“Convincing a large organization to change what it’s been doing very successfully for decades can be a bit of a struggle,” says Brandon Rhoten, Wendy’s Director of Digital and Social Media in his presentation at our SocialMedia.org Brands-Only Summit.

He explains that with a heavy focus on TV commercials for over 50 years, Wendy’s was very comfortable with traditional advertising — and getting the company on board with social media took three things:

  • Headlines: Use external press — both the good and the bad. Brad says he shares the cringe-worthy stuff to show why Wendy’s should be a part of the conversation and the good coverage (like winning a Silver Cannes Lion, a Shorty award and Facebook Silver) to show where it’s working.
  • A simple plan: Empower a person to build and take responsibility for the channel. Make simple rules for a clear voice and tone. Don’t start with your business objectives — start with your customers’ habits.
  • (read more…)

Everyone goes through what Lulu Gephart, REI’s manager of social and earned media, calls “content deserts.” There aren’t any campaigns or promotions going on, you’ve got nothing from your creative department, and finding something compelling to post is difficult. But, Lulu explains, at REI, they’ve developed a hashtag strategy that’s helped them capture user-generated content to use for the long haul.

For REI’s 1440 Project, they asked fans upload photos to a microsite or Instagram, tagging what outdoor activity they’re doing, where, and what minute of the 1440-minute day they’re doing it using #REI1440Project. And Lulu says, in just a few months, they gathered over 10,000 photos and over a half-million visits to the microsite.

Here are three key points from her presentation at our SocialMedia.org Brands-Only Summit:

  • Your fans show the true side of your brand. The variety and authenticity of user-generated content they received couldn’t have been recreated by REI’s creative team.
  • (read more…)

Cabela’s social media response plan was a mess: Someone posts a complaint, the social media manager takes a screenshot, e-mails it to the customer care team, the customer care team tries to find the customer in their database (and most often they don’t), then 72 hours later, the social media manager responds.

That social customer service system left two-thirds of their customers’ posts unanswered and a lot of people unhappy. But it wasn’t just dropping the ball on customer complaints, they were also missing big opportunities to build relationships.

In his presentation at SocialMedia.org’s Member Meeting, Cabela’s Social Media Manager Adam Buchanan explains the steps he took to revamp their customer service in social media and earn back the love of their customers. Here are some key points from his case study:

  • Develop a streamlined process: The old system wasn’t working. So Adam hired more community managers and created a direct line of communication with two reps in corporate communications and two reps in customer relations.
  • (read more…)

About a year ago, if you posted a question, complaint or compliment on one of Olive Garden’s social pages, you’d probably be ignored. According to Justin Sikora, Darden director of public relations and social media, it’s not that they didn’t care — just that they weren’t staffed to care.

With a third-party agency creating promotions and campaigns for Olive Garden’s social presence, they were prepared to push messaging, not help customers. In his presentation at SocialMedia.org’s Member Meeting in Chicago, Justin explains how they turned it around with a six-month program and five steps.

Here are a few big ideas from his case study:

  • Take ownership from marketing and give PR the reins: With the public relations team handling social media, they were able to join the tougher conversations about things like breastfeeding in their restaurants, wage discussions and food preparation — not just promotional details.
  • Bring community management in-house: Justin hired two community managers to join the team.
  • (read more…)

“Who ‘likes’ ya, baby?” asks Devon Eyer in her recent presentation at SocialMedia.org’s Brands-Only Summit. In her talk, Johnson & Johnson’s director of corporate communications for social media explains how they improved their corporate reputation by engaging with the right social advocates.

Their influencer strategy is all about finding the people who like their brand and giving them the means to spread the word. Here are three key points from her presentation:

  • Listen strategically. Devon encourages brands to listen to what’s being said about them and the things they care about, so that they’re better prepared to enter the conversation. But it’s about more than trawling for comments on every message board. Find the critiques that will inspire improvement.
  • Let data take you to the right influencers. Devon explains that data can lead you to the people leading the conversation about your brand. It’s not about finding the blogger with the most followers — it’s about engaging with the one whose passions and values match the company’s.
  • (read more…)