Welcome to the podcast Social Brands and Influencers, powered by Technorati, where we interview top thought leaders and decision makers in the social media marketing world.
Together they discuss the “Wright and Wong Way to do Social Media, SEO, Content Marketing, Digital Advertising, Growth Hacking and Business Relationship Optimization.”
To start us off, we asked Liz Brown Bullock, formerly of Dell, how she got her start in social media, what trends that she is noticing in social, some of her favorite tools and resources. She also talks about how her role at Dell helped fuel her passion for activating and engaging employees to act as part of the company’s marketing arsenal. Liz recently left Dell to work on a startup, SASI, that focuses on really getting the most amplification from your employees.
Highlights from the interview
Social Brands and Influencers: You had been at Dell for 10 years, and now you’ve left to create a startup. What gave you the courage to take that entrepreneurial plunge?
Liz Bullock: There were a couple of things that really convinced me to take the plunge. One was, obviously, Michael Dell is an entrepreneur and the company itself had a pretty entrepreneurial spirit, and the VP that I was working for on the Social Media and Community team really, in so many ways, structured us as a small startup so many years ago. When I joined (Dell), I didn’t have a budget; I didn’t have a team, which was pretty new to me, and we were really trying to figure out how to train and empower employees. And so, we really had to build a program, between myself and another colleague, from scratch. It was very inspirational and exciting just to get your hands dirty and really build something and own every single piece of it. So that was one piece that got me really excited when thinking about doing this for other companies.
SBI: Your team at Dell was instrumental in getting Dell’s employees engaged on social media, and you were able to do some pretty cool things there. How did you activate those employees over there and really get them engrained in helping them share and really amplify some of the messaging you guys were trying to put out over there?
LB: It really started with executive support. When you start to talk about having employees utilize social media to listen, to engage with customers, to build relationships, there are a lot of things that are required in that. … We were blessed in a sense that Michael (Dell) and our CMO were definitely on board. The second piece was really around building a business case for launching a university. When we started to actually look at the numbers, and this was back in 2010, we saw there were 10,000 conversations happening around Dell, about Dell in English every single day. When we started to dig into those conversations, we saw it was very diverse conversation. It was about our products, the marketing experience, the website, there were questions around sales. We recognized that our customers are out there, they’re out there in very large numbers, they’re having very diverse conversations about Dell and the experience with Dell. It became very clear that we needed to build a university and across every (part of) the organization — HR, sales, product group, marketing — where employees could understand how to effectively use social media to meet those customer needs.
SBI: How do you measure the effectiveness of an employee training program like this?
LB: It really goes back to what are the objectives you are trying to accomplish. When we launched the certification program, we had some very clear measurements around the number of people certified, what (parts of) the organization did they sit in, did we see higher performance and engagement in conversation. We also launched some additional programs after the certification program. We did build out a subject matter expert program, where we wanted to go and identify Dell’s employees that were subject matter experts on a product or solution, that knew it better than anyone else and that had really developed their online presence, so they could go out there and really be influential and impact a lot of those key conversations. For a program like that, we were able to get even more deeper into metrics, and really look and see how are you impacting share of voice, how are you impacting revenue.
SBI: How do you view social media and its role in the sales funnel?
LB: At the end of the day, for us at Dell, we really thought of social media (is that) it’s really all about a relationship. First and foremost, you have to think about it as a relationship. It used to be that whenever you wanted to get close to a customer, it was a focus group. It was behind glass walls, a one-way conversation. Social has really allowed for this two-way dialog, unlike a dialog we’ve ever had before. End of the day, this is about listening to our customers, meeting our customers where they are and having those conversations. When you do this correctly, when you do it in an authentic way, when you’re honest and upfront and transparent, then that allows for deeper relationships and it allows for loyalty, and that, in turn, will allow for monetization.
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