Cerner is a health care information technology company, with more than 22,000 employees, who we call associates, around the globe. And if you “consider that every employee has an average of 200 Facebook friends, 150 Twitter followers and 350 Linkedin contacts,” that’s a potential social reach of over 15 million! These brand advocates are passionate about our mission to change health care, and we greatly benefit from the collective footprint of our team members. They continually build our brand through their interactions with each other, with clients and prospects, and in the communities where they work and live.
Founded in 1979, Cerner has grown at a rapid rate – nearly tripling the number of associates in a five-year period. So, in order to create associate advocates, this meant we had to develop a strategy that focused on educating each associate about our business while simultaneously building their passion for our brand. As part of our internal marketing strategy, we constantly share content with our associates that keeps them informed, knowledgeable, passionate, and inspired so they have the information and motivation to be brand advocates for Cerner.
Our strategy hinges on four key goals:
Health care is a rapidly changing environment, with regulatory and consumer pressures leading a shift from volume-based care (providers reimbursed for each action they perform and the more care they provide) to value-based care (providers reimbursed for increased quality, efficiency and prevention of readmissions). This monumental shift is crucial for our associates to understand as we adapt our offerings to help our clients meet these challenges.
Understanding industry news, key achievements by our clients and corporate news – before it’s released externally – is crucial to educating our associate base. This roots them in our company culture even more and helps reiterate that we’re all on the same team.
The work we do at Cerner every day has the power to change the delivery of health and care throughout the world. By connecting our associate base to our mission, we build their enthusiasm for contributing to “the systemic improvement of health care delivery and the health of communities.” As we grow in size and employ associates with an increasing degree of specialization, it becomes even more important that our associates understand their contributions to our larger scale mission, and how they are transforming health care on a global scale.
Cerner’s rapid growth means we have quickly gone from a company where associates knew senior executives on a personal level to a size where associates may be located in a different country from his or her direct manager (let alone senior executives). Our size has created a need for content that allows our associates to learn from the thought leaders in our company. This knowledge sharing fosters a more personal connection between our associates and our senior leadership, even if they never have the opportunity to meet in person.
Content that serves these four goals is shared through several key channels, including our corporate intranet, signage, social business collaboration applications (what we call uCern), events, and more. Our teams are dedicated to creating content that falls under the buckets outlined above, but as our business grows in size, complexity and offerings, we can’t feed the content machine within our small content teams alone.
To help feed the content beast, we also encourage our associates to become content creators, too. This ask is true to our culture of empowerment and our roots as an entrepreneurial company, since our associates have always played a key role in sharing ideas and content across our company. Their involvement not only improves our internal communication, but our external brand perception as well. Studies show that content shared by associates receives eight times the engagement of content shared by brand channels, and that the credibility of “regular employees” has increased dramatically, even ahead of the CEO. With data this powerful, empowering our associates is crucial to the overall health of our company.
Come back next week when we share Part II of Cerner’s brand advocates strategy.
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