Which companies are doing the best job of leveraging social media to reach customers, boost their brands and sell stuff? The answers may surprise you.
With recipe websites in English and Spanish, a presence on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, and more than 70 product lines inspiring conversations across the Internet, Kraft comes in at No. 1 on Crain's ranking of Chicago's most effective social-media marketers.
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1 KRAFT FOODS INC.
3 Lakes Drive, Northfield 60093; (847) 646-2000; KraftFoodsCompany.com
From the Tuesday before Thanksgiving through the evening of the holiday, Kraft Foods' culinary staff were available to answer questions about meal preparation posted on the company's Facebook page.
It's one of the ways the Northfield food products giant combines cooking and social media to engage consumers, says Katie Williams, senior director of consumer relationship marketing at Kraft.
Ms. Williams, 38, oversees KraftRecipes.com, which contains 30,000 recipes and received about 80 million total visits last year, and the Kraft Foods Facebook page, where more than 770,000 fans can swap recipes, photos and cooking tips.
"When they want recipes, they go to the website. When they want to share their passion, they go to Facebook," says Ms. Williams, who also is responsible for Kraft's Twitter feed, which has about 27,000 followers.
Kraft has social-media platforms for more than 70 product lines such as the Oreo cookie brand (which had 23.6 million "likes" on Facebook as of Nov. 15, the date Crain's data was collected) and macaroni and cheese (with 564,000 "likes"). The company maintains a YouTube channel with cooking demonstrations that have received more than 7.2 million total views since June 2007.
A Spanish language Facebook site, Comida Kraft, has enjoyed an uptick in activity since the company launched its "Share Your Latin Flavor" campaign last May. Mexican celebrity chef Alfredo Oropeza posted five recipes a month to ComidaKraft.com and answered questions about them during a live Twitter exchange.
"Consumers could access them and share stories (on Comida Kraft's Facebook page) about how they incorporate Latin culture and share tradition with their families," Ms. Williams says. She credits the campaign with helping increase traffic to the Facebook page in November by 100% from the previous year.
Comida Kraft also has a high engagement rate, which Kraft measures as the ratio of the number of people liking a Facebook page or posting to the number of fans. "We try to ensure we're maintaining a level of at least one interaction per 1,000 fans," Ms. Williams says. "Some of our sites blow away that benchmark."
Rick Wion, director of social media at McDonald's Corp., says the chain's nearly 12 million Facebook fans "want entertainment." Photo: Erik Unger
2 McDONALD'S CORP.
1 McDonald's Plaza, Oak Brook 60523; (630) 623-3000; McDonalds.com
Early last summer, when McDonald's was rolling out its frozen strawberry lemonade, the fast-food giant promoted the drink with a contest via Twitter. The competition asked Facebook fans to identify friends who were a "perfect pair." Organizers received 20,000 entries in the first few weeks.
An emphasis on this kind of game has helped McDonald's build its Facebook presence to include nearly 12 million fans. "Our Facebook fans want entertainment," says Rick Wion, 39, director of social media. "They want to get information, but they want to see interesting videos, they want to play games, they want to participate in polls."
McDonald's Facebook page keeps up a steady stream of these offerings, from its "Voice of McDonald's" singing contest to "The Quest," a video game that alerts McRib fans to nearby locations where they can get a fix.
While some contests are ballyhooed on its Twitter feed, McDonald's uses that platform mainly in a conversational way, replying to customer questions and conducting chats, such as a recent exchange about sustainability. Although its 200,000 Twitter followers are dwarfed by its Facebook following, "we get mentioned (on Twitter) 250,000 to 300,000 times a week," Mr. Wion says.
He also cultivates hundreds of bloggers to write about McDonald's, including them in the company's media contact lists, inviting them to tasting events and providing them with coupons for free items. "A lot of corporations pitch bloggers, which is fine for a transactional relationship, but we've found that maintaining a relationship beyond just needing something has a huge benefit for us," Mr. Wion says.
He uses CoTweet to measure Twitter mentions and Radian6 to track the blogs. "A blessing and a curse with social media is that it's highly measurable," he says. "The challenge is there's no industry standard that everyone should follow."
Instead, Mr. Wion and his team of five full-time staffers dedicated to social media measure the amount of chatter each item on McDonald's menu receives and monitor how much social media affects it. "We're going to measure that change in volume and tonality," he says.
Imran Jooma, president of Sears' online marketing and financial services. Photo: Stephen J. Serio
3 SEARS HOLDINGS CORP.
3333 Beverly Road, Hoffman Estates 60179; (847) 286-2500; SearsHoldings.com
Lots of big consumer- oriented companies let customers post product reviews on their websites. But Sears has taken an extra step, creating a Yelp-like site called MySears.com where people can comment on products and talk about the service they received at the company's Sears, Kmart and Lands' End locations.
Shoppers can read those reviews online or access them on their smartphones while they're in the store by entering the product number.
The reviews are one way Sears aims to use social media to promote transparency and customer satisfaction.
"We want to better understand and serve our customers' needs," says Imran Jooma, Sears' president of online marketing and financial services. "If there are any issues our customers are facing, we want to hear from them. We want to stop problems quickly and act on the feedback they're providing."
A Sears team also responds to customer complaints on Facebook and Twitter.
"If you didn't have these forums," Mr. Jooma says, "how else would we find out if a customer had a poor experience? It gives us an opportunity to resolve a problem in real time and turn a negative experience into a positive experience."
Sears also offers interactive promotions, like "People's Pick," which lets customers vote for a discount from a pre-selected list. The product with the most votes is put on sale the following weekend.
4 MOTOROLA MOBILITY HOLDINGS INC.
600 N. U.S. Highway 45, Libertyville 60048; (847) 523-5000; Motorola.com
A product launch can be a great time to build and take advantage of a social following, as Motorola Mobility discovered with its recent "Speed Hour" campaign. Centered on the company's new Photon 4G phone, the campaign encouraged customers to watch a promotional video on Facebook during a random one-hour period each day. The company would then give away phones to a few lucky customers who took time to watch the videos.
"I think that really helped us build overall awareness of Motorola, but it also helped build sales of the phone," says Bill Ogle, Motorola Mobility's chief marketing officer. Another benefit: a spike in fans and followers, making it one of the company's most successful social-media campaigns.
5 WALGREEN CO.
200 Wilmot Road, Deerfield 60015; (847) 914-2500; Walgreens.com
Sometimes two social networks are better than one, especially when it comes to social-media campaigns. Just ask Walgreen. This fall, the drugstore operator used Foursquare and Facebook Places to distribute more than $6 million in flu shot vouchers to five national charities. For every check-in, Walgreen donated a voucher. Participants could then go on Facebook to vote on how to distribute the vouchers among the charities.
"You sort of know you're onto something when Four-square is equally as excited as you are to participate in something like this," says Adam Kmiec, Walgreen's director of social media. "The metrics greatly exceeded our expectations." The "Check-Ins That Make a Difference" campaign even earned Walgreen a Star Award for best use of social media from the Chicago Interactive Marketing Assn.
6 DEERE & CO.
1 John Deere Place, Moline 61265; (309) 765-8000; JohnDeere.com
Never underestimate the power of a brand. Although Deere didn't have an active social-media presence until early 2010, the maker of farm equipment already has amassed a large following, tapping into the industries where it is an authoritative voice. "There's a mix of aspiring customers and customers," says Sean O'Hanlon, Deere's manager of Internet, research and information services. "People have wanted to touch the brand in social media . . . and I think we've been able to capitalize on that."
7 BOEING CO.
100 N. Riverside Plaza, Chicago 60606; (312) 544-2000; Boeing.com
At Boeing, the sky isn't necessarily the limit — at least when it comes to social media. "It doesn't benefit us to be jumping around to every tool or possibility that's there," says Todd Blecher, communications director at the Chicago-based aerospace giant. "We want to make sure that the tools we're using are ones that we can use effectively to serve our communications purposes."
|METHODOLOGYUsing data and analysis provided by Austin, Texas-based Dachis Group's Social Business Index, Crain'sranked the 10 Chicago-area companies doing the best job of leveraging social media to reach customers and boost brand recognition.|
Covering more than 25,000 companies, Dachis' index uses natural language processing, semantic analysis, machine learning and cluster analysis to determine how effectively companies are maximizing their social efforts across a number of platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Dachis combined data from the index and Crain's 2011 lists of Chicago's largest public and privately held companies to score the top 10, as of Nov. 15.
About the index: The Social Business Index is seeded with the Global 2000, the world's most valuable brands, and the largest companies by advertising spending. Subsidiaries of companies are measured under the parent company.
• Audience strength measures the quantity and quality of listeners to a company through all of its social channels. Companies with a high rating have a large number of followers or a great number of influential followers, or both. Those companies with a low rating are either new to the social space or have low activity within these channels.
• Content sharing measures the extent or frequency with which social channels are used for disseminating brand-oriented content (videos, web pages, documents) via their social channels. Highly active companies might point followers to 15 to 30 items in a single day (across all of their channels) and mention these items multiple times throughout the day.
• Conversation strength measures the quantity and quality of communications among the areas that make up a company's ecosystem of followers. Companies with a high conversation strength have a high volume of interactive and responsive communications.
• Topical alignment refers to the similarity of interests between a company and its followers.
• Sentiment measures the collective mood of the followers in a company's ecosystem of social relationships. This measurement is more meaningful when viewed along with other variables, such as topical alignment.
8 ALLSTATE CORP.
2775 Sanders Road, Northbrook 60062; (847) 402-5000; Allstate.com
Social media at Allstate can be summed up in one word: mayhem. For the past year-and-a-half, the insurer has gone viral with its "Mayhem" advertising character, the personification of everything that can go wrong behind the wheel. "In social (media), you want to be as relevant as you can to the audience," says Roger Tye, director of consumer engagement. "Those videos have really resonated with consumers." Several of the ads have more than 1 million views on YouTube, and the character's Facebook page has upward of 1 million likes, 20 times more than the company's main account.
9 ABBOTT LABORATORIES
100 Abbott Park Road, North Chicago 60064; (847) 937-6100; Abbott.com
In the social space, sometimes individual products are more popular than the companies that produce them. Case in point: Abbott's EAS Sports Nutrition line, an assortment of nutritional supplements marketed almost exclusively to fitness buffs. On Twitter, the EAS account has more than 5,000 followers, many of whom share recipes for protein shakes and other exercise-inspired concoctions, while Abbott's corporate page has just more than 1,700. The gap is even more prominent on Facebook, where EAS boasts nearly 118,000 "likes," significantly more than the Abbott Careers page, which has around 16,000.
10 DISCOVER FINANCIAL SERVICES INC.
2500 Lake Cook Road, Riverwoods 60015; (224) 405-0900; Discover.com
The credit card issuer acts fast on Twitter, Facebook and other channels. "We have response-time goals that are measured in seconds, not hours or days," says Mike Bousch, Discover's vice-president of e-business. "The nature of the medium puts you out there for your customers to comment, so you better have your best game on."
© 2011 by Crain Communications Inc.
Read more: http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20111231/ISSUE02/312319985/which-companies-are-doing-social-media-right#ixzz1iELwnA2w
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