Last week, I was the lucky guy who got to spend the afternoon attending the BlogWell Conference at Newell Rubbermaid’s headquarters in Atlanta. GasPedal and Newell Rubbermaid did a great job of putting together an educational seminar with excellent topics and very little remedial content.
“How Big Brands Use Social Media” was the topic of the conference. It wasn’t possible to attend every presentation, so I selected Coke, Orange Business Services, UPS, and SunGard. I chose these sessions because I’d already seen Bert DuMars from Newell Rubbermaid and Seth Miller from Turner Broadcasting System present at New Media Atlanta.
Andy Sernovitz gave a short talk on social media ethics and the new FTC standards, and he provided an overview of the Social Media Business Council’s ethics toolkit. At the least, everyone should give the ethics toolkit a read. In Andy’s opinion, the new FTC standards are a good thing because they will stop social media from becoming what e-mail has become – a mistrusted wasteland of spam.
Adam Brown, director of interactive communications and social media at Coca-Cola, spoke about Expedition 206. This global social media initiative features a team of young people, called Coca-Cola ambassadors, traveling the globe to all 206 countries in a single year, breaking the world record for most countries visited in a year. While this sounds expensive, in the context of a global marketing campaign he claims it is very cost effective.
Debbie Curtis-Magley from UPS discussed social media crisis management — specifically FedEx’s attack with the Brown Bailout campaign. She emphasized the importance of consistently monitoring social media and understanding the extent of the problem before reacting. She also pointed out that it’s a very good idea to discuss what employees should do or not do, since most of them interact online as both employees of the company and private citizens, and in UPS’s case, also as union members.
Valeria Maltoni of SunGard discussed a social media strategy for B2B companies — how being helpful and providing the community value will drive engagement. She also discussed the internal use of Yelp by SunGard employees.
Yann Gourvennec of Orange Business Services talked about the company’s http://www.Orange-Business.tv project and the success it’s had using the principles of solution selling. By offering customers solutions to common problems, Orange is able to position itself as a thought leader. This effort has generated a great deal of engagement for them.
The big takeaway from the event for me was the lack of discussion about what social media is or whether it is important to these top companies. These are people representing big brands who are way past a discussion of “Is this worth my time?” and “Are ready to make the most of it?”
What about you? Is your brand ready to make the most of the opportunities in social media?