When Kirsten Hamstra started as Director of World Wide Social Media at Lenovo this past May, the first thing she did was assess the state of the program to find the best ways to improve it for their global team.

According to Kirsten, over the years, different owners ran social and had different ideas about what that strategy should look like.

“When I got here, we were producing great content and had significant relationships with a lot of our business units and some of our key markets as well,” she said. “But, when it came to how we were organized internally, there was a lot of opportunity to improve. When our internal stakeholders would come and ask about our social strategy, no one had a good answer.”

The first thing she did was get to know what had been done, what had worked well, and what some of the gaps were.

She also wanted to understand their Chief Digital Officer’s vision for how he wanted their digital marketing group to be interconnected with all the other functions at Lenovo.

“I had a lot of experience building global social business strategies,” said Kirsten. “I thought about how Lenovo is organized and how we can start to break down some of these barriers that were preventing social from growing across the business.”

In her first few months, Kirsten said she was focused on rebuilding the team and bringing in talent who could excel in this new strategy.

And while that was happening, she was working with their Chief Digital Officer and CMO to build their social media strategy from the ground up and learning the organization to understand the big focus areas to rally around.

“We’re a team of 12, so there were a lot of shifting pieces,” she said. “It was important to get everyone on the same page.”

Kirsten emphasized the importance of getting her global team bought into this strategy early on.

“I was setting up a regular cadence of team meetings and alternating between 9:00 AM and 9:00 PM to accommodate the different time zones and get everyone in the mindset that we’re all in this together,” she said. “I wanted to hear what they felt our gaps were or issues that drove them crazy.”

According to Kirsten, everyone on the team now understands and feels like there’s momentum towards real building and growth of the social program that had been missing.

When building out their new strategy, Kirsten said it was critical to look at it from a global perspective as well.

“Lenovo is the most global brand I’ve had the opportunity to work for,” she said. “Our employee population is diverse, and most of our social strategy is rooted in the rest of the world. We needed to think beyond those borders and how we can make our markets feel more supported by a centralized team.”

Kirsten said her first goal was to establish a global social media center of excellence.

“We have to deliver measurable business value against brand awareness, customer loyalty, and revenue,” she said. “And a global CoE goes a long way towards helping us do that consistently while scaling to meet growing demands from markets and business units.”

Because of their global scale, Kirsten said every market has unique needs and cultural perspectives on social media.

“What China’s campaigns look like and what they need for that market are very different than what our L.A. team needs,” she said. “But, what they all need is a guide post. They want to follow some guidance from a corporate group that has global scope, that ultimately ladders back up to what leadership is driving towards.”

She said that’s where the CoE helps to drive a common, shared approach to social business.

The CoE concentrates around their four focus areas: content and strategic campaigns, paid media and analytics, education and advocacy, and insights and technology.

“When we think about content and strategic campaigns, it’s about creating a company-wide approach to how we develop, organize, and share social-first content that drives meaningful brand engagement,” said Kirsten. “Our content was good, but we were lacking the process behind how we produce it internally, so I wanted to build that out.”

She said their work around paid media and analytics would ensure they’re constantly optimizing their approach to social media marketing in a value- and data-driven way. And, their education and advocacy focus area would allow for a multiplier effect to paid and owned social activity through brand advocates across all areas of business.

For insights and technology, Kirsten said their goal was for social to become a strategic partner to every arm of the business.

“We are sitting on all of this valuable social data and instead of generating our typical report and expecting stakeholders to go through 40 slides, we are beginning to interpret that raw data into actionable insights that can drive efficiency and changes within product teams, marketing, or communications efforts.”

This focus area encompasses their global social listening strategy and delivering those real-time insights to their internal partners.

“We’re also optimizing our social technology stack and making sure it’s integrated with the rest of Lenovo’s marketing stack,” said Kirsten. “Ultimately, we have to go to a data-driven model.”

Within her first eight months, Kirsten said there was palpable excitement internally around the global strategy.

“Everyone wants to see a social media team that has a point of view and is willing to train, educate, and enact scalable processes,” she said. “Social media isn’t all about sharing fun content on channels. I want to start pivoting my team to a place where we’re owning insights that can drive the business forward and enabling good social best practices throughout the company. This is going to be a big year for us to do that.”

And, Kirsten said, they’ve already started seeing promising results around their different focus areas.

At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), her team saw a 33-percent increase in social conversation around their products over last year’s event.

Then, they successfully introduced social toolkit templates (including approved assets, copy, and directions for publishing) for content and strategic campaigns and began development on their first global employee social media survey to gauge comfort and skill-level around social media usage in order to inform future training development for education and advocacy.

They also developed a paid media knowledge base to educate practitioners and marketers on common terminology and best practices for social media advertising for paid media and analytics. And, for their insights and technology focus area, they delivered customized social listening insights to product and marketing teams to help them make better business decisions around new products.

“We’ve also seen incredible strides with our platform partners at Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and TikTok,” she said. “I’ve spent a lot of time meeting with them, and this is the strongest our partnerships have ever been.”

Moving forward, Kirsten and her team are looking to better utilize their employee base and their newly strengthened platform partnerships.

“We want to mobilize our employee base — which comprises 57,000 employees globally — to get them all together around an idea like social employee advocacy and build out a world class program that empowers them to talk about the brand on social,” she said.

They’re also hoping to work with their platforms to get more individualized strategies for Lenovo as a whole, instead of segmenting it between marketing and sales.

“They’re all going to be a very large part of our strategy moving forward,” said Kirsten. “We are going to be launching a global social media survey in February to gauge employee interest and adoption of social media for business use. Those results are going to inform how we build out our programming and training resources so we understand what employees actually need instead of making assumptions.”

For anyone overhauling their social media strategy, Kirsten emphasized researching and understanding your pain points as much as possible.

“Don’t leave out key functions of the business, because everyone is thinking about social media differently in their roles,” she said. “And, focus on leadership’s goals and how social can support those goals and drive the business further.”

She also said it’s important to avoid making everything all about content. “Social needs to be seen as a strategic partner to all parts of the business, not just a function of sales and marketing,” she said.

Kirsten Hamstra has been a member of SocialMedia.org since 2016. You can connect with her LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter.