Lee Odden

Social Media Marketing Best Practices from Best Buy

Lee Odden     Online Marketing, Social Media
Brad Smith

Brad Smith Best Buy

Social Media  advice is cheap and for the most part, you get what you pay for.  Best practices social media marketing based on experience, well, that’s another thing entirely.

The Social Media Best Practices session at IMS Minneapolis earlier this week gave attendees access to first hand insights from the likes of: Brad Smith from Best Buy, Adam Singer from TopRank Online Marketing, Paul Isakson from Thinkers & Makers (formerly of Space150) and Bryan Person, founder of Social Media Breakfast.

Brad Smith, Director, Interactive Marketing & Emerging Media from Best Buy opened things up talking about a “new marketing reality”. Customers are out there, but they’re bombarded with messages. Customers are not listening to us (marketers & advertisers) anymore. Social media is all about communicating.  Customers are listening to each other instead and tuning out marketing messages.

Each company’s journey in social media is different. If your social media consultant starts the meeting with suggestions about starting a Twitter account, leave the room. Treat social media like any other major undertaking with planning, understanding the marketplace, goals and objectives.

Tenents that support Best Buy Social Media Marketing:

  • Deliver
  • Blow you away
  • Never leave you hanging
  • Make a difference
  • Make sure you know all we know

Brad makes the distinction of social media tools and the behaviors we seek to engage and influence. “I don’t use facebook, I participate. It’s a two way thing.  You’re not half way into social media. When you’re in you’re in.”

Best Buy’s Social Media Marketing Mission:

To connect customers and employees with the Best Buy brand and each other through the right tools platforms and collaboration delivered when, where and how they want.

The focus is on the customer, not the company. “It’s not about what Best Buy wants customers to do, it’s about giving people the tools to connect with each other and employees whenever and however they want.”

Best Buy Social Media Guidelines:

  • (Essentially don’t be stupid)
  • Listen
  • Be findable, think distributed
  • It’s about people
  • Enable creation
  • Make it social
  • Listen some more
  • Be authentic
  • Be transparent
  • Keep it simple
  • Make a commitment

Best Buy and Twitter – @Twelpforce
The thing that makes it work is that they didn’t start with a “Twitter strategy”. It was born of a customer need. Best Buy simply leveraged an asset they knew they had with a customer need. Customers needed advice and there are 150,000 Best Buy employees world wide that are already being helpful. Twitter proved to be an effective platform for that. 2,500 employees are signed up to work as part of @Twelpforce.

Best Buy is also active with Community ForumBest Buy IdeaX, a Facebook Fan page and other channels.

When Best Buy started their social journey with Facebook, Brad says they were overzealous and promoted commercial messages to the community. The community responded, “not to do that”. Customers want access to the brand, advice, tips exclusive access that others don’t get.

Best Buy Learnings From Their Social Media Experience:

  • Listen first, talk second
  • Its OK to fail
  • The same social mores apply online as offline
  • Customers don’t care about channels
  • We have to be ready ro respond
  • Customers will tell us and everyone else where our organization is broken. And expect a fix
  • People are forgiving

Overall Best Buy is treating their social media experience as a journey and have learned the importance of listening instead of pushing.  It’s an impressive example, not only of a very large brand finding value in a humble and transparent, customer focused social media effort, but one of true Minnesota ingenuity when it comes to new technology and marketplace innovation.

I did miss some of the bulleted items above because the presentation went by very quickly. If access to the PowerPoint presentations is made available, I’ll link to it from this post.

Adam Singer, Paul Isakson, Brad Smith @ IMS Minneapolis

PoorSo SoOKGoodAwesome (2 votes, average: 3.00 out of 5)

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 B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Avatar Doug Hay says

    Amazing how long it has taken companies to grasp the basics of social media marketing. But when they get it, they are blown away.

  2. That's strange, I was just at Best Buy earlier today with my wife.

    Anyway, it's awesome how much focus they're putting into their social media efforts, I'm sure it'll definitely pay off since social media is free. I also find it interesting that they went with a twitter handle like Twelpforce… I never would have guessed that represented BestBuy.

  3. Nice post Lee. To me, this is really a recap of good business practices. A customer is half of a business transaction. Without them a company doesn't exist because its not filling a need. So treat customers with respect and honor.

    • Best Buy is a good example of a brand that is figuring out the social web as they go, but keeping their focus on customers as the overall strategy.

  4. Avatar Michael John Dale says

    Small business owners should take advantage to learn from a powerhouse company like Best Buy. Good tips to mark down in your booklet.

    This article was featured in the DAILY TOP 10 ARTICLE BLOG at bizsuccessdigest com

    Great job Lee! We found it to be useful info for the small guy trying to make it in social media.

  5. Avatar Ghoffman says

    I agree it is all about being cusomter centric rather and technology centric. There are a lot of companies out there taking mobile technology and trying to find an application rather than listening to the cusomter first and then figuring out how best to meet their needs.

    • You describe the paradigm shift very well: pushing products/services in search of buyers vs listening to what customers want and creating solutions. Some companies take it a step further and involve their customers in the product/service ideation and development, promotion and refinement.

  6. Social media and marketing certainly has its well deserved place for any type of business. Used correctly this type of medium can be a wonderful tool to increase sales.

  7. i think you are very right. the thing is as social media marketing person, you should be able to understand the need of client and what his business demands, only then you will be able to target the right market or spread out a word about them!! its all about selling their product the best and most effective way!!

  8. It’s very true, social media can help you get an extra boost in satisfying a customer’s needs. Where I work, we use social media to connect with coworkers across the country. That’s the great thing about social media: you can make it whatever you want it to be.

    J&L Marketing, Inc.

  9. Avatar Brittney Breakey says

    Awesome post!

  10. I think that this is very true! Not every customer has the same needs and wants, by using social media you are able to give customers 1 other option to connect to a business which shows that you really are there for there best interest.By finding out what the consumer wants you are just building your own business because it shows you are listening to what they want.