How to use social media to build customer loyalty

Members from the CIO Executive Council weigh in on executing a mobility plan. Add your opinion and advice below.

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Steve Winshel, Beachbody, LLC (See profile)

We are in the process of more than doubling our existing social media team, currently at 2.5 FTE, to help increase customer loyalty and interactions, and increase what is already a very high degree of brand recognition. That said, our primary goal in using social media is to increase revenue and use of our products. "Buzz" is not a primary objective. Today we focus many of our resources on the three main social graphs – Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. As a fitness, health & beauty products company, we serve three different constituencies: existing and prospective customers, our online member community dedicated to tracking fitness goals and health programs, and our coaches, field sales reps who sell our products and promote health and fitness. Each customer group uses social media a bit differently. For example, customers become fans of our company on Facebook and submit product reviews via outlets like Bazaar Voice; online community members tweet daily progress in their fitness regimes; and coaches post "before" and "after" videos of customers who have used one of our products on YouTube. In the end, I want all of our customers and potential product users engaged on different social media sites talking about us and recommending our products to their friends and family.

In addition to my CIO role, I recently took over management of the online department. I’m focused on restructuring different functions and that includes hiring new social media expertise. Specifically, 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 that I can correlate new social media initiatives to specific outcomes, and identifying useful tools and new technology to assist with monitoring. I know that being active in the social media world has become almost mandatory for companies today; how much of it is simply hype and how much measurable value from social media activities can actually be correlated directly to customer loyalty and company growth is a big question that I am still considering.

Sounding Board's Discussion Points:

Staff expertise – Metrics to track – Tools – Corporate importance View an example of a social media policy contributed by a CIO Executive Council member.
Joe Yanoska, vice president & head of technology, American Greetings Interactive(See profile)

Track customer feedback to inform product creation

Our company is built around people socially expressing themselves through greeting cards. They are a very passionate consumer base. We look to social media in three ways– 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 need of our audience. We came to the because of the conversations that we observed on our Facebook fan page. As a result of changes, this card became one of our top sent cards for this Easter season.

Steve, I agree that metrics are very important to track success in social media. 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.

No one person is solely dedicated to social media, instead team members from Brand Management, Product Management and Customer Service are expected to contribute as part of their job responsibilities. I think social media is very important for any company, Steve. We need to be engaged with our fans through social media. People will be out there talking about our brands, regardless of whether you we part of it or not. It’s good practice to be able to weigh in on the conversation and help drive it, rather than hope it’s a positive conversation. 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.

Jim DiMarzio, CIO, Mazda North America Operations (See profile)

Set corporate policy to encourage employee use of social media

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 influence over or the affection of the audience. We have two primary constituencies: local dealership franchisees and consumers ranging from first-time buyers to Mazda enthusiasts. Our focus is on four social networks – Facebook, Flikr, Twitter and YouTube – which cover all types of communication including microblogging, video, still photography and community. Facebook is our hub and we use metrics like fan counts and participation to benchmark against our competitors’ Facebook presence.

To address your staffing question, we don’t have a dedicated social media group, and view all of Mazda employees as our social media team. This was a conscious decision and we actually reversed existing corporate policy that had required strong command and control of all communication through the central PR engine. We wrote new internal policies which empowered employees to get out on social networks as stewards of the Mazda brand. For strategic direction and leadership, we look to specific people: Mazda’s digital marketing team and two external agencies.

To date, we have been successful using tools like Scout Labs, Social Mention, and Google Alerts for tracking metrics and engagement. But, we expect that some day we may need to make a larger investment in developing an internal app to help with tracking engagement and analyzing results.

Interviews done by Carrie Mathews

CIO Executive Council

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