Tom Buchheim

For this member profile, we sat down with American Family Insurance Social Media Manager Tom Buchheim to talk about his career in social media. Tom’s been a member of SocialMedia.org since 2010.

Like many social executives, Tom Buchheim produced newscasts for TV before he wrote posts for Facebook.

Tom says before joining American Family Insurance as their Strategic Communications Editor and eventually as a Social Media Manager, he did some reporting, videography, and produced newscasts for an NBC affiliate. He also produced a “Children’s Miracle Network” broadcast each year for the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

“That was a really rewarding experience for me and a good first step out of TV and into the PR, marketing, and communications area of my career,” he says.

“My background as a writer and editor has been extremely valuable to everything that I’ve done along the way but especially in social media.”

At American Family, Tom became a part of the brand’s first social team.

The team recently won PR Daily’s award for best social media campaign of 2014 for their #30DaysOfThanks initiative. Tom says their success comes from being a social savvy team that’s been together since they started from scratch five years ago.

The team of five sits within the advertising department in marketing and divides their responsibilities up by platform and project. Tom manages the team but also advises CEO Jack Salzwedel on his social presence.

American Family’s CEO is in the news often for being one of the most active CEO’s on Twitter.

In fact, he tweets ten times as much as the average Fortune 500 CEO. And while Tom has to understand Jack’s many audiences, the kinds of content he wants to share, and his voice in social, he says the CEO’s definitely in control of his own presence.

“Make no mistake, every tweet that Jack sends is in his own words, and it’s sent by him, which makes him extremely authentic. I think that’s what puts him at the top of so many of these lists of CEOs who truly get social media.”

He’s talking about lists like “10 Financial Service Leaders to Follow on Twitter,” “8 CEOs Who Are Winning at Twitter,” and “The Top 50 Social CEOs on Twitter.”

Tom shares, “As Jack’s found his voice in social, he’s empowered others to do the same.”

“We’re a brand that embraces social media on many levels, whether it’s at the brand or agent level.”

Tom explains that as a challenger brand by nature, American Family approaches social media a lot differently than their larger competitors who focus on “critters and characters.”

“I think we’re more in line with our customers and how they approach insurance. That means our social media presence can have a bigger impact,” he says.

“I’ve always preached that social media isn’t about us, it’s about them. Everything we try to do in social is not self-serving — it’s directed to our audience. Looking forward, it’s my hope that we’ll be able to even better understand what our consumers want from social media.”

Get in touch with Tom on Twitter and check out his sports blog, Fourth and 140.