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Still feeling that social media is an alien planet?
It’s time to join the conversation

Social media – OMG* it’s so hard and so not corporate!
Without question, digital technologies and now social media have radically changed the way we operate and communicate as businesses, corporations, families and friends. The capacity to talk and share online in real time is amplified by social media. What social media has provided us with is the ability to share our message and connect with audiences much more than before and with more visible results. More importantly, in today’s climate, it gives equal voice to your customers, consumers, critics and competitors.
Communicating, sharing, learning, collaborating and participating are natural human traits. Obvious, non? It’s because we all love to talk, share and be part of a network. We all thrive when these activities are in place; we learn, adapt, innovate and improve. A key outcome of this is that we tend to trust what our network shares with us rather than a piece of communication, advertising or promotion. Think about your own experiences as a consumer; friends, family and peers have often recommended products and services that you remember, value and engage with. The companies that listen to you, include you in the process and respond to your feedback, ultimately keep you as a valued and repeat customer. As a customer, a consumer, or an employee you want to be part of the process as it contributes to a more enriching experience and one that’s more real and relevant to you. So if, as individuals, we thrive in these networks, why are so many companies cautious and resistant to embracing this way of communicating? At salterbaxter, we have a lot of conversations with our clients and our peers who tell us that social media doesn’t or won’t work for the corporate sector. The mantra is that it is not appropriate to embrace social media in a corporate context. ‘Facebook is banned’ and ‘we don’t have access to YouTube’. Many fear how this approach would work within existing company culture. Marketing teams know they can’t ignore it but don’t know where to start. And some who do embrace social media then wonder why it doesn’t work, when they broadcast the same old messages via these channels rather than recognising that they are part of a network. But social media is so much more than Facebook and YouTube. It is now an integral part of the communications media mix. Digital and social platforms are increasingly the predominant way that messages and communications are absorbed. We would argue that social media technologies are useful tools, and when used in the right context, help organisations to innovate and participate in conversations that engage stakeholders and keep your customers happy – so ultimately support shareholder value. But engagement in social media and networking needs consideration like any other engagement strategy. Companies need to determine what the right channels and networks are for them and their communities and how best to provide value. We recognise that in some cases there are barriers to overcome and you are not alone. But it doesn’t need to be overwhelming. Does it really work? We think so, and to illustrate the point we are highlighting some companies who are finding real value in communicating, collaborating and sharing using social media.

Mel McVeigh
Head of Digital

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* Just in case... OMG = Oh My God

Directions Supplement October / November 09

Corporates using social platforms as a way of engaging their communities
It’s early days, but we expect to see more companies integrating social media with traditional online communications over the next 12 months. These examples show companies that are successfully embracing social media.

Corporate websites
ASDA Corporate website Is this the future of corporate websites? They certainly don’t need to be static or conventional reporting channels. This social platform for ASDA is a great example of a strategy to regularly communicate to their core audience. What is so great about it? ASDA haven’t siloed their social media activity from their existing communications, but have created an integrated experience. Other corporate websites integrating social media: International Hotel Group

Corporate responsibility
FedEx Citizenship blog If you are looking to engage your audience frequently, then reporting on your sustainability programme every 12 to 18 months with old data will not meet that business requirement. Create a platform that is scalable and flexible to handle frequently updated content from various sources and then share them across the web and other social networks like YouTube. What’s so good about that? It gives people a reason to keep coming back. FedEx’s citizenship blog is frequently updated – every week. There is an active community who share, comment and feedback as well as a loyal audience of repeat visitors. A great and consistent way of sharing your stories, performance and activity. More corporate responsibility websites exploiting social networking and content: Gap inc The Guardian Newspaper


of search results for the world’s top 20 largest brands are links to user generated content.

Networks & forums
American Express Representing your company is not all about sending out messages promoting products and services. Drive value by providing services that make your customers jobs and lives easier. This creates a more positive and continuous customer experience. Open Forum highlights relevant information, encouraging browsing through the site. Engaging with content across a variety of issues and problems to inspire and inform the business community. Other great networks and forums: Centrica 58&blogger=simonhenderson HSBC

Campaign for change
Marks & Spencer (UK) Communicate with a campaign mindset. Get your employees involved and promote all the good activity out there. Imagine the impact and influence we could have with regards to company issues if we engaged people in solving them. Marks & Spencer’s Plan A campaign shows that companies can be open and work with partners and communities to drive as well as promote real change. More great campaigns for change: CSR campaign by Liberty Mutual (uS) Co-operative Bank (uK) Co-operative Bank (uK)

Online conversations happen beyond the boundaries of your website. Are you part of the conversation?
Conversations are happening in many places across the internet. Are you aware of where your company is being discussed and debated? And if you want to engage your users and stakeholders do you need to join the existing conversation rather than creating your own?
Don’t communicate with everyone in the same way
Timberland Sustainability Effective communications should be targeted to each of your stakeholder audiences. Engaging youth culture is vastly different to engaging corporate CR professionals. Should you communicate with them through the same channel? Not necessarily, you could publish in multiple sources specific to that audience. The benefit of such an approach is your capacity to tailor your communications and also exploit social mediums used specifically by close stakeholder groups. Other companies spreading their message: Nestle,

Content first, platform second
The Fun Theory by Volkswagen If the web is a mass of conversations, make something worth talking about. Engaging content – think viral. Who is going to share a boring report or come back to a website that is never updated? What value does it have? Who would be interested in sharing and discussing it? Create content and services worth passing on. Make it easy for your stakeholders and your fans to spread the word. Volkswagen’s fun theory received 1.2 million+ views in the first four days.


of bloggers post opinions about products and brands.


The best of the best
Ford and social media Who is doing it best? Discussed in many social media channels and for good reason, Ford has an integrated view of the importance of social media across all their user and stakeholder groups from customers and fans to employees and stakeholders. The same frameworks apply and with measureable success. As of March 2009, Ford is mentioned on average in 12 million blogs compared with Chrysler averaging less than half at around 5 million*. Even better, there is also a site that aggregates all their activity so you can see where they have a social media presence. Read in more detail about their statistics and impact: *

pieces of content – links to news stories, blog posts, notes, photos – are shared on Facebook every day.

Videos worth watching
In the interests of sharing, here are some videos that we’ve seen over the last couple of months that have made us sit up, take notice and occasionally smile. Social media revolution? watch?v=sIFYPQjYhv8 Still think it’s a fad? Did you know 4.0 watch?v=6ILQrurEWe8 Want to know about the latest shifts in behaviour? Wake up freak out and get a grip A great video on the impacts of climate change. Know your meme Fantastic site explaining the logic behind all the latest fads. 100 Greatest hits of YouTube in 4 minutes watch?v=BudhFVnN2o0 And one more, just for fun. How many have you been sent via email? A different ending watch?v=JFVkzYDNJqo Not for profit campaign to prevent knife crime in the uK. Crisis of Credit Want to understand the credit crisis better and how it all started?

About us
Contact: Louise Dudley-Williams Tel: +44 (0)20 7229 5720 Emily Measor Tel: +44 (0)20 7229 5720

Salterbaxter advises companies on strategy, branding, corporate communications and design.
We name companies, re-invent companies, re-position companies and re-brand companies.

About Directions Directions is a series of research and insight pieces covering the full range of corporate communications issues. These supplements support the main annual Directions report which focuses on corporate responsibility. If you’d like to contribute please get in touch.

We help companies communicate with shareholders and their employees and we advise them on how to address corporate responsibility. We create brands, complete company communications programmes and global guidelines. We design, build and manage websites, e-commerce sites and all things interactive. We develop climate change campaigns and bring sustainability to life. In short we apply strategic and creative thinking to the full range of corporate communications issues. Our clients are extremely varied and include FTSE 100 and Euro 100 companies; some of the world’s most exclusive brands; independent, entrepreneurial businesses; world leading educational establishments; law firms; private equity firms and media companies. We have a range of strategies, tools and services that can help companies develop effective approaches to social media and all things digital – we’d love to share these with you, so please get in touch.

202 Kensington Church Street London W8 4DP Tel +44 (0)20 7229 5720 Fax +44 (0)20 7229 5721

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