Michelin: “Social community” on the micro level — Live from Member Meeting 31

Coverage of this session by Sharon Gilmartin of SocialMedia.org. Connect with her by following her on Twitter.

3:50 — SocialMedia.org's Patrick Higgins introduces Michelin's Digital Consumer Experience Manager, Carrie Woodward.

3:51 — Carrie poses a question to the group: Who loves buying tires? One lone respondent cheers!

3:54 — Carrie: Some unique problems with Michelin, and our group is trying to sell replacement tires, specifically. We decided to target influencers for Michelin, and we determined that was third party testers, motorsport partners, and car club and driving schools for the social channels. Other departments handle media reps and dealers.

3:55 — Carrie: Next step was to figure out how to make the conversation two-way.

Guiding principles: create, seek, share, give, and make. This goes for online and offline, something we often forget in social media. We have to give them a whole experience.

3:57 — Carrie: We want our influencers to be brand ambassadors, people who are passionate about the Michelin brand. The strategy for building this community of influencers includes monitoring, engaging, empowering, rewarding, and measuring. Finally, we give them an identity so that members feel a sense of belonging.

3:58 — Time to go on the hunt! Find those people already talking about your brand. Use current social channels, partners that use your products, forum owners, club leaders, etc.

4:00 — Carrie: The original purpose for the online platforms Michelin launched was to provide tools and resources, but it became much more personal for the members. Then, on to empowerment! Give them the resources to make it easy for them to spread the word.

4:01 — Our initial goal was 300 members for first online community and 150 for the second. Actual membership reached 303 for the first and 254 for the second! Other metrics included number of content pieces created within the platforms, brand mentions on the web, and product recommendations.

4:02 — Carrie share a few “musts” moving forward: Keep content constant, recruit those who already love your brand, reinforce messages online and offline (which takes more people and more money), and measure your success.

4:03 — Looking deeper into measurement, the ratio of true recommendations is the key goal. Offline measurement is harder! Net promoter score is an interesting one to use.

4:04 — Carrie shares a few more “do's”: Set baseline measurements, engage with people who engage with you, make it personal, and really get to know your ambassadors.

4:06 — Now for the “don't” list: Don't build it and expect people to come, don't only make it about your company, and don't underestimate the resources and effort needed to be sustainable.

Remember that not all social followers are enthusiasts, so focus on those who embrace the lifestyle you're interested in. For Michelin, these were the folks who could truly influence tire purchases.

Q & A:

Q: You mentioned Net Promoter Score as a measurement. How were you measuring that?

A: Carrie: We weren't doing the measurement ourselves within the social sphere, but we adapted what our other departments were doing to begin measuring as a social indicator.

Q: One of your KPIs was the number of recommendations. How were you categorizing those and monitoring impact?

A: Carrie: We use Visible Intelligence, a social monitoring tool. We used strings of words to identify mentions, and we are constantly tweaking those.

Q: Can you expand on how you found the influencers on your existing social platforms?

A: Carrie: For our own social channels, we went in manually to find them. No silver bullet, and not everyone is a guarantee. But you find engaged, excited people this way.

Q: Could you speak more about forums and outreach while maintaining authenticity?

A: Carrie: With forums, there was a three-pronged approach. One was the social listening tool for identifying people to reach out to. The second was getting to know advertising managers who manage communities of third party testers. Lastly, the brand channel managers for dealerships helped gain entry into the forums.

Q: What content did you include on your online platforms?

A: Carrie: We used Jive to give the forums a home, but the users really contribute to the content. We gave them the space, and they post blogs, reviews, videos, photos, and all types of content.

Q: Is the concept of ROI part of your campaign success measurement?

A: Carrie: Absolutely it is! We haven't yet quantified the value of a recommendation or of the program or even an influencer, but we are constantly working to do so.

Q: How do you deal with ambassadors who are no longer engaged or who are disaffected?

A: Carrie: It goes back to getting to know them personally. Occasionally, we have to intervene if someone is publicly saying negative things about our brand, but it's easier to do when it involves personal conversations.

Q: With influencers, how do you make your brand the central brand that they promote when they may be promoting multiple brands simultaneously?

A: Carrie: We give them those experiences that others can't and make them the subject matter experts. Giving them the “behind the scenes” look enhances that personal relationship and connection that really makes them feel like superstars.

Q: Is your title of “Brand Community Manager” something we should all be striving for?

A: Carrie: My title is up in the air! It started when I was doing agency work and meant something totally different. Now, Brand Community Managers manage Facebook and Twitter communities. In my current role, there have been so many suggestions for titles, none of which were good. Finally, my boss handed me my job description and told me to pick a title. Back to Brand Community Manager, it was!