A new value exchange between your brand and employees: authenticity for credibility

Screenshot of IBM.com/Voices running on a mobile device
Screenshot of IBM.com/Voices running on a mobile device

Organizations that allow and encourage individuals/employees to become comfortable integrating their personal and professional personae aren’t getting enough press.  That is to say, we are all experiencing the convergence of organizational brand & culture with personal identity that is unprecedented — and the organizations that will win in this era of greater data transparency, permanence, velocity and discoverability will be those that can attract and retain people who improve company culture by embodying the company’s character.  Essentially, social brand strategists need to create intentional systems of engagement that share benefit with employees and allow these individuals to contribute positively to how the brand is experienced.  Naturally, this is especially true for business to business firms.  It might even be a no-brainer when we look back one day.

One externally visible representation of this strategy in action is www.ibm.com/voices where we have begun to experiment with a data service (rendered there on a web page pretty simply) that combines our “official channels” with those of some of IBM’s subject matter experts.  This juxtaposition of the individual IBMer’s expertise and the official channel content seems to have an overall improving effect — for the brand channels, you get additional legitimization because they’re right there with individual people.  For the IBMers, they get the credibility of being in this special data service (which leads to more exposure etc for them.)  We have been building out the criteria, guidelines, registration systems, training etc on the back end for this for a while — but more importantly, we can do this because at IBM we have been working a long time on creating a values-led culture, which somewhat mitigates risks and tends to improve the likelihood that the quality of the interactions will be good (thus obviating decreasing the need for micro-management).

I think this all indicates a new value exchange emerging between employees and firms — authenticity for credibility — and it can flow bidirectionally depending on the context.

*This blog post is an edit to an email exchange I had with Kare Anderson, who is hosting the panel discussion I’m on next week at New Media Expo in Las Vegas, “Driving Social Business Results at Scale” .