Interview With Employee Advocacy Summit Speaker: Liz Bullock

At the 2014 Employee Advocacy Summit in Atlanta this September, Liz Bullock will share lessons, methods and cases from some of the world’s largest employee advocacy deployments. She worked on social programs at Dell for 3 years and now runs a consultancy called the Social Arts and Science Institute, which helps large brands train employees and address cultural challenges in employee advocacy.

Below is a short interview I did with her at SXSW last Spring. Her insights are very valuable to anyone running an employee advocacy program. Transcript is below the video.



How did you see either the organization or the leadership evolve from when social media started there to 3 years into it, how people either expected it to be used or to create value, or thought it should — how did that change over time?


Dell got into social media in 2006 and it was really around customer service and listening to customers. Michael (Dell) is a hughe proponent of direct relationships and trying to build the direct model. So, at the time, it was really around that one function, and during the time I spent in the social media community, we recognized its much broader and deeper than that. It;s really to be used across the organization. There are so many incredible benefits. There are ways for HR, recruiting, product group, and sales. That was one way (it evolved) — thinking about how we embed it into the culture and be a more effective busiess.

There also was a whole evolution in the capabilities of technology. In 2006 when we started, trying to listen to customers was very rudimentary. Everything was built in Excel sheets, and now we have technology where we use Radian6 for the listening command center, are able to get real-time data into NPS (Net Promoter Score) and really understand how we’re doing. Traditional NPS can take months for us to calculate, and we now have a real-time NPS capability.

Also, the speed of everything has shifted with the technology.


On the NPS, how does the organization think about that? Is that considered statistically representative of the entire audience, or is it more “directional”?


Dell has created a platform called Social Net Advocacywhich allows them to do very targeted NPS, so they can see within a product how it is doing. They do feel they can get very accurate results with that.


Moving ahead to where you are now, working with various brands in their programs. And then looking ahead to the way this is evoling in thinking about empowering employees in social media, and making that more robust or industrialized inside of organizations, I think one of the things that a lot of organizations wonder about is what’s in it for the employee, such as rewards and compensation, and so on. I am wondering if you see organizations trying to create incentives, whether monetary or not, or do you think organizations are more going to say, “it’s now part of your job requirements, so get on it.”


I’m actually already seeing a shift with some companies, where they are saying this is a requirement. Dell, as an example, in the North American marketing team, they identified five different roles that employees could play. So, one could be a listener, where you’re digging into listening data and creating insights around the business. Once coule be a brand advocate, where you;re going out and sharing positive news that relates to you and your community. So the executive, Brian Jones, basically said, “We have the five roles. Everyone in the marketing organization, you have to be part of one of these roles. If you’re not, this is gonna impact your performance plan, your rating at the end of the year…”, which obviously affects your bonus.

As I step back, I do see the role of the employee changing because I do see that social can allow them to be so much more effective in what they do. And I think the smart marketers are going to say, “We’ve gotta make this part of the job.” If I’m a marketing organization, I want all my marketers listening to the customer. That’s the more effective way to do it. If you can get them there through performance plans…

You’ve gotta be smart about it, as well, and make sure we’re rewarding the right behavior. Sometimes organizations don’t do that and you can see some mis-steps along the way, but, hopefully, with the right intentions, knowing this is an authentic way to connect with our customers… hopefully it can be better for the business.

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