Sunayna Tuteja

For this case study, we dove into a presentation by TD Ameritrade’s Director of Social Business and eCommerce, Sunayna Tuteja, at our Member Meeting in New York.

Like most organizations, TD Ameritrade’s social team began with a centralized model.

Sunayna Tuteja, TD Ameritrade’s Director of Social Business and eCommerce, describes it as a “command and control” model — one that dictates how other business units do and say in social.

“In the early days, that might have worked. But the landscape has shifted,” she says.

Employees and leadership have a better grasp and affinity for social media across the organization, which, Sunayna says, is good. On the other hand, now everyone wants a hand in social.

“Everyone has the next big idea to go viral.”

Sunayna’s team moved from a centralized model to an empowerment model.

“There’s this notion that you can structure yourselves in a certain way and you’re set, but it has to evolve based on your organization and its priorities.”

She says that’s especially true in the dizzying world of social media where your team can be moved around a lot under marketing, communications, alternative channels, business, or “a weird group where nobody knows where to put you.”

But, explains Sunayna, “It doesn’t really matter what organization you sit within. As you build scalable, sustainable programs, everybody within the organization has to take some level of ownership.”

First, every team needs to work under the same mission for social to become scalable.

TD Ameritrade’s guiding principle is a mission to bring Wall Street to Main Street — to level the playing field for the average retail investor.

“What better way to democratize investing than the most democratized way of communicating?”

It doesn’t matter where the idea for social came from, as long as the mission is central to every decision they made. Sunayna says that core principle helped each team come together on a common purpose and to add value, not complexity.

Getting people into the swing of owning a piece of social took five things:

  1. Adoption: “You can never stop talking about what you’re doing,” says Sunayna. One way they kept the conversation going: a large TV screen outside of Sunayna’s office broadcasting whatever social data they wanted people to consume that day.
  2. Enablement: Sunayna admits this took a huge mindshift. The social team had to learn to let go of control of a lot of social responsibilities and instead offer support and empowerment. The upside: Instead of going rogue and hiding the things they posted to social from Sunayna’s team, other teams started coming to them with ideas first.
  3. Measurement: She says this is all about tackling the dreaded ROI question.
  4. Innovation: Sunayna says they’re lucky to be a part of an organization that supports her team in testing and coming up with new ideas. “You’ve got to try 20 different things, and if two work, that’s great.”
  5. Governance: TD Ameritrade’s one rule for social media governance: “If we’re all going to wave the victory flag when something is successful, we’re all going to have to come together when something goes wrong,” Sunayna explains.

Sunayna says the big test of their new enablement and empowerment system came with the 2014 Olympics.

They created a giving campaign offering to donate $1 for every tweet and mention of #itaddsup to sponsoring the 2018 Olympic athletes. It was a campaign that touched all kinds of teams within TD Ameritrade: marketing, compliance, legal, PR — just to name a few. But Sunayna explains their success in social came from giving those teams so much ownership.

“It was an awesome validation that sometimes you can exert more influence when you let things go.”

Follow Sunayna on Twitter and ask what it’s like to fly a Cessna.


Get our free weekly newsletter

A short email packed with updates on what big brands are doing in social media.

Never display this again