In this article, Jens Monsees, CEO and Managing Director WPP AUNZ, says

“You cannot solve the problems of the future with the tools from the past.”

Monsees described how leadership requires an overhaul just as surely as business processes and software. “Teams aligned around a common vision and working in a culture that discourages siloed thinking are best placed to succeed,” he said.

Market and business disruption the ship analogy!

"The very best years for building tall ships were not during the buccaneering age of pirates and privateers. Instead, they followed the introduction of the steam engine — a coal-fired innovation that supercharged the transformation of commerce on the high seas.

Before then, merchant vessels typically spent anywhere from 40 to 100 days making the crossing from Liverpool to New York. But in 1838, the steamship SS Great Western made the trip in 15 days, rewriting the economics of international trade.

It’s an analogy Jens Monsees, the CEO of WPP ANZ uses to illustrate the folly of applying legacy business models in a digitally disruptive age."

Which made me think about a recent article written by Catherine Coale from Telstra Purple about here social organization.  The article is here by the way.

Before we get started, I'm going to share two of Catherine's conclusions.

These are direct quotes, from her article ....

3. Traditional B2B Marketing is Screwed

Forget product centric messages. Forget gated content on social platforms. Stop broadcasting branded messages in the hope that some of it will stick. Our pilot tells us that hardly anyone is listening anymore.   

4. If you’re doing structured Employee Advocacy today, consider reviewing your scope.

Edicts to share company content without putting your people in the narrative is just another form of broadcast marketing. It is not well received on this platform. Attempting to create a single brand voice is also a mistake.

Let me remind you, this is not my opinion or Catherine's opinion, this is data that is showing this. 

Before we dive in, let me explain some context as to what is a social organization.

What is a social organisation?

We are not talking about a non-for-profit, we are talking about a business that uses social media as a strategy.  All business, currently use social media as a tactic and in many cases their use of it, is a cost to the business,, it certainly isn't a profit.

This is the mission statement for the project.

Let's think about this for a second.  Isn't this the Holy Grail of business? - Here we are able to close the distance between clients?  So rather than buyers doing whatever they can to avoid our sales people and our sales people having to be manipulative to get meetings, how about if buyers walked towards us? How about buyers want to talk to us?

How about if we can become the employer of choice?  How about if employees can get a shared purpose?  Isn't this business heaven?  Could it be possible?  Let's hear what Catherine has to say.

"In April last year I launched an extraordinary programme to explore social media as a place for closing distance between our clients, our remote employees and our future recruits – little did we know at the time that we’d all be remote by then.

I believe that social media has fundamentally changed not just how we chat but how we consume information and how that information helps shape our decision-making process."

So here is a business that is embarking on such a program, to implement this vision.  Let's move onto some background from Catherine.

"The Social Organisation programme was created

The new programme included coaching to support our employees that were interested in becoming more visible through blogging. We worked with them to develop their writing skills, to trust their own personal style and find like-minded people in their network to spark their creativity

Brands today are people. We trust our fellow humans, and so helping our own people to be heard and to listen well, was central to the idea.

We also recognised the value that being more present on social media had already brought to our business. It was the primary driver of a 295% increase in membership applications to our ClubCISO community in 2019 so we knew it mattered.

But we had no appetite to create an army of corporate voices who’d been through PR training. And the findings of this Content Study from 2020 proved the strategy sound."

You are here to read the data, so here it is.

"I studied the content published by 10 participants over 5 months

This was a pilot programme and we had a lot to learn. Everyone came to it with an open mind and a brief to write what they chose and in their own style. They all worked for Telstra Purple, and came from different disciplines:

  • 4x Account Managers
  • 3x Technical Experts (Data Specialists)
  • 2x Marketers (Community Specialists)
  • 1x Programme Lead (Me!)

This is the scope of the data I've assessed:

  • 288 posts & articles assessed.
  • Published between 1st May & 30th Sept 2020.
  • By 10 people from 4 different work disciplines.
  • Total views achieved = 470,319
  • Total likes achieved = 5,820
  • Total comments achieved = 2,240

This study is a labour of love

This is the small print… the disclaimer… if you were listening to this on the radio I would be reading it very quickly…

If you’re reviewing this as a data scientist or a researcher, I will likely disappoint. This study has been compiled entirely manually both on the part of the participants categorising and counting the data, and my 20 hour labour of love in the evenings and weekends to assess it. I am a self-confessed spreadsheet geek and have cross checked until I’m sleep deprived, but suspect there will be a few small errors and some research rules broken here. Happy to chat over my methods with anyone that really is as geeky as me.

We studied the types of content people wrote and the way people reacted to it

We broke the categorisation down into 3 core sections:

Posts and articles that were:

  1. Purely about personal / human topics
  2. About the general world of work but written from a personal perspective
  3. Purely business posts

When people connect with you on LinkedIn, it’s YOU they want to hear about.

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When a lot of people start writing on LinkedIn for the first time, they often begin by sharing other people’s articles. But as our team started to write more regularly they noticed a pattern so we explored this in our study to see what the data showed us.

We averaged up everyone’s data to stop the quantity of posts influencing the outcome and discovered that by writing their OWN ORIGINAL posts and articles, instead of sharing someone else's, we got...

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*almost FOUR TIMES as many comments.

What this tells us is that we should be confident in who we are and what we have to say. It is YOUR original thinking that people connect with and start conversations around more than anything else… more than the latest HBR report, Gartner stat or your company’s latest bulletin.

From a sales perspective, they got 5,820 likes and 2,240 comments - That is 8,000 opportunities to have conversations.   It conversations that create sales.  

Let's not forget that brochures, webinars, don't create conversations.

Let's move on and if you are part of the "LinkedIn isn't Facebook" police, you won't like this.

That doesn’t belong here, it belongs on Facebook…

When we sat around the table at the beginning, talking about what we’d really like to achieve in the Social Organisation, visibility was up high on the list. We wanted people to know what we did.

One of the things I kept hearing was that LinkedIn was a business networking platform and whilst we came ready to share business content what we discovered was a revelation.

Human stories about ourselves were magnitudes more popular than stories about our work.

And it didn’t matter who was doing the writing… people in sales roles, marketing or technical experts – the outcome was almost always the same.

No alt text provided for this image

Are people really not interested in talking purely about work these days?

This intrigued me so back to the data I went in search of the posts where we had talked directly about our work at Telstra Purple.

This generated a return of 105 posts

Then I added an additional criteria...

Posts that have attracted 5+ comments from people outside of our own organisation.

This reduced the return to just 4 posts.

I checked again. Just 4 posts.

I’ve known for a few years that people no longer want you to broadcast company messages to them, but to see the evidence of this across a diverse team was quite startling.

My conclusions

1. LinkedIn is a very social platform just like all the others

The way we use social media in our private world has significantly impacted our behaviour at work. Original and personal content is preferred and our strategy to support our ‘regular employees’* to develop their own personal brand and voice is sound.

2. LinkedIn offers a ridiculously fast way to get to know people  

Forget our current pandemic situation. LinkedIn is a forever-tool for closing the gap between us, our clients, our remote employees and our future new recruits. If you change your mindset from LinkedIn being a place to list your CV and find work, to a place to meet people and give and take generously – then it offers an almost instant way for people and organisations to get to know one another. Every interaction is transparent, attributable and actionable and when done well, starts from a place of goodwill and reciprocity.

3. Traditional B2B Marketing is Screwed

Forget product centric messages. Forget gated content on social platforms. Stop broadcasting branded messages in the hope that some of it will stick. Our pilot tells us that hardly anyone is listening anymore.   

4. If you’re doing structured Employee Advocacy today, consider reviewing your scope.

Edicts to share company content without putting your people in the narrative is just another form of broadcast marketing. It is not well received on this platform. Attempting to create a single brand voice is also a mistake.

And finally ...

Late last year McKinsey and Co reported that its corporate clients experienced on average 7 years of digital transformation in the first six months of 2020 as they hustled to adjust to the global economic COVID disruption. 

Another way to think of that statistic is that if you didn't start transforming your business in those months you are now 7 years behind your competitors!

Where Do We Go From Here?

Just give me, or one of the DLA Ignite team and hour of your time and we can walk you through what we are doing in the form of case studies, what we are doing for other businesses to transform them to digital.  No hard sell, just practical examples.

DLA Ignite is a global business and we understand that a "cookie cutter" approach to digital does not work, we have to take into account local language and cultural sensitivities.  Which is why we have built teams across the globe, that can support you by country and industry sector. 

For more information contact me here, visit our website, or visit our Linkedin company page and contact one of the DLA Ignite team members. 


*In 2019 and 2020, the Edelman Trust Barometer listed 'a person like me' and 'a regular employee' as the 3rd & 4th most credible voices when forming an opinion of a company. In both 2019 and 2020, above the CEO.

Here's a few other things I've written about the Social Organisation programme since it's launch on 1st April 2020 if you'd like to read more:

Unveiling my new focus; The Social Organisation

Connect with the 'First Followers' of our Social Organisation programme.

3 reasons why employees should be the voice of your company

Piloting the Social Organisation; 16 learnings so far...

Inspiring Industry Influencers; Reviewing our 10 week pilot