Social Pro Files: Let corporate social media out of the bottle

In 2011, 80 percent of large companies plan to use social media. It has changed the way that large companies market their products — It’s changing the way large companies do business.

Companies are increasing their spend on social media tactics and the role that social media plays in marketing strategies.  Marketers are blending social media tactics with traditional marketing efforts to boost results and bolster measurable results from social media at the same time. Four out of five US businesses with 100 or more employees will use social media in their marketing mix, according to a recent report from eMarketer.

You can’t do social media in a silo.

Social media has infiltrated most areas of marketing: Print materials promote a company’s presence on Facebook and Twitter.  Websites integrated live Twitter streams and Facebook social plugins. Research includes results from social monitoring tools. CRM efforts integrate social profile data. Email marketing incorporates social media promotions. And :30 TV spots are complimented with ‘behind the scene’ video footage and consumer education videos on YouTube. Marketers are using social media to make traditional areas of sales and marketing more effective.

Social media has penetrated the customer service areas and corporate culture of large companies.  Although the overall volume and demand for Twitter support is low (less than 1% in 2009 and 2010 according to Forrester), many companies supplement customer support channels (phone, email, online) with Twitter.  Social media users are increasingly vocal and active. This enables companies to detect problems, defects, and service issues earlier and tee up solutions for traditional service channels.

The narrowing gap between personal and work-related social media also means that human resources and corporate legal are increasingly affected by social media. What employee activities should be allowed? What activities should be encouraged? How is the activity of employees monitored at work, and at home? What can be recommended? What can be enforced? At the beginning of 2010, less than one third of companies had social media policies, according to Manpower. In 2011, for many companies it will remain an area of focus.

Social Pro Hugh McLeod, author of Ignore Everybody and publisher cartoons and social critique at, said brands that embrace social media  have an edge on competitors because it generates transparency with customers and passion among employees. It generates smarter conversations and fosters a stronger, more authentic corporate culture.

“This business of corporate culture (and improving it) is not rocket science. It’s about answering a few basic questions: What is interesting? What really matters? Why are you here? What gets you out of bed in the morning? These are aren’t hard questions to answer, if one is honest. But it it’s personal, and a lot of people are uncomfortable about bringing the personal into the corporate environment,” said McLeod. “A good sign for me is when you ask somebody what they actually do…and they actually give you a straight answer that’s easy to understand. And when you get the answer with lucidity and enthusiasm.”

“This is changing slowly, but it needs to change more quickly, I believe, if we are going to stay globally competitive.” McLeod aides the process by creating illustrated social objects that he refers to as ‘cube grenades’. They ignite passion at the heart of a stagnant corporate culture.

McLeod’s earliest cube grenade, The Blue Monster, challenged Microsoft employees in 2006 to ‘change the world or go home.’ This remains a timely call to action for Social media managers: The work of 2010 was to create social media channels.  The work of 2011 will be to integrate them.

About the contributors

Social•Pro•Files is created for SmartBrief on Social Media by Troy Janisch (@socialmeteor) and Mark Anderson (@doodlehaus).  Both contributors have two decades of digital marketing experience and lead social media activities at American Family Insurance, a Fortune 400 corporation. Troy blogs at Mark shares his art at

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