Cybersecurity company Forcepoint used a social media wall to boost engagement at an internal event. As a nice side-effect, it gave their event an external awareness boost. Forcepoint was also one of our first customers to use our Direct Posts feature when it was new, and employees really took to it.
I had a chat with Lionel Menchaca, Forcepoint’s Sr. Digital Comms and Content Manager, to learn more about how Forcepoint collected employee-generated content during the annual Sales Kick-Off event.
Sr. Digital Communications and Content Manager, Forcepoint
What does Forcepoint do? And what is the Sales Kick-Off event?
Forcepoint is a cybersecurity software provider. We serve both commercial enterprises, regular business customers, and governments around the world. Our Sales Kick-Off is an annual meeting where hundreds of our sales reps come together in one location. It’s an opportunity for our executives to speak to the sales reps about what to expect in the upcoming year.
Before the Sales Kick-Off, we had just launched our new platform, Forcepoint ONE. We’ve had various separate tools before, but Forcepoint ONE is a software solution that unifies the three core components we sell. A lot of the Sales Kick-Off was geared toward what’s coming and what sales reps could look forward to in terms of selling to their customers.
Did the Sales Kick-Off take place in person?
We had an in-person one in 2020, which I didn’t attend because I had literally just started at Forcepoint that same week. And, of course, in 2021, we did a virtual version. And then this one in 2022 was our first one back in person. We still had a lot of COVID restrictions, so only a small fraction of our Salesforce in Asia was able to attend in person. And some people from Europe weren’t able to make it either. But overall, we had about 600 people in person at the event.
Did you offer some sort of virtual way to take part for those who couldn’t come in person?
Yeah, we actually had a live-stream. This event was very much a typical event customary for big companies: we had a big stage and our senior executives were presenting on stage. So we had a whole crew working on the live-stream, almost like we do for virtual events, such as webinars for customers, etc.
We shared the agenda with all sales reps worldwide, and people could log in — we use a platform called ON24 — if they wanted to, for example, see our CEO or Chief Product Officer or another executive. They could tune in for certain parts or tune in for several hours a day.
The primary goal was to get people to be more active on social media. It was kind of a pilot for us because we had never promoted this event before. We thought, “it’s an internal-only event, so let’s keep it internal.” So, we had maybe one or two posts on Twitter and one on LinkedIn in previous years. But this year, as we were talking about it, our leadership said, “yes, it’s an internal event, but there’s a lot of cool stuff happening. It shows our culture, so let’s find a way to encourage people to be active participants.”
Collect authentic content on a social wall!
You also had the wall on a big screen, right?
It was a big wall, probably 12 feet tall. I should have had somebody stand next to it for the photo! And it was pretty cool. We set it up right by the registration area. We also had a booth there where participants could redeem the tickets they received for participating in sessions and exchange them for t-shirts, coffee mugs, etc. So it was a place where we got lots of traffic, and people would walk by and see the wall. And then, of course, that would encourage them to post more pictures.
Having the physical wall in a high-traffic area where attendees could see it influenced the nature of what they posted. They could easily see what kind of posts other people were sharing, and once they had an idea of it, that helped them get started too.
The other thing I was surprised by was that many people used the option to post directly to the wall. I expected just a handful of posts, but in the end, I think most of the posts on the wall came through Direct Posts. So it worked out a lot better than I thought it would.
I think it’s because we’re a security company. A lot of our folks are not on Instagram. Most of them are on LinkedIn, but hardly any are on Twitter. Some of the younger people are on Instagram, but a lot of our employees aren’t all over social, just by the nature of what they do.
So yeah, that’s definitely a feature we would use next time and would do more to promote as well. But still, even with hardly any promotion, it worked out really, really well.
Start collecting authentic employee-generated content on a social wall!
Displaying the wall in such a prominent location definitely helped, but we also actively promoted the wall through a photo contest. Our theme for SKO was “Road Trip,” so we called the photo contest “Road Trip Bingo,” which involved taking photos at five predefined places in the hotel. We printed out a two-page PDF explaining the contest rules and folded it in with people’s badges so they knew they had to use the hashtag #ForcepointSKO to participate.
One of the stations was a VW bus that was set up as a photo booth inside, with props and everything. So you could do that kind of goofy stuff and have fun, but then it was also a cool-looking bus, and people would stand outside the bus and take pictures there as well.
The winners of each photo category got an Oculus Quest 2 headset, which was very popular. When they saw that we were giving those away, everybody was excited. Free stuff works!
As part of the contest, we also told people to document and take pictures of themselves traveling to the event in Austin, and we had a couple of our executives do just that. One took pictures coming from Australia, another one from somewhere in Europe. And so, people started seeing those on the social wall, even before it all officially started. I think getting the wall populated early on was something that helped people want to post as well.
The other thing I think people liked was finally meeting each other in person. I’ve been at Forcepoint for two years. I started a month and a half before the pandemic, so there were a lot of coworkers that I’d never met before. At the Sales Kick-Off, I saw a lot of sales reps that have worked together virtually but never met in person. So we would see many people taking selfies with one of their buddies or taking pictures as a group to say, “Hey, this is the first time we’re physically meeting.”
That dynamic of meeting your coworkers for the first time plus the predefined locations for the “Road Trip Bingo” helped loads. Those things, I think, encouraged people to post.
So what is the external effect you’ve had from making an internal event like this visible?
Our VP really liked the outcome. Seeing the wall let us see the energy of the event itself. It’s a mix of focused business stuff, but it’s also about having fun, so the pictures are a good reflection of that. It was primarily a way to encourage people to be excited about ForcePoint as salespeople. But then we realized that if we shared some of this externally, we could give people a glimpse of what Forcepoint culture is like.
Company culture is something that is becoming more and more popular and important, as your potential employees are considering whether they should work for a company. So, that was the key reason why we said, “Hey, what else can we do on social media to turn up the external element of this internal event?”
The other cool thing was that Madame Gandhi was part of the entertainment at the event. She performed a set, but she also had a session. She has a pretty big Instagram following and ended up promoting some of the pictures we had taken of her performing and in her panel discussion. She used our hashtag and promoted our event, which generated some awareness as well.
All in all, we are pleased that with us doing this for the first time and not really having a lot of time to promote it, it all worked so well.
It really wasn’t that hard. We had a couple of executives who were already active on social, for example, one of our leaders in Asia-Pacific. He documented his trip from Australia on social media. And when employees see senior executives posting, it’s a no-brainer for them to consider spending a few minutes figuring out how it all works.
And then, I think, having that extra visual of the wall encouraged even more of our executives to post. Of course, those already active continued to do their thing throughout SKO. But there were other executives who started to post once they saw all the activity.
Did you have to moderate the wall at all?
No, I did not. I fully expected to; that was actually one of my questions when I first started searching for a social wall tool. That’s how I found Walls.io. I looked at a couple of other tools, too. But you make it pretty easy to moderate content. I quickly saw that I could literally go into the dashboard and take any posts down within seconds. I didn’t have to, in the end. Nobody was doing anything inappropriate. But it was good to know that if anything had happened that I needed to pull, I could do it.
We’re considering using a social wall again at the RSA Conference in June, the biggest security conference of the year. It’s kind of like the CES for cybersecurity.
We have the same kind of setup there with a registration desk. And what we would look to do for an event like that is have a big social wall right there, where people are coming to register. And then, we would have instructions telling them to use the hashtag if they want to appear on the wall. The only difference to SKO is that this would be external.
I would probably also write a blog post and embed the wall in the post. The only thing I did externally for SKO was a few posts on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, where I shared the pictures from the Roadtrip Bingo. I didn’t share the wall anywhere this time. But for an external event, we would definitely look for additional ways to showcase the wall, and embedding it in blog posts would be a no-brainer for us.
Forcepoint clearly had great success with the social wall during the SKO event. Displaying the wall in such a prominent location as the check-in area likely helped catch employees’ attention and, subsequently, motivate them to post.
Executives already posting to the social wall in the lead-up to the event was also helpful because it showed everyone how it works and what kind of content they could be posting. Take note of that because if you’re running a social wall for an internal event, it’s going to help so much if you get some “internal influencers” on board early on. So reach out to execs, or even just those natural thought leaders within your community, to get the ball rolling.
Another great way to get people to post is to use incentives. The Road Trip Bingo game and Oculus prizes definitely did the trick. As Lionel said: “Free stuff works.”
Our Forcepoint showcase also demonstrates how a social wall can create external awareness for an internal event. Yeah, most of the time, internal events are mainly going to be interesting to employees. And in that case, our Direct Posts feature is a great way to maintain privacy because people don’t have to post to their personal social media accounts and can just post directly on your wall.
But some internal events are also a chance to grant the outside world a glimpse into your company’s culture. This, in turn, can positively influence attracting the right kind of talent to your hiring pipeline.
And even if your next internal event doesn’t lend itself to external promotion, it’s still a convenient opportunity to set up your first social wall. Our walls are pretty easy to manage, from setup to moderation, but if you want to do a trial run before you implement a social wall at a big customer-facing event, an internal event is a great way to do just that.
Internal or external event — set up your first social wall now!