B2B Marcom Case Study: How to Get Started in Social Media

Here’s the second in a series of "How To’s" to help you add social media to your integrated marketing communications program. Integrated Marcom Minute interviewed Katherine Watkins, Marketing Communications Manager, Eastman Chemical Company, to learn how she and her marcom team integrated social media into their marcom mix. Research took them down an unexpected path… less B2B and more B2B2C. Learn more…

B2B Marcom Case Study: How to Get Started in Social Media

IMM: How did you begin integrating social media into your marcom mix?

KW: We wanted to be part of the conversations that were occurring on the internet relative to our products, so we started simply by listening. We searched blogs, tweets and Google alerts for our brand terms and product categories. What we found was that many of the conversations weren’t originating from our direct customers, but through consumers who use the products containing Eastman resins. This is where we saw the greatest potential to add value to the conversation.

IMM: Based on your findings, what step did you take next to integrate social media into your marcom plan?

KW: We started to participate in the conversation by showcasing our customers’ work where it added value to the consumers’ conversations. For example there’s concern over the use of a chemical bisphenol-a (BPA) in children’s beverage containers. Our Tritan(TM) copolyester is a BPA-free resin, so we commented on related blogs, not about our Tritan, but about our customers who’ve used Tritan to create BPA-free food and beverage containers for children and adults. Our intent was less about promoting our products and more about just being helpful within the context of the conversations already going on in the social sphere.

IMM: Have you shifted or changed your Marcom mix to allow for social media, and if so, how?

KW: We’ve integrated more video into our mix because video lends itself well to social media. We produced several videos, of which one went viral and was viewed more than 7,000 times. Again, we featured our customers in the video and the value their products and ours added to addressing the needs of consumers. For example, Y Water was a new concept in a children’s beverages made possible by an Eastman product. In the video, the designer shares the trials and tribulations of seeing his innovative idea come to fruition, despite being told that his idea was impossible to achieve. View the Y Water video.

IMM: How did you budget for social media?

KW: We had a small budget this year to experiment with social media for clerical help. However, the cost of participating in social media is really the time and resources, both of which are limited, so we’re careful about putting our resources on the most effective social media marketing techniques.

IMM: How have you allocated resources for social media?

KW: We’ve integrated social media into our marketing communications culture both internally and externally with our agency partners. We’ve basically taken the content that’s already being produced and asked our agencies to provide another 100 words suitable for Facebook and Twitter. Internally, we’ve divided up the social media sphere and assigned someone to monitor and participate in each. We use our internal people for monitoring and writing comments, and in parallel, a consultant works on the administrative end of social media, such as researching influential bloggers and relevant blogs, obtaining truncated URLs, etc. Collectively, we spend about eight hours per day on social media.

IMM: How are you monitoring your success with social media?

KW: At a macro level, we monitor the social sphere to understand trends, and we’re currently evaluating monitoring software. Then we take a look at the effectiveness of each of the components such as the videos, and monitor how many views we received and the number of hits to our website. As our program matures, we’re working on metrics that will help us understand the influence of social media on business, brand and target audience.

IMM: Finally, B2B marketers often avoid social media due to fear of legal risks. How have you addressed this at Eastman?

KW:We’ve been fortunate to have involved legal, HR and IT in our social media program from its inception. They’ve been helpful in understanding the risk and advising us on ways we can participate while mitigating risk. In many areas, we’ve taken baby steps such as setting a specific timeframe for review and adjust. While this isn’t the optimum approach for social media, it is a way for conservative B2B companies to move forward while keeping everyone comfortable. As social media becomes a more prominent part of our communication strategy and we determine the best areas for Eastman to engage, we’ll need to develop a more defined corporate marketing policy.

Special thanks to Katherine and her team for sharing their time and talent.

That’s integrated marcom!

More next time…

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