Brands

How Lenovo Gets 60,000 Employees to Share Company Content

By Tessa Wegert September 11th, 2015

Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn need to step aside and make room for… Social Champions?

That’s the bet Lenovo is making with Social Champions, the company-wide social network it launched this year.

For billions of people on the Internet, social networks are about having as many friends, followers, and connections as possible. But for companies with their own internal social networks, the focus has shifted from making connections to getting everyone on the same page.

Studies have shown that brand messages shared by individual employees significantly outreach those shared through corporate social channels. One study from public relations firm Weber Shandwick found that half of all employees surveyed are already posting pictures, messages, and videos about their companies. But they don’t always know where to find the freshest content, and they don’t always share the work that matters most to their employers.

Social Champions is designed specifically to help employees share company content, and the interface is simple. Users post relevant content for their coworkers to see, and everyone has the ability to share those stories on external social networks. As Digiday noted in a July write-up, there’s also a leaderboard that ranks how often employees post and share.

To develop the platform, Lenovo worked with California-based marketing technology company Dynamic Signal and its existing Employee Advocacy enterprise solution, also used by companies like SAP and BMW Group.

“Content is absolutely at the heart of Social Champions,” said Roderick Strother, director of Lenovo’s Digital and Social Centre of Excellence, which was established in 2011 in Singapore as a global social marketing hub. “It’s what fuels the engine we worked to build, central to the whole initiative.”

Historically, corporate social networks haven’t been a guaranteed success. Last year, research and consulting firm Altimeter Group surveyed 55 companies, finding that only one-quarter of respondents said “many employees” use enterprise social networks like Chatter, Socialcast, and Yammer. Additionally, only 20 percent said the same of community forums like Jive, Lithium, and Telligent.

Social Champions is different. Rather than being used primarily to boost collaboration and productivity, Lenovo wants to extend the reach of company-related content, whether it’s third-party product reviews or thought-leadership articles developed in-house. While Lenovo is exploring the potential addition of chat functionality so users can discuss what they’re sharing, the goal for now is just to get content into the hands of employees.

“Whether they share three posts a day or one a week, we know it’s content that we feel represents the company effectively and accurately,” Strother said.

It may seem counterintuitive to launch a corporate social site at a time when professionals are so overwhelmed with social media, but according to Strother, the ubiquity of social media is exactly why Lenovo devised Social Champions. “If you’re someone who doesn’t necessarily have the time to source content yourself, then you can go to Social Champions and find it to use across your own social platforms,” he said.

All of Lenovo’s 60,000 employees have the ability to visit the network. Since it launched in March to complement Lenovo’s new brand identity and slogan, “Never Stand Still,” Social Champions has attracted approximately 2,000 active users.

For now, content is “completely wide-ranging” and includes articles, white papers, and videos. The company pulls this from sites like LinkedIn, Weibo, and Twitter, but it also sources existing social media posts from Lenovo’s executives so employees can see what’s on the mind of the company’s C-suite, such as when the company’s CEO, Yang Yuanqing, recently encouraged all of its executives to get involved.

“[Social Champions] is there to create more of an inclusive company spirit in that respect,” Strother said.

To motivate use of the network internally, the company sends out regular emails citing major initiatives in need of promotion, such as the recent launch of the Yoga Tab 3 and Yoga Tab 3 Pro tablets. It’s also incentivizing new activity by giving employees the opportunity to win prizes when they sign up for the first time.

Additionally, Strother’s team sends an email every week featuring what he calls a “hero piece of content”—an article or video that Lenovo deems a sharing priority, like content on the new tablets, which Strother specifically asked employees to promote through Social Champions.

Large companies have typically struggled with social media, particularly when it comes to maintaining control of disseminated information. Some argue that organizations have a responsibility to monitor employee activity on social sites and must “pay attention” if they hope to avoid problems. Others advocate the implementation of a social media policy to protect brands from PR gaffes.

With Social Champions, though, Lenovo has also found a way to rally workers around content and harness the power of social sharing—one employee post at a time.

Image by Shutterstock
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