EMC Corporation: Mo’ accounts, mo’ problems — Live from the Brands-Only Summit

Coverage of this session by Evette Tan of SocialMedia.org. Connect with her by following her on Twitter.

2:50 — SocialMedia.org's Kurt Vanderah introduces EMC Corporation's Thom Lytle .

2:51 — Thom: After months and months of tireless research, data analysis, we've uncovered an astounding relationship: At EMC, the more social accounts you have, the more marketing problems you develop.

2:53 — Problems (that will make sense by the end of the presentation):

1. The caveman
2. The hockey stick
3. The Christmas tree
4. The dude
5. The “yes we can”
6. The Tweet Factory

2:54 — Problem #1: The Caveman. At EMC, in the beginning, we got excited early on about social, but we jumped in headfirst. This ended up bringing about social proliferation: unstructured, unregulated, unmanaged accounts. We call it the social sprawl. Back in 2010 we compared the average number of accounts per company and we were well above industry average. We had social accounts for everything — and this was because we told everyone to get social.

2:55 — Thom: Six is better than one in many ways, like puppies, high fives, and puppy high fives. But when you're searching for EMC Cloud on Twitter and there are six accounts, then it isn't a good thing.

2:57 — Problem #2: The Hockey Stick. Take a look at Facebook and Twitter — look at your data on content posted from time of creation to more recently and you'll notice the dip, where the hockey stick surfaces. It's the long tail that's the challenge. How do you get folks that don't do social full time to continue posting?

2:59 — Thom says they did an audit of their social accounts and killed all the ones that weren't performing well. They also used namechk.com to find if a particular name has been taken in all kinds of social media platforms.

3:01 — Problem #3: The Christmas Tree.

Step 1: Go to Twitter.com and search for your company name/organization.

Step 2: Filter for people.

Step 3: Enjoy the glorious magical lights. See how ‘aligned' those messages are across all accounts.

3:03 — Thom says they ended up rolling out a “tiers of joy”, which is clean, recognizable, scalable and globalized. The first tier is universal, just the EMC blue. The second tier is localized geographically, using the EMC logo and the region in smaller font beneath it. The third is everything else: products, services, events. This tier has the EMC logo with the specific product beneath it.

3:05 — Problem #4: The Dude. This is the guy who had access to your Facebook account and posts things for you — all day he just posted things that everyone else sent him. Our solution is our social management system. We don't just want to push content down. We connect it to everyone and say anyone can post, so employees can submit their content up instead of management dictating down.

3:07 — Problem #5: People who insist they can even though we have the conversation with them telling them we appreciate their passion, but they shouldn't be creating social media accounts.

At EMC they worked on creating speed bumps. They don't control the platforms but they can control the process of getting there. They created all the accounts that have been created, then they asked IT to notify them anytime someone tries to create something new.

3:09 — Problem #6: The Tweet Factory. We had to evolve beyond just cranking out tweets so we rolled out Social Media University. It ranged from basic foundational classes to something more advanced. We had tracks for managers and employees and used verification to entice them to take these courses, because everyone wants to get certifications and verifications.

3:10 — Our goal at the end of the day is truly organic social media.


Q: We have a lot of the responsibilities that you seem to have outlined, probably without the centralized mandate that you might have had. One thing I'm finding as I'm migrating dozens of properties is that it's been somewhat haphazard. What criteria do you use to say yay or nay to keeping a property?

A: The way we approached it was starting with the obvious ones. There were some accounts that were obviously owned by some teams and not others. The other thing we did was focus on geographical locations. We drew the line on product accounts and said you couldn't have an account that was subdivided by location and product. For accounts that weren't easy to close down, we had a longer conversation — we brought data forward, we had to improvise depending on the account too. It's going to take time.

Q: Our challenge is getting the accounts closed with any sort of timeliness. It's taking a really long time to get these accounts down. How did you go about doing that?

A: There's a technical path and there's a “what can we do through the social team” path? For Twitter we can check who the first followers of an account are and that's usually a good identifier for who created the account. Platforms can be a bit slow on responding, so we've also worked with IT teams to try and scan internally.

Q: What comes after you've managed the sprawl? We've brought our number of pages down, but now we have a content issue where we have a brand dominated by a single product and it actually threatens our corporate page because it reduces our ability to highlight our other products.

A: The challenge with consolidating is you'll feel a little gridlocked. Some will want to post more often than others, and it's just a matter of showing them data about how well their posts actually perform. It's hard to argue with numbers especially if it shows what kind of quality engagement they're getting from their posts. The more you document the less you'll have to explain yourself.