BlogWell Chicago Recap: Big brands share their social media successes
Published on August 16th, 2010 by Lisa Davis
Social media is alive and thriving at some of the world’s biggest companies. Corporate communicators representing Chevron, Kraft Foods, Verizon and other global brands gathered last week for BlogWell Chicago to present best practices and share case studies on how they are leveraging social media to inspire employees, build awareness and create better customer engagement.
A recurring theme throughout the afternoon’s agenda was the tendency for communicators to be somewhat haphazard and overly casual with their marketing and brand communications because of the immediacy, informal style and ubiquity of social media . It’s crucial, however, for organizations that use social media as part of their overall communications strategy to remember how important it is to use the channels, networks and conversations to tell great stories about their company and brand. By definition, social media encourages communication through information- and opinion-sharing. So, from something as simple as establishing a Twitter channel to more complex forms of engagement, like an integrated, cross-functional promotional program, you need to tell a great story to your listeners.
Two terrific presentations, on behalf of McDonald’s and Whirlpool, provided insight into the importance of social media storytelling, albeit via two very different case studies.
McDonald’s Manager, Global Web Communications Joe Curry, shared how his company uses social media to inspire employees, and the public, about their commitment to celebrate McDonald’s staff members throughout the world. Their Voice of McDonald’s campaign is a worldwide contest to discover, recognize and reward the most talented singers among McDonald’s 1.6 million restaurant employees, which is an enviable example of employee empowerment. Making the most of social media to connect contestants, voters and employees, the contest takes place across YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc. and tells the story of the incredible talent within their “McFamily.” Curry noted two critical factors in social media storytelling:
- Think of a social media campaign as a story with a beginning, middle and end. The complete picture needs to make sense and have a resolution or conclusion. You can absolutely have fun with the narrative, but without a “sense of story,” your messages may be lost and your impact may be weakened.
- Different corporate teams (marketing, legal, internal communications, etc.) can be responsible for a “chapter,” or work as co-authors, but in the end, those voices must come together and tell a complete story.
Whirlpool’s Senior Manager, Interactive Communications Brian Snyder and Senior Manager, Consumer Care Scott Spiegel also spoke to the power of storytelling via social media, and how their company collaborates across departments and functions to provide consistent brand experience — even in the face of a nationwide dishwasher recall.
Many PR and marketing folks still see social media as a testing ground and more experimental and informal than traditional media channels. But Whirlpool’s example of successful crisis communications and damage control via an integrated strategy of online and offline efforts proved that social media is an integral part of customer relations and brand management.
While the tone and function of the social media communications effort from Whirlpool in support of the recall was much more formal than the Voice of McDonald’s initiative, Snyder and Spiegel were quick to point out the importance of storytelling to the media, customers and potential customers of Whirlpool products — their key stakeholders. To Whirlpool, storytelling has become an integrated effort and alignment of the company’s online and offline efforts, whereby press releases and media advisories are paired with a recall-specific presence on Facebook and Twitter. Whirlpool went so far as to incorporate a YouTube video on how to find a dishwasher serial number in their crisis communications plan.
Amid a sea of bloggers, community managers and Twitter evangelists, what was abundantly clear was that despite the medium, the message is what is important. Regardless of the vehicle companies use to convey their messages and connect with customers, the importance of storytelling cannot be overlooked.
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