How Dow Chemical Turned Internal Experts into Brand Advocates
A case study from Blogwell NYC
We all know the importance for brands to turn their customers into brand advocates. And while that remains a crucial component of a successful social business, more organizations are also putting more focus on turning their inside talent into social brand advocates.
Last month, Dow Chemical’s Abby Klanecky spoke at Blogwell NYC about developing its in-house scientists into well-respected social voices (check out the play-by-play on SocialMedia.Org). The decision to turn to its scientists came after the company realized that while the nation’s unemployment rate is hovering between eight and 10 percent, there are still 1-2 million open jobs in science – yet only 26 percent of the country is currently qualified for these positions.
By building social awareness about the opportunities within science, Dow Chemical could help secure their future as a home for the top talent in the industry, as well as encourage a younger generation to explore opportunities within the field.
While the concept of turning scientists into socially savvy advocates seemed like a great solution, the reality of taking these traditionally internal professionals with minimal social knowledge and turning them into ambassadors for the brand presented several challenges.
The biggest challenge was education. These scientists are incredibly smart individuals who can talk for hours about their expertise and knowledge. But the challenge lied in getting them to understand the two-way nature of social media and how it affects them. To demonstrate just how entwined social media is in the lives of the scientists, the digital team at Dow had each scientist perform a Google search of their name. When the results appeared, the team asked each scientist if they were happy with the results. In many cases, the scientists were frustrated to see that although they were very active in their industry, very few of their accomplishments were showing up in search results. This exercise established the importance of maintaining an active social profile and utilizing the power of the Web.
Once scientists were on board with building their social media presence, the digital team set a training plan into action to teach the employees the fundamentals of the major social networks, including blogs. To make this more digestible, the digital team developed a three-pronged plan for the scientists to follow: Explore, Share, Create.
- Explore: Scientists were given the go ahead to spend time browsing Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to discover the type of content and conversations shared on each of these platforms. They became familiar with the functionalities of each network and were able to gain an understanding of how they could get involved.
- Share: After familiarizing themselves with each platform, scientists were encouraged to build their own following and create a presence for themselves. To do this, the digital team recommended sharing the content they discovered while learning about the networks.
- Create: Once the scientists had established a following and become comfortable sharing content within each network, they were ready to begin creating original content. This included unique blog posts, comments on relevant industry articles and more. This phase is where scientists developed a thought leadership platform and were able to showcase their knowledge and expertise.
Since April, Dow has trained 100 scientists to be social advocates. Currently 35 are consistently active and 20 are very active and involved. As this initiative continues, DOW is looking at ways to further amplify the voice of its scientists as an agent for recruitment and awareness.
Dow isn’t the only company to look internally for brand advocates. Earlier this year, IBM worked with Text100 to turn its sales consultants into industry thought leaders as part of an overall social eminence program.
As more businesses seek to become social from the inside out, it’s likely that that the concept of leveraging internal talent as advocates is only just beginning. For companies considering this approach, it is important to keep a few things in mind:
- How much trust does your organization have in its employees? For Dow, gaining approval for scientists to represent its brand on social wasn’t an issue because there was executive trust came from the top down. Without that trust, it becomes difficult to give employees the freedom they need to be successful in the social space.
- Do you have an internal social media policy? In addition to the training you’ll provide your employees, it is important that you have a set of social brand guidelines for them to follow and reference.
- Do you have the time to dedicate to training and implementation? Turning employees with minimal social experience into digitally savvy advocates takes a lot of time and resources. If your in-house team doesn’t have enough time to fully commit, consider bringing on board an agency partner or third party resource for support.
What other companies have you seen taking a similar approach? Let us know in the comments!