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.


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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Kodak’s Jeffrey Hayzlett on Social Media and a Global Brand: a B2Bbloggers Exclusive Interview

This post was written by Jeremy Victor, the founder of Make Good Media and Editor In Chief of is an online magazine for B2B marketers. Their goal is to engage, educate, and make it easier for B2B marketers to find the information they care about to do their jobs successfully.

For the past several months, I have followed @JeffreyHayzlett on Twitter. Some days reading every tweet to get a sense of life as a CMO for a global B2B/B2C brand, other times just checking in to see where in the world Jeffrey may be. If you follow Jeffrey, you’ll get first hand experience of the future as a Chief Marketing Officer. Whether it be on a trip back to South Dakota or in Spain (as he is at the time of this writing), he is constantly engaging, educating, exciting, and evangelizing the Kodak brand. Jeffrey Hayzlett is a new media CMO and as you’ll learn in this exclusive interview, a smart marketer.

This interview itself is also a symbol of the rapid state of evolution we are experiencing in communications and media. Jeffrey and I met via Twitter with a simple follow, follow back, direct message and the rest you’ll read below as Jeffrey shares his thoughts on marketing, the recession, social media, and the changing nature of B2B marketing. Enjoy!

Jeremy: What brands do you admire? Why?

Jeffrey: There are a number of brands I admire from a personal perspective based on the connections that I make with them as an enthusiast of their products and the connections that the brands make with me as a customer. They’re brands that represent a promise delivered. I love brands like Cabela’s for their attention to the customer, the way they deliver great customer experiences, and the activities they promote.

I also admire more familiar brands, like Coca-Cola and Apple — people know who they are because the brands know who they are. They’ve delivered affinity and become iconic.

Also, living in upstate New York, I’ve come to really appreciate the Wegmans supermarket chain, and Fresh Direct, an online grocer out of New York — they’ve done exceptional jobs in enhancing their bonds with customers.

Jeremy: Read any good business books lately?

Jeffrey: I’m a prolific reader. I read multiple books every week, and usually am reading multiple books at one time. I just read “Betrayal,” by Andrew Kirtzman, about the Bernie Madoff scandal. I was struck by how long he was able to keep the fraud going because people wanted so much to believe the good things they thought were happening.

Jeremy: You are an early adopter of social media. How’d that happen? What made you notice?

Jeffrey: I started using social media almost immediately after it was introduced as a means to keep in touch with family and friends. From a business standpoint, I was fascinated by the opportunities that social media makes possible to reach many of Kodak’s customers at the same time, which is how marketing has traditionally worked — through a medium that reaches people in a personalized way, which is what marketing today and in the future is all about. And, maybe even more important, not just reach customers but make a connection between them and the Kodak brand. We have people throughout the company who are actively using social media to achieve what we call “Kodak’s 4 E’s: Engage, Educate, Excite and Evangelize.”

Jeremy: One of the things I have been saying is that 2009 was about survival and 2010 is about renewal…would you agree?

Jeffrey: 2009 might not have been quite that dire but it certainly changed forever the dynamics of the markets and industries that practically every company operates in. Companies need to recognize that many things aren’t going to return to the way they were before the recession. That’s true for Kodak and certainly true for our B2B customers in the commercial print market. As advertising budgets were reduced, print certainly took a hit. This reduction in print spend accelerated a trend that had already started of printers rethinking their business model to focus on offering more integrated marketing services beyond putting ink on paper. I see the new world in which we all live as a positive opportunity for companies to move in different directions, offer new products and capabilities, and create the business they really want to be in.

Jeremy: What are the core areas of renewal for Kodak in 2010?

Jeffrey: As a digital company, we like to think of renewal as a continuing process. For example, we have to move faster than ever in the ways we innovate and communicate. In 2010, we’ll focus a lot of our B2B efforts around helping commercial print service providers renew their businesses and become marketing services providers through our digital technologies. At the forefront of that effort, we’re launching the KODAK PROSPER Printers featuring Kodak Stream technology, a groundbreaking inkjet printing technology that will take print to previously unattainable levels.

As I mentioned already, marketing today is all about reaching people on a 1:1 basis. With customers in full control of how, when and where you can engage them, marketers need to use a full digital communications mix that is relevant, timely and personal. What we’re doing with Stream is, for the first time, putting print on a level of scale, personalization and interactivity that is comparable to online media. By offering this digital print capability, print service providers can help marketers achieve what’s most important to them — an integrated digital campaign that delivers strong return on marketing investment.

Jeremy: What are some of the biggest challenges/opportunities you foresee for marketers/corporations as the economy (hopefully) rebounds in 2010?

Jeffrey: Given the cautious environment that companies will operate in this year, the challenge for marketers is reaching purchasers and influencers in a way that will convince them to spend with you. As part of achieving that goal, marketers need to figure out the right mix of media, events and other tools to reach customers on a personal level. The big opportunity for marketers lies in rethinking the value that their products, technologies and services bring to customers. In almost all cases, it should come down to answering this question: Does our marketing clearly communicate what our products deliver to help customers grow their businesses?

Jeremy: Kodak’s social initiatives seem to be much larger than “social media” – what I mean by that is that it seems Kodak is becoming a social business … not just Tweeting. Am I right?

Jeffrey: Absolutely. Social media fits into our overall strategy of connecting with customers on a personal level. For many people, their daily routines include participating on Twitter and Facebook. We want Kodak to be there with them. I’m challenging our team everyday to come up with new ways to engage with customers and facilitate conversations. On the consumer side of our business, we recently held a contest through Twitter for people to name our new high-definition pocket video camera, the new KODAK PLAYSPORT. Whenever we participate in a major trade show — on the commercial or consumer side of the business — we include a “K-Zone.” K-Zones are a great way to share topics that are important to our audiences — trends, issues, applications, and success stories. It’s not talking about us. It’s talking about what we can learn from the experiences of others. Those sessions are broadcast live over the Internet and videos of the discussions posted online. It’s all about bringing people together around shared interests and reaching them in way that’s meaningful and memorable.

Jeremy: What advice do you have for your fellow CMOs getting ready to walk in your shoes?

Jeffrey: First, get ready to do a lot of listening. Whenever I start a new project or initiative, I make sure I’ve gotten as much input and understanding from everyone involved. Many people talk about the importance of listening but I’m not sure everyone really does it well. Second, think ahead. Everything you’ve heard about how quickly the world changes in every sense of the word is true. You have to anticipate what’s next before your competition. Third, create momentum. Big ideas and routine tactics need to work together to raise visibility and awareness that builds to actions and results. If something doesn’t contribute to that momentum, don’t do it. Finally, and most important, do everything FAST. FAST is a core set of operating principles that drive everything we do at Kodak: Focus, Accountability, Simplicity and Trust.

Jeremy: Of course the main concern on a CMO’s mind relative to anything “social” is ROI and measurement of success or failure. What are the key performance indicators that Kodak uses to measure and monitor the success of your social media initiatives?

Jeffrey: When we look at the Kodak 4 E’s of social media (Engage, Educate, Excite and Evangelize), we look at the first one, Engage, as the way to begin the process of achieving success with social media and as the way to measure our success. We can Tweet and post all day but if we haven’t engaged anyone, we haven’t been successful. So, engagement is the new ROI. We look at quantitative data via measurement tools like Radian6 to analyze the extent and type of engagement we’ve achieved with our constituents. Another way to answer the question is to think about ROI as meaning something else — what is your Risk of Ignoring?

Jeremy: Name the three top social networking sites you are using and your goal for each one of them?

Jeffrey: Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. The goal for each is the same: to engage in meaningful dialogue with customers and influencers in a way that supports the Kodak brand and helps support sales.

Jeremy: What changes do you see coming in B2B marketing? How are you preparing Kodak for them?

Jeffrey: B2B marketing will continue to be all about reaching the customer on their terms, in a highly personalized way, by using a wide range of touch points. We have to think about 360, integrated campaigns that provide customers with instant access to information when they want to receive it. No one medium alone can do the trick. Online, social, print and other media need to be in the mix. Some campaigns may use all media together, others will use several components. It depends on who you’re trying to reach and what you want to say. Trade shows, conferences, sporting events and other venues for reaching customers through speaking engagements and sponsors also need to be factored in. Again, it’s all about the 360 approach to marketing.

Jeremy: What does 2010 hold for Kodak from a B2B perspective? What are your top three initiatives? And how are you aligning your marketing to achieve them?

Jeffrey: We’ll focus more than ever on showing customers how Kodak can help them grow their businesses. We need to show customers that we understand their businesses, their challenges, their opportunities better than any other company. We need to show that because of that understanding, we can talk about the right applications and capabilities they need to offer to help their customers be successful. Then, we need to show them we have the right products and technologies to deliver those applications and capabilities. We’ll achieve all of that by continuous, personalized 360 customer communication and engagement.

Jeremy: What is the biggest challenge you are facing in B2B?

Jeffrey: Our number one marketing objective in 2010 is to get closer to customers. Everything we do needs to help make our relationships with customers more meaningful. We’ll do that through relevant, continuous engagement. To do that, we need to get all the moving parts within our organization working together. Because sales, marketing, and operations all engage with customers, we need to make sure those groups are aligned. By working together and sharing information we’ll have the type of customer engagement that will help us win.

Additional resources:

Social Media Tips: Sharing lessons learned to help your business grow, Jeff Hayzlett, Kodak. (PDF) CMO Hayzlett and his team put this ebook together to share some of their thoughts and firsthand experiences using social media for their business. Hayzlett takes the time to use social media like Twitter and Facebook because in today’s media landscape it’s vitally important to be where your customers are. Kodak has always embraced this marketing philosophy, and today that means being active in social media.

How Kodak CMO Jeff Hayzlett Uses Twitter. Here’s a great interview with Kodak’s Jeff Hayzlett in which he discusses his approach to his role as CMO. The company is in the throes of repositioning itself as a B2B, and he successfully leverages Twitter to create attention for the company.

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