The J.M. Smucker Company: Keeping the social in social media — Live from the Brands-Only Summit

Coverage of this session by Bridgette Cude of Connect with her by following her on Twitter.

2:50 —'s Courtney Graham introduces The J.M. Smucker Company's Ray Hancart.

2:51 — Ray: I thought it would be helpful to provide scope for what our team handles. When people think of Smuckers, they think of our jams, and the Normal Rockwell-ish branding. The reality is that we're an $8B food company. Our brands range from pet food and snacks, to coffee, condiments, and baked goods. We have our hands full and keeping consumers first is something we're very passionate about.

2:52 — Ray: Make sure we're providing value to consumers in our content and engagement
Because of the scope of our brands, we do't want to treat people like sheep.

We want to put consumers first in everything we do.

2:53 — Ray: We boiled that down to a four-word framework, communicate, learn, engage, and protect.

2:54 — Communicate: To make sure the consumers stay the priority, we created 6 value screens. If it doesn't meet these, we're not going to publish it.

  1. Financial relief: Getting a discount matters to a lot of people — there's value in it for our consumers.
  2. Knowledge: This is the biggest area we have in content (recipes, baking tips, cooking tips, etc.)
  3. Empathy: Our brand is not necessarily human, but there are humans behind it and we try our best to convey that. (How difficult road trips are, Monday pep talks, etc)
  4. Humor: We know that if you can crack a smile, we've added something to our day.
  5. Soliciting input: Our consumers are always going to tell us what they want, but we need to be proactive about it too. (i.e. “We Bake It, You Name It” contest was one of our most popular pieces of content.)
  6. Shared beliefs: We stand for certain things like education, eradicating childhood obesity. We know our consumers see value around those passion points.

2:57 — Engage: We had a disconnect between daytime social specialists and off hours special care. We brought on a vendor to help bring those into the process. Anyone can answer a question, but how are you taking that extra step to help them go the extra mile. You do get odd questions at odd times. Sometimes people have an allergy question at midnight. We try to build an infrastructure to help those.

2:58 — Ray: We strengthened our internal network relationships (legal, archives, culinary, corporate communications) we've tried to do our best o know that although we get all the questions, we're not the ones who can answer them all.

2:59 — Ray: Develop key areas of focus for our consumers: It's not the nice, light fluffy engagement. If I can help you answer a question, that's going to go a lot further. Through research or social listening, we've been able to prioritize this content that people want.

3:01 — Learn: We focused a lot on what we can help do to prove our social team. We've adopted an always learning and testing mentality. We've pushed on leadership to make it ok to test and trial things so we can have a better strategy moving forward.

3:02 — Identify opportunities: How can we improve the product and consumer experience? How do we improve innovation? What are our purchase drivers or barriers? What kind of content that will resonate better with consumers?

3:03 — Methodology: Identify areas of focus > Have community managers do inbound tagging > Do some data cleanup > Feed it into respective areas

Summary: We're going to collect the data and then we're going to get the heck out of the way.

3:04 — Protect: As a food industry, we're struggling to catch up with the fact that consumers know where and how we manufacture everything. It presents a scary reality for us that people believe almost anything they read on the internet without any information about where the “facts” come from.

We've shifted our mentality to understand that consumers feel we're guilty until proven innocent. Our community managers have been instructed to present all sides of the argument when we face consumer questions about things they've read elsewhere.

3:05 — Ray: Our job is not to tell them if they're right or wrong, but to give them both sides of the conversation. It's been difficult for us as a company, but it's one we know will pay dividends for us. We'll retain customers that we would have lost if we sat back and didn't participate.

3:06 — Ray: What's keeping you up at night? Our hope is that more people are sleeping like a baby. That our teams are sleeping better at night, and that the small role we have in our consumers lives helps them sleep better at night, if we'll continue to put our consumers first.

Q & A

Q: Value Screens: How did you come up with them? After you created them, did you experience some pushback?

A: Ray: Yes, we started looking at the data that was most successful and created categories based on that. We then melded it with the content that was performing better. We absolutely met pushback from our agencies to rally around those content frameworks. If you have to explain why something fits within those frameworks or defend it, you're already off the track.

Q: How are you managing that many unique different brands?

A: Ray: We have a two person internal team who help with guard rails and work with three agencies across management, content development, and analytics responsibilities. But it all has to run up through the social media team. It's helped us knowing that we can be the mini clearing house internally.

Q: How do you prioritize your six different value screens? (Coupons vs recipes)

A: Ray: We have each piece of outbound content tagged and watch how they perform for each brand. We provide information about what works best for each. We're looking to have an equal mix, but we know that not every brand works that way.

Q: How much do you engage and when do you decide to let it go with detractors?

A: Ray: We look at those things as opportunities instead of problems. We want to educate that consumer or another that will come across that thread, unless it's clearly snark. We go mostly off of our intuition, and once we've exhausted all of our resources to contribute meaningful to those conversations, we ask them to walk away.

Q: In the defense territories, are you proactively responding or only talking to people who reach out to you?

A: Ray: Currently, we're only on our owned channels unless we see something significant outside of them. I'd love to move towards a more proactive measure.