5 Employee Activation Case Studies We Can All Learn From

Michael Brenner on Sep 10, 2019 in Employee Activation

Those of you who follow our posts regularly know I’m a big believer in setting your talent free to promote your brand and the work you do with an employee activation program. As you can see by our posts, we practice what we preach here as well.

Many of our best posts don’t come from me. Like this one, they come from the passionate community of people I know, and respect, thought leaders who are as passionate as I am about what we do.

We’re not the only company who has turned loose the collective brainpower of its ecosystem to answer questions. Some of the world’s most iconic brands have done the same. Here are some employee activation case studies from those who have.

Quick Takeaways:

  • Activate your employees with the freedom to innovate and communicate
  • Empower your employees to unleash their passion and potential
  • Change the power dynamic by looking at your employees as your partners

IBM

The grandmother of the Big Tech companies, Big Blue has taken a giant leap into the next century as it empowers its employees to both innovate and communicate.

  • Innovation: Its shift from waterfall (top-down traditional) management to their unique take on Agile (a work style that emphasizes innovation, employee initiative, and continuous customer feedback to each team) has cut response time from 18 months to daily, optimizing cost in the process. Not only that, but the company also cut product release time in half with this empowering way to work.
  • Communication: Instead of delegating all its communication to potential customers to the marketing department or top executives, IBM has turned its talent loose to write cutting-edge blog posts that have positioned the company as not only a legendary tech company, but even more importantly, a thought leader in the ever-evolving tech world.

Deloitte

Financial advisory firms often have a staid, even stodgy image. Not this one. Although its history dates back to the mid-19th century, industry giant Deloitte created an employee ambassador program second to none.

The company launched an app that made it easy for employees to find and share company-approved content with friends, colleagues, and acquaintances.

Image courtesy of SlideShare

The program proved to be a smashing success, with an average reach of 595 connections on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

Image courtesy of SlideShare

Through its empowered employees, web traffic grew by more than 507.000 clicks.

Image courtesy of SlideShare

In addition to the employee ambassador program, Deloitte empowers its employees through a learning program that helps them advance in their careers. Putting their new skills to work, these employees were even more motivated to share.

Unlocking both their employees’ passion and potential brought Deloitte unbridled success.

Dell

Long known for its quality computers, Dell started an employee program called “Social Media University” to teach employees how to promote the brand online through social media posts.

Whether it’s an employee telling a friend who needs a new computer about all the features of a laptop she helped to design or responding to nasty snips at the company, Social Media University has taught thousands of Dell staff around the world to know exactly what to say to advance the brand forward on social media.

To ensure that all social media posts adhere to corporate guidelines, Dell implemented several steps to that end, including:

  • A governance team: Employees who commit to posting regularly get a social media handle that includes “At Dell” in it, or they can use another handle, as long as they receive approval from the governance team. If they want to start a social media page for a particular aspect of the company’s business—such as product design–they need to get input from the governance team before they set up the page.
  • Formal training: To post, Dell employees must go through a special training program that teaches them the standards the company expects them to adhere to, such as putting the customer first through world-class service, obeying both the platform rules and the law, following the company’s code of conduct, avoiding put-downs, listening to all sides of an issue, and referring customer concerns to the proper department.

Support from their in-house social media team then shifted to listening 24/7 for mentions of the company to handle customer concerns proactively, collecting data, identifying influencers, and tracking the company’s return on their investment.

Dell estimates that its employee activation program has garnered over $14 million in revenue. It credits that gain to a new audience. Instead of followers who are primarily tech lovers, the company has gained an audience of potential users interested in their products—definitely a good thing.

Reebok

Back in 2015, this athletic footwear company took a bold step, empowering its employees to become brand advocates. Instituted by Ben Blakesley, the company’s senior manager of global social media, the new policy leveraged its employees’ superb fitness to tell the world how fun it is to get and stay fit.

Since Reebok employees tend to be a youthful, fit group—the company’s target demographic–Blakesley saw that they were already posting photos and videos of their fitness routines—from running to weightlifting to everything in between. Since “they [employees] are doing these things anyway,” as Blakesley put it, they might as well be sharing the content they love wearing their Reeboks.

So, Blakesley encouraged the company’s employees to share photos and videos of their own fitness routines, pulled together with the hashtag, “#FitAssCompany.” Now instead of a few likes from their friends and family, employees had more eyes looking on their posts.

For the company’s employees, the incentive was in their expanded audience—more of their coveted likes. For the company, the hashtag allowed them to easily track the results of their passionate employees’ posts.

Starbucks

One of the finest examples of employee activation in action is on display in malls, shopping centers, and street corners all across the country. Starbucks began with a simple shift in names—instead of calling workers “employees,” they call them “partners.”

That shift in name transformed the traditional employer-employee relationship into a workplace dynamic that makes everyone on the team take ownership of the business. This attitude trickled down into their social media guidelines, in which they not only laid out standards and brand voice expectations but also their encouragement to share.

Starbucks’ social media guidelines state,

“Let’s celebrate and share in social media what it means #tobeapartner–with each other, our customers and the world–in the ways only #starbuckspartnerscan!

(do this) Share your passion. We’re called partners, because this isn’t just a job, it’s our passion. So, go ahead and share it!”

And they do. From a plethora of videos on YouTube to online tips and drink ideas on Twitter, Starbucks partners spread the word about their near-addictive beverages.

What, Then, Should We Do to Channel These Companies’ Success?

These case studies have taught me one thing: we need to transform the power dynamic inside our companies. When we do, we unleash a pot of marketing gold.

If you are ready to get more traffic to your site with quality, employee-activating content that’s consistently published, check out our Content Builder Service. Set up a quick consultation, and I’ll send you a free PDF version of my books. Get started today and generate more traffic and leads for your business.

Michael Brenner
Michael Brenner
Michael Brenner is a globally-recognized keynote speaker, author of The Content Formula and the CEO of Marketing Insider Group. He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael shares his passion on leadership and marketing strategies that deliver customer value and business impact. He is recognized by the Huffington Post as a Top Business Keynote Speaker and a top CMO influencer by Forbes. Please follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook and Subscribe here for regular updates.