Laura Bretz

Laura Bretz on how Discover Financial Services revived their BtoB social media presence

Two years ago, without any internal guidance, an agency led Discover Network's first foray into social media.

Be willing to put resources behind social listening. This is the main thing that you have to get right.

It wasn't pretty. For example, the resulting Twitter handle for Discover Network was @DN_Merchants — a confusing and counterintuitive name for the BtoB side of Discover Financial Services.

“What does @DN_Merchants mean? Nobody knows,” says Laura Bretz, Discover Financial Services Social Media and Digital Project Manager. “We have data that tells us that small business owners hate to be called merchants. And yet, for some reason, we're calling them merchants on Twitter, and they're not calling themselves that.”

Laura Bretz

Rebranding Discover Network's Twitter handle to @DiscoverSmBiz was just the beginning of Laura's overhaul of their BtoB social presence. In her presentation at our Member Meeting in Chicago, she explains what it takes to make Discover Network's social presence actually social.

“Even if they're not talking to us, we want to know what they're saying,” Laura says.

They started by digging deep to find where conversations were happening about Discover Network. Instead of sticking to “@” mentions or looking for “merchants,” they scanned for phrases small business owners actually use like “I run,” or “I own.”

“Be willing to put resources behind social listening. This is the main thing that you have to get right,” she explains.

Here's how they made social listening actionable:

  • Find the right conversations: Her advice, “Don't have preconceived notions, leave your jargon at the door, and find out how your audience actually speaks and how they talk about you specifically.”
  • Make things easy for your legal team: Since everything has to be approved through them, Laura's team wrote 30 different variations on a canned tweet to make approvals as easy as possible. Laura says that in a regulated industry, “It tends to seem like legal's entire job is to squash our entire job, but it's not.”
  • “Your walking a fine line between helpful and creeper”: According to Laura, Discover Network started small with the users they reached out to by only responding to people talking about Discover. “Don't go crazy with newsjacking or inserting yourself in conversations. Be thoughtful about what you're doing,” she explains.
  • Consider your scope: Laura says that even in a BtoB, “there's still a person behind the business — a small biz owner or CEO. You need to figure out who those people are.”
  • Offer a benefit: With each response, Laura's team thanked them for using Discover Network and offered to give them free Discover window signage or a customized leatherette check presenter.

Discover tweet

Of the people Discover Network reached out to, 50 percent responded back by retweeting, favoriting, or clicking through to Discover's site. Even better, this strategy earned Discover Network 10 percent more follows organically from qualified leads.

But what about the negative sentiment?

According to Laura, Discover initially limited social listening to strictly “@” mentions of the brand. That meant they were missing a lot of conversations about companies that didn't accept Discover cards.

“If you're really angry because you couldn't use your card, you're not going to find the right handle to talk about it. You're just going to mash the keyboard angrily and tweet.”

Discover tweet

To help fill in that gap, Laura's team offered to take on customer complaints about businesses who don't accept their card. Now, when a card member complains, Laura's team can point them to a form asking about when and where it happened. With that information, they can send an acceptance referral team to the location to convert the small business owner.

The results were even better with an 80 percent engagement rate and 10 percent organic follows from these customer service efforts.

“We went from getting zero tweets to @DiscoverSmBiz, to getting hundreds a month. Now we're actually social.”

Discover: How Discover Financial Services made BtoB fresh, fun, and sociable, presented by Laura Bretz from on Vimeo.

Watch Laura’s full presentation at our Member Meeting in Chicago here. She’s been a member of since 2014. Follow her on Twitter and ask about the old Granville house.