Jill Hobbs

Yamaha Motor Corporation’s National Motorsports Marketing Manager, Jill Hobbs, played a key role on a diverse team to establish their first social media program for Motorsports.

A company should have great clarity about who their customer is, what they expect, and what they need from a brand.

With over 26 years of experience with Yamaha, working in Customer Service, Training, Parts & Accessories, and Marketing, Jill says the tie between customer service and social media is so strong that the transition to a more socially focused role made perfect sense for the team.

“When you boil it down, it’s all about the customer. A company should have great clarity about who their customer is, what they expect, and what they need from a brand.”

But she says the biggest challenge they face in social comes from getting a handle on the millions of data points out there. So in 2013, they brought in Radian6 by Salesforce and did extensive training with internal staff and agency vendor partners.

One of their first steps was to set up a social media command center.

To do it, Jill says earning buy-in wasn’t a hard sell.

“I’m proud of our team in that we did our homework. We identified the business needs that a command center could support, and we clearly communicated in both words and imagery of what it would mean to the company, and more importantly, our customers,” Jill explains.

In addition to the five to six months of research they did to choose a listening tool and clearly define the program objectives, Jill says they were also fortunate to be supported by extremely supportive, forward-thinking management.

“They understand the value of social media and collaboration.”

The command center sits in a corner office of their motorsports operational areas.

The command center is a physical example of the support that a company will give to their employees to promote a creative, collaborative, intelligent environment.

Inside they have a giant whiteboard, four big-screen TVs on the wall, plus a 75-inch touch screen. They display things like nationwide consumer events, current promotions, social mentions, their social properties, comments on industry blogs, or topic profiles on specific research areas.

As for the budget for these tools, Jill says she worked with the Yamaha IT team to determine the hardware they needed and strategically prioritized her existing marketing budget.

“We did cut budget on a couple of ‘nice-to-haves’ for that full year to feasibly invest in the command center. Sometimes that’s what you have to do — you have to look at your budget and determine what your goals and objectives are, what’s nice to have, and what you should have, and reprioritize your money that way. ”

“The command center is a very busy place with lots of energy and strong branding.”

Jill says initially their open-door policy meant they literally took the doors off the hinges to make the command center more inviting. But because things can get loud, they put a door back on with a big window instead.

“We have discussions, debates, collaboration, and creativity going on in there.”

Representatives from Marketing, Advertising, Sales, their two dedicated Social staff, CRM staff, and their agency meet often to strategically plan out social and email customer communications and to discuss current market conditions. The command center is always open to other departments, and they’ve brought in people from Yamaha offices from all over the world to come in and talk about what they’re doing.

She says the command center is about more than social media though — it’s about setting an example within the enterprise.

“Managers are excited about it because it’s motivating to their staff to know that we live and work in an environment that celebrates ideas and creativity. It’s about finding out if there’s a better way or a different way we could be doing business and better serve our customers.”

Jill explains, “The command center is a physical example of the support that a company will give to their employees to promote a creative, collaborative, intelligent environment. It’s a celebration of not only our customers and their voice, but also the fact that we value our employees the same way.”

We’re proud to have Jill as a member of SocialMedia.org since 2014.


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