Social Media Strategy: State Farm Insurance

In this video, Social Media Examiner’s Michael Stelzner interviews Kelly Thul, Director of Communication Services at State Farm Insurance.  Thul shares his insights about how they communicate with their 17,000 agents, their Facebook and Twitter strategies, and their very successful YouTube channel.

You’ll learn how State Farm leveraged a partnership three years ago to get started in social media and learn about the environment, as well as some useful tips for your corporate social media strategy.

Takeaways:

You’ll hear how State Farm:

  • Publishes different types of content on their YouTube channel to engage with different audiences and which type garners the most views;
  • Engages their employees and explains the different uses of social media (internal versus external) to them;
  • Believes that internal social communication is important for their activity and the keys to success in this area;
  • Uses FacebookTwitter, and YouTube individually and how the three platforms three work together;
  • Creates different types of relationships on Facebook and Twitter;
  • Provides their agents with connectivity and valuable services via Pocket Agent, an iPhone app that has proven popular with its customers; State Farm also offers other mobile apps to help customers connect.

Thul encourages other businesses to be inclusive about who you involve in your company. He also emphasizes how important it is to have a predetermined plan about how to respond to negative issues or comments on the various social media platforms.


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TurboTax’s Social Media Strategy

If you live the U.S., you’re probably thinking about next month’s tax deadline. You’re also probably using TurboTax Free Efile to file your tax returns.

TurboTax is a brand built on the principles of word of mouth. For 25 years, TurboTax (and its parent brand, Intuit) has focused on building relationships with its customers — even doing “follow me home” research to get 1-to-1 feedback about how people actually do their taxes.

Here’s a presentation by the brand’s Social Media Marketing Manager, Christine Morrison, in which she describes how the company is extending the fundamentals of word of mouth marketing to social media for customer acquisition and retention. She shares how social media is helping them build a persuasion engine, how they’re making user reviews more relevant, and how they’re using their Twitter presence for customer support.

Takeaways:

  • Help customers share the great experiences you create. Customers feel a colossal sense of joy and relief when they finish their taxes. TurboTax helps them share this with a “Publish to Facebook” option after they submit their e-file.
  • Customers trust each other more than your ads. TurboTax is reporting some striking numbers vis a vis the social-media engagement model anecdotes we’ve all heard. On Facebook, for example, they’ve found News Feed publications are four times more engaging than banner ads and have 30% higher conversion rates.
  • Customers love to help each other. Motivated by little more than the satisfaction of sharing their expertise and helping others, TurboTax’s community members are doing amazing things. One retired CPA answered over 50,000 questions last year, and more than 5,000 customers viewed his content.

Watch the  case study presentation and follow along with the slides below:

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Social Media Ethics: Resources to Help You Stay Out of Trouble

Here’s a BlogWell presentation by GasPedal CEO Andy Sernovitz that recaps the latest FTC regulations on disclosure and social media. He teaches Word of Mouth Marketing at Northwestern, taught Entrepreneurship at the Wharton School of Business, ran a business incubator, and has started half a dozen companies. GasPedal is his consulting company, where he advises great brands like TiVo, Dell, Ralph Lauren, Sprint, and Kimberly-Clark on best practices.

Sernovitz covers the 10 magic words of proper online disclosure, his specific steps for keeping your brand safe under the latest FTC regulations, and his personal tips for staying ethical and legal. He always puts ethics and dis­clo­sure front and cen­ter when he speaks on this topic: “The num­ber one issue around ethics comes down to dis­clo­sure — being hon­est about your true iden­tity.” Dis­clo­sure is essen­tial and easy but requires edu­ca­tion: “You don’t tack on a dis­clo­sure state­ment later, you start with that. You start with ethics and that’s how you lead.” It’s not only the right thing to do, but “it’s essen­tial as a way to stay out of trou­ble. Almost every social media scan­dal involv­ing brands boils down to a lack of dis­clo­sure. The blo­gos­phere expects to know your motivations.”

Takeaways

  • This isn’t a debate among experts, it’s the law. The rules are clear, and the FTC will be cracking down. If you recruit people to blog about you, you’re responsible for the content.
  • Everything begins with ethics. Ethics is the foundation of a social media program. It’s not what you add later; it’s what everything else is built on.
  • Your biggest risk is a failure to properly train your team. Most companies don’t set out to launch a stealth marketing campaign. The scandals happen again and again from well-meaning employees who just don’t know it’s wrong.
  • The “10 magic words” for employ­ees ven­tur­ing onto the social Web: “I work for X, and this is my per­sonal opin­ion.” That dis­claimer goes a long way in help­ing to sep­a­rate offi­cial com­pany pol­icy from an employee’s per­sonal views.
  • Grab a copy of the Disclosure Best Practices Toolkit below. You could use it as the basis for a full-blown pol­icy that comes out of cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tions, make it part of your company’s employee hand­book, or use it as a set of infor­mal guide­lines for your depart­ment or team.

Watch the presentation and follow along with the slides below:

Dis­clo­sure Best Prac­tices Toolkit

The Social Media Busi­ness Coun­cil, of which Ser­novitz is CEO,  has cre­ated a Dis­clo­sure Best Prac­tices Toolkit — a handy and essen­tial resource for any com­pany involved in social media. This is not an impe­ri­ous one-size-fits-all list of must-dos — “we’re not a stan­dards body or trade asso­ci­a­tion,” as Ser­novitz says. Instead, it’s an open source toolkit to help you build your social media policy. “Adapt it to your com­pany, teach your team, improve, and share,” he adds.

Down­load the 10-page tookit as a single document (Word docx) or view each section individually online:

What steps has your company or organization taken to embrace disclosure?


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How ConAgra Foods is Embracing Social Media

Here’s a presentation from Stephanie Moritz, ConAgra Foods’ Director of Public Relations. Moritz explains how ConAgra is embracing social media as a strategic opportunity to stir passion among its audience.

Her case study explains how the company is integrating social media across many aspects of their business, how they educated senior management through “digital immersion”, and how ConAgra uses five core elements to define their social approach. She gives an excellent overview of why and when a brand should use social media and how ConAgra successfully engaged consumers of its Healthy Choice products.

Takeaways:

  • Social media is more than your marketing department. ConAgra approaches social media enterprise-wide, realizing opportunities not just in marketing, but also in HR, legal, and career development.
  • Teach executives about social media by offering them hands-on experience. Moritz’s team invited senior management to participate in “digital immersion” sessions to really experience social media.
  • Avoid the shiny objects. Moritz recommends ignoring the latest tools and networks and really focusing on your brand’s goals.

You see her live presentation and follow along with the accompanying slides below:


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Social Media Case Study: Turner Broadcasting System

Here’s a presentation given by Turner Broadcasting System’s Digital Marketing Director, Seth Miller, at BlogWell Atlanta. In “A Thriving Media Company in the Social Media Era”, Miller describes how Turner, a traditional media company for the most part, is leveraging social media channels to engage with their audience. You can watch him as he speaks and follow along with the slides below.

Turner began syndicating “Sex and the City” in 2004 and initiated a rebranding effort in concert with the new programming direction. They became more active in blogging, but but they weren’t listening to their fans. They learned that it’s vital to listen first, and then act socially. The Internet, after all, was built on community.

Miller maintains that it’s not important to be loud, but to be targeted in your approach. The company’s stance is that the killer application for social media is people, and they now fully embrace the social Web. They’ve had great success reaching out to existing communities and using social tools to collaborate with their followers. They also support fans who creatively spin their content via YouTube and other outlets.


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Social Media from a Multi-Brand Perspective: Newell Rubbermaid

Here’s a presentation from Bert DuMars, Newell Rubbermaid’s Vice President of E-Business and Interactive Marketing. Delivered at BlogWell, Atlanta, “Social Media from a Multi-Brand Perspective” covers how the company is using different social media approaches across its many brands.

The case study includes advice about how to approach multi-brand social media as an ecosystem, how to test small ideas and then scale them up, and how to engage your fans in social dialog. Both the video and deck are available below.

Takeaways:

  • Focus on your customer target
  • Set clear goals and objectives
  • Measure before, during, and after you engage
  • Immerse yourself to better understand the ecosystem, culture, and potential uses
  • Integrate with overall marketing plan, but understand social media is a long-term commitment
  • Based on above, select tools and services that reach and engage your customer target
  • Social Media is about people engaging with people — not robots. Show you care.

(Via GasPedal’s Word of Mouth Marketing Blog)


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