This post about has been stuck in my drafts for ages, but with the benefit of hindsight, I've edited it down to only the parts that are still relevant. I did tweet live at the event, so follow me on Twitter (@ddudgeon) if you're into that sort of thing.
BusinessWire hosted a panel event on PR-driven social media, with panelists from Think Communications, AMD, MH Group, SEGA and Ogilvy 360. Here are some highlights.
Why should brands use social media?
- "Social media helps humanize the brand...Social media gives SEGA a more human face. We're not constantly pushing products at you." - Kellie Parker, SEGA
- "Social media can’t live in a vacuum. It needs to be integrated into the rest of your advertising and messaging. Every component should be tied in to the same ROI and strategy to be effective. You can’t just sprinkle it in." - Rachel Polish, Ogilvy 360
- Clients may show resistance to adopting social media. No surprise there, but I was surprised to hear Courtney Barnes, VP at MH Group, dishing on her client United Airlines.* She talked about United's social media steering committee which includes reps from sales, customer support and marketing and complained about needing "17 signoffs". She also mentioned the infamous "United Breaks Guitars" videos and said "Usually it takes a crisis to get big companies to engage".
How do brands manage social media internally?
- SEGA has a “community team”. - Parker
- "People can be trained in advance and still communicate in a way that can be engaging. The richest social media programs have different people/perspectives telling their story." - Polish
- "Empower people with tools – carefully and in context of their brand and corporate culture." - Barnes
- AMD gives out a social media “license” to employees so they know who can blog about what.They incorporate a traffic light system on blog topics. Red topics = don’t blog, amber = check with social media council, investor relations or legal. The license system made people feel more responsible and employees get a bit of training. - Ruth Cotter, AMD
- "The policy should be mapped towards the corporate culture." - Barnes
- Social media guidelines are publicly available from: IBM, Coast Guard, Intel, Cisco. - Polish
- "SEGA doesn't have a social media policy. Our policy is 'don't do it'. Only the social media team should be using social channels." - Parker
- Plan for the worst in advance.Go through scenarios.Plan for recalls. - Polish
- On secrecy: Think before you post, think again, and then go ask someone. - Parker
- On damage control: Maximum exposure, minimum delay to move the conversation along. - Polish
- On using Twitter for customer service: Customer service complaints go top of Twitter search results. Take conversations offline. - Barnes
Parker also shared SEGA's success story on Twitter. Every Friday, they have a giveaway on Twitter which started "just to get rid of old swag." Now the giveaway is part of their plan; they award six prizes per week. As a result, they get more followers on Fridays than any other day of the week - about 1,000 new followers every Friday.
*Full disclosure: United is a former client.