Lee Odden

Aggregating Social Media: Best Buy Connect

Lee Odden     Online Marketing, Social Media

best buy connect

Whether you think “social media” is an overused term (yes, it is) or it’s a fad, or the evolution and revolution of the web, you don’t have to look far anymore for abundant examples of how companies, organizations and the U.S. Government are going social.

Social media can involve a variety of platforms and media ranging from social networks to blogs to image and video sharing. These forms of social technologies have been in use for years, individually and together in the form of integrated social media marketing campaigns or social media newsrooms.

A few fairly recent examples of companies using several social media types together include:  the Ford Story web site created in conjunction with Ford’s efforts during the auto industry’s bid for financial help from the government, Sony Electronics Social Media site which is a revamped version of the Sony Electronics blog that includes photos, video and networking, and Best Buy Connect, which I’ll describe in more detail below.

The objective of Best Buy Connect is to showcase the people, behavior and unedited perspectives/ideas of those who power Best Buy. It humanizes the brand, increases accessibility and fuels transparency. This can affect current and future customer perceptions as well as future employees.

I talked to Dawn Bryant from Best Buy PR about the Best Buy Connect project in December and she said, “If people outside of this company could really feel the culture and drive that makes this place what it is, we can strengthen our reputation, goodwill, and ultimately grow our talent and grow the company. The beauty of that is that we didn’t need to create anything new, people are doing it and we don’t want to control it, we simply want to make it easier for the rest of the world to find the energy and human-ness”.

best buy connect

The site aggregates employee blogs, Twitter, YouTube and other sources including Tweets and blog posts from Barry Judge, Best Buy’s CMO.  Best Buy employees are already active with the social web, aggregating sources is good for many reasons including creating a central location for employee insights in different media as well as providing additional flavor for the personality of the people that make up the company – at all levels.

A few tips of advice from Best Buy on a social media aggregator:

  • A legal team can help with traditional concerns but it can be tricky since most companies aren’t approaching social media with an aggregator mentality. Many are still focused on controlling the message.
  • Organizations will lose credibility pretty quickly if they persist in trying to control electronic mediums.  “If you don’t like what you see out there as a company, you need to make changes on the inside”. The truth will manifest outside.
  • Don’t mess with the authenticity of the medium (thus, aggregate and don’t try to control)
  • This kind of project brings some risk, so think it through and update your PR crisis plan as necessary
  • Spread the word grassroots style – promotion via social media using traditional PR tactics doesn’t work
  • Revisit with those involved to stay relevant and up to speed with the technology
  • Make guidelines public and easy to find – it’s about transparency

During the current economic situation, this kind of transparency is particularly interesting since most companies are probably tempted to control “the message” more now than ever as they deal with lower sales, staff changes & layoffs and inevitable belt tightening. I think by aggregating multiple sources, Best Buy is giving interested readers multiple stories to consider, which gives a broader picture of the organization.

Best Buy Connect isn’t all there is to Best Buy’s social media efforts. Others include: askablueshirt.comat15.comforums.bestbuy.com,  geeksquad.com/newsiambestbuy.comwolfinspires.com and of course, the famous blueshirtnation.com.

Besides Dawn Bryant, who helped out a great deal with information for this post and is now working on her own PR consultancy, I’ve interviewed Gary Koelling from Best Buy, co-creator of BlueShirtNation and GiftTag with Steve Bendt who I have also talked to and I can say from those interactions and the social participation by corporate and employees, Best Buy really appears to be one of those companies that’s walking the talk both in terms of their public social media projects and the culture of the organization.

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on integrated content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely on a beach somewhere doing absolutely nothing.

Comments

  1. Good post.Big companies have found the benefits of using social media which means that the “little people” will disappear from the sites. Social media is not about advertising.

  2. Social Networking is here. I’m just amazed at the over 35 group. They are not understanding the benefits.

    During my conversations with business owners and salespeople over 35, their typical responses are “I don’t have time for that” or “I’m too old for that”.

    Heck, I’m older and see the benefits.

  3. Nice post and thanks to all who contributed to this. It’s great to see such mainstream companies using social media in innovative ways!

    A note about Best Buy Connect’s SEO:
    They could improve their efforts by applying some very basic SEO principles. Their TITLE tag reads, “Categories | Best Buy Inc.” They didn’t include any other meta information for the search snippets.

    Small details like this, especially the TITLE tag, can stop users from bookmarking this page and checking back later.

  4. When you go to BB connect, the main post is from Dec 1 2008, and the page looks really bad, like an abandoned blog roll… They need to put the content from the worker blogs in the focus. My Advice, go grab one of the many free WP magazine themes, plop it on WPMU, and use that to manage all the blogs.

  5. To be honest, I think BB Connect is pretty terrible.

    It’s an unorganized pile of nothing and a very poor attempt at social media.

    I’ve always thought Best Buy’s problem with social media is that they can’t seem to grab a focus. Their YouTube page is filled with tons of video, all poorly organized and with no real direction for the customer or viewer. What should I be looking at? If I’m a customer or potential employee, what should I look at? It’s basic web design.

    Aggregation is good, but even aggregation needs a focus. I have no intention of checking BB Connect every day to see that their employees talk about random things; my Twitter feed already has plenty of that, thank you.

    I also don’t want to check BB Connect every day to see dozens of videos about Best Buy that are unorganized and that I have no interest in until someone tells me why I should care.

    Sure, I might like to see if Best Buy employees have some recommendations on movies to buy this week or top gadgets of Q1, but I see none of this (yet they said that is what should be there). Some actual CONTENT, and not mindless banter or PR bragging videos, would make this page actually useful. As a customer or a potential employee, you need to do some branding here; focus the content on your specialty (tech) and build alignment and linkage around that.

    Mindless, unorganized, uninteresting and unfocused aggregation is not social media.

    • Ryan, you make some good points on the Connect design as does Dana regarding SEO. Hopefully Best Buy people are watching this post and taking the feedback in. The thing about Best Buy’s efforts is that they’re figuring it out as they go and have the guts to be transparent about that. If you want a better packaging on corp social media, then the Sony Electronics site linked above is a good example. Although, that site will never be accused of being spontaneous.

  6. Lee’s comment about Best Buy is key:
    “…they’re figuring it out as they go and have the guts to be transparent about that.”

    Yes, companies and marketers are just now figuring it out.

    This is a test to see if they are monitoring their reputation and listening, which are key components in social media. We know Top Rank Blog ranks. We’ll see if they respond, get involved in the conversation and incorporate some of the suggested improvements.

  7. An excellent point, Lee. Transparency is indeed key and it’s better that they try things out than not accept that social media is undeniably useful for them.

    We’ll see how they grow from here.

  8. Social media and social marketing are the way to go for B2B alliances.

  9. Did you actually visit Best Buy Connect by any chance? Stale, random blog posts that basically say zero about BB, and even more random tweets. Not trying to be a hater, but it is almost 100% blather and out of context shards that add up to total confusion.

  10. Thanks for the mention, Lee. But be careful. Ford wasn’t in Washington to ask for money. We were there in support of our fellow U.S. automakers. Our statement on that can be found at: http://media.ford.com/article_display.cfm?article_id=29604

    Scott Monty
    Global Digital Communications
    Ford Motor Company

  11. Hi Scott. “be careful”? Be careful or what?

    Media references to the car makers discussions with Government have frequently been characterized as “asking for money”.

    Asking for a line of credit is asking for money, albeit in the future rather than in the short term. No amount of social media PR spin or semantics changes that.

    • We were not asking for money as part of the federal package that the White House put together in December. I know I’m splitting hairs, but it’s a point worth understanding. We were asking for access to a line of credit, should market conditions worsen, or our competitors file for bankruptcy; there was no expectation that we wanted or that they’d grant us that credit as part of the loan program in December.

  12. Critico, the Best Buy Connect site isn’t packaged with marketing in mind and therefore not going to be inherently “entertaining” like a true marketing effort.

    It’s simply a glimpse into the social stream of active Best Buy employees within social media sites.

    I’m sure BB would love to see some suggestions on how they could better structure and design their social media aggregation effort. I for one, agree, it could be a lot better. I also think if this kind of effort is going anywhere, Best Buy will put some resources in to it – monitoring, testing and measurement to refine and make it better.

    Otherwise, it will be a waste of time and go unnoticed.

  13. Stephanie H says:

    Great post and commentary, I think you have all raised some very important points.

    Best Buy’s Connect is definitely an excellent example of transparency. I commend Best Buy for taking the big step and letting go of all that control over their public image.

    However, after visiting BB Connect I think I have to agree with some of the other comments made here. While inviting the public to tap into the lives of Best Buy employees is a good way to “humanize” their brand, it’s pretty much filled with useless tweets and blogs that don’t really shed light on what its like to be apart of the Best Buy corporate culture. For example, one person left the tweet: “lettuce and tomato, get!” Connect is a great internal communications tool, but is it really of interest to anyone else?

    As Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff write in their book Groundswell, companies need to focus on “the relationships, not the technologies.” So my question is: by aggregating a bunch of social media technologies what is the outcome for Best Buy’s relationships with their various audiences? Will potential customers now prefer the Best Buy brand to Future shop because they can read employee tweets? I think not.

  14. In todays world, Big companies have to innovative and to be in touch with thier customers to be in top league. Using this type of new strategies definitely help them as well as customers. The mail advantage of this is I think, companies can be directly in touch with their customers, so that they can easily understand their customers needs, problems and expectations.

  15. Great post and perspective. Just one more reason to like Best Buy (aside from all their cool products!)

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