Magazine article Communication World

Summit Sheds Light on Social Media Best Practices

Magazine article Communication World

Summit Sheds Light on Social Media Best Practices

Article excerpt

Social media are changing the way we interact with and respond to stakeholders. In this era of instantaneous communication, if we aren't part of the conversation, we will be left behind. These ideas figured prominently at the IABC Innovation in Corporate Communication and Social Media Summit, held in April at the 3M Innovation Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. The conference drew 78 people, plus 21 virtual participants who could access the presentations and ask questions during the event. Speakers from Southwest Airlines, Pitney Bowes, State Farm Insurance and others shared how they are integrating social media into the way they do business. Here are some highlights from the program and advice from some of the presenters.

Drive innovation

At 3M, employees engage through social media tools within the company, and in the process become a key source of innovation and connectivity. The global technology company has found that the social process offers continuous engagement that drives inspiration and brand entrenchment with consumers.

"Social media is all about consumer conversations for us at 3M. That is why we developed eHub, which is a social approach to business results," says Loran Gutt, manager of Strategy and Global Key Accounts for 3M.

Gutt's advice to corporate communicators is to embrace this communication channel, listen to your customers and build meaningful relationships with them.

Go where your customers are

To engage with customers, it is not enough to have an email address and customer service number listed on your website. Today, people want to interact with businesses via their chosen means of communication, be it Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, discussion forums or a customer feedback site.

Millie Richter, communication specialist at Southwest Airlines, gave this advice to summit attenders:

* Don't be afraid to join the conversation.

* Make it personal.

* Engage the positive.

* Establish channels before a crisis.

* Act fast.

* Don't rely on the numbers alone.

* Educate your employees and leaders.

Redefine the brand and make yourself social

Matt Kelly, public relations specialist with State Farm Insurance, said that the combination of highlighting the company's core brand attributes and reacting in real time to customer feedback via a variety of social media has proven to be a very effective strategy for State Farm. …

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