IT Social Heroes for Employee Social Activation

In my blog, “Why Intel IT Experts Should Use Social Media”  I mentioned that I was working on a pilot program is called “IT Social Heroes.” The goal of IT Social Heroes is to help our busy IT SMEs (subject matter experts) build solid peer relationships and increase their social authority (and that of Intel IT… and Intel) within the IT industry. We wanted the Intel IT SMEs to build social authority by:

  • Building equity in their name plus their area of expertise - by using a unique  key equity term (KET).
  • Improving the SME’s search-ability (SEO for higher Google Rank) over time.
  • Growing social influence (i.e., Klout score, # of followers & connections)

The pilot started with a few Intel IT SMEs in December 2012. For each SME, we did an assessment (to establish a baseline) and then created a game plan of focused actions and metrics the SME would take on his or her own. We provided metrics to help quantify the value of the time and effort they put in. The feedback I received from the SMEs was that this consultation and advice up front was extremely helpful and reduced the trial and error on the part of the SME.

IT Social Hero process graphic.JPG

What Worked

When we brought on a new SME, we created retroactive connections to the SME’s existing content (e.g., white papers, articles, blogs, or videos). For each existing asset, we added the Hero’s name and key equity term or KET. Tagging their existing work required effort but really helped “establish” the search-ability each of the Heroes.

One of our SMEs, an established expert, was completely disassociated with the unique KET we selected together with him. When we started there were zero pages for his name and KET in Google's index with his KET. It was a little surprising to me that there wasn’t a single web page when you searched his name and the topic that he has been publishing on (without a strategy for his own SEO) for years.  However with the tagging of his content and a steady pace of new content and blogs from him, his Google Trend has been increasing and his page rank has been going up as well.

In the pilot, we asked SMEs to use the #IntelIT (the collective tag that we set up for IT employees use) on all of their tweets so our colleagues in IT could monitor that #IntelIT hash tag and retweet any tweets by their IT colleagues.

For me, as the social media manager, it’s been nice to have one TweetReach report for #IntelIT each month so I can watch the trends of the collective group, without dictating to them to use a common tool.  Here is a graph of the number of tweets and one for tweet reach from the pilot. While the tweet reach varies month to month, overall trend (line shown) for the collective reach is good. Adding more SMEs who tweet using #IntelIT in the future should also help build the collective reach – and influence grow of our IT group.

TweetReach metrics graphs with trend.JPG

We also pulled TweetReach report for the few SMEs in the pilot. I’d like to share one of our SME’s results. Tim Casey (@timcaseycyber) is a cyber risk management expert, with a small, niche following. He wasn't doing much on Twitter when I first approached him. We talked several times about what was the best KET, how was he going to focus his blog and what was “his voice.” Tim had really great instincts about keeping it real and being genuine. I think in some cases technical experts can get too much help from marketing and agencies (e.g., the agency does all of the person’s tweets, writes all of their blogs). I am of the opinion that the assistance from an agency may help speed the expert’s ramp initially, but over time you may not end up with what the peers of the expert would consider authentic. In general, our approach with IT Social Heroes is to advise and help the SMEs find their own groove (a more organic approach), but we think in the long term this is the optimal way to activate and elevate experts.

I am really pleased with Tim’s results during the pilot. He has steadily built a base of followers over a short six months period. His Twitter amplification (i.e., his exposure) was zero in December, and then 115 in January, but now his exposure for the month of May is 19,358.

Tim C data soc hero.JPG

Tim is consistently tweeting and is also blogging. In March-April he collaborated on a national cyber security framework. Check out  his security framework blog in IT Peer Network. AndTim’s Klout score is 40, up from 27 in January. Way to go, Tim!

The Ah-ha’s

The challenge with any successful pilot is usually about how to scale and drive wide adoption after the pilot. This pilot only had a few SMEs, but we collected eight different types of data each month. I think that’s way too much data collection and reporting if we add more SMEs. We did learn what data was useful and got some really interesting insights and ah-ha’s.

We found that the combination of advice and metrics really helped ramp the SMEs who were just getting started being an external SME and starting fresh in social networking benefitted the most. Also in the pilot there were a few established SMEs, who were already on Twitter, had connections of their own (i.e., from speaking at events, customer engagements or industry groups), and just needed some initial advice on how to build their social influence. There were a few metrics (Google Index trend and/or Klout score) that they found most useful. Maybe these guys just need some group coaching and some guides so they can track their own progress.

What We Will Do Next

For most IT SMEs, we need to make the process more self-serve.  We have to figure out how to provide training and tools ramp them from zero to awesome efficiently. It’s no coincidence that I’m hanging out with Sandy Simons (@simonssandy) from our IT training group a lot these days. Incorporating the learnings and best practices from the pilot into training and creating guides for IT employees to track their own
progress and metrics is key to how we can scale.

I think that to most of our IT SMEs, selecting a KET and thinking about their own SEO is a bit foreign, so it’s best to keep it simple, I would recommend they use their name and a generic “IT Best Practices” as their KET when they publish documents or blogs.

Why I’m Lucky

I think employee activation (especially on external social networks) is tough thing to do. There’s a lot of time and cultural barriers holding people back. I have been extremely fortunate to have a few real experts to work with and learn from during this pilot.

Let me know what you think and what you are doing for IT employee social activation.