by CIO Executive Council

Getting New Value Out of Social Media

Mar 28, 20124 mins
IT StrategySocial Networking Apps

How CIOs are using Facebook, Twitter and more to build customer loyalty -- and even revenue

Beachbody CIO Steve Winshel wants more out of his company’s social media offerings. How can he prove their worth?

Scenario As a fitness, health and beauty products company, our primary goal in using social media is to increase our revenue and our customers’ use of our products. We focus many of our resources on the three main social graphs—Twitter, Facebook and YouTube—where each of our customer groups use social media a bit differently. For example, existing customers become fans of our company on Facebook and submit product reviews via outlets such as Bazaar Voice, online community members tweet daily progress in their fitness regimes, and coaches use YouTube to post before and after videos of people who have used one of our products.

I would like to add more strategic responsibilities to my social media group, in addition to their typical tasks of activity tracking and observing traffic. I’m also establishing a metrics dashboard so I can correlate new social media initiatives with their outcomes. I know that being active in the social media world has become almost mandatory for companies today, but how much of it is simply hype and how much empirical evidence can you find showing that customer loyalty and company growth can be directly attributed to social media activities?

Use Customer Feedback to Inform New Products

Joe Yanoska, VP and Head of Technology, American Greetings Interactive

Advice Our company is built around people socially expressing themselves through greeting cards. They are a very passionate consumer base. We use social media for three goals—increasing brand awareness, marketing activity for our brands, and focusing on customer care by listening and responding to user feedback. The majority of our efforts go to building and maintaining Facebook fan pages for each of our brands.

We feel it is important to track comments and ideas shared on the fan pages and use this information to guide us in developing new customer experiences and card content. One example of this is when we changed the tone of an Easter card that was already live because we felt the messaging did not meet the needs of our audience. We came to this conclusion because of conversations we observed on our Facebook fan page. As a result of these changes, this card became one of our most-sent cards last Easter season.

Some of the metrics we track are the number of fans, number of coupon codes redeemed from social media marketing campaigns, and overall level of engagement with our fans. We also monitor user activity from our fan pages. Some of the tools we use are ClearSaleing tracking and Facebook Insights. Over time, I think we will see email campaigns become a smaller part of the customer communication plan and the majority of customer communication will flow through social media.

Be Willing to Modify Corporate Policies

Jim DiMarzio, CIO, Mazda North America Operations

Advice Mazda has a passionate consumer base, and it really made sense for us to bring the offline conversations owners were already having with each other onto social media sites. If you choose to do nothing, the conversations are still going to happen. You just won’t have the audience’s affection or be able to influence them. We have two primary constituencies: local dealership franchisees and consumers, who range from first-time buyers to Mazda enthusiasts. Our focus is on four social networks—Facebook, Flickr, Twitter and YouTube—which cover all types of communication, including microblogging, video, still photography and community. Facebook is our hub, and we use metrics such as fan counts and participation to compare our Facebook presence with our competitors’.

We don’t have a dedicated social media group, and we view all Mazda employees as our social media team. This was a conscious decision, and we actually reversed an existing corporate policy that required that the PR department have strong command and control of all communication. We wrote new internal policies that empowered employees to get out on social networks as stewards of the Mazda brand. For strategic direction and leadership, we look to Mazda’s digital marketing team and two external agencies. We have been successful using tools such as Scout Labs, Social Mention and Google Alerts for tracking metrics and engagement. But we expect that someday we may need to make a larger investment in developing an internal app to help with tracking engagement and analyzing results.