BlackRock Takes Stock of its Social Media Assets: Employees

BlackRock A couple of days ago I attended my sixth BlogWell. This time as a non member. It was great to see so many friends and former colleagues on the corporate side — and to make new friends, while learning about the social efforts of large organizations.

The local hosts at SAP near Philadelphia made everyone feel at home. This is a company that is doing some good work with social media, and learning with the development community.

Many of the case studies during the afternoon were interesting, which is code for nicely done and looking forward to hearing what is next beyond the campaign or the program.

Then I got to sit in the session led by Jonathan Haley who is director of eBusiness at BlackRock, and found a genuine passion for connecting inside and outside the organization — and moving the business forward.

Haley revealed his secret formula for getting the organization thinking about social. From my days in the financial services industry, I can tell you that their business model and the regulatory environment they operate in are both quite complex.

We're talking about a global organization that manages $3.45 trillions in assets, and they work mainly with registered financial advisers and institutions. As an aside, it looks like BlackRock does care about its customers. Which makes it even more believable that the organization would look to figure out how it can be more social.

Finding social solutions

The first step for them was to create an internal collaboration tool, with internal rules and processes that allowed for document retention, as per regulation. The purpose: to educate people on the inside and get them talking with each other and about collaboration. 

The divide and conquer approach they took for the team initially to learn the tools was not working. It was not taking them to becoming experts. So they restarted, this time lowering their expectations. Meanwhile, they worked on identifying the business value for social solutions.

BlackRock bench marked phone calls to product experts and sales teams, which gave them the ability to overcome objections and the perception of the organization's sales group. They surveyed marketers by looking at their technographics profiles and noted that they were already participating in social.

So they went the immersive way and started generating and authoring content in the social space. Meanwhile, they answered the question: how do you get a sales team to adopt something, anything?  This was what I dubbed the BlackRock genius moment.

They created an internal villain — a very thick PDF document sales reps would need to sift through manually to get their information. Indeed, if you want a sales group to adopt something new, you need to make the old ways very painful to use and the new ones very easy. It worked.

Thanks to the hard work of the digital team, the organization is well on its way to extending the program to the rest of the organization and finding its external social solutions.

Haley had one word of advice: dedicate a person or team to social, start small and keep the team tight and focused — or you'll run the risk of having too many people pulling in different directions.

Sizing market opportunity

Now that they are educating the organization about social, the team has its eye on external opportunities. They started by identifying keywords and conversations where there is opportunity for the organization to participate and bring to bear its knowledge and expertise in asset management.

Attention is also dedicated to studying the moves of new entrants in their competitive set, what Haley called the fringe players. Younger companies on the edges don't have quite their legacy and move more freely, some may note, more aggressively as well. This is their external villain or incentive to get going.

On the inside, they are looking to see who is engaged with social and use the tools for collaboration. On the outside, they are seeking those places where it would make sense to invest time and effort. The process they are following to marry the two is quite deliberate.

One thing is for sure, concluded Haley: BlackRock stands to gain from adopting these new communications avenues.

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0 responses to “BlackRock Takes Stock of its Social Media Assets: Employees”

  1. Wow that’s an awesome approach, it’s incredible to see such an innovation on a juggernaut corporation like BlackRock.
    Plus, the genius idea they had for the sales reps is something that definitely made me think *mumbles* 😉

  2. Not having spent any time inside an investment bank but knowing how regulated they are, it’s great to see a company like BlackRock embracing social. I especially love the concept of the ‘internal villain’ in order to get sales to adopt new modes of operating – something I think all marketers struggle with. And a concept I’ll share with my team today!

  3. @Gabriele – it proves that you can do a lot when you’re willing to try things. Why we call some people and companies leaders, too.
    @Patrick – anyone of us who has experience with implementing change in processes knows that adoption will make or break an initiative. That was also my favorite part of the conversation.

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