A social media panel at a bowling alley? Yes, that’s how I started my Thursday morning this week, thanks to WCCO Radio (Minneapolis/St, Paul) which was host to a panel on Social Media for Business at Pinstripes in Edina.
Esteemed panelists included several familiar faces and brands including MIMA Board members: Brent Shiely (@brentshiely), Technology Director at General Mills; Ryan Arnholt (@arbenangstrom), Director of Interactive Marketing at OptumHealth; Jill Gutterman (@gigutterman), Director of Interactive Marketing at Rasmussen College; Tim Brunelle (@tbrunelle), CEO of Hello Viking. Bryan C. Del Monte of the Del Monte Agency (a sponsor) was also on the panel.
An informal poll of the audience revealed that just about everyone in the audience of 250 or so was on Facebook and LinkedIn had even better participation. There were far fewer people on Twitter and only a handful had “checked in” on Foursquare.
Tim Brunelle opened things up saying MIMA got tired of programming Social Media in their events 2 years ago (ouch to the audience Tim!) as a measure of how long it can take for new trends to emerge within the general population. The MIMA Summit is coming up soon and Tim highlighted two impressive keynote speakers, Avinash Kaushik of Google and Chris Anderson of Wired. Those are indeed, two very impressive speakers right here in our back yard.
What’s a good definition of social media?
Tim: On the MIMA.org site, the jobs page is the most popular area of the site. “Social Media” has begun to appear frequently in many job titles for Fortune 500 companies. That’s a reflection of companies viewing social media more seriously.
Why should I care about social media?
Jill: Social media is everywhere, prevalent in our user groups. You think a welder can’t do it? Welders are on Facebook. It’s about engagement and conversations and that’s what social media is about.
Bryan: Why do you do any kind of marketing? Much of the technology called social media helps lower costs of doing things you’re already doing. Why wouldn’t you do it?
How does a large company justify expenditures in social media?
Brent: Here’s how General Mills has brought value through social. Salesfoce.com bought Radian 6. Radian 6 measures sentiment. Radian 6 measures Tweets and comments. BTW a free tool is socialmention.com We’re in the food business. Sometimes there are events outside of our control. Example: Food borne illness. A situation might be confined to a competitor or extended to an entire category. While some of the food borne illnesses are confined to a competitor, social media helps General Mills understand whether the marketplace sees it that way or not.
Ryan: Within a large organization you can see in marketing and research that it’s a fantastic opportunity. On the listening side it gives companies an opportunity to understand what a market place is talking about. On the engagement side, it provides opportunities to directly connect with customers on their terms.
In the last 5 years it’s gone from a way for people to share to a way for an entire company to share.
When a client comes to you with interns running a Facebook Page and Twitter, where do you start? What are the building blocks?
Bryan: I ask about previous successes. What is their affinity for communications and customers. Companies are usually not interested in change. I look for ways to associate what a company is already doing with social media opportunities. Social media is not broadcast. Look at Starbucks. They make one or two posts a day and get thousands of comments from fans talking to the brand. Another example: Carnival Cruises, the “fun cruise”. Their content is about “fun”. Carnival has polled their Facebook fans and acted by changing what they offer as a result. Social media building blocks: great content, engage and action based on customers feedback.
What are the building blocks of listening for social media?
Jill: For monitoring, what are you going to monitor? Our focus is on standard operation procedures for monitoring. We deal with students and we have a process for dispositioning how to engage what we find when monitoring. It’s important to establish guidelines and a strategy. How are you going to monitor and what are you going to do about what you find? Pay attention to the experience that you’re after when your brand engages with customers and prospects. Define a process and your approach and then identify the technology.
How would you define the basics of the telling side vs. the listening side?
Ryan: There are different ways to respond according to a situation. Some things like what consultants and analysts say might be logged as insight. What your audience is looking for is another situation.
What are the core technology tools for social media?
Brent: Keep it simple. If you don’t have a website, use Google to find low cost templates. If you do have a website add Google Analytics. To find keywords, use Google Analytics. Twitter is free. Take those keywords from Google Analytics and leverage that for Twitter content. Facebook is the same story – although Facebook is more about friends. Use Google Analytics information to inform editorial on Facebook as well. When you put up a website, Google may or may not find it. Use Google Webmaster tools to help make that happen.
(Note to readers: To find new keywords people are actually searching for on Google that are relevant to your website, use the free Google AdWords Keyword Suggestion tool.)
Aside from actions and policies, how should businesses address human resources for social media?
Jill: I’m lucky because my VP and Chairman “get” social media. We have a dedicated Social Media Manager, but with 22 campuses, we’re all partially involved with social. I also have a full time blogger and a SEO Specialist. That team is the hub of a hub and spoke model that functions as a center of expertise and excellence for the organization and our community.
How do you coach and advise the balance of an organization on social media as a vendor?
Bryan: I believe that everyone needs to live the brand. You might have a social media department and an agency, but you should also be living your brand. As a vendor, I can “help you”, I can’t “be you”. There are ways to make the process more efficient. There should be controls in place but the brand needs to be engaged.
How does General Mills think about staffing? There are so many communities and how do you staff?
Brent: Every brand is it’s own business. Every brand manager has the autonomy to grow their brand as they see fit. Brand Managers work with their agencies and there’s also internal social media expertise.
How do you establish success metrics, budgets and success metrics for social media versus other forms of marketing?
Ryan: You can’t always tie social activity to increased revenue, but you can associate it with increased productivity, increased performance and also lower costs. Social media can affect brand opportunities that can lead to revenue opportunities.
Jill: Activity and results. We stated 2 years ago and started measuring. Establish benchmarks, then look at that data to see what’s interesting. Don’t try to measure everything, but focus on activity and results. Spends some time understanding what you’re going to do with that data and focus on what’s happening and outcomes.
Social operates 24/7, should businesses staff accordingly?
Ryan: No. Whatever happens overnight we can deal with in the morning. There are situations that call for off hours engagement, just don’t set that expectation.
Jill: It depends on your business. If you run a global organization, you need to staff accordingly.
Bryan: It depends. If you’re regional, probably no. If you’re a global brand yes.
Brent: Our business is global and there’s someone on our staff on 24/7.
Should every firm articulate a social media policy outside work?
Brent: It’s part of the on boarding process, one of the documents reviewed with new employees. Let employees know that if they have a bad day, tell their supervisor. Help them understand that posting publicly can have an impact on the brand.
Jill: Rasmussen has a code of conduct for employees and students. Imagine what your posting is being said on national TV.
Ryan: Social media policy is covered in our employee guidelines. We’re looking at policies that will help us provide employees with guidelines on how they can be proactive socially.
Is the future of marketing actually customer service through social media?
Bryan: Who has heard of Twelpforce? (few audience members raise their hands) There was a thing called Twelpforce from Best Buy and it didn’t work out so well.
(Twelpforce not successful? Not sure about that. Check out Fast Company’s coverage of Twelpforce: Marketing that Isn’t Marketing: “Twelpforce has responded to near 28,000 customer inquiries via Twitter, enlisted 2600 employees to share their knowledge, and paid for itself many times over via extensive PR coverage, enhanced brand perceptions, and potential savings to the call center.”)
My question for the panel:
Where are you getting the rationale and budget for dedicated social media resources?
Ryan: From an interest in better engaging with customers, listening to our market and for marketing. We’re also looking at how social helps our SEO and search visibility as a reason to further invest in social media resources.
Jill: Our competition has made mistakes, led leadership to support the argument to apply resources to not make those mistakes. Also the drive to scale, SEO impact and culture of the organization.
A comment from the audience pretty much sums up Google Plus for people outside of the early adopters:
“I keep getting invites from this new Google thing and I don’t have time to figure it out.”
The Q&A was pretty good covering everything from mobile to blogging. Overall I thought this was an excellent way for people to get insights into a broad range of topics about social media from practitioners and agencies. Tim Brunelle did a great job of keeping things moving and relevant and the speakers were pretty good about giving practical advice without pontificating.
The entire session was recorded and will be available soon at: http://www.wcco.com/breakfast