A year and a half ago, Ingrid Kibler, who leads the global social media team at Trend Micro, started campaigning to “put the social back in social media”, which included humanizing Trend Micro's brand voice across their platforms.
At the time, the team was going through internal changes, which created the opportunity for an audit of their social media presence.
During the audit, Ingrid's team looked at what had been done in the past and where they wanted the brand to go in the future on social media.
Ingrid also started meeting with key stakeholders to gather feedback about Trend Micro's social media.
“We asked their thoughts and opinions on what the program was doing, what they thought would be valuable for it, and what they wanted to see more of,” she said.
Ingrid's team also did A/B testing on their social channels to show their stakeholders and the rest of the organization why they needed to make the shift toward a new, humanized style of content.
Equipped with their A/B testing results, stakeholder feedback, and the audit of their social media presence, the team was able to put together a vision for the updated program, document new brand voice guidelines for social media, and incorporate them into their official social strategy.
Once the strategy was documented and formalized, Ingrid's team presented it to their stakeholders.
A quick form was also created for internal teams to allow employees to contribute the types of community and culture-focused content the social media team was looking for.
“It was a very tactical, practical thing that Trenders could fill out and send to us that would help us accumulate more of the content we're looking for,” Ingrid said.
Getting employees involved across the organization was essential to shifting Trend Micro's brand voice on social media.
“Our secret weapon is our workforce, and we wanted to equip them to shine on social media. We encouraged Trenders to be authentic online,” Ingrid said. “Then we started giving them a voice on our corporate channel.”
One way they did this was by strategically choosing reliable, media-trained expert employees for takeovers. “We let them take over our channels and talk to our audiences on key industry moments or things that were important to our audiences and to them,” Ingrid said.
She said one of their most popular posts to date is an employee takeover-style video.
Ingrid's team also upgraded the organization's employee advocacy program.
In the past, the program was essentially an email that was sent out to a small group of people within the company that wanted to take part. While this was a great start to an employee advocacy program, Ingrid's team knew it wasn't scalable on a global level, especially as they began shifting toward a more human voice on social. So, building a more sophisticated advocacy program became a priority.
Ingrid said the upgraded program equipped employees to speak on behalf of the corporate brand and made it easier to personalize and spread Trend Micro's messaging.
Implementing the new program included formalized training in-house on the tool as well as social media training for all new hires.
Ingrid worked with their marketing teams to include humanized experiences in their creative.
In the past, Trend Micro had been producing traditional ads that were then resized for social media, so Ingrid worked to also tailor what creative they were using to what works in the social space — which involved less salesy content and more humanized experiences. She then paired this with personable language in the copy of the post.
Ingrid also shared how their original A/B tests involving photos of humans helped direct their new visual messaging.
However, as a tech brand, finding content that fit their new social strategy was a challenge.
“Our industry isn't very pictorial,” Ingrid said. That meant stock photography was their best option. “So we had to figure out how to take the stock imagery we used for everyday needs and make it more human and be more personalized to us and our brand,” she explained.
They revamped their everyday image database to only include photos of humans using computers and tablets, rather than photos of just technological devices.
“We worked with a design team to put four different types of treatments on the imagery that's based on our brand logo,” Ingrid said.
The new humanized social strategy also included more proactive conversations with Trend Micro's followers.
Ingrid's team focused on finding ways to engage with their followers more effectively — like opening up two-way conversations through polls.
“We'd post different polls based on what's popular in the industry. Or, if we're going to an event, we would ask them about a hot topic that was going to be talked about, or ask them for their opinion,” she said. “And then we would work with one of our experts to give a quick video response to our audience based on what they told us.”
Because Ingrid leads the global social team, it was important that she communicated the changes to Trend Micro's social teams around the world.
To avoid the updated social strategy becoming localized to just the U.S., Ingrid established monthly calls with social media teams across the world.
“We shared with them all of these strategy documents and tactics that we're doing, as well as our new assets,” she said.
“We even created a database with all the new imagery they can now access and utilize in their regions, and continue to meet with them regularly to discuss updates as our global program continues to evolve,” Ingrid explained.
Moving forward, Ingrid hopes to grow the new strategy and prepare for future changes to the industry.
Ingrid explained that they're also considering innovative technologies that are becoming more commonplace — like 5G and AI. “Our audiences are becoming more used to personalized experiences. So, we're looking at ways to make this even better moving forward so that we're prepared for this shift of expectations that's coming down the line,” she said.
For anyone looking to make similar changes to their program, Ingrid encouraged patience.
She explained shifts like this can take time and social teams at big BtoB brands should prepare for some initial pushback.
“People are usually uncomfortable with change,” she said. “Especially if they've always done something a certain way and they think it's working, but there may be a better way to do it.”
Ingrid explained that getting the company to leave its comfort zone was the biggest challenge she encountered.
There was internal surprise and some nervousness about sharing unpolished, live, and unscripted content. But as Ingrid's team continually reported on their analytics, it became clear that the new content was resonating with their audience.
“With time, teams became more comfortable with this and even began suggesting ideas for more of this kind of content, or volunteering to partner with the social team to deliver more of it,” she said.
“Enterprises are like big ships. Once you start turning its wheel, it can take time for the ship to actually start responding and the change in direction to start showing,” Ingrid said. “Stay firm in holding the wheel in its new place, because it will make an impact. It just takes a bit of time.”