When Dr. Joe Phillips started his job as the IT director forthe Kansas City Public School District, his boss gave him a challenge: to raise the profile of his department. She got way more than she bargained for.
Joe is pretty sure she meant for him to raise the profile ofthe department within the district, but he took it a few steps further.
He made his department well known across the country, sothat even a freelance content marketing strategist in North Carolina noticed him.
His story holds lessons for anyone who wants to have theircompany, organization, department, etc., noticed.
It Starts with Passion
Most people think about the IT department of a school – orany company – as the people who fix your computer and set up your email account.
Joe saw it very differently.
He was passionate about his position and his department. Hesaw their role as being no less than to make the education of thousands of kids possible. “We’re here for the impact we can have on the teaching and learning of our students,” he told me. “Our students are worth all of the work and all of the effort we’re putting in.”
With that kind of passion, Joe took his boss’s directive andran with it. He began telling his department’s stories through social media, particularly right here on LinkedIn.
He featured the people in his department and what made themunique and interesting. He celebrated their triumphs as they upgraded the district’s antiquated computers. He showed the district, the city, and the world that the work they did was important, and it was making a real difference in people’s lives.
As a result, incredible things started to happen. They beganto get a higher caliber of job applicants. They received offers for collaboration from vendors and other outside entities. They were making a difference.
All due to some simple posts (a lot of them) on LinkedIn.Joe became an influencer for his school district.
What’s the Lesson?
Joe was not following a social media playbook handed down bythe district’s marketing department. He was not following any guidelines or brand standards. He was armed only with his instincts and his passion for the work his department was doing.
Can this be replicated in a B2B company, a nonprofit, or anyother organization? I say yes. In fact, I believe it’s an important part of the future of marketing.
Before I go any further, let’s be clear about one thing.Joe’s boss got lucky. At the time she hired him, she probably didn’t know he was a storytelling dynamo, and finding someone with that combination of passion, creativity, and social media instincts is not something you can count on.
Not everyone can stumble upon a Dr. Joe Phillips. But youcan recreate him in the aggregate.
Companies should not only allow their employees to sharetheir stories on social media, but they should encourage it. And by giving them a little direction, inspiration, and perhaps some strategic guideposts, companies can realize tremendous benefits.
Think of it this way. What if, instead of Joe posting allthose stories, it was the official KCPS account? Would it have received anywhere near the same attention. I doubt it.
People like and trust people far more than they do facelesscorporations. Consistent, regular posting by a handful of impassioned employees – as long as it’s not shilling – can generate far more attention, affinity and trust than a corporate social media account ever could.
And that’s that kind of attention and trust is gettingharder and more expensive for companies of any kind to generate.
But with a handful of passionate, creative employees, and alittle bit of training and inspiration, you can create a small army of influencers who will get attention and build trust for your brand.
You can get the same kind of results that Joe did.