A Fortune 500 Social Business Success Story: Q&A

Socially Savvy had the opportunity to speak with Jennifer Mitchell – Analog Device’s Community and Social Strategist Leader - to learn about the challenges and successes encountered by Analog Devices during their social business maturation over the past three years. Below are key social business questions Socially Savvy posed followed by Jennifer’s responses.

1. What are the goals and outcomes you are trying to achieve with your social business program? (brand awareness, employee activation, employee training, demand generation, etc.)

We have both internal and external goals for our social business program at Analog Devices.

Internally, our goal is to educate and enable ADI engineers and our sales teams on how to use social media to amplify the brand and to become the extended voice of ADI. This is an ambitious goal, with over 7,000 employees globally and requires an ongoing training program. We also needed to have established social media guidelines that are not so rigid that employees are afraid to participate. We are also focused on a social selling program, which begins simply by helping employees complete their LinkedIn profiles. In addition, we will provide training to sales engineers on how to source leads via social networks, make introductions and provide relevant content at the right time to prospective customers.

Externally, we have a solid framework in place with established global corporate social channels (www.analog.com/social) which we use to amplify our messages, our news and campaigns, as well as maintain brand awareness. We also have an established social listening strategy, which we leverage as a voice of the customer program. This allows us to listen to the key themes across various segments, understand what the hot topics are, and to respond when necessary.

2. Do you have a social media policy and/or social guidelines? How well understood are they by your employees? How do you enable employee awareness?

We published our first social media guidelines about 3 years ago. The guidelines were developed by a cross-functional social media council that included members from the business units, legal, IT, HR, channel marketing and marketing. The guidelines were worked on collaboratively and published internally, with a few iterations since then. We try to revisit them annually.

More recently, we have begun lunch & learn sessions with the business units, to better educate employees on how to be a social business. The launch of our online support community back in 2009 played a significant role in changing mindsets internally to social business practices. We now have hundreds of ADI engineers internally supporting customers on this social business platform.

3. Do you have a formal social business training program? How does it work? How do you evaluate progress?

We are establishing a formal social business training program, which encompasses how to take advantage of social channels beyond our support community, EngineerZone. However, we have a formal training for EngineerZone on-boarding which extensively covers social media best practices and applies to all social channels. A fair amount of our application engineers have taken this training.

4. What are the challenges associated with social business at your organization?

The biggest challenge to date is resources, as many engineers within the company are wearing multiple hats and really need to prioritize where they put their energy. The other challenge to even getting started is ROI. Design engineers have been slow to adopt (professionally) the social channels, with the exception of some of the younger generation engineers coming out of school. But this is shifting, and over the years, we have seen growth in conversations in forums and even Twitter feeds. Several years ago, most of the social listening produced only news feeds and news syndication.

5. What role do tools and technology play in your social program?

One of the biggest considerations with tools and technology used to support social programs is how well they integrate into the way people work today. Tools that integrate well with Microsoft Outlook and Sharepoint for example, will tend to be adopted more easily if we do not have to ask our engineers to leave the environment in which they are used to working in order to leverage those tools. Making it easy and intuitive is key. Many of these tools are beginning to fundamentally change the way that we work, and in my experience, taking baby steps towards those changes - oftentimes not completely leveraging full functionality out of the gate - is critical to adoption.

6. Where are you in your social business journey? At what level of maturity is your organization, and where do you need to continue to improve?

We have a fantastic framework in place for our social business journey, primarily from the work we did with EngineerZone, our online support community which has really helped to lay the ground work. This has been a great introduction to on-board many employees at ADI. When we rolled out public product ratings on our product pages, we not only leveraged the community infrastructure we had in place, but we had immediate buy-in from the teams given their community experience.

7. What do you feel lies ahead for social business? Are there any best practices you can share to help other organizations who are starting their social business journey?

There are other aspects of social business that we are just embarking on, such as social selling and internal collaboration to help us work more efficiently. There is still a lot of opportunity for ADI to benefit from social business tools, as with most companies who are just touching the surface of what can be done. The biggest stigma with social business is to stop thinking of it as Twitter and Facebook, but rather to think about the business problems and efficiencies that need to be solved, and consider if social technology will make it better.

Take Aways

  • Social business requires executive leadership and a formal plan. The social program must be owned, driven, and measured to effectively assess the efficacy of the program.

  • Enterprise social business requires flexibility and nimbleness to stay current and adapt to the rapidly changing best practices and marketing technology landscape.

  • Social business is a team sport and requires both development of individual employees’ brands on behalf of the corporate identity and corporate/departmental focus on objectives.