Social Media Chat:
Assistant vice president, public relations and social media manager
Bremer Bank, St. Paul
Banking and financial services company
Our main goal with any social media is to “preserve, protect and enhance Bremer Bank’s reputation.” Our efforts with social media started in 2007 with a blog for a particular group of Bremer Bank employees—our nonprofit resource specialists, who support the work of nonprofits and community partners.
In 2009, we formed a social media council at Bremer that includes business partners from HR, information security, compliance, marketing, client service, e-commerce, technology development, corporate communications, and branch management. This council established a policy for Bremer’s social media in 2010. Additionally, employees earn access to LinkedIn at Bremer by completing a LinkedIn tutorial.
In May 2009, we opened the @BremerBank Twitter account, mostly sharing information about the bank, employees, and our volunteer commitment. We also engage with community partners and often will retweet information from our Bremer Bank communities in Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.
We address any client issues—usually within a few hours. And we respond to anybody who checks into Foursquare, thanking them for their business. Bremer has made a concerted effort to claim all of our banks on Foursquare and has seen a jump in overall check-ins from 257 in October 2011 to 658 in January 2012.
We also began to monitor Facebook for Bremer Bank mentions in 2009, but did not have an official Bremer Bank page until March 2011. We started a YouTube page for the bank in 2010 and really started to leverage it with a flash mob video [produced in June 2011] that was part of the Bremer Taking Action to End Hunger campaign benefitting Feeding America and Second Harvest Heartland. Bremer donated $1 for the first 10,000 views, which we achieved within 36 hours of the video being posted. Bremer also matched donations to Second Harvest Heartland through the month of June, and donations during last year’s campaign were up 65 percent over 2010.
I think the biggest thing for Bremer is that we are doing much more social media—monitoring, generating content, posting, and communicating with employees about our initiatives. This started out being about 20 percent of my role at Bremer and has easily turned into more than 60 percent within the past year.
I would also add that the use of social media and the connections we are making on these channels are now considered an important communications vehicle at Bremer. Within the past year and a half, our executive committee has really embraced Bremer’s use of social media and supports our efforts going forward.
We are planning a nonprofit giveaway contest on Facebook in the first quarter of 2012. We will be asking people to vote for their favorite nonprofit (in our Bremer Bank communities in Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin); the one receiving the most votes will win a $1,000 donation.
We are working on a redesign of the Nonprofit Resource Specialist blog. And we will be working to produce another “music video” production to be introduced during our June hunger campaign. Bremer will donate $1 for every view, up to 15,000 views.
We will continue to build out our Twitter account by engaging in conversations with our community partners, clients, and business partners. Our hope is to continue to address any client concerns on Twitter as well as share relevant and fun information about our bank, our communities, and our volunteer commitment.
Social media manager
Patterson Dental, Mendota Heights
Dental-products distribution company
In early 2011, Patterson Dental was partnering with Haberman, a local media and marketing agency, to create a social media plan that would extend Patterson’s brand. That plan included hiring dedicated people to manage these efforts and establishing a social media team of stakeholders from across the company. In June 2011, I was hired to help build Patterson’s social media efforts from the ground up.
In the second half of 2011, we launched our Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ accounts; YouTube channel; and dental business unit blog (offthecusp.com). During my first few months at Patterson, I spent a lot of time listening to what our customers were saying online. Ultimately, we let our customers dictate which types of content are posted on social media channels by evaluating the content they engage with and listening to what they ask for. Because we not only listen to our customers, but take action based on what they tell us, we are able to strengthen the relationships we have with them and become a trusted partner and member of their office team rather than an outside vendor who just sells dental products. What we’ve learned through social media listening has not only influenced the types of content we post on our blog, but also influences decisions like what types of optimizations need to be made to our e-commerce site.
The tremendous growth we saw on the social media front created a lot of enthusiasm among our employees across the country. Some already had been engaging with our customers using various social media channels and more were asking how to get started. We needed a way to ensure that all Patterson communication was adhering to various industry regulations. With the collaboration of several teams across Patterson, we created and adopted our social media policy and guidelines, and are in the process of educating our employees on best practices, as well as how to think socially.
When I first started at Patterson, I found out quickly that the health care industry was apprehensive about adopting social media for business use. Our customers frequently asked me, “Are you going to teach our office how to do social media?” A majority of dental practices were using social media as more of a broadcast channel rather than for social interactions. Many of our customers weren’t quite sure how to interact on social media while still being mindful of industry regulations.
We saw an opportunity to help our customers grow their dental practices. We understand that in order to be successful in our business, our customers must first be successful in theirs. This is why we’ve dedicated every Monday on our corporate blog to providing information on how to market a dental practice. We do not sell marketing services; however, our marketing department does share helpful tips and tricks on everything from social media to branding. We’ve also had some great guest posts from marketing consultants in the industry. Our Monday marketing posts are some of the most shared content on our blog.
As a company, we embrace the concept that we don’t really need a social media strategy, we just need to make our strategies social. We take our current goals and strategies and figure out the best way to incorporate social media into them. That said, we do have a methodology behind how we integrate our strategies with social media.
Our business strategies have always been based on building relationships with our customers and being a trusted business partner. So we are using digital tools, including social media, to support our sales force and help them strengthen customer relationships. Our human resources team has also started using social media in our recruiting processes.
In 2012, we are partnering with the American Association of Dental Office Managers (AADOM) and Rita Zamora, a social media and marketing consultant for dentists, veterinarians, and physicians, to offer free social media training to all of our dental office managers who are AADOM members.
Plaudit Design, St. Paul
Custom web design and Internet marketing firm
Our clients at Plaudit Design have become more educated in online marketing. In the last few years, we have gone from educating clients on basic tactics such as search engine optimization (SEO) to consulting on large holistic approaches that incorporate SEO, social media, online reviews, mobile tactics, re-marketing, and much more. It is a very exciting time with many social media possibilities solidifying, more mobile devices hitting the market every day, and a refocusing on core online strategies such as SEO.
Clients have also come to understand that social media is not a magic solution for marketing, but should be used in a larger strategic plan to engage and communicate with an audience.
Along with larger holistic strategies, we have increased client education, which removes the mystery around online marketing tactics and empowers our clients to implement the plans we build them internally—if they have the internal resources available and the desire to do so.
We have built a number of exciting websites with responsive web design techniques. Following this development philosophy, each web page’s layout, and therefore the client’s experience, is optimized for the user’s device.
A good example of this approach is thiestalle.com, the website for Chanhassen-based Thies & Talle Management, which owns and manages rental properties. When viewed on a desktop, the website layout takes advantage of the larger screen real estate, but when viewed on a phone or tablet, the layout modifies to provide an optimized user experience. This brings the website to the audience when and where they want it. And since it is a single site, the client saves money on the initial build and maintenance, while delivering an optimized experience to the user’s various devices.
These savings can then be used to promote the website. One of the exciting ways to do this is through QR codes or the use of short URLs in advertising campaigns. While QR codes are still catching on with the general public, their use, along with short URLs, have been successful at driving traffic and doing so in a way that can be measured to gain valuable insight into marketing ROI.
While it’s not a new approach to online marketing, we have seen and capitalized on large opportunities in SEO for many of our clients. For some, non-branded search traffic has increased by 300 to 500 percent over the last 12 months, and the quality of the traffic is as good or better than what existed previously. Some immediate examples of this success include:
• xerxes.com, a website for Bloomington-based Xerxes, which manufactures fiberglass tanks for liquid storage.
• wh-security.com, the site belonging to Rockford-based WH Security, a security system supplier.
• accustream.com, the website of AccuStream Waterjet Products, a New Brighton company that sells waterjet cutting equipment.
In each of those cases, the increase in traffic and generated sales leads has been significant, with additional opportunities already discovered and underway.
At Plaudit Design we have traditionally offered SEO and pay-per-click management services (e.g., Google AdWords) to our clients. Over the last two years we have expanded our services to utilize advances in technology and new marketing channels, including social media. This broadened strategy has achieved great results, even for clients focused on search ranking alone.
More of our clients are becoming interested in integrating their offline and online marketing. This integration through short URLs, QR codes, and the like has provided them with a method to measure offline campaigns, which in the past were difficult to quantify. We have helped with the creation of landing pages with responsive web designs that work on mobile devices and desktops, and through education we’ve guided clients on how to utilize the power of Google Analytics.
President and CEO
Modern Climate, Minneapolis
Digital marketing agency
We see a lot of interest in better leveraging mobile. We’re partnering with both consumer and business-to-business brands to target customers with personal, real-time experiences anywhere, anytime. Mobile in this case is not just a stand-alone touch point but is integrated with various experience channels. We launched a couple of these integrated mobile engagements recently at the Consumer Electronics Show for a couple of clients. Upcoming work in this area includes a major multinational cosmetics company and global processor chip manufacturer.
Over the 2011 holiday season, we worked with a client on a mobile behavioral targeting campaign. The client was interested in a marketing campaign targeting consumers shopping on smartphones. The goal was to find these consumers and offer an experience that accelerated time to purchase. We developed a fun experience that integrated with the user’s Facebook profile to deliver a personal experience that helped inform the shopping process. Behavioral targeting enabled our experience to be served in the right context at the right time. In other words, when consumers were shopping, we offered to help them out. As a result, our campaign exceeded performance expectations when compared to published industry click-through and engagement standards. There is a lot of talk about “invisible banner ads,” especially mobile banners. But when backed with good targeting intelligence, we’ve proven it’s possible to offer an experience that consumers want, while serving the business interest of the brand.
In the practical sense, digital has evolved to center on the fact that its marketing impact can now be holistically measured and quantified. This is quite a relief and a benefit to our clients. It no longer is a stab in the dark. A business case can be fully derived from the get-go to ensure all stakeholders have a clear idea of what success looks like and what the impact on the bottom line will be.
The importance of multichannel integration has never been more pronounced. More and more, we are developing whole experience “sets” designed to connect with customer mindset and aligned to meet business goals at each stage. This shapes creative, media, and platform selection and provides a go-to-market discipline that is so much more efficient than the ways of the past, especially given how fragmented the media landscape has become.
It continues to be all about conversion and advocacy this year but with a twist. Whereas in the past most companies took pains in building their direct-to-consumer e-commerce sites, a lot are testing the democratized transactional commerce offerings of platforms like Facebook, Groupon, and Google Money. New ways of selling are also in vogue—from flash sales to group sales that encourage advocacy and amplification.
In addition to experiments in conversion transactions and commerce, more clients are interested in ways to get to know more about their followers on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest—basically some level of social CRM. They believe getting to know these followers more means being able to better influence their behavior and preferences. This is where testing the effectiveness of a variety of platforms and applications comes to the table—from new tools such as This-
Moment and Google Goggles, to integrating with more established ones such as Foursquare.