Thursday, September 20, 2012

Employee Engagement at its Most Social

How do you reach current and potential customers with the most believable messages possible? You start a Social Media Ninja program — as Sprint has done – and base the entire platform on trust.

“We were looking for a way to engage our employees in a worthwhile customer outreach program, where they could freely discuss a range of Sprint benefits (or anything else, within reasonable limits), that creates positive relationships,” said Bill White, Sprint’s chief communications officer.

“So we started our Ninja Ambassador Program based on an inside/outside strategy,” White explained. “We began by training 50 volunteers; and today we have 3000 employee volunteers talking to people all over the world. Our Ambassadors can use whatever channels they want: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, community forums … whatever they choose,” he said.

“The employees receive a monthly editorial calendar with suggested conversational topics (e.g., we are the leading provider of assisted phone capabilities for the deaf and the blind). … From there on, we trust our employees to carry on the conversation; and it has been proven that that trust is deserved,” he reported. “They are communicating from the heart. And our audience is responding accordingly.”

Are there any rules? There must be boundaries beyond which one does not step. Here are some examples of the few rules that Sprint advocates:

--Don’t speculate

--Don’t talk about what you don’t know

--Don’t promise anything you can’t deliver

--Don’t talk about something that has not been announced

--Don’t participate in controversy

Does Sprint monitor all these conversations? White says only on a spot basis. I haven’t discovered how its apparent success is being measured. But there is no question that, when buying a product, most surveys demonstrate that people trust referrals from people they know or consumer opinions posted online. Such was recently noted in a recent Nielsen Study. Based on that Sprint appears to be on target.

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