How do brands use social media?
It is clear that marketing agencies love social media, but how are clients using it to engage with consumers? The Drum caught up with some of them recently at the Marketing Forum, on board The Aurora, to find out how their organisations are using social media.CHARITYIan MacArthur, chief marketing officer, NSPCC & ChildlineAt the NSPCC we primarily use social media to engage with our communities of active supporters. Currently it’s a mix of activity across different platforms. On Facebook this ranges from sharing content and seeking opinion to activating campaigners and recruiting targeted focus groups. On Twitter it’s currently more supplementary and conversational, allowing us to connect with others around an issue or simply showing support for those who are telling their social circle about sponsored activity or an event. For ChildLine we have really pushed social to the limits by reaching communities via the less wellknown networks and platforms that they use most. In that space we have handed the brand over to the children and young people and let them generate and distribute assets on a massive scale in direct replacement of traditional marketing. In the future we will broaden our approach to social so that other areas of our business like customer service and recruitment can harness it to meet their own objectives as part of a total strategy. The biggest opportunity in social is listening - listening to gain insight. What you hear should inspire you to evolve your approach, services, production and design techniques and even brand position. Any organisation that can do this is ‘social media’ aware and then the second step is to decide where it’s beneficial and appropriate to engage and join the conversation.SPORTDave Lowe, marketing manager, St Helens Rugby League Football ClubAlthough the club has been active for some time in building a community through social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter it is still relatively early days for us. At present, we are using these platforms primarily to share news and opinion, listen to our ever growing fanbase, provide real time match commentary, and as supporting tools for marketing communications and special offers. However, we have exciting plans to further develop our activity across these and other digital channels going into 2012 and beyond, in particular with video, exclusive content and greater participation with our fans.I think the biggest opportunity that social media offers professional marketers today is to build closer, long lasting relationships with all of their customers on a one to one basis by having a twoway conversation with them. Innovations such as the websites, CRM, and email marketing have allowed us to tailor messages based on individual behaviour but social media allows us to listen to customers in real time. Put simply, this means we can engage with people on a daily basis rather than wait for the next website visit, purchase or email campaign – that is pure gold. MEDIATom Glover, deputy director of communications & head of digital communications, Financial TimesAt the FT, we know that social media networks are our best performing source of registered users on FT.com so we look to manage and build our communities on these networks by ensuring that our news content is easy to find, share and discuss. We also actively use these channels to attract new paying subscribers. However, we never take our eye off FT.com itself. It’s important that it remains a destination site in its own right, hosting engaged communities and facilitating comments on all of our articles. Social media has had a significant impact on the current and future role of the PR function. We now have a greater opportunity to engage with our readers directly, can promote our products and services to a far greater global audience and are well placed to help manage and engage with communities and online influencers. A real opportunity is the increased collaboration with customer services and what this can do for our organisation’s ability to react quickly to our customers’ needs. The two departments have been drawn together as the lines between the two functions blur in the management of public issues through social media. RETAILPeter Wilton, head of brand and marketing communications, Lloyds PharmacyOften brands appear to be cautious and wary of social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter, but in my experience we need to embrace them. The beauty of social media is that it offers the opportunity for direct dialogue with consumers and potential consumers, with feedback in realtime. This give brands the opportunity to hear what their customers and potential customers actually think of them.It’s a marketer’s dream to find out what people think of their products and/or services, and use this information to build the brand. The feedback we have from consumers through these channels were the private conversations taking place between friends ten years ago, but now we have the opportunity to sit in on these conversations and learn from them. We want our customers to pass on positive feedback to their friends. If you look at PR, for example, where customers would traditionally look to journalists for recommendations, today they are turning to their social media networks for advice. The Holy Grail is to be recommended to a customer’s network, by the customer – to turn customers in to advocates or ambassadors. However, in the same way customers can recommend to their networks, they can also warn against. It would be naïve of any of us not to take this powerful, real-time dialogue seriously, and intervene positively where we can. Lloydspharmacy is using Facebook and Twitter to talk to communities, to gather feedback on products and services, whilst also providing useful advice and content to customers. What you’re saying to your community has to be of value, as with any external communication, and we are looking to implement a strategy which is aligned with our overall marketing plans, as we would any other traditional strand of marketing. I can’t imagine social media replacing established marketing tools but it can add to the overall experience for the customer whilst providing us with an immediate and actionable feedback loop. LEISUREPaul Bondsfield, head of marketing – Adventure & Independent Travel, Flight Centre LtdThe adventure brands within the Flight Centre group are probably ideal to take advantage of social media as this sort of travel is by its nature, engaging and worthy of discussion with your peers. (roundtheworldexperts.co.uk and myadventurestore. co.uk) We’ve entered the social media scene with this in mind, but in truth have yet to realise (or measure?) any great returns. We’re running a Facebook page and communicating through Twitter, but have yet to see any great engagement from our fans/likes – something we’re keen to change, although to what end, we’re as yet unsure. Last year we bought a social media site, gapyear.com, a strategic move to create a prime position in the extended travel space and to build a brand neutral platform on which to feature our products and services. This too has yet to yield results, although the aim is to provide both a source of content as well as a pipeline to our brands. Plans include a YouTube, Flickr and blog presence, but I think the biggest opportunities lie in the whole rather than any individual channel. To be able to engage your audience on multiple platforms and channels, depending on their preferences has to be a positive move. The big questions we’re asking, though, revolve around how to measure this engagement, how to manage the whole process and where the required resource/budget comes to do this openly, correctly and consistently over time. CONSTRUCTIONHelen Seed, marketing manager, Miller HomesMiller Homes made our first move into the Social Media arena in 2009 when we posted our first tweet. Since then we have become the most prolific user within our industry. We have always had a sound commercial objective behind our activity and used it to gain as much data and feedback as possible.Over the past 12 months we have been working hard to develop things even further, creating our own personality, tone of voice and content, relevant to the user audience.We use Twitter as a voice of expertise and reason within the industry offering intelligent property banter and analysis to consumers but also to fellow industry tweeps and journalists.Facebook is our B2C tool where we interact with people who are passionate about all things home. Our popular blog offers a wealth of knowledge on all things property and balanced views in a pessimistic world. We launched an online TV channel this year – www. millerhomes.tv – which we use to bring our brand to life. Our knowledge and thirst for social media is growing and it will continue to be an integral part of our marketing focus at Miller Homes in 2012.