…. and I believe you may have given people who might be on the fence about moving towards a more social workplace a first step to get more curious about HOW they might go about it and WHY it’s the right thing to do.

In the meantime, for those interested in finding out more about the link between social media and employee engagement, you can download my latest white paper on the topic for FREE (no gimmicks or email sign up or anything…. just yours for FREE) by clicking here.

Jay has a new book launching Feb 1 called the NOW REVOLUTION. You can find out more about it at http://var/www/vhosts/ In it you will learn the 7 shifts that will make your company faster, smarter and more social


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  3. […] and I believe that the social media skills of today are the job requirements of tomorrow.  “Social needs to become a skill, not a job.”   Every employee in your organization is a representative of your company, your brand and […]