Earlier this year, Vanguard Social Media Channel Manager Tamara Scott and her team noticed that every time they searched for “Vanguard” on Facebook, a private group called Friends of Vanguard with approximately 3,000 members would appear. After checking with PR, their legal team, and internal leaders within their marketing department, Tamara and her team decided to reach out and connect.
Tamara started by reaching out to the group’s moderators through Facebook and asked if there was anything her team could do to help.
Before they commenced planning, they checked internally to determine if the visit was something PR and their senior leaders would approve of.
“We got the go-ahead,” said Tamara. “But we also wanted to run it through our litmus test that we use for all social postings to ensure that it aligned with our strategy.”
According to Tamara, they have a set of criteria and internal brand pillars that they align all their content with to determine whether it would be beneficial for both the company and their clients. Those pillars are clarity, courage, and care.
Once the Friends of Vanguard visit passed their test, Tamara received a list from the moderators of what they wanted to see and do.
“I asked internally for advice on what would be really captivating topics to focus on, and solicited suggestions for speakers,” she said. Once she had both of those lists, she and her team started thinking logistically about what would make sense.
While they were planning the visit, Tamara and her team prioritized finding the right leaders and subject matter experts to speak with the moderators.
“We also wanted to make sure we had time for cool Vanguard things for them to do,” she said. “We wanted them to experience our cafeteria (we call it the galley) during lunch, as well as the Vanguard store.”
They were also able to show them the office of Vanguard’s founder, Jack Bogle, as well as a tour of the Vanguard History Center.
“We wanted to have a good mix of education, entertainment, and engagement,” she said.
Tamara said making the day successful required a lot of coordination.
“It was like a puzzle trying to manage everyone’s schedules, the rooms, and the timing,” she said. “But, from the moderator’s perspective, it was seamless.”
While it was a lot of planning, Tamara said they were also able to successfully tie the day back to some of their business priorities and strategic objectives so the moderators could see where Vanguard came from and where the company’s future is headed. All while highlighting how clients like them are part of that journey.
“One of the moderators described it as his Disneyworld, he was so excited to visit us,” she said.
Through this visit, Tamara and her team were also able to engage Vanguard employees (known as their “crew”).
“From those interactions, we not only heard a lot of great feedback from the moderators, but from our crew as well,” she said. “It was really special for everyone to interact with some of our most loyal clients.”
Through the visit, the Vanguard social media team also discussed social media and community management best practices with the moderators.
“While the campus visit was our main priority, we also took the opportunity to learn from one another’s social media efforts. We discussed best practices related to photos, original vs. curated content, and how to best leverage engagement tools like polls and questionnaires,” said Tamara.
On the day itself, they also invited some of Vanguard’s writers to engage with the moderators and collect some of their stories.
“We haven’t published anything yet, but we’re hoping to share some clients’ stories across our corporate blog and social channels,” said Tamara.
“We posted an article and video on our Intranet, which generated a lot of engagement,” said Tamara. “We’re a digital company – we don’t have brick-and-mortar locations – so this visit provided crew with the opportunity to interact with some of our most loyal clients in a new and different way.”
Now, Tamara and her team are looking at more ways to engage with Friends of Vanguard on and off social media.
“We recently found out there’s a new Friends of Vanguard Australia page, so I’ve been in communication with our Vanguard Australia social media team to share what we did and how we’re fostering the relationship.”
For anyone looking to engage with their audience in a similar way, Tamara emphasized having the right people who understand social in the room from the start.
“If you have legal, compliance, and PR represented, have the people who really understand social or are willing to ask the right questions to understand where you’re coming from and bring them along on the ride,” she said. “And include them in brainstorming sessions. Our PR team loves brainstorming responses and posts with us, so we’ve started including them in some of those conversations from the start.”
As a brand in a regulated industry, they also worked with compliance and their internal partners to identify how their audience is different and how to best represent their brand while staying compliant and adhering to all the regulations.
“We’ve worked hard to include our business partners who do have a say and make sure everyone felt comfortable,” she said.
Tamara Scott has been a member of SocialMedia.org since 2017. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.