Aimee Ertley, Sage Senior Director of Corporate Communications

Aimee Ertley is one of those rare social media leaders who has been with her company since before social media existed.

Social media allows us to connect with [customers] very quickly in a way that's meaningful to them.

Eighteen years ago, she started on the PR side with global software provider Sage and eventually worked her way up to leading external communications for North America.

She says, “Like most companies, we weren't quite sure what to do with social media when we started. We just knew we needed to be out there.”

Now, member Aimee works with one social media manager on the corporate communications side and a few more embedded within Sage's business and product units. And she says their objectives are much clearer and more sophisticated.

“One of the greatest things about social media is it gives you the ability to listen and engage.”

If you're not integrating everything and pulling social across everything you do, you're doing your organization a disservice.

She echoes a similar sentiment we've heard from many social leaders that, at first, the company saw social only as a microphone. But now, Sage is using it to actively listen to and engage with their biggest audience, small businesses.

“Small businesses have changed a lot — even just the people running small businesses have changed. Over the last 10 or 15 years, social media has become a regular channel for them.”

And the same is true for Sage. Aimee explains that social media has gone from a “nice to have” to becoming an integral part of the customer experience. Before, the company was limited to trade shows or customer service calls to interact directly with customers. “Social media allows us to connect with them very quickly in a way that's meaningful to them,” she says.

“We don't run PR campaigns now unless they have a strong social element to them.”

Aimee says in the last couple of years, they've worked hard to fully integrate social media into the advertising, PR, and marketing communications. Instead of being in it's own silo, social media is a part of their overall marketing mix.

“If you're not integrating everything and pulling social across everything you do, you're doing your organization a disservice. You want to make sure what you're doing has the most impact, and it has the most impact when it's all integrated together.”

One of Aimee's favorite integrated campaigns: a holiday gift-giving guide sourced entirely from products Sage's customers created or sold.

That year, they featured a new customer every day on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook from Small Business Saturday through Christmas.

Sage Facebook

“I like the campaign because it allowed us to highlight our customers more than ourselves. Accounting software isn't the most exciting thing to promote on social media — we try to make it fun.”

Aimee's inspired by campaign's like Microsoft's Center of Out of Office Excellence that helped users create an OOO meme just in time for the holidays and Deluxe's Small Business Revolution that helped small towns invest in main street revitalizations.

She says her team will continue to look for new, fun ways to engage with their small business customers like this.

“There are always ways you can improve, and you don't always know what those are until you start looking around.”

Follow Aimee on Twitter and ask about her credentials for cat herding. Aimee's been a member of since 2015.