Yesterday, we attended GasPedal’s BlogWell event at the San Jose Convention Center to get some fresh insights on how big companies are already using social media. Nick Ayres from Home Depot summed up the crowd’s sentiment best when he said: “This conference pretty much shows me that we’re no longer asking IF there’s value in social media, instead we’re asking what are the best practices for our social media programs.” That’s right, even big companies (which are inherently slower to adopt new programs or make changes) have accepted that in order to have complete PR and Marketing programs, social media is a must.
With case studies from 8 major brands, from Intel to Kaiser Permanente, Graco to Wells Fargo, BlogWell more than anything, validated the work that we’re already doing for clients like Sony Computer Entertainment America’s PlayStation.Blog and eBay’s eBay Ink Blog.
BlogWell is planning to post footage of the entire event, which we’ll link to when it’s available. In the meantime just wanted to share some key takeaways to think about for other social media programs:
- GasPedal CEO Andy Sernovitz opened the event by saying, “Social Media is about learning to talk to people like people, again” – Sometimes the technology and tactics involved in social media seem to cloud people’s understanding, that in essence, social media is just finding a new way to talk to people like human beings. Engaging them by actually building relationships, which is what PR is all about.
- Lindsay Lebresco from Graco highlighted how the Graco blog is helping create brand affinity to the company rather than specific product lines by engaging with consumers as real people who have the same issues as other parents. Their program is an extension of the success they’ve had through WOM between moms.
- Intel’s Ken E. Kaplan brought up the importance of pairing online engagement with offline meet-ups, as highlighted through some of their projects around Intel’s Developer Forum.
- Debbie Curtis-Magley from UPS surprised most of the audience when she said that given budget and time constraints she’s begun enlisting the help of the administrative staff on social media monitoring projects. She asks them to dedicate one hour a day to monitoring and has each person own one topic for about a month – while she isn’t able to dive as deeply into the results as she would with a dedicated staff or agency, she said that this approach helps keep her attuned to the conversations about UPS and an expert on her own company.
- Kaiser Permanente’s Hilary Weber was very pragmatic about KP’s approach to social media–she sees it as another tactic to complement traditional PR efforts. Their program focuses mainly on peripheral topics like healthy recipes, and wellness tips, rather than actual healthcare discussions. They are limited by the issues that arise when patients begin using forums to discuss their health problems, or when they try to give each other medical advice.
Overall the event was a success – it brought together communication professionals to share ideas about social media and blogging at big companies is, and can be. We look forward to seeing how those who share their stories grow their programs, and to hearing about new case studies at next year’s BlogWell.