Lauren Papasidero shares how Subaru interacts with their social audience and keeps them engaged

For Lauren Papasidero, the Corporate Social Media Specialist at Subaru of America, social media is all about building a relationship with their audience.

We have a 100% response score in under 10 minutes on all inbound messages — we answer everything that comes through.

Since the automaker's social media department is housed within Corporate Communications, their content is less about what they can sell and more about Subaru as a brand. That means spotlighting customer experiences with Subaru, what Subaru means to them, and how Subaru can help them. And Lauren — with a lean team of just herself and one other colleague — goes above and beyond to connect with them.

“I oversee and manage the social media platforms for Subaru,” says Lauren. “So I handle all the community engagement. We have a 100% response score in under 10 minutes on all inbound messages — we answer everything that comes through.”

That kind of consistent, prompt engagement is something that Lauren and her team are very proud of.

It's a good way for the brand to show customers we love them back by featuring their content.

With over 50,000 inbound messages per month across their social platforms, their speedy responses can shock users. “We get so many people who think we're a chatbot and say ‘hey, chatbots aren't cool,' and I'm like, ‘not a chatbot — my name is Lauren.' We get that a lot,” says Lauren. “But more than that we get ‘thanks so much for answering' or ‘I really appreciate you getting back to me right away' or even ‘I never even thought you'd answer in the first place.'”

Lauren and her team use Sprout Social to funnel in Twitter mentions, direct mentions, Facebook wall posts, comments, private messages, and Instagram comments. “Everything comes right through the main feed, and we answer as soon as it comes in,” explains Lauren.

“We handle first communication on social and then it gets taken offline because we don't actually provide information, we leave that to customer service,” says Lauren. “If it is something like ‘when will the all-new Ascent be available?' — we can answer a question like that. But something related to their personal car needs to go to customer service.”

This focus is not only helping Lauren drive home Subaru's brand values, but also keeping up with metrics that can boost their engagement on social.

Lauren, who came from a customer service background, already had it ingrained in her to help the customer as quickly as possible. “As social evolved at Subaru, it made sense to keep our response rates up,” says Lauren. “Then once Facebook started the response score, I was like ‘we need to have the top score.'”

“We also have the Subaru Love Promise, which is our commitment to customers, and I think responding quickly on social media fits right in with that.”

This commitment to customers extends to the sources for their social content as well — of which, 90% is user-generated content.

“It's a good way for the brand to show customers we love them back by featuring their content,” Lauren explains. “We end up developing relationships with these people and they continue to send content. We have plenty of fans and owners who are amateur or professional photographers. They take these really great photos and keep sending them based on a season or if they see a cool skyline or something like that.”

And that strategy became all the more crucial for Lauren and her team in the aftermath of the Facebook algorithm change.

Once you hone in on what the audience wants, your content will perform better.

“To combat the algorithm change, we came up with different strategies that don't just include UGC,” says Lauren. “We used a post that said, ‘What was your first Subaru?' which was just a graphic with a little Subaru 360 vehicle cartoon on it. I call that ‘user-involved content.' Instead of it being UGC, it's UIC and it can really encourage involvement and engagement. We got over 7,000 comments on Facebook in less than 24 hours using that strategy.”

Lauren plans to start including monthly posts that can involve UIC as well — so that they can not only continue to improve their numbers, but maintain their user-centered focus. “We would definitely do it more often,” explains Lauren, “but we have to keep taking advantage of our UGC because our fans love to see their content featured. It's a good thing to remind them of brand loyalty and brand retention. They love us and we love them too, so it's important for us to spotlight that.”

And her advice for developing this strong relationship with your audience?

“I would say pay attention to them and what they're engaging with and really focus on that,” says Lauren. “Once you hone in on what the audience wants, your content will perform better. But also you have to start thinking how can you get your audience to actually comment or share or engage further.”

On a tactical level, Lauren focuses on asking them very simple questions. For example: “What was your first Subaru?” “How many miles are on your odometer?” — to put their content on a relatable level and promote engagement.

Lauren and her team build out their content calendar to make sure they have the time to dedicate to finding UGC and responding to messages on social. “We schedule content out three months in advance so we have all of our UGC lined up. That way when each day comes, we can focus on community engagement and trending or new content.”

This process keeps Lauren's team lean and adaptable so that they're prepared to tackle issues like the recent algorithm change. “You never know what social is going to throw at you,” Lauren says. “So I'm always prepared to make a change.”

Lauren has been a member of since 2015. Connect with her on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter.