EMC Corp., a global provider of hardware and software solutions
to help improve cloud computing, was honored recently by B-to-B Magazine for
its proficiency in social media.
We spoke with Len Devanna, director of social
engagement for EMC Corp, about how the company has woven social into the
Congratulations on your award. What is your role at EMC
in terms of social media?
First and foremost the job of my team is to educate,
enable and empower EMC employees. We started our journey in 2007, our formal
social journey to developing employee proficiency. We worked from the inside
out, virtually the opposite of how everyone else was doing it.
We launched EMC|ONE, the online network of EMCers, in the
fall of 2007. We’ve just hit our 30,000th active member – or about 65% of the
entire global employee audience
We just launched this training video to celebrate Social
Media Day. I’d argue it represents a turning point in how brands communicate with and
educate employees. We’re particularly proud of this video.
It’s been a hobby project for a few months. The intent is
to drive broad awareness of the power, reach and opportunity afforded via social media. It’s been sent out
to 48,000 employees and will be seen by every new hire that joins our family
How did you get a 65% adoption rate?
It’s a difficult question to answer. I hear so many
people say, “Jeez, Len, I built my community and no one will come. Why?” You must make a compelling environment
where people want to be. Virtually everything we’ve done in social media has
In fact, one of the very first conversations on EMC|ONE
in 2007 was, “What are the opportunities afforded to EMC and our customers via
Social Media?” We launched Lunch and Learns and road shows to help drive awareness
for our new internal community offering.
Through these discussions, we tried to show people that
Social Media is not a fad, nor is it specific to EMC. Rather, it’s the
evolution of human communications, and it’s in ALL of our best interest that we
understand the nuances of social and get good at it.
Early on, we started an EMC water cooler. We found it was
less intimidating for someone who wasn’t comfortable in social to come in and
talk about something like their pets or hobbies rather than jump right in and
have a conversation about cloud computing.
We started with “Come in and tell us what your hobbies
are.” Once people made that leap, they very quickly became comfortable jumping
into more meaningful conversations.
What is EMC|ONE?
EMC|ONE has been the hub in which we build social
proficiency in our company. There are no private spaces. It is open to all
48,500 of us. I’d suggest it’s
helped us avoid becoming a siloed company. In other words, we avoid private
Rather, we encourage employees to have conversations “out in the open”
and among one another.
Community Managers will consistently come back thankful
of this thinking, as they always learn that the more diverse the perspectives
in a conversation, the more valuable it will be.
How does what’s happened internally influence how EMC
conducts public social media?
For starters, it’s helped us build an incredible level of
employee proficiency. Having started inside, we’ve built up the basic skills
required for effective social engagement.
I’ll share a little of the secret sauce. We provide
social media activation kits on EMC|ONE.
What they should look to do. Documents on campaigns. We’re a highly
proficient brand as a company.
We have some 30 bloggers who get millions of unique visits each year. We
have roughly 600 employees on Twitter with 3/4 of a million followers. This is
not a coincidence. They learn the tools of the trade on EMC|ONE.
When we did our mega-launch campaign in January, we did a
kit. Here’s what we’re up to. Here’s the key messaging. Here’s some high-value
engaging content you can spread to your social networks.
The mega-launch campaign was to promote that EMC clients
were setting world records. The campaign stunt was to break the world’s record
for the number of people who could be squeezed into a Mini Cooper.
Our Mini Cooper campaign’s social media activation kit
had a teaser video. We didn’t show the stunt until the event itself. The video
was one of many assets and we said, ‘Here you go, guys. Here’s a suggested
tweet. Here’s a customized URL.’
By enabling them, we’re now in a position to measure our
reach. It’s why I can say 28% of all eyeballs on that event came through
Where does social fit in the context of digital marketing
I was working on the web team. My background is web. Last
year, I moved into corporate communications. For myself, my peers are folks
like PR (public relations), IR (investor relations), and AR (analyst
What we’re trying to do is really make social a fundamental way of
how we communicate. We want it to permeate thinking. Now that I’m aligned with
corporate comms., I can drive influence across my peer groups.
For example, I just spent some time with EMC’s PR lead
discussing the evolution of PR and social – contemplating what’s next beyond
the ‘Social News Release,’ and how we can innovate together to drive further
Do you work with outside agencies?
We use a listening engine. We have a couple of small
How does your social team of seven work?
One group manages communities. Three people are focused
on EMC|ONE and are shepherds of that internal community. Outside the firewall
is the EMC community network, 80% are EMC customers, 1/4 of a million
If the EMC community
network has 1/4 of a million, two or three folks on my team can’t manage that. We
embrace the hub and spoke model.
My job is to put myself out of a job in five years. All
work has to be distributed. We are shepherds for the brand. We are really
looking for subject matter experts within the business.
The next level focuses on embassy properties (off
domain). We physically own EMC|ONE and don’t physically own Facebook, LinkedIn,
YouTube and Twitter, but they’re embassies.
The next leg manages our social
band and under that is FB and such and also managing listening where we are in
tune with where EMC is mentioned. Three people – one listener, one embassy,
and one manager – are working with customer support. Teaching them how to
listen. Going to sales guys teaching them how to support.
The third piece is, for lack of a better term, the
marketing programs’ front desk. Six people are keeping the ship afloat, with
demand coming from 46k people. The last leg is the point of primary engagement
with those 46k, who work through one front desk.
How do you spread the listening?
EMC|ONE is to share interesting things we find and serve
as a conduit of conversation. If I see an opportunity, my team will get that
and turn it into sales. We’re looking for a more sophisticated automated
What’s your goal with programs that you’re doing?
At the time of Breaking Records, we had launched over 40
products. The breaking records campaign focused on how many had an underlying
theme, which was “Look at how EMC is making our customers break records.”The
Mini Cooper record for example, was to play up you can do more with less these
days. Look at how many people you can get in a Mini.”
To me, social media is not about looking at opportunities
to push a message. I see it as an engagement channel. So when Adweek features
us (as they did a few weeks back) it’s something for EMC’s corporate Facebook
The EMC corporate page is only one of many. Each of our
divisions has their own independent Facebook page. EMC Latin America, for example, has a Facebook page.
What are your corporate guidelines?
We’re just about to publish our new revised guidelines.
At the risk of oversimplifying, they largely say: Use common sense. We’ve
always avoided being highly prescriptive in the space because I think it
inhibits people’s creativity.
Three years in, and we were recently humbled to be cited
as the 14th most socially savvy brand, according to NetProspex, and I haven’t
had a social media disaster.
Where will you intervene?
This is the problem. People don’t understand the amount
of reach they have. If you don’t understand the reach, you don’t understand the
contextual challenges on the other side.
An employee was talking about
dissatisfaction with the internal timecard system on Twitter. I reached out to
him and said, “Your reach is not limited to your audience, and more and more
buyers are looking to peer discussion.
If they come across your tweet it could
be misconstrued as dissatisfaction with an EMC product rather than a timeclock
What we do focus on is you just need to understand the
power of social and the reach you have. So many just don’t see it like that.
What do you want to do?
It’s a transformation. Monetizing social and tying to the
bottom line is high on my radar. Truly activating, but we have a long ways to
go enabling employees. The end game for me is the fully engaged enterprise.
We’re five years away from that.
I define it as really every employee having an
opportunity to serve as an advocate for the brand. And put the customer at the
center. I believe social does that, but we’re talking about how.
How do you deal with legal?
I have a partnership with one representative in legal.
He’s my liaison to social and he and I chat regularly.
Anything you want to say I didn’t ask you?
Transparency is key. Open is key. Everyone wants to silo
conversations, but repeatedly when you say, “Let’s try it a new way, everytime
they say, Thank you”.