Thursday, March 10, 2011

Corporate Social Media Strategy -- Not One Size Fits All

As social media platforms gain popularity, more and more companies are emerging with a social media presence. However, some companies fail to identify a social media strategy that can assist them in reaching their goals. The article entitled “Social media strategies evolve” by Mashable and Warc presents three distinctly different corporate approaches to social media that are operating successfully in the social media atmosphere.

General Mills
General Mills maintains a separate social media presence for each of its brands, which allows for a more targeted approach. By giving each of the brands a unique online voice and social media presence, General Mills becomes more approachable to its customers. Additionally, this separation allows for more interaction between General Mills and the public because the social media maintenance responsibilities are divided among many representatives of General Mills’ top brands. The downside of this approach is that the overarching corporate branding efforts can get watered down and replaced by fragmented messages from multiple brands. 

Samsung presents a unified front on social media platforms by consistently including the iconic name and Samsung logo on its brand pages. According to the article, Samsung reads all tweets about the company and responds accordingly. One of the benefits of have a centralized approach to social media is that all responses have a similar voice and tone. Additionally, Samsung can easily monitor its brand in the social media atmosphere and be more conscientious of changing trends among consumers and in the industry. Further, Samsung wanted the ability to reach consumers who might be interested in Samsung’s products but do not mention the company by name in social media. A centralized approach lends itself to the depth of monitoring social media that is required to accomplish that task.

Intel operates a hub and spoke approach to social media by educating all interested employees on the corporate guidelines and policies regarding social media. This strategy allows Intel to leverage the power of its employees by encouraging and giving them an outlet to spread positive word of mouth about the company. Intel trusts its employees enough to allow them to speak on the company’s behalf. In addition, Intel’s customers are most interested in hearing real perspectives rather than a poised corporate response. However, there is risk involved with allowing all employees to represent the company publicly. All employees are not experts in communication and public relations, which may lead them to respond inappropriately in some instances, which has the potential to lead to big problems for Intel. 

The social media strategies presented in this article prove that social media is more of an art than a science. General Mills, Samsung and Intel operate drastically different strategies when it comes to social media, yet each strategy is successful. The key to developing a social media strategy for a large corporation that is effective is to begin by evaluating the needs of consumers and the abilities of employees. Many articles and websites publish basic guidelines for corporate social media. But, as this article illustrates, social media strategy is not one-size-fits-all and should be adapted to meet the needs of the both the company and its customers. 

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