I had already lined up the theories behind the Social Shift for a while. But you can discover whether something really works, of course, in practice. That is why I approached IBN a few years ago to travel together and discover the Social Shift. Or rather: to develop and develop together. The route that we went through was for me at least as instructive as for them: thanks to our joint learning curve, IBN became a social leader in the market and I laid the practical basis for the Social Shift.
IBN is what used to be called a 'work facility', but can now be better described as a 'social enterprise'. On average, some 3200 subsidized employees and more than 700 non-subsidized employees work at or via the company. In a world that is in full shift, IBN is actively involved. Apart from the fact that the company offers work and fulfills the important role as an employer, it also focuses explicitly on the development of people, in order to be able to offer them a suitable job in the shortest possible time. Collaboration with other parties is becoming increasingly important, as is making visible what IBN can mean. The Social Shift has proved to be an important flywheel.
In this blog you will read the experiences of Maarten Gielen (general manager) and Sandra van Groenestijn (manager corporate communication and marketing). They have played a crucial role in the (further) development of the Social Shift with their open, enterprising and very patient attitude. They talk about this in a number of short quotes in which they share their most important experiences and conclusions with you step by step.
Maarten Gielen, general manager
The reason: 'The introduction of the Participation Act in 2015 had major consequences for our organization. We had to complete a targeted development assignment and help people to find a job outside our organization as much as possible. This made it even more important to profile ourselves. Our added value was not widely known to our stakeholders, and moreover, subject to change. The new law and the thoughts behind actually "obliged" us to open the doors and tell our story."
The starting point: 'Before 2012, we had claimed our social media channels, but we did not put anything on Facebook and Twitter. We used LinkedIn to share news and vacancies. So a cautious start with social media... We also had insufficient knowledge to work constructively with it. While we knew there was something to be gained.'
The first step: 'The collaboration was a way for Koen to test his ideas in practice and for us to experiment with social media on a small scale. In 2014 we started with various social media pilots, including the development of our blog. From that moment on we started working with the Social Shift, even though it was not called that at the time.'
Practice: ‘Five pilots “do you not just add to you ‘normal’ work", turned out quickly. This led to capacity problems in the communication department, resulting in insufficient steering. Together we decided to use a colleague of Koen with us. This was fully focused on the pilots, as an extension of the communication department. This was the first 'community manager', something that now belongs to the regular services of Koens company.'
Awareness: "In retrospect, it was a sensible move to call in external help. The community manager came here every week to come up with plans and chase things up so that messages were made and posted. That was exactly what we needed. It created awareness, and understanding. Step by step we discovered what we should and shouldn’t do. And more importantly, where we wanted to go."
The insight: 'The Social Shift only becomes a success if every employee understands and feels what we are doing. In the top you can want everything, but you will have to build it from the ground up. Every employee is an important ambassador. That is why we involve them as much as possible in telling our story.'
The hindrance: 'In the beginning it was quite difficult to let go of our old structure. Our communication department was pretty "in control". In itself that is a good feature, but for the Social Shift it was also difficult. It also took us a lot of time within the management to convert that control button and to rely on new convictions.'
The discovery: 'Together with Koen and his colleagues we went on a discovery trip. What appeals? Which messages are less interesting to share? And what do statistics tell us? By measuring the results, we automatically learned what works and what does not '
The structure: 'Now that we work with the Social Shift, we see that it is good to start working in a structured way and to establish a number of clear pillars. Then you can hang up all the content and you are sure that all important themes within your organization are covered adequately.'
The proceeds: 'We now also clearly show who we are, what we do and what makes us different from others in the market via social media. That is good for our external appearance: people get a better - and more positive - image of us through our varied content. They also understand our changing role better. As a company, we are more transparent than ever. Externally, but also internally: the different layers in our organization become so interconnected and become more visible to each other. Our employees are proud of their work. The Social Shift has strengthened that."
The advice: 'If I can give other organizations advice: start with a clear structure and good organization. Appoint hikers and boosters, and give them the time to do their job in addition to the trust. To make this work, you have to put energy in it.."
The future: 'In the coming period we want to extend the Social Shift by allowing even more ambassadors to participate. In addition, there are some projects on specific themes and target groups; they have to provide extra depth for the content and for more specific results. In this way, the Social Shift becomes increasingly firmly anchored in our organization.'
Sandra van Groenestijn, manager corporate communication and marketing
The fear: 'In the beginning - and then I am talking about about ten years ago - we at IBN were pretty hesitant about social media. It was something new, something elusive. Moreover, social media seemed difficult to control as an organization. That "fear" of losing control of our communication has been a long time, also with our management."
The beginning: "The popularity of social media continued to increase. We talked about social media, but we did not participate in the online discussion ourselves. That was a conscious choice at the time, but soon it was no longer satisfying. We felt that we had to do something with it, especially because we wanted to profile ourselves better in the market. But partly because we are such a large organization, we did not know where to start."
The breakthrough: "After long deliberations, we decided to make real work of social media in 2014. We gained prudent experience with a number of small-scale pilots. The breakthrough really came when we hired Koen and his people and we were able to give social media a place in the organization with more strength and guide our employees. From that moment on it got going."
The control: 'Our ambassadors are completely free to come up with content themselves. In fact, we stimulate that. But before we post a message, we will check it. With this we have found a balance between releasing and controlling.'
The downside: "No, things are not always going well. For example, after a blog from one of our directors, we had to provide text and explanations to one of our larger clients. Painful? At that moment it was of course. But it is part of it, I have learned. And it ultimately pales in everything it brings us."
The role change: 'Previously' all 'formal communication came from the communication department. Today, communication is everyone's. This is a big change for our department. We have been given a different role: more advisory, directing and facilitating. A nice development!'
The approach: 'We work according to a carefully designed content strategy. We also run campaigns to bring our content to the attention. With this we give our organization a face and show what we are good at. But at least as important: we are laying a good foundation for bringing in new clients.'
The result: "In the past, we were only talking about us without being there ourselves. Now we are much more at the ball ourselves. Actually, I do not see any better ways to profile your company. Previously, we advertised in regional newspapers and magazines. But an online message is much more effective and moreover comes more often. And also nice: you can see exactly what your reach is.'
The preconditions: 'Continuity and structure are indispensable for successfully working with social media. But the "people's side" is just as important: activate and encourage your employees. In the end you have to do it together. As a communication professional, you must ensure that you remain closely involved with the Social Shift. Monitor the process and adjust if necessary.'
The conviction: 'When we started with the Social Shift, I was quite skeptical. Employees who suddenly got the space to call everything about our organization without us having full control over it? How would that work out in practice? But in the meantime I am completely convinced. It is precisely that authentic content that tells our story so beautifully. And if you facilitate your employees well, that check is not necessary at all.'
- Social media offers you unprecedented opportunities to share your vision, belief, motivation, ideas and inspiration with the rest of the world.
- This requires honest, authentic and as personal as possible content and a different organization of your communication.
- The Social Shift helps you with that. Thanks to the involvement of your employees and a smart social media approach you finally reach your relevant networks.