Altimeter: How 4 Leading Brands Scale Social Business

4 minute read
Dan Berthiaume avatar

Social business is a complex process by nature, and a constantly growing number of variables are magnifying that complexity. In a new report, Altimeter Research uses case studies to demonstrate how several well-known brands are managing factors such as individual customer conversations and locations to maximize the effectiveness of their social business initiatives.

Looking broadly at the social business challenge in Scaling Social Business: How Brands Manage Complex, Distributed Programs, Altimeter Research says brands manage an average of 178 corporate social accounts, but many are not aware of all of their accounts and only 16% have formalized and regularly update their corporate social account inventory. Altimeter advises that social media management systems (SMMS) are crucial for many companies, but there are few real-life examples of SMMS in action. How technology is applied is also just as important as features/functions of any particular system.

To illustrate exactly how SMMS can assist the process of managing complex and distributed social business efforts, Altimeter provides case studies of Whole Foods, Amway, General Motors and Puma. Synopses of each case study follow.

Whole Foods Localizes Social Business

Specialty organic food retailer Whole Foods launched its social business initiative on a localized basis, with individual stores creating their own social media accounts and minimal corporate oversight or centralized planning. To increase control and alignment of social business activities without losing the benefit of the personal relationships that had been created, Whole Foods implemented the Spredfast SMMS tool that scales and facilitates content distribution while allowing flexible reporting.

Spredfast allows multiple users to work on the same accounts in synchronized fashion and also provides a centralized content repository and data aggregation capabilities. Whole Foods began with a small six-to-eight-week pilot and intends to have all stores using Spredfast by this summer.

General Motors Establishes Regional Hubs

The General Motors International Operations (GMIO) division of automaker General Motors oversees operations outside the US in regions such as Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia-Pacific and Australia. Using social media to increase the loyalty of existing customers and also develop new customers, GMIO bases its social media initiative in a hub in Shanghai that manages regional hubs. Each regional hub has a Social Media Champion who manages the entire process as well as a Social Media Coordinator who runs daily operations.


Learning Opportunities

Previously, each regional hub had different executives from different departments in charge and did not employ common measurement metrics. This centralized structure allows GMIO to use a unified SMMS platform called Sprinklr that has reduced social support time from 12 hours to 90 minutes.

Amway Takes Holistic Social Media Approach

Direct sales organization Amway runs a Social Media Business Council (SMBC) that provides high-level strategy, insights and best practices individual distributors can apply to their social business efforts. Distributors manage their own social media activities with support and guidance from SMBC. This decentralized, holistic model requires Amway to use SMMS technology and consulting services from Syncapse to provide Web-based training and also ensure brand consistency across individual distributors.

Syncapse also provides universal performance metrics to allow consistent measurement and goal-setting. Amway intends to have all of its 4 million global distributors using the Syncapse system this year.

Puma Tracks Facebook Activity

In 2009, global athletic apparel/accessories brand Puma decided to formalize its Facebook presence when the number of Facebook users reached 500 million. At that point, Puma’s Facebook efforts were fragmented by country with no central oversight. Puma decided to increase local Facebook engagement with better corporate control and deployed SMMS technology from Wildfire Interactive.

This allows Puma, which does not use Facebook as a primary sales channel, to track impressions, likes and shares and tailor content by region. Puma currently operates almost 50 Facebook accounts and employs six full-time social media managers.

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