What inspired me most about the opportunity to join Shell in 2011 was nothing short of scale and impact.
There are few industries and companies that can claim true relevance to every person on the planet. Energy is such an industry that serves a vital purpose in sustaining daily life and enabling progress around the globe. Shell sees its role to deliver more energy in ways that are economically attractive, and socially and environmentally responsible.
As the world grows in population from 7 billion people to 9 billion by 2050, societies will become healthier and more prosperous. This growth will increase stress and scarcity on water, food and energy, our most vital, global resources.
The complexity associated with the energy challenge play out on social, environmental and geo-political levels. In order to make progress, active engagement with people of all ages, societies and cultures is required.
Scale and Impact
Given the scope of the energy challenge, the question I asked was "how do you make a company like Shell relevant and relatable to every person on the planet?" This is a big question and challenge to solve for.
The good news is that the means to support the challenge exist, in part, with the smart use of social media and mobile (technologies) applied with strategic partnerships, compelling content and purposeful engagement. There is no better way to engage a broad spectrum of audiences at scale (from one to one billion) than through social media and mobile.
I’d like to offer insights into a few key areas that helped to guide our efforts in addressing the challenge:
Working through answers to simple questions is important. You don't have to be a social media expert to develop smart and high impact strategies, as long as you work through the right questions. I have been drawn to a very simple question-based framework to guide our social media content and engagement efforts at Shell:
What do you want people to know, feel and do as a result of interacting with your company and/or content?
Facebook advocates working through the following question, which I also like:
Why would someone care and why would they share your content?
Answering these questions has proven important as we define our audiences, understand what they care about and develop content that relates to their interests, concerns and/or needs.It forces us to think about and appeal to the emotional and behavioral drivers that inspire people to engage and take action on a daily basis. Every person has a different entry point into the relationship with Shell.
Our challenge is to provide an environment that allows for each person to benefit and contribute in a meaningful way.
It is important to have a strong balance of strategic partnerships and relationships in place with companies like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google and with agencies (PR, media, creative) and technology partners like Adobe and/or Buddy Media (now Sales Force Marketing Cloud).
Developing a collaborative structure that brings together motivated teams from each partner with well defined roles and responsibilities to contribute to the success of your larger business strategy and objectives is crucial. Each partner brings with them an important lens on audience and engagement opportunities supported by great data, insight and expertise that when pulled together into a uniform view, have enormous impact.
It’s also important to seek unconventional partners. Those who have common interests in the problems you are looking to solve and a willingness to collaborate to offer powerful solutions to address. In many ways, the unconventional partnerships are the ones that will distinguish your efforts in game-changing ways.
As I have previously written, Shell is a founding partner of an initiative called mPowering Action that seeks to engage 100 million youth across 120 countries over the next five years.
This innovative program is orchestrated by Tribal Brands and is delivered through a public/private partnership model with the United Nations, NGOs, businesses (like Shell) and top global athletes and artists in the entertainment industry.
Today, people under 25 make up 43 percent of the world’s population – in some countries, that number is as high as 70 percent. This amounts to nearly 4 billion young people living on the brink of the greatest technological advances and human progress while also surrounded by intractable public health epidemics, record jobless rates, outdated education systems and historic pressures on the planet’s resources.
This generation of millennials are social media savvy and eager to help create real-world change, and for the first time in history, technology has the ability to facilitate change in the palm of their hands.
mPowering Action is a powerful initiative because it brings together organizations that do not typically work (or work well) together with a common interest to provide a voice and bring real world solutions to the challenges representative of 43% of the population on the planet. No one organization can deliver on this vision alone. It requires participation from the value-chain.
Developing unconventional partnerships such as this showcase your company's purpose and commitment to deliver on the very human issues that motivate and inspire people to take action...which just might lend to brand preference for your company.
In a future post I will offer additional insights on:
- The importance of behavior-based vs. transaction-based engagement to establish loyalty and advocacy
- Mobile. More than “just” the phone