Cold beer and ice lollies were on hand to all the attendees for the final session of our social media day extravaganza. A diverse and insightful range of presentations from our excellent panel of speakers was the reward for those who turned their back on the scorching evening Glasgow sunshine to join us for the final session of the day.
Each of our experts were addressing how to use social media for building lasting customer relationships, however, with very diverse client bases, the routes for achieving this proved quite different.
“We need to engage with people in a way which demonstrates the type of brand that we are and creates memorability and differentiation in the minds of consumers.” Colin Banks
First up was Colin Banks, Head of Sponsorship and Reward, SSE. Colin has had years of experience in customer engagement, working with companies such as Tennants and the FA, servicing clients who are loyal but can also be challenging. At the SSE the challenge is how do you engage a customer base with a product that is essential but does not necessarily lend to great stories to capture the imagination. That is where Colin comes in creating stories from customer experience through their sponsorship programme. This is not simply throwing money at something but how do you use the sponsorship to create real customer experiences that they will remember forever and which also creates engaging content. They also need to look to the future and that means ensuring you reach young audiences too.
“With a complex historical brand architecture and subsequent challenges with attribution, we need to seek out ways to demonstrate a connection to Energy through the lens of our sponsorship assets.”
Colin advised be clear what the story is and who is the customer, to invest in the right experiences. He stated that over half their content is based on sponsorship, using a strategy of creating lifetime experiences which are amplified through social.
“Establish partnerships to support our local community and engage our tribe behind our efforts” Philip Mackie
Next up was Philip Mackie, Global Senior Brand Manager, Highland Park, who with a very different product to Colin created a stronger focus on the brand itself but it could be argued the strategy of story telling and creating human connections through social were ultimately closely aligned.
Philip named his task as to “grow the Highland Park community around the world and establish a premium price position within the single malt Scotch Whisky category”. The strategy was twofold:
- Strengthen relationship with existing Whisky Experts by inspiring them to explore deeper (Facebook and Twitter)
- Recruit new Experience Seekers to join our tribe by sparking their curiosity (Youtube and Instagram)
With a product produced in Orkney, which is rather more Viking than Scottish, Philip had a great heritage, community and story to work with. However, he was very clear that this was not just about superficial story telling but also investing in their community of whisky producers, giving back to Orkney and also bringing the producer community closer to the client. Authenticity and traceability in supply chain is certainly something consumers (especially of a premium product) are becoming more and more interested in.
As for the client community on social, Philip had a few core basic principles, always:
- be helpful
- be generous
Like SSE this has led to some amazing customer stories from tattoos to wedding rings, where once again helping create lifetime experiences and amplifying is great for ensuring your customers know you care and for engaging storytelling.
“You don’t sell a million £ truck through Facebook” Jacqueline Reid
Jacqueline Reid, Marketing and Communications Director at Terex and Volvo CE was next up explaining their market position and challenges. “We are a part of the Volvo Group, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of trucks, buses, construction equipment and marine and industrial engines. No relation to Volvo Cars – different owners same brand police”. She explained they had a clear determination to show that as a company they are putting back more than they are taking out, akin to Philip and Colin, investing in communities and clients is key.
Jacqueline gave an incredibly candid and insightful presentation, sharing the journey she has been on to develop a clear social media strategy. She split it into three areas:
- Strategic purpose
.. and broke the social media strategy into three phases:
- Set the groundwork
Consistent and constant measuring takes place through all phases informing a view on further strategy and goals based on progress. Feeding into the overall structure is a clear approach to content, a strong and deep understanding of audience profiles and behaviours, and identifying what their social media challenges were.
“Using online tools we were able to deep dive into the data behind our global channels, develop a more in depth understanding of some of our regional touchpoints and understand how our social activities compare to those of our competitors.”
Jacqueline keen to state their social programme is new, they are learning and taking risks but “so far so good”.
“Groups are the equivalent of the kitchen at a party. It’s where the best conversations take place!" Stephen Dewar
Our final speaker of the evening was Stephen Dewar, Head of Commercial Digital, Reach Plc. Reach Solutions brings together their editorial output (from their household name news brands) with media agencies and clients, to create strong connections between audience, content and advertisers. Pulling on this broad and deep perspective of the industry Stephen shared the challenges they perceived such as:
- 21% decline in Facebook containing users own words and images
- An increase in anti-social behaviour on social media
- The volume of Facebook posts has rocketed over the last 2 years making it harder to be seen and heard
- Research shows you have 3 seconds to make an impact on your audience.
All this points to a pretty challenging environment to operate and succeed in. With this in mind, Stephen shared with the room his 10 golden rules for a successful social media strategy, including:
- Listen first, talk second
- Trial, test and be unique
- Data is a valuable commodity. Use it wisely.
Above all Stephen was keen to stress the importance of community and the need to earn trust, through transparency, empathy and honesty. A truly engaged community will support you and also create UGC to enable more authentic and deeper conversations.
A Q&A session followed, enabling a deeper delve into some of the points raised, such as dealing with negativity, how to user influencers successfully and how do you deepen engagement beyond the client-focused competition?
A huge thank you to our wonderful panel of experts who shared their insights and experience so generously, to the audience for giving up a very sunny evening in turn for some valuable learnings and to Hydrogen, especially Mike and Ishbel for hosting, curating and making it all happen!