Gold Nuggets of SXSW 2014: From Socially-Driven Brand Leaders

Originally published on Social Media Today, below is my recap of the first panel of SXSWi 2014, which speaks to the importance of having your internal team adopt critical tools and behaviors to help evangelize your brand.

SXSW Interactive started with a bang thanks to Social Media Today’s #SocBizShakeUp breakfast event at the W Austin.

A fantastic panel led by SMT CEO Robin Carey included Michael Stenberg, VP, Web & Infrastructure at Siemens (@stenmic); Sandy Carter, General Manager, Ecosystems & Social Business Evangelism at IBM (@Sandy_Carter); Natanya Anderson, Social Media & Digital Marketing Coordinator at Whole Foods (@NatanyaP); and Andrew Bowins, SVP, External Communications at MasterCard (@MasterCardAndy).

Panelists discussed how to build a socially-engaged workforce today, utilize big data, and empower employees through relationship-building tools. Here are a few highlights from the panelists.

Michael Stenberg, VP, Web & Infrastructure at Siemens (@stenmic)

On building a socially-engaged workforce:
Companies have to adapt to the change that has happened. There is huge potential for B2B when social becomes a key element of the sales funnel – they turn more digital. 60% of sales funnels are taking place in the digital place.

It takes four elements to get a socially-engaged workforce:

(1) access
(2) training
(3) creating an environment (of content provided by the company where employees can start commenting, sharing and build an ecosystem)
(4) starting at the top and getting CEO engagement

On the importance of leadership taking part:

Enable top management: other employees will see them as an example and adopt their behavior. Avoid having a middle manager who doesn’t understand social relationships and tools.

On the importance of big data:

Does the corporation actually want to listen to this data? There are often many opinions, but if you ritualize learning from data, it fundamentally changes how decisions are made.

Sandy Carter, General Manager, Ecosystems & Social Business Evangelism at IBM (@Sandy_Carter)

On building a socially-engaged workforce:

Make your own employees socially-capable - create a digital brand army to represent your company and brand.

“You really can’t engage your customers if you don’t have engaged employees. IBM has approached it from a people perspective – social doesn’t change your culture, it reveals it. We embed it as part of our business process.”

On the intersection of big data and social:

I am fascinated by how we use and distribute the data. In our research division we’ve been looking at social profiles and we can assess 52 different personality traits based on tweets – that enables us to understand what consumers value. IBM ran 500,000 people through this process and really nailed personality and values. Instead of looking at what consumers bought previously, you can assess personality traits and leverage the data in a different way. It gives you a 40-45% higher likelihood that cross-selling and up-selling will work. This will change the way companies sell, recommend, and even assign employees to tasks.


My IBM SystemU Assessment from SXSW 2014

On innovation of internal tools to drive a socially-engaged workforce:

BlueTube (IBM’s internal take on YouTube) is used to learn and train employees. Digital IBMer helps build the digital eminence of all IBMers - IBM wants employees to be socially-engaged and out in the blogosphere.

On the importance of social influence data: 

Klout score will become the new SAT score as social influence becomes increasingly more important. IBM has its own internal version of Klout for employees to be rated by. IBM worked with MIT and found that an employee who is connected socially (with a potential client or executive) brings in anywhere from $700-$1700 of added value.

On the next big data trend: 

Here at SXSW, IBM’s Watson Food truck makes culinary recommendations based on personal preference data. Health care is a great example of cognitive technology insight – for example, Watson can consume all that data, then advise a doctor on the right potential treatment based on data. This translates to retail, as Watson thinks about how you want to shop and makes smart recommendations.Cognitive technology is the next big data trend.

Natanya Anderson, Social Media & Digital Marketing Coordinator at Whole Foods (@NatanyaP)

On building a socially-engaged workforce:

Social needs to be integrated into employees’ everyday lives, so it’s not disruptive and makes sense for the flow of their day. With 600+ social media accounts and 1000+ employees creating social content for Whole Foods, social is our culture. The best marketing we have are team members on the floor, talking to our customers.

On cohesion amongst customers and their values:

We are so mission-driven, this is part of everything we do. We have a shared value set with our customers; some customers connect on sustainability, some love great food experiences – so we now ask, how do we filter that down to the local level? The things that are important to customers downtown versus in suburbia are different – we need to teach our local stores what those customers care about. We’re looking at hyper local analytics, which help drive conversations. Social gives us the broader insight.

Andrew Bowins, SVP, External Communications at MasterCard (@MasterCardAndy)

On the impact of social today:

Paying for promoted tweets and holding that up as brand isn’t taking advantage of what social is. MasterCard has built an ecosystem, in 42 markets and 26 languages, that is entirely tied to social insights. Rather than standardizing buzz metrics, the conversation should center around trend and insight. Tell me something that helps my business – focus on how social and digital shapes the P&L.

On inspiring employees around a mission:

MasterCard is a technology company – we’re an enabler of payments worldwide. You have to give people a reason to believe, rally and be empowered. We want to continually encourage our 7,200 employees around the world. IBM’s Smarter Planet is one of the best social programs ever done.

On brands understanding what social really means:

Brands have a self-inflated sense that people want to hear from us and we know what they want to talk about. If you use big data to know what people want to engage in, you’re informed, rather than guessing. I’m a big advocate of curated content - 70% of our content is curated, which is how we authentically connect and participate with our customers.

Upon adopting this approach, we saw a 400% increase in engagement, had over 200 direct conversations, which created 500,000 unique conversation streams over time. Our addressable audience is 1.2 billion people. We’ve moved away from content pollution and now we’re earning trust; we see the data and build a story that is compelling and ultimately helps our business goals.

Mary Elise Chavez