Examples of social media in corporate marketing

September 5, 2008

Although I mainly work on the web in a public affairs/political campaigning context, eMarketing is easily at the forefront when it comes to applying digital in communications, so that’s where I do most of my research. So I’m very grateful to Peter Kim for posting an amazing list of social media marketing examples.

These aren’t all benchmarks. Most Second Life or Facebook applications don’t really take off as marketing or even branding efforts: Second Life simply doesn’t have the right amount or type of traffic; while Facebook applications should serve a really practical purpose, which they often don’t. Companies usually try to create interactive games, but these are often patronising and/or dull. The best applications (and therefore most popular) so far are the simple ones that just report on news and updates e.g. TechCrunch, or the ones that provide a service. For instance, VISA have created a Facebook application targetting small business owners which has 30,000 users per month, and it has worked because they aim to provide a real service – advice and connections to other business owners – rather than entertain users.

I can see why agencies recommend complex applications or Second Life metropoli and so on – 100s of billable hours – but when it comes to Social Media, simple really is better. Out of the examples in Peter’s entry, although I didn’t go through all in great detail, I’d cite the following examples of good benchmarks for four uses of social media which are set up on free platforms and seem very easy to run. For social bookmarking, Adobe’s use of Delicious to collect educational material on their products in one place is dead simple yet provides an extremely useful service to customers. For microblogging, Bristish Airways are using Twitter to announce special offers on fares. As a great example of a widget, stand forth Acura (car manufacturer), who provide users a widget which shows them the state of traffic in their vicinity to check before leaving home/the office. And lastly, Dell’s Ideastorm forum, which has been discussed at great length in the blogosphere, on which users can post and discuss new ideas regarding Dell products. Dell actually uses the best of these ideas to develop their products: imagine that, a company that listens to their customers and builds products accordingly?! And they’re booming.

What’s also impressive is the traditional brands on the list e.g. Ernst and Young (great use of Facebook by creating a group for job seekers – handy for users and potentially an excellent resource for the company), Bank of America (although their guy singing a doctored version of U2’s One is pathetic), and Johnson and Johnson, who like many pharma companies are beginning to see how the web can be used to adopt a more patient-centric approach.

Peter has already updated his list once and I assume he will do so again, so I’d recommend checking it regularly.

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