confused by the new world of social media?

social media

we’re here to help!

This booklet is a short introduction to the subject of social media. We also run workshops and seminars on the subject and are happy to answer queries over the phone. You can also follow our thinking by visiting the digital section of our blog: Alternatively, please get in touch: Louise Dudley-Williams Head of Marketing Tel: + 44 (0)20 7229 5720

What’s it all about?

collaboration interaction participation fun



collective voice


THe use of social media is groWing aT an unprecedenTed raTe and is increasingly being considered as an imporTanT parT of THe corporaTe communicaTions mix.
Social media is essentially about people having conversations online and while individuals have been early adopters, organisations have been slow to open up to this conversation, being more used to a carefully constructed monologue. There are some notable exceptions, such as Nike, GE, General Motors and Dell to name a few, and we will share some good examples with you throughout this booklet. As this shift to a more open online dialogue begins to take place, companies are starting to realise that they need to change their mind-set and approach social media as an opportunity rather than a risk. We hope this booklet will highlight the key points you’ll need to know about social media and provide evidence of how it is already working for business.



Salterbaxter’S guide to Social media

so what is social media?

Social media is a term used to describe a new breed of digital communication that takes place within an open and collaborative environment. It shares all of the following characteristics: Online dialogue Whereas traditional corporate communications is about one-way broadcast, social media encourages conversations between a wide group of people. Social networks are helping to support this two-way conversation. Collective experience Participation and experimentation are expected within social media. The emphasis is on sharing and commenting on content freely without too many barriers. Voting functionality is also allowing audiences to quickly evaluate the usefulness of content. Mutual interests Communities with the same passions and interests, such as cars, the environment or even The Apprentice, can quickly congregate and communicate easily with each other. Networked relationships The relationships built through social media gain momentum through their connections. Communities form by openly sharing resources, contacts and ideas. Informal networks are then built through connections with friends and colleagues.

That’s clearer!


Salterbaxter’S guide to Social media

how are companies using it?

Social media is now allowing organisations to build dialogue with many more people by participating in their social media spaces – from employees to investors, management teams to NGOs, community groups to journalists and, more importantly, consumers. Traditional channels for corporate communications are being supplemented by publishing content on existing social networks. In some instances social media channels are even replacing them. And by their very nature, these communications are more open and transparent, shaped and ‘audited’ by the audience. But for corporate material to be successful in this environment the content must be meaningful, relevant and engaging; and companies need to understand they cannot fully control the message or the destination. These channels now offer the opportunity for more trusted and targeted dialogue and should be considered for a range of communications including:

Brand and reputation Consumer marketing Corporate Responsibility Stakeholder dialogue Investor relations Employee engagement PR, press and media
corporate communications

equals corporate social media!

plus social media


Salterbaxter’S guide to Social media

There are more than 150 million users on Facebook 1

Social networking is now the 4th most popular online activity ahead of personal email 2

Wikipedia contains over 14 million articles 3

Twitter’s current growth rate is 752%4

There are more than 1 billion tweets on Twitter



Salterbaxter’S guide to Social media

Blogger has 222 million unique visitors 6

There are now over 1 billion users on the internet 7

YouTube has over 100 million viewers online 8

LinkedIn has over 36 million users spanning 170 industries

1. Mark Zuckerberg, 7 Jan 2009 2. Global Faces and Networked Places: A Nielsen report on Social Networking’s New Global Footprint, March 2009 3. Wikipedia statistics, 28 Feb 2009 4. Mashable/Compete, 9 Jan 2009 5. Techcrunch, 12 Nov 2008 6. Techcrunch/comScore, Dec 2008 7. Internet World Statistics/comScore, Dec 2008 8. comScore, 5 March 2009 9. Advertising Age, 2 March 2009

specific forms of social media

On the following pages we outline a range of social media tools and techniques, providing interesting examples in each section:

01 campaign microsites 02 communities of interest 03 co-creation 04 blogs 05 social forums 06 microblogging 07 personal production 08 information gathering


Salterbaxter’S guide to Social media

01 campaign microsites

This is a small or mini website, separate from an organisation’s main website, that has a distinct URL and delivers focused content about a specific campaign, product or service. It is a destination for a communications programme that people can return to again and again at minimal cost to the organisation. Nike – Nike+ Nike created this campaign microsite to encourage one million runners to run in one race, in one day in May 2008. It is estimated that 10 million miles have been run due to this campaign, equating to 26 trips to the moon and back and 401 runs around the world. GE – Eco-imagination GE created a new innovative culture under the banner of ‘eco-imagination’ to reflect their new emphasis on green technology. Over 200,000 people downloaded the breakthrough technology on this site, called Augmented Reality, that helps consumers see a digital hologram of GE’s Smart Grid technology. Vattenfall – Climate signature Sweden’s largest electricity supplier set out to mobilise the international business community to act on climate change. Over 240,000 people have signed up to their climate manifesto ahead of the UN climate conference in Copenhagen this November.

Other examples Aviva Ocean Racing National Grid Floe Heineken Know the Signs Coca-Cola Let’s Get Together


Salterbaxter’S guide to Social media

02 communities of interest

This is an online space where people with common interests can share their experiences and opinions, create unique personal profiles, build relationships and use those connections to accomplish a task. They represent a significant arena for organisations to connect to new audiences and build dialogue. Shell Dialogues Shell was one of the first global corporations to invite people to post questions about their industry when they launched Tell Shell in 1998. Shell Dialogues now includes open debate and there have been over 50,000 page views and 500 questions answered since the site launched in May 2008. WWF – Earth Hour More than 4,000 towns and cities across 88 countries took part in Earth Hour to raise awareness of climate change by turning off their lights for one hour on 28 March 2009. It is estimated that over 100,000 people signed up to the Earth Hour site online. Dell – Community Home Dell experienced negative publicity from a consumer site called ‘Dell Hell’. In response Dell has now become the leading voice of computer manufacturers in social media environments. The Dell community site now gets more than five million unique views per month.

78% of people trust the opinions of others 1
Other examples HP community Fujifilms Nike Looped online community TED Ideas Worth Spreading
1. Source: Nielson ‘Trust in advertising’ Report, October 2007


Salterbaxter’S guide to Social media

03 co-creation

Co-creation refers to content produced in collaboration by end-users of websites or social media as opposed to traditional media producers. The ultimate aim is for content to be more democratically created and shaped by the audience. It often includes suggestion boxes, where people share ideas on new products and service developments. Starbucks – My Starbucks Idea This site allows customers to voice their own ideas about what they’d like to see changed or improved at Starbucks. Users submit their ideas related to employees, coffee and tea, and merchandise. Ideas are reviewed by Starbucks’ employees. Over 75,000 ideas have been suggested, resulting in new products and services already implemented. Toyota – Why Not? Users are asked to submit their own innovations in six areas – safety, water, land, air, community and energy – while learning about Toyota’s efforts in these areas. Over 60,000 ideas have been submitted to win a prize. Dell – Ideastorm Dell wanted to build an online community that brought users closer to the creative development of new technology by allowing them to share ideas and collaborate with one another. More than 11,000 ideas, new products or services ideas have been posted.

Other examples GM Next Wiki BP SimCity Society IBM Wiki The Spark by T-Mobile


Salterbaxter’S guide to Social media

04 blogs

A blog, an abbreviation of ‘web log’, is a website where entries are written in chronological order and commonly displayed so that new entries appear at the top of the page. Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject such as food or local news; others function as more personal online diaries. Sun Microsystems – Jonathan Schwartz Jonathan Schwartz, the CEO of Sun Microsystems is often held up as a great example of what a corporate CEO can do with blogging. It shows how today there are no such things as ‘internal communications’ – just one message, direct from the CEO to everyone. BNP Paribas – For a changing world This multi-lingual blog site is aimed at BNP Paribas employees and the general public. The subject matter is focused on the company’s CSR track record. What is remarkable is the frankness of the employee statements and the site’s ability to collect ideas about changing mortgage calculations, including reactions from the general public. General Motors – Fact and Fiction GM has developed a reputation for creating good car enthusiast blogs, such as More interesting is GM’s Fact and Fiction site that sets out to counter the misinformed opinion spread by social networks about the restructuring of the business. 73% of internet It is GM’s official record of the facts, leaving users free to make users have read a blog 2 up their mind on what to believe.

Other examples Coca-Cola conversations Waitrose CEO diet blog Nokia conversations GE global research blog
2. Source: Universal McCann Comparative Study on Social Media Trends, April 2008


Salterbaxter’S guide to Social media

05 social forums

An internet forum is a web application for holding discussions and posting user-generated content. Internet forums are also commonly referred to as web forums, message boards, discussion boards, discussion groups and bulletin boards. Messages within these discussions are then displayed either in chronological order or as threaded discussions. Sainsbury’s – ‘Your Ideas’ forum Sainsbury’s became the first UK supermarket to get involved in usergenerated content, opening the ‘Your Ideas’ forum with its customers back in June 2006. The site is a network of forums hosted on, that now has over 61,000 members, discussing topics ranging from child obesity and what makes a good curry. Vodafone customer forum Vodafone set up a customer forum to answer questions on pricing, contracts and their overall service standards to improve their customer support. Over 30,000 customer complaints were answered online and customer satisfaction results improved by 30%. HSBC Business Network HSBC’s Open talk e-forum took this idea a step further and included polls, inspirational talks for their business customers as well as a knowledge centre and tutorials for start-up businesses. The site has helped them stay close to their customers during challenging times.

34% have joined an online forum 2
Other examples BT community forum Adobe support forum Powerwise, Canada Google Health Groups

Salterbaxter’S guide to Social media

06 microblogging

Micro-blogging is a form of blogging that allows users to send brief text updates or media, such as photos or audio clips, and publish them to open or restricted groups. These messages can be submitted by a variety of means, including text messaging, instant messaging, email, digital audio or the web. Scott Monty for GM Scott Monty is a social media guru who was recruited by GM and Ford to raise their profile through social networks. He has over 18,000 followers on Twitter and conducts daily interviews with blogs, news sites and television. In April 2009 this increased traffic by 100% to The CEO video was watched by over 60,000 people. GE at Ted whiteboards GE invited a selected audience from TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) to answer three key questions online that addressed key issues affecting GE’s business. The challenge for the contributors was to keep their responses to 140 words using Twitter. The ideas were then posted on Stephen Fry Stephen Fry has over 400,000 followers on Twitter making him one of the most followed people on a social network site in the UK. He has quickly emerged as the British ambassador for micro-blogging in the UK and his tweets are now making front page headlines.

Twitter now has 11 million subscribers


Other examples 10 Downing Street Barack Obama Rio Tinto CEO at Zappos
2. Source: Universal McCann Comparative Study on Social Media Trends, April 2008


Salterbaxter’S guide to Social media

07 personal production

The advent of digital cameras, home editing software and online publishing services have empowered individuals to reach a large audience at a much lower cost and greater frequency than most media. Today, many people are creating their own content free, such as film and radio content, uncensored from the constraints of the mainstream media. This has also given organisations more control of their own news and corporate message, making them less reliant on mainstream media. GM Social Media Newsroom One of the best examples of corporate social media is GM’s newsroom that mixes social media and traditional media well. The whole site is tagged and it has now substituted traditional news platforms to become the ultimate source of information relating to GM. Philips Social Media Newsroom Philips have taken this concept one stage further and tagged all their media photos and linked them to Flickr. Again this has helped Philips control the source of its own news and material. Johnson & Johnson YouTube channel This YouTube channel covers a wide range of topics including nutrition, diet, sexual health, gastric bypass surgery and obesity. The goal of the site is to provide useful health information for consumers direct from Johnson & Johnson.

Other examples

83% have watched video clips online 2

Kodak 1,000 Words Nestlé Creating Shared Value Honda The Power of Dreams Blendtec


Salterbaxter’S guide to Social media

08 information gathering

People are getting smarter in the ways they collate, read and review content online. With access to endless web content it is easy to become overwhelmed with information. New tools and techniques have been developed to cope with this issue, such as news feeds from Google which have been helping social networks access the most relevant and up-to-date blogs and news information. BT Innovation RSS and Podcasts BT’s RSS-enabled website helps subscribers scan article headlines and link back to the latest full articles on the website for their GadgetZone, Futurewise, and Innovation news. Ford – Digital Snippets By subscribing to the Ford RSS feeds for individual news stories, users are instantly updated with the latest digital snippets related to that story. A snippet can take the form of copy, photos, video or audio that can be shared on the internet and reposted on any website. 39% have subscribed to rss feeds 2 Lyondell – RSS Feeds Lyondell’s feeds are usefully subdivided into categories allowing visitors to select what they want. Lyondell provides 12 separate topic-based feeds so that different types of journalists can subscribe to the news most relevant to them.

Other examples Intel Press Room RSS feed:// Adobe on Google Reader Digg
2. Source: Universal McCann Comparative Study on Social Media Trends, April 2008


Salterbaxter’S guide to Social media

how is this changing the message?

iT is clear, social media is no longer a fad, nor Will iT seTTle long enougH To be fully undersTood. companies are beginning To realise THe implicaTions of social media and are demonsTraTing innovaTion by TesTing THe WaTer WiTH specific iniTiaTives.
The most important thing for companies to understand is that they have to join the social media conversation rather than seek to control it. This means the message has to move from being controlled and one-way to a more inclusive, authentic and interest-driven dialogue. The companies that are able to embrace this, and learn from the people they reach, will be the ones that excel in managing their reputations online.
i think it’s really interesting! Have you seen the latest skittles site? i didn’t like it. What do you think?

mars is really brave to do it

is anyone listening?


Salterbaxter’S guide to Social media

in summary

1. Understand the rules of the game Social media requires a different way of thinking. Think strategically for the long term and remember it’s about real people and open communication, not about a static corporate message. Just by being involved in social media shows companies are willing to be part of the debate. 2. Authenticity Write about real things that people care about, using an authentic tone of voice. Post new information frequently to help build credibility over time (social media is about sharing after all). Focus on explaining your point of view with openness and honesty to address high levels of scepticism (overt corporate PR doesn’t work well in this space). 3. Accept you can’t control everything Seek advice to help clarify the potential risks and rewards of any social media project. Accept there will always be negative detractors and NGOs taking a narrow view. If you are cautious, undertake a trial project first and measure results to help build your social media confidence. Accept that you won’t be able to change the culture overnight, but you can take small steps which can lead to a snowball effect.

4. Avoid blandness Due to all the web noise you will need to make the content relevant, interactive and engaging to draw people in. Make the content easy to read, use sub-headings to make the content relevant and instruct a design agency that knows their social media onions (preferably us!) 5. Think community first Understand who your audience is: where are they online; what are they doing; and what tools are they likely to be using? Then develop a trusted and credible web presence on the social networks they are using. Encourage feedback where possible and don’t forget to respond! 6. Track measurable results As budgets are tight it is important to learn how to measure truly relevant results. Think hard numbers: no. of hits; no. of questions posted; no. of favourable comments. Also think qualitative results, such as increased sentiment towards brand or spontaneous responses from staff. Use these metrics to review and revise future plans.


Salterbaxter’S guide to Social media

what’s next?

iT is clear THaT social media Will be an imporTanT asseT for corporaTe communicaTions and THe companies THaT Will succeed Will be THose THaT creaTe meaningful relaTionsHips THrougH engaged and commiTTed neTWorks.
Understanding the nature of this new collaboration online is key. Opening up to sharing with others and recognising your corporate message will be owned and defined by people outside your organisation remains the biggest barrier to change for many companies. But social media is happening all around us and offers companies the opportunity to engage with a whole range of stakeholders. All that companies now need to do is start an open and honest conversation.

this way to the future


Salterbaxter’S guide to Social media

let’s have a conversation

Salterbaxter advise companies on strategy, branding, corporate communications and design. We have a strongly held belief that most things could be made better – they just need better insight, brighter ideas, more creative thought. And so our offer to clients is all about creative re-thinking for the corporate communications landscape. Our clients are extremely varied and include: FTSE 100 companies; major multinationals; some of the world’s most exclusive brands; law firms; private equity firms; world leading educational establishments and independent, entrepreneurial businesses.

202 Kensington Church Street, London W8 4DP T: +44 (0)20 7229 5720 Or join the debate at
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