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Chatting with Josh Bernoff, Co-Author of Empowered

Brett Safron headshotThis post was written by Brett Safron,  Senior Vice President of Business Development for Cision.

The days are long gone when companies were immediately suspicious of employees updating a Facebook page, responding to people on Twitter or uploading a video onto YouTube. Social media are now no longer only personal tools; they’re business tools that shouldn’t be ignored when building a brand.

More and more people are translating their social media intelligence into business acumen and transforming the way business is done.

I met with Josh Bernoff, co-author of Groundswell, the Bloomberg Businessweek bestseller and now, Empowered, a new book laying out how “regular Joes” have approached their everyday work with a unique social media angle which has paid off in huge dividends for their respective companies.

The concept behind the book is that of allowing HEROes (that is, highly empowered and resourceful operatives) of a company to affect change.  Rather than dictate a usually stifling corporate policy upon your resources, the opposite should now occur – allow them to act much more freely in the best interests of the company.  And the results, as shown in multiple case studies throughout the book, can be hugely rewarding to its success and reputation.

I could relate to the steps that these HEROes should take when embarking on their ideas as they are very much in line with my product development background.  Assess the potential value versus the required effort for this idea.  Some are worth doing, some definitely should be skipped but knowing that ratio is key to starting off on the right foot.

Get the right people on your side from the start or, as in the catchphrase of today states, identify the influencers.  Then, as many of the storied tales of the not-so-distant past have shown us (like Best Buy’s Twelpforce and Zappos’ royal treatment of customers), treat them like they should be treated which, not coincidentally, is very similar to how I would like to be treated as a customer.

A concept so simple is so hard for some companies to grasp.  Is it because their personnel are taught to follow a policy without deviation or is it that the corporate philosophy is still trapped in the idea of customer service being a cost to be minimized?  As Josh points out, it’s a bit of both.  And one key point which struck me that he repeatedly highlights is that customer service is marketing and should be treated as such.  You definitely would never let your marketing arm treat their audience like some organizations let their customer service treat their customers.

Empowered goes on to discuss some of the issues to be aware of when creating a HERO-powered company, as it certainly bucks the trend of many long-standing companies, such as my own, Cision.  Introspectively, we have definitely begun to make this transition and have already encountered several of the situations illustrated in the book.  We have seen many positives come from it as well as experienced some of the traditional pitfalls.

How is your organization structured?  Is it a HERO-powered company?  Have you made strides towards shifting towards one and how has it worked?  Would love to hear your experiences!

And thanks again to Josh for taking the time to make a stop here on his book tour!

Tags : social media

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