Social Media Lessons from Chicago’s Top 10 Social Corporations

In the spirit of our new blog feature, the SMB/B2B Social Spotlight, we decided to share some important takeaways from the 10 Chicago-area companies said to be doing the best job of leveraging social media. The companies’ programs were detailed in Crain’s Chicago Business earlier this year. 

I found the comments in bold instructive. We focus on B2B, but these tips from several consumer companies may inspire something new for your own social media programs.

1. Kraft Foods Inc.

“When they want recipes, they go to the website.  When they want to share their passion, they go to Facebook,” says the senior director of consumer relationship marketing at Kraft.

Takeaway: Companies often struggle when it comes to posting to their Facebook pages.  Encouraging and/or finding new ways to help your customers share their passion is useful. For example, Kraft launched a “Share Your Latin Flavor” campaign featuring a celebrity chef’s recipes to get customers involved in the conversation – and increased traffic in the process.

2. McDonald’s Corp.

Our Facebook fans want entertainment.  They want information, but they want to see interesting videos, play games and participate in polls,” says the company’s director of social media.

Takeaway: How can you inject fun or entertainment into your Facebook pages?  Your posts can go beyond just talking about topics directly related to the company.  Find and post interesting or fun articles related to your industry (these are easy to find by just running a Google alert or setting up a listening dashboard on Google Reader on your product or service. You’re bound to find something of the right flavor there.).  Think about customers as people – what might they be interested in?

3. Sears Holding Corp.

“We want to stop problems quickly and act on customer feedback,” says Sears’ president of online marketing and financial services.  The company is using social media – Facebook and Twitter – as well as a customer review site called MySears.com.

Takeaway: Creation of a customer comment website shows the power of sites like Yelp.com that allow people to talk about their experience with a product or service.  (Why have customers broadcast their comments only on external sites, when you’re the best resource to respond to them?)  Sears also lets customers vote for which products they want to see discounted, and then runs the sale shortly thereafter — a nice way of generating interaction with customers.

4. Motorola Mobility Holdings

Succeeding at building awareness and sales, Motorola promoted its new photon 4G phone with a contest using promotional videos on Facebook, running them during random times every day. Customers who watched all the videos had a chance to win a new phone.

Takeaway: Giveaways, contests, polls all are great vehicles to use whenever you want to spice things up.  As always, giving people a good reason to get involved and respond increases interest.

5. Walgreen Company

“Two social networks are better than one,” says Walgreen’s director of social media.  The company used Foursquare and Facebook Places in a “Check-In’s that Make a Difference” campaign to distribute $6 million in flu shot vouchers to selected charities.  Whenever someone ‘checked in’ at a store, Walgreens donated a voucher.  Those who participated then took a Facebook vote on how to distribute the vouchers to the charities.

Takeaway: Good example of using the social toolkit in a creative and socially responsible way.  There are so many ways to connect to a customer on social media.  You just need to give it a little thought.  Start by understanding how they’re using social media – check-in’s being one way.

6. Deere and Company

An unlikely social media player, the farm equipment manufacturer has a large following after just one year of using social tools. “People want to touch the brand in social media,” says Deere’s manager of Internet research and information services.  They’ve succeeded by getting involved in industries in which Deere has an authoritative voice.

Takeaway: Yes, people WANT to touch your brand. To generate content for social platforms, your company can capitalize on this pointer:  In what areas, industries or perspectives does your company have an authoritative voice?  This one should be easy, because most companies consider themselves leaders.  Act like one with your social media content.

7.  Boeing Company

“It doesn’t benefit us to be jumping around to every tool or possibility that’s out there,” says the communication director.  “We want to make sure that the tools were using are the ones we can use effectively to serve our communications purposes.”

Takeaway: Sage words from Boeing. Social media is a tool, and while hip and still new to some companies, it’s not the only right answer to reach your audience, or your objectives.

8.  Allstate Corp.

Describing its “Mayhem” advertising character that personifies what can go wrong behind the wheel, director of consumer engagement says, “In social media, you want to be as relevant as you can to the audience.  The videos have really resonated with consumers.”  The campaign has gone viral with millions of hits on social platforms.

Takeaway: How can you increase your company’s relevance through social media?  Know thy customer!  Think creatively about how you can present your wisdom.  Involve staff outside of marketing.  Get help from professionals that know how to craft a compelling story.

9.  Abbott Labs

Individual products can be more popular on social platforms than the companies themselves. Abbott’s EAS Sports Nutrition line is marketed to fitness buffs, reaching many thousands of followers on Twitter and Facebook, far fewer than its corporate pages.

Takeaway:  This advice probably rings true for many types of companies that offer a flagship product or service.  While promoting an entire company can seem a daunting task, you can really hone in with your content (and concentrate your time) around a single product/service or product line. 

10.  Discover Financial Services

Discover’s goal is immediate response time, measured in seconds, not hours or days, says the company’s vice president of e-business.  “The medium makes it possible for customers to comment, so you better have your best game on.”

Takeaway: As you already know: you must be ready and willing to respond quickly.  This is the age of real-time marketing and pr. Remember that every comment is a potential conversation between you and your valued customers, visitors or readers.  You never know what kind of great ideas might come out of the conversation, negative or positive. Expect to be changed!

 

 

Unlikely Inspiration: Hyundai Reinvents Its Products, Marketing (With Great Success)

The Genesis, 2009 Car of the Year

The Genesis, 2009 Car of the Year

In recent Wall Street Journal reports, things are looking up for one auto company.  But you guessed it: not an American one.

Beating last year’s worldwide decline, Hyundai’s sales rose five percent, and last week, reported that Q3 profits tripled.

What Hyundai is doing right is “a sustained corporate effort at reinvention,” notes columnist Paul Ingrassia.  Among the steps and wins he details:

– New QC initiative

– 10 year, 10,000 mile warranty to allay quality concerns

– Second-place tie with Honda in 2004 J.D. Powers Initial Quality Survey

– Genesis, its first luxury vehicle, voted 2009 Car of the Year, Detroit Auto Show

– Marketing Assurance Program allowing buyers to return their car if they lose their job with a year of purchase.  This initiative, part of its Hyundai Momentum campaign, led to Hyundai Motor America’s VP of Marketing being named Brandweek’s 2009 Grand Marketer of the Year.

Ingrassia points to several lessons for GM and Chrysler, recommending that both “make their marketing more relevant,” given global competition. (GM has recently done so with its 60-day money-back guarantee.)

A second Journal piece, Advertiser Banks on Blank Look, again features Hyundai, this time with a few bold advertising decisions:

– Buying all of the ad space in a newly-built subway station, and at three adjacent to it, plus in most of the trains, near their Seoul headquarters.

– Leaving most of that ad space blank, except for a small service icon and company logo; in other areas, “giant white panels have a pink eraser in the lower right corner and a short explanation: ‘The world is flooded with too many ads … For a short while we wanted to leave it empty for you.’”

The ads are the culmination of a 2004 identity campaign for Hyundai Capital, its consumer loan arm. Started by the company’s then-new CEO in 2003, the identity campaign helped the company re-position and grow its share from two to its current 16 percent.

This success “gave Hyundai the confidence to try its largely-blank ads,” according to Hyundai Capital’s CMO.

Inspirational?  Yes, and proof that a sustained internal effort to “reinvent” itself in response to market perceptions, plus the fortitude to produce thoughtful, relevant and remarkable (read very different) marketing, not only gets noticed, but builds the brand and impacts sales – even in tough times.