Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

Buzz ESN Playbook - click image to download

Buzz ESN Playbook – click image to download

Playbooks – whether for sports teams or businesses – contain a variety of tactics and detail to help those using them perform at their best in accomplishing their objectives. Playbooks continue to gain in popularity and use by community managers for online communities. They are useful both for those managing external communities as well as internal communities used by employees of a business.

I’ve known for years that we’ve needed a playbook at Humana to better document our efforts at managing and growing a successful enterprise social network (ESN). We’ve certainly been successful with our ESN (called Buzz) even without a written playbook for its first five years, but there has always been room for improvement. After all, having things only in my brain with just a few written pages to pass on to others who have had to manage Buzz when I’m away is not a solid, long-term plan.

It was, therefore, a top priority for me once I hired Brenda Smith in March of this year to have her devote a significant portion of her first few months with us developing a great playbook. I had some ideas of what needed to go into it. I shared with her all the documentation I had cobbled together for Buzz through the years. We researched other publicly available resources related to playbooks. We spent many hours discussing the playbook and debating its contents and organization. She did the writing, though, and all the heavy lifting. As she had drafts ready, we laid them out on a large conference room table and went through it changing the contents, structure, details, etc., until we finally landed on the playbook we’re happy to share with you today.

The brilliant idea of how to organize it was completely Brenda’s. While I had previously shared with her my love for Rich Millington’s work and his book Buzzing Communities, Brenda had the insight to arrange the playbook by the major categories Millington uses in that book. We also debated the option of arranging it according to the components of The Community Roundtable‘s Community Maturity Model (CMM). While we still use the CMM in the playbook for evaluation of our maturity (and we share those evaluation results in the playbook), we decided to stay with the Millington framework for the overall structure.

So what is in our playbook? Here are the major sections, with many of them including levels of detail around objectives, strategies and tactics:

  • Introduction (history of Buzz and role of the community manager)
  • Overall goal of Buzz and how it integrates with the company’s values and goals
  • Road map
  • Growth
  • Content
  • Moderation
  • Influence and relationships
  • Events and activities
  • Business integration
  • User experience
  • ROI
  • Community Maturity Model assessment
  • Daily tasks
  • Weekly tasks
  • Biweekly tasks
  • Monthly tasks
  • Quarterly tasks
  • Annual tasks
  • On-demand tasks
  • Reports

Of course, we have removed from the publicly available version of the playbook all sensitive or proprietary data. For example, we removed the details of the ROI calculation, although we still include the overall percentage result. We have removed roadmap details, internal URLs, administrative access login detail, internal phone numbers, etc. So the actual internal version of the playbook is about 10 pages longer than this 50-page playbook, but you still have all the detail in this public version that you need to get your mental juices flowing about what a helpful playbook for your organization and community might look like.

One of the greatest joys I get professionally is when I feel like I make a small difference in some way in the field of enterprise social networking. That is why I started the weekly Twitter chat #ESNchat in 2013 and it is the reason I’m eager to share this Buzz playbook with you now. Will our playbook be exactly what you should use for your community? No. But reading through it will certainly give you some food for thought that you can take back to the key stakeholders in your organization and use to develop a great resource that fits your need.

So it is with a bit of a sense of being a proud papa and with great thanks to Brenda Smith that we offer this playbook to our ESN-loving friends and acquaintances around the globe. Click the button below to view and download our Buzz ESN Playbook. Please share your thoughts in comments here or with us on Twitter – @JeffKRoss and @brendaricksmith. What would you change, add or remove?

And if you missed the #ESNchat from Thursday, October 1 when we discussed playbooks, be sure to peruse the chat archive (and follow @ESNchat.)

Enjoy!

DownloadBuzzPlaybook

12TipsForSuccessfulESNI’m pleased to let you know that I recently completed a series of posts discussing my top 12 tips for building a successful enterprise social network (ESN). You’ll find them on my LinkedIn profile page and at the links below. Each post is an update of the original 2014 post on the subject that appeared on this blog.

Enjoy!

  1. Have a Full-Time Community Manager From the Start
  2. Commit To It
  3. Get Executive Buy-in and Participation
  4. Have Rules, But Don’t Overdo It
  5. Pick a Good Platform, But Don’t Focus On the Technology
  6. Avoid ‘Big Launch Syndrome’
  7. Encourage Business and Non-Business Content
  8. Integrate Your ESN Where People Do Their Work
  9. Make It Easy To Access
  10. Train, Train, Train
  11. Set Goals and Track Progress
  12. Never Be Satisfied – Keep growing

A little over a year ago I published a series of 12 posts on this blog giving my top tips for building a successful enterprise social network. (An ESN is an internal-facing social platform for employees of a company). You’ll find links to that series here. I thought it would be good to update those tips now that more than a year has passed, so I’ve started posting those updates as LinkedIn posts. The first seven of the 12 are now available at the following links:

  1. Have a Full-Time Community Manager From the Start
  2. Commit To It
  3. Get Executive Buy-in and Participation
  4. Have Rules, But Don’t Overdo It
  5. Pick a Good Platform, But Don’t Focus On the Technology
  6. Avoid ‘Big Launch Syndrome’
  7. Encourage Business & Non-Business Content

I’ll update the remaining tips throughout the month of August. Thanks for reading and sharing! I’d love to hear from you in the comments here or on the LinkedIn posts.

shutterstock_155104142[Note: I’m glad to have Jason Spencer co-author this post with me on the subject of starting an employee advocacy program. Jason is one of the excellent community managers I have the pleasure to work with on Humana’s Enterprise Social Media team. He and I started planning an advocacy program in December, 2014 and launched it in late May, 2015. We are thrilled with the early results and the prognosis for a very bright future for the program, so we thought we’d share our early experience with you. First, Jason will share his thoughts and then I’ll close out the article with some thoughts of my own.]

Here is what Jason writes on the subject…

We are all story tellers. Not only that, but we love hearing a good story. As brands, we have a story to tell, too. Our challenge is getting the attention of our consumers to hear our story. We also need to build trust with our consumers in order to be given the chance to have that conversation. Much like building real relationships, we have to build trust before we can try to sell anything or even talk about ourselves.

In comes employee advocacy. Employee advocacy is empowering and enabling your employees to tell your story as a brand. At Humana, we have a huge potential to activate our associates to tell our story of being a health and wellness brand. Humana as a company refers to its employees as associates and we are calling our program “Humana Advocates.”

While there are programs that allow for social selling from their employees, our regulated industry does not allow for that to happen. And, practically speaking, if our employees start harassing their friends and followers on social media to buy health insurance, they are going to lose their social clout very quickly. The story that we want to tell from our brand is that we want people to be healthier and to live a lifestyle focused on well-being. Our enterprise social strategy supports that and it makes it a lot easier for employees to share that story. The stories that we want shared from our advocates are mostly health and well-being focused with some company news and updates.

In order to be successful in using our associates to tell our brand story, first we needed a platform that would support the program. We met with several of the larger names that provide employee advocacy solutions. We spent time meeting with and reviewing Addvocate, Dynamic Signal, Everyone Social, GaggleAMP, PeopleLinx, SocialChorus and SocialToaster. Determining who we would go with was dependent on several things. The first criterion was that we needed a customized solution to be able to scale and grow with us as we developed the program. We also needed a mobile-first solution where we could put an app in the hands of our advocates for them to choose how they wanted to engage with us. We also wanted to give our advocates the ability to choose what social networks they were going to share to, when it was going to be shared and give them the ability to personalize the text they were posting. We also wanted to make a decision on a vendor whose products and services met our requirements today – not capabilities that were only on a roadmap for a future rollout. After doing our research, demoing the platforms on the short list, and observing how posts were shared, we decided to go with Dynamic Signal.

Jason Spencer

Jason Spencer

Once we had the platform and determined what we wanted shared, we needed employees to share our brand’s story. We wanted to begin the program with associates who were not only influencers but were excited about working for Humana and wanted to start sharing content. We decided to start with a small group of employees so that we could learn from their experience during a smaller scale “Phase One” period. We chose our first group of associates based on how active they were on both external social media and on our internal enterprise social network. We knew that hand-selecting associates who were influencers would give us an idea of what we could accomplish in the program. We launched this first group on May 29, 2015. Now that we have two full business weeks under our belt, we are now looking to the next phase of the program – opening it up to the enterprise and allowing other associates to join after the two-month Phase One completes.

In order to be a Humana Advocate, associates must attend a 1-hour training session. Since we are in a highly regulated industry, we decided that we wanted the program to only include associates (not customers) and we wanted them to fully understand our social media policy and how to fully support our social program. One of the goals of the program is to increase the knowledge and use of social media. Our enterprise social media team not only wants to teach how to be a part of the program, but also how to improve an individual’s skillset on social media. We want to teach how to engage with other people online and how to actually be social in the digital arena.

The next phase of the program is scaling to the enterprise. We know there are many more business cases for utilizing an employee advocacy program and we plan to fully utilize as many as makes sense in moving Humana forward. As we develop the program, we see opportunities to group associates together by lines of businesses, campaigns or specific markets, then feed content specifically to those groups based on what would be relevant for them. We also want to push content to advocates based on what they might be interested in sharing.

In order to understand how the program will be successful and achieve our objectives, we are measuring everything. Dynamic Signal gives us the ability to not only measure how many advocates are in the program but how many friends and followers they have on their social networks. We are then able to pull metrics on impressions the shared content is generating, clicks to the articles and our website and reactions from their social networks to the content they are sharing. Reactions are defined as native likes, comments and shares on their social networks. We are also able to gamify the program by awarding points to the advocates based on their activities in the platform and rank them by leaderboards.

For a brand to start an employee advocacy program, they need to determine how they want to be perceived on social media. They will then need to determine the objectives they are trying to achieve and how a platform will achieve those goals. Start with a small group of employees to engage with and use them to learn how to grow the program to the next level. Finally, the community manager for the program needs to create metrics on how the program is making a difference for the brand.

And now some thoughts from Jeff Ross…

A lot of planning went into the process of standing up this program. Jason and I started setting aside blocks of hours per day last December to talk through aspects of the program such as goals, training considerations, regulations and governance, how to bring in advocates, evaluating the major players among the several vendors in the field, implementing recognition and rewards, and setting out a timeline for launch. We presented our initial plans to the full Enterprise Social Media team at the end of December for feedback before committing to a vendor and pursuing the next stage of planning and pre-launch.

I want to sing the praises of the vendor we selected – Dynamic Signal – for several reasons, but mainly because they went out of their way to be helpful and provide us with even more than we asked for during the vendor selection process. They were quick to create a website, giving us full administrative access so we could kick the tires behind the scenes, and they provided a mobile app so we could easily test and compare the Web and mobile experiences. Once chosen, they provided a Basecamp with detailed lists, documents and plans to get us ready to launch, and they have met with us once or twice a week since January to guide us through the process. So not only were we most impressed with the product, but the service has been outstanding. It’s impossible to overestimate the importance of a great relationship with the vendor, and this has certainly been such a partnership.

Jason and I attended a SocialMedia.org members-only meeting in New York City the week before launching our advocacy program. It was great to hear what other major brands had already done or were considering in this area. It was also nice to walk away from that meeting convinced that we had done a very good job in our due diligence the previous five months preparing for launch. That added boost of confidence made the launch the following week even more exciting.

JeffRoss-4-377x377

Jeff Ross

With the first two weeks of phase one behind us, we have trained and invited about 50 participants. Most are sharing across several social channels daily, reaching people the brand would not reach directly without the advocates’ help. Most are customizing the posts to personalize them as we suggested they do (although we force a #HUMemployee hashtag on all posts to play it safe with the FTC). They are genuinely excited about spreading great content related to health and well-being, and their positivity is contagious. The results are already amazing us beyond what we expected, with week two alone seeing over 1000 shares and nearly 400,000 impressions.

Once our two-month first phase is complete, we’ll roll it out to the enterprise. We have a goal of having at least five percent of the associate population trained and engaged with the program by the end of 2017. Following the enterprise rollout (phase two), we’ll build on the organization of the program by utilizing the most engaged associates as captains of teams of 10-20 advocates each to keep the participation personal among small teams and to encourage a little friendly competition between teams.

Throughout our planning and execution of the program, we have been mindful of answering the “What’s in it for me?” question for our associates. We have no interest in this being a way in which only the brand wins at the expense of the time and effort of our faithful and giving associates. We want our associates to win as well. We want to be a more social business inside and out. We want to help our associates mature in their social presence and influence, in their use of social media personally and professionally, growing their networks as a result of participation. We want to help them benefit from participating just as much as we want the brand to benefit. It’s important that we not lose sight of that goal.

Having ongoing open lines of communication among advocates and between the advocates and program leaders is important. To that end we created a private group on our enterprise social network (Buzz) where that ongoing conversation is happening. The group page contains links to the training, the advocates website and already many helpful discussions started and participated in by a host of advocates. Jason and I get immediate notifications about new posts in that group so we can be timely in responding to questions or issues. I started a discussion thread a few days ago so that we can capture in one thread the best pieces of advice participants would want to share with newcomers to the program. Their contributions on day one to that discussion were invaluable and will certainly be incorporated into future training sessions.

So we’re excited about this program! I’m proud to have worked alongside Jason throughout the process, thinking through the details. Jason will be the primary face of the program and the one managing it. As his manager, my role will be to help guide and do all I can to see that he and the advocates are successful. I see the program growing in significance for the company to the point where managing it will surely be a full-time responsibility in itself given the massive opportunities to work with lines of business and the enterprise for various campaigns.

We also look forward to tracking the results and having the opportunity to share our story with others – both in the company and outside – in the months and years to come. We already have a meeting with a major brand a few days from now to discuss the subject and our journey to date. This post is just the first report from the early days following the launch. We have much yet to do and experience and report on, but we’ll keep you posted as it all unfolds. So far, all signs point to an exciting and worthwhile employee advocacy program.

What about you and your company? Do you have an employee advocacy program? Can you share in a comment some insights you’ve gained or questions you have that might spark continued conversation here on the subject?

GroupUsingPhonesIs this the least social time in human history?

The question may sound odd coming from one whose daily work centers around social media, but sometimes I wonder if he haven’t taken giant strides backward in recent years in our ability to simply be social with other real live human beings around us. Here are some examples of why I’m concerned…

  • It is nearly impossible to go out to eat with coworkers, family or friends without a majority of the people spending more time looking at their smartphones than actually engaging with and enjoying others sitting at the table with them.
  • How many homes have multiple family members each on some electronic device for long periods of time, but each rarely interacting in person with others under the same roof?
  • How distracted are we by multiple conversations on multiple social platforms to the point of never really giving our full attention to anyone – either face-to-face or online?

I’m a huge fan of social media and technology in general. It has been the focus of my life’s work for years and will be so for the foreseeable future. I’m not suggesting abandoning the technology; that isn’t going to happen, anyway. But somewhere along the line we must recognize that we’re missing out on the face-to-face present when our heads are buried in our phones, tablets or PCs. As an introvert, I need and cherish my times of solitude, but when I’m with others, they deserve my full attention.

We’re missing chances at rich conversation and deeper, more meaningful relationships when we don’t get past the depth of 140 characters in what we communicate. We limit our conversations and the wisdom we can glean from others’ experiences when our dependence on technology omits communication with those who don’t use the technology. Our monetary wealth and eagerness to spend it on gadgets contributes to a poverty in relationships due to the lack of investment we make in deeper, face-to-face interaction.

Life is always a balancing act. Living for extended periods on extremes is rarely advisable. If you wonder if the above picture fits you or not, it probably does. That doesn’t mean you run to the other extreme by deactivating your social media accounts or giving up your smartphone. It may mean, however, that you set it aside when in the presence of others to develop that which cannot exist online. It may mean you don’t respond to every notification sound or vibration when in the presence of others, reserving that check for when you leave their company.

Be here. Be present. Respect those you are physically with and give them your full attention. Let’s not let a wave of social media opportunities actually turn us into a less social generation. We can and should do better than that.