Why Social Media Is Your Most Powerful Social Investment Tool
Employees represent a uniquely powerful communications channel to external audiences, especially for B2B companies. When employees have a strong bond and a clear understanding of the corporate brand, they can be a company’s most valuable brand ambassadors.
Social media offers one touchpoint for communicating key messages to employees and recruits by generating enthusiasm and unity around the corporate brand. That’s why we were excited to attend Business Development Institute’s Social Media and Internal Communications Case Studies Summit, a conference devoted to case studies surrounding best practices for how large organizations can improve productivity and communications with employees and third party partners with social technologies.
One of the final case studies presented focused on how Xylem, a water technology company, uses social media platforms to empower its employees in implementing safe water and sanitation programs to more than one million people through its CSR program, Xylem Watermark. In late 2011, Xylem was spun-off from ITT Corporation. As a result, its workforce is mostly made up of new employees. Interestingly, Xylem is leveraging the CSR program (and social media) to teach and engage this new workforce in the corporate brand – a very smart strategy for any company going through such a critical transformation. Through the use of social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter employees are encouraged to “live the brand” by spreading awareness and sharing stories of the CSR program.
One of the ways employees are encouraged to engage with Watermark is through ambassador programs. Employees are sent to various locations around the globe where safe water initiatives are being put in place, so they not only gain first-hand experience in the field, but they also are able to share stories and insights with their home office. Ambassadors gain a greater understanding of company values and initiatives, and as a result disseminate brand messages internally. This connects employees with their colleagues through their understanding of the Xylem’s brand values.
Additionally, Xylem engages with their non-profit partners by utilizing partners’ established Twitter and Facebook pages to promote Watermark. One social media initiative, which featured an infographic that focused on the water crisis abroad, was shared through partner channels. Every time the infographic was shared, one dollar was donated to the Watermark cause. Xylem uses their company twitter platform to spread information, news, and events regarding their Water Awareness panels. They also share posts published by their non-profit partners to encourage awareness through all channels.
As this Xylem case study exemplifies, empowering employees with the information and tools they need to communicate effectively can transform employees into brand ambassadors who can carry a company’s most critical messages to its most important audiences. Social media platforms in particular, allow for corporate engagement across all levels and encourage involvement among employees and the public.