I stumbled across a great interview this morning with Ethan McCarty, Senior Manager, Digital and Social Strategy at IBM on Social Media Today website. I highly recommend that you read the whole interview but there are a few things that really stood out for me.
IBM found that people trust and value information from “people like me” more than companies they don’t know. This re-enforces the importance of building relationships with prospects not only in social media environments but also on your website.
IBM trained and actively supported many people from inside the company to be active on both Social Media and the website. The strategy is to grow conversations and relationships between knowledgeable and expert internal staff with senior prospects. They launched something called “The Expert Finder” which allows website visitors to get to the right person if they have a query.
Ethan McCarty, IBM states “It’s not just a matter of getting your company to have a bunch of Twitter handles or Facebook pages. Rather, my point of view is that what has sprung up on the consumer side is just the tip of the iceberg. The real power to transform is on the business side. This is where a social framework can create new ways to enable sales forces, new ways to discover expertise, new ways to understand your organization’s culture, new ways to establish brand trust with your customers, and much more.”
Ethan goes on to explain that they have pictures and profiles of experts on the site and that “Through A/B testing we have found that pages with IBMers on them perform significantly better than those that do not have IBMers on them. For example, if we have a web page that is designed to get visitors to click deeper into our site, the presence of IBM experts on the page improves both the performance and the overall feedback we get about the page. It's kind of no surprise -- when we are transparent, people trust us and feel better about the experience. What was interesting to me is that this is even the case when they don't interact directly with the IBMer on the page”
At the end of the day, prospects want to know your companies subject matter experts. You need to get your employees involved and sharing their knowledge and expertise via social media platforms and your website. Marketers who let their subject matter experts get more personal with buyers will win in the end.
What is your experience of this? What has worked well?