The Shortlist: H&R Block, Unilever, CarMax, and more

H&R Block Senior Marketing Manager of Social Media Lauren Cochran shared how she launched and expanded their employee advocacy program, Block Talkers. SocialMedia.org Blog >>

Humana's Product Marketing Strategy Lead, Carmyn Howe, and Senior Media Marketing Professional, Brenda Rick Smith, hosted SocialMedia.org's first Unofficial Unconference meeting of 2019 at their offices in Louisville — with social media leaders from Atria Senior Living, Brown-Forman, FirstGroup America, Fruit of the Loom, GE Appliances, Kindred Healthcare, Papa John's, U.S. Bank, and Vanderbilt University Medical Center attending. SocialMedia.org Blog >>

Christine Ngo Isaac, Brand Director at Moet & Chandon, discussed how they centralized their influencer marketing to take their program to the next level. The Drum >>

Unilever Marketing Director George Hamilton gave insights for the direction Tazo took in their new millennial-focused "Brew the Unexpected" campaign across digital and social channels. Adweek >>

Walmart and The Wonderful Company were the most mentioned brands in social media during the Golden Globes due to Walmart's famous cars ad — which was also viewed over six million times on YouTube — and the #FijiWaterGirl buzz. Marketing Dive >>

L'Oreal Paris debuted their new social media campaign #StopWaiting at the Golden Globes with branded messages from their celebrity spokeswomen across social media channels. Mobile Marketer >>

For #NationalRoastDay2019, Wendy's roasted audience members and brands using the hashtag on their Twitter channel. Inquisitr >>

Union Pacific recently joined the SocialMedia.org community. Their membership will be led by Senior Director of Digital and Social Media Tim McMahan. SocialMedia.org Members >>

Snap-on is hiring a Digital Media Communications Manager to manage their social media marketing campaigns and monitor and respond to online communities on their channels. (Kenosha, WI) Snap-on Careers >>

CarMax is looking for a Senior Consultant of Digital Marketing to develop and execute strategies to continue growing their digital and social marketing programs. (Richmond, VA) LinkedIn >>

A look at Louisville’s Unofficial Unconference, hosted by Humana’s Carmyn Howe and Brenda Rick Smith

This week, we kicked off our second series of Unofficial Unconferences — private, peer-to-peer discussions hosted in SocialMedia.org members’ offices.

Humana’s Product Marketing Strategy Lead, Carmyn Howe, and Senior Media Marketing Professional, Brenda Rick Smith, stepped up to host the first Unofficial Unconference of 2019 in a full, day-long meeting that brought together Louisville-area social media leaders from Atria Senior Living, Brown-Forman, FirstGroup America, Fruit of the Loom, GE Appliances, Kindred Healthcare, Papa John’s, U.S. Bank, and Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

They kicked off the meeting with breakfast discussions before moving into several rounds of unconference discussions — where attendees could talk about the topics that mattered most to them that day.

A huge thank you to Carmyn and Brenda for all the hard work they put into making this amazing meeting possible.

Everyone involved put together an incredible day of brands-only conversations — and it was a huge success!

It’s so exciting to see members like Carmyn and Brenda giving back to the community like this and building strong connections with social media leaders in their own city.

We have more incredible Unofficial Unconferences in store throughout the year — stay tuned for more updates as these continue across the country!

The Shortlist: Kohler, Cars.com, Nike, and more

Cars.com CMO Brooke Skinner Ricketts discussed how they drive a 40% chat-to-lead conversion rate through their Facebook channels. Mobile Marketer >>

Dr. Martens' Chief Product and Marketing Officer, Darren Campbell, shared how they are using social media channels to continue engaging with and growing their customer base. Marketing Week >>

Mini, Google, MGM Resorts, and Domino's were featured as the best digital, integrated, and social campaigns of 2018. Ad Age >>

Aislinn Campbell, Brand Manager at Mondelez, teased Cadbury's 2019 "Hunt the White Creme Egg" integrated campaign that will hack other companies' social media feeds. Campaign >>

Puma and Nike were recognized as two of the most-mentioned brands on Instagram in 2018. Mobile Marketer >>

Burger King, DICK'S Sporting Goods, Stella Artois, Qatar Airways, adidas, LG Global, Chipotle, Wendy's, Hyundai Worldwide, Nike, LEGO, Fiat, Apple, Harley-Davidson, Nationwide, Red Bull, Motorola U.S., and UPS were spotlighted for having 2018's most engaging brand content on social media. Adweek >>

Kohler recently joined the SocialMedia.org community. Their membership will be led by Social Media Communications Director Sanjay Teckchandani. SocialMedia.org Members >>

Verizon is looking for a Communications Director to execute communications plans across earned, owned, and corporate social channels to advance their narrative with their customer base. (Basking Ridge, NJ) Verizon Jobs >>

TripAdvisor is hiring a Social Media Manager to grow and manage their TripAdvisor Experiences and Viator social media channels. (San Francisco, CA) TripAdvisor Careers >>

Estee Lauder Companies needs a Director of Integrated Marketing for Travel Retail Worldwide to drive and implement digital marketing campaigns and increase their social media reach. (New York, NY) Estee Lauder Companies Careers >>

Lauren-Cochran

Lauren Cochran shared how she established H&R Block’s employee advocacy program, Block Talkers

In late 2017, Senior Marketing Manager of Social Media Lauren Cochran launched H&R Block’s employee advocacy program, Block Talkers, as a pilot. This past year, she’s helped expand Block Talkers into a full-fledged program across the organization.

The program originated from the need to give passionate employees a tool to promote the brand.

“We have over 80,000 associates across the U.S. who are really passionate and want to promote the brand via social,” Lauren said. “We were looking for a way to give them better tools to do it well.”

We have over 80,000 associates across the U.S. who are really passionate and want to promote the brand via social. Lauren Cochran
Historically, H&R Block had a somewhat outdated method of delivering approved social content, so Block Talkers was a way of modernizing their sharing experience. Lauren explained that they wanted something bigger than just a better tool — they wanted to establish a program that encourages employees to become ambassadors of the brand in social media.

“We wanted to help our associates take their personal brand and expertise onto their personal social channels,” Lauren said.

Getting the pilot off the ground required a lot of planning and help from other teams within the organization.

Lauren created the pilot to prove the value of an employee advocacy program, with the longer-term intent to scale it across the organization.

“We worked with leadership to determine what would be a good test,” she said. “We identified what segments of the organization were most important to include in the pilot.”

As the pilot structure and participants were solidified, Lauren also worked with cross-organizational teams to set up the platform and content strategy.

At the start of the process, we established a KPI scorecard that we shared with the leadership team who sponsored our project. Lauren Cochran
Lauren’s team selected an employee advocacy platform that includes mobile capabilities. “We have a lot of associates in the field at our retail locations, so mobile is really handy for a lot of our folks,” she said.

Next her team had to develop content calendars and a content production process to ensure they would be able to deliver enough content every week.

The last key step in the launch was to execute an internal communication campaign.

“We used our internal intranet and email resources to help people understand what the program was, why they should join, and why it was valuable,” Lauren said.

This tactic resulted in a robust pilot that was also exclusive enough to create demand from other associates to join.

All of Lauren’s work has been paying off — the program is yielding excellent results.

“At the start of the process, we established a KPI scorecard that we shared with the leadership team who sponsored our project. At the end of the pilot period we reported on that scorecard and across the board we met or exceeded all our benchmarks,” Lauren said.

We have a lot of associates in the field at our retail locations, so mobile is really handy for a lot of our folks. Lauren Cochran
“We had great sign-up and great participation rates,” she said. And in terms of sharing, the results exceeded the team’s expectations.

The program is receiving overwhelmingly positive feedback internally as well. “Not only did we have great results data-wise, so many people were appreciative of the program, and they told us how much they love it,” Lauren said. “Hearing how valuable of a tool it is, especially for our retail associates, was great.”

Lauren said the biggest challenges she faced were producing content and navigating a completely new frontier.

“Planning and generating the content takes a lot of work; it’s the heartbeat of the program,” Lauren said.

Because the program was a completely new endeavor for H&R Block, Lauren emphasized the challenge of learning and optimizing as they go.

Planning and generating the content takes a lot of work; it's the heartbeat of the program. Lauren Cochran
“As much rigor that we put into the planning process, there’s just a lot of little nuanced things that you learn along the way,” she said.

And when the pilot launched a year ago, Lauren was essentially a one-woman shop. “Thankfully I’ve got somebody on my team now to help support the program, and I have a couple other team members helping with run-program things like content production,” she said.

“One of our goals in the pilot was to learn what it takes to run the program and make sure we had the right resources. And we learned it takes a lot.”

According to Lauren, this program went a long way for H&R Block; a historically conservative company.

“It’s so great to provide a social program that is valuable to the associates,” Lauren said. “Not only did our employee advocacy program deliver external results, they also positively impacted the internal cultural of our company.”

“Our program really helps make people feel more comfortable promoting our brand in social media and gives them more ownership of the brand,” she said. “I love that we’re able to help evolve our culture that way.”

Lauren Cochran has been a member of SocialMedia.org since 2016. You can follow her on Twitter and connect with her on LinkedIn.

Highlights from the 2018 Leadership Retreat

Last week we wrapped up our 2018 Leadership Retreat in Austin, TX.

It was our third-ever retreat exclusively for Board Chairs who are leading their social media programs.

We hosted 39 leaders from as many companies at our ranch where they could get together to talk about the things that are most important to their work right now and programs they’re planning to implement in 2019.

Plus we had a lot of fun surprises, great guest speakers, and some great food.


We held 10 Member-Led Discussions where SocialMedia.org Board Chairs explored tough questions, shared experiences, and got help with specific challenges they’re facing.

Discussions were with:

  • Kristen Livesay at Takeda Pharmaceuticals on handling changes to platforms.
  • InterContinental Hotels Group’s Kim Atkinson on handling the intersection between social marketing and PR roles/responsibilities in your company.
  • Sarah O’Grady from Lenovo on keeping up with the ever-changing social media marketing skillset.
  • 3M’s Amber Campeau on paid media management.
  • Sue Serna at Cargill on managing agencies.
  • DJ Hamm with Securian Financial on ensuring your in-house creative team “gets” social.
  • Chad Parizman at Pfizer on the social CEO.
  • Lindsay Tiles at Charles Schwab on getting social a seat at the table.
  • Cracker Barrel Old Country Store’s Julia Perry on proving the value of social to executives.
  • Sarah Shehata at First American Financial on content strategy, development, curation, and workflow.

Here are the brands who were there: 3M, American Electric Power, BBVA Compass, Black & Veatch, Boeing, Cargill, Charles Schwab, Ciena, ConocoPhillips, Corning Incorporated, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Delaware North, Dominion Energy, Estee Lauder Companies, ExxonMobil Corporation, First American Financial, Fortinet, HERE Technologies, Hilti, Honeywell, Huntington National Bank, InterContinental Hotels Group, INVISTA, Johnson Controls, Lands’ End, Lenovo, Mayo Clinic, Nissan North America, PerkinElmer, Pfizer, Publix Super Markets, Rust-Oleum, Securian Financial Group, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, Toll Brothers, TransUnion, UL LLC, and Voya Financial.

You won’t want to miss the next opportunity to have face-to-face conversations with people like you at brands like yours.

Our next Member Meeting will be in Los Angeles, February 26-27. You can check out all the details here.

The Shortlist: Acura, Mondelez, Raising Cane’s, and more

James LaCorte, Social Media Manager at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, shared how they developed and executed their first Social Media Center of Excellence. SocialMedia.org Blog >>

Acura launched their first-ever in-app vehicle customizer through Instagram Stories, allowing users to personalize one of their 2019 cars and tag the brand for a chance to be reposted. The Drum >>

Adidas partnered with Snapchat to develop a lens that allows users to try on their new running shoes using augmented reality. Mobile Marketer >>

KFC, Tide, Budweiser, Kraft Heinz, Apple, Wendy's, and Little Debbie were spotlighted as brands that "won Twitter" in 2018 for their creative and engaging uses of the platform. Campaign >>

Wendy's promoted one of its new food items in a Twitter thread forming a poem titled, "Twas the Night Before Maple Syrup Day." Each tweet was accompanied by a customized illustration in partnership with a Twitter artist and influencer. Marketing Dive >>

Raising Cane's recently joined the SocialMedia.org community. Their membership will be led by Social Media Manager Melanie Cornell. SocialMedia.org Members >>

Rachel Krupitsky was recently promoted to Director of Social Media Strategy at Penguin Random House. LinkedIn >>

Mondelez International is hiring a Manager of Content and Social Media for Global External Communications to drive their external social media strategy and build their corporate brand and reputation. (Deerfield, IL) Mondelez Jobs >>

Choice Hotels International needs a Director of Customer Acquisition and Digital Media to support the brand's overall media strategy and build and communicate social strategies and results. (Rockville, MD) Choice Hotels Jobs >>

T-Mobile is hiring a Senior Manager of Social Media Publishing to own the playbook for how they create social platforms and evolve each channel in line with changing best practices. (Bellevue, WA) T-Mobile Careers >>

James-LaCorte

James LaCorte shared how Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina built their Social Media Center of Excellence

Last year, Social Media Manager James LaCorte led the development and execution of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina’s first Social Media Center of Excellence.

As social media has grown within the scope of the company, James saw the need to bring teams together and work on strategy and education, and to streamline processes.

The inputs we're making are part of our core business strategy, so everything we do should map back to that. In the COE, we emphasize that and show how our evolution to a social business has positive impacts on our company's goals. James LaCorte
“For several years, social media was just a small part of our company effort, and it was mostly the corporate communications team who created and managed the channels,” James said. But as they educated business areas across the company about the value of social, departments started to take notice and wanted to explore how their areas could effectively use social media.

“Early on it was easier to manage the channel governance and content,” he said. “But as we expanded our consultation services to other areas, it became harder to effectively manage or be air traffic controller for all the content being developed.”

Then, about a year ago, James started developing the COE to help manage Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina’s different channels and create a more direct line of communication between teams.

“We wanted to come together and learn from each other because we don’t see each other on a daily basis,” he said.

James and his team spent a lot of time researching COEs to understand what format would suit them best.

They developed a short charter that outlined the purpose of the COE, a sample agenda of how they expected to conduct meetings, and which teams would be involved.

“Many times a Center of Excellence is thrown together and gets a lot of activity at first, but then slowly dies,” James said. “So we actually struggled with whether to call it a Center of Excellence, how many people to involve, and who they would be.”

The charter was sent up to leadership for review, and James’ team got to work on creating their COE before receiving approval. The preparation process — from the inception of the charter to the first official COE meeting — took about four months, according to James.

As they developed their COE, the team had to decide who the other members would be.

When we initially launched, I always stressed that the COE is all of us, it's not just the social team dictating the agenda. James LaCorte
The social team brainstormed which departments would find the most value in a social media-based Center of Excellence — including PR, Customer Service, Sales, Marketing, and IT.

“We wanted not only the people who published content, but also those who would benefit from the insights we capture through listening,” James said. “We also looked at areas that may be indirectly impacted by social media efforts like the Digital Marketing, Campaign Management, and IT teams.”

Today, there are nine different departments involved in the COE.

According to James, each team has a main member and a backup for when the main member can’t make it to a meeting. The COE connects those different teams through a hub-and-spoke model:

BCBS Hub Spoke

“From the outside sometimes it’s hard to conceptually see how social media really impacts the business,” James said. “The inputs we’re making are part of our core business strategy, so everything we do should map back to that. In the COE, we emphasize that and show how our evolution to a social business has positive impacts on our company’s goals.”

To optimize communication, the COE includes physical meetings as well as a Yammer group.

James emphasized the importance of having both an online group for communication as well as quarterly and annual meetings. Members use the platform Yammer to ask questions, check in on each other, share educational links, and create and discuss the agenda for each meeting.

James mentioned that he originally thought the group would be relatively quiet, but he was pleasantly surprised to see how often members use it. “People are proud of the work they’re doing. They want to share it,” he said. “Or, they know that someone else has an idea or experience they can learn from, so they’ll post it in the group.”

The annual meetings are scheduled to explore big-picture topics. “We look at all of our social media policies, our social media strategy, our blog strategy, and just discuss what needs to be evolved,” James said.

They also use that time to evaluate current employee social media policies and training.

James emphasized the importance of building a COE that would be sustainable.

“When we initially launched, I always stressed that the COE is all of us, it’s not just the social team dictating the agenda,” he said.

The teams are all more informed on what's going on across the company as it relates to social media, which is very helpful. James LaCorte
Ensuring the COE continued to be valuable is essential to its sustainability, so James has built in practices to keep every team engaged.

“We make sure we rotate and at least two other areas get to talk about a campaign or idea,” he said. “We mix it up so there’s a presentation and a brainstorm or education session. That has helped make it feel worthwhile.”

James also mentioned the predetermined agenda is a great way to keep meetings engaging. The teams choose what they want to discuss, and the Yammer group gives them a place to communicate freely before each meeting — which leaves more time for education, training, and brainstorming during the meetings themselves.

Even with the Yammer group and crowd-sourced agendas, participation can still be a challenge.

“It’s very hard to get people to prepare for something like this, because it can be a lot of work,” James said. “When we ask members to share a strategy or campaign, that means they’ll have to take time out of their month to put that together and send it to me.”

And with a team of just four people — including James — lack of bandwidth tends to be an issue as well. “There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work for our small team to remind people the importance of the COE and their social strategy, and how they’re mapping to it,” he said.

For example, his team prioritizes offline communication with the separate departments, and they try to check in about strategies and tactics regularly.

“It all helps keep the COE running,” James said.

The COE has produced tangible results as well as helped improve the human connections between teams.

James said that bringing visibility to each team’s successes has been a valuable teaching tool. The departments in the COE have worked together to streamline processes and standardize their reporting templates.

Don't wait for perfect, just be transparent and be ready to adapt. James LaCorte
“We’re not working in silos and running similar campaigns now because we’re communicating properly,” James said. “The teams are all more informed on what’s going on across the company as it relates to social media, which is very helpful.”

James also discussed the importance of the human connections that have been built through the COE. “It’s easier to work with someone that you have frequent contact with or turn to with questions.”

With a successful year under his belt, James is excited for what the future of the COE holds.

Because they’ve done the COE for a year now, James said that the tasks are becoming quicker and more streamlined.

“Now we can really hit the ground running in 2019,” he said. “Everyone knows what to expect. And now we want to focus on bringing in more training and experts and getting the budget for that.”

According to James, similar organizations shouldn’t wait for perfection when developing their COE.

With so many approvals and internal processes to navigate, James said it’s OK to not wait for all the answers — as long as you’re straightforward about it.

“We told people to give us input. This is their COE as well. If it’s not valuable, we’ll change it. But we introduced how we were going to do it initially,” he said. “Don’t wait for perfect, just be transparent and be ready to adapt.”

James LaCorte has been a member of SocialMedia.org since 2014. You can connect with him on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter.

The Shortlist: Unilever, Nestle, GE, and more

Honda Assistant Vice President of Marketing Susie Rossick shared the inspiration behind their #GrinchTakeover and how they executed the campaign for Happy Honda Days. Brandchannel >>

Unilever's EVP of Global Media, Luis Di Como, discussed their rules for influencer marketing and how they use it to build trust and credibility in their brand. WARC >>

Nestle ran a Q&A session with their Head Pastry Chef across social channels to encourage UGC and engagement for National Cookie Day. Food Dive >>

Hain Celestial brand Terra Chips turned their veggie chips into paints in a social campaign that delivered a 16x higher engagement rate for the brand on Instagram. Mobile Marketer >>

Stella Artois, Lego, Gap Inc. brand Athleta, Nike, Vans, Sephora, IBM, Citrix, and Staples were spotlighted for producing some of the best Instagram campaigns of 2018. Business2Community >>

Florida Power & Light recently joined SocialMedia.org. Their membership will be led by Social Media Channel Manager Nicole Benvenuto Gavigan. SocialMedia.org Members >>

Madison Wilson was recently hired as Senior Communications Manager for Internal and External Communications at GE. LinkedIn >>

Steelcase is hiring a Senior Digital Marketing Specialist to grow their business and build their Coalesse and Turnstone brands by reaching audiences across digital and social media channels. (Grand Rapids, MI) Steelcase Careers >>

JetBlue is looking for a Director of Corporate Communications to build a strategic, integrated communications program that shapes stories that resonate with their audience across social and communications platforms. (Long Island City, NY) PeopleClick >>

Foot Locker needs a Brand Planning and Media Director to spearhead their strategic and paid brand stories across traditional, social, and digital media channels. (New York, NY) Foot Locker Careers >>

The Shortlist: Coca-Cola, Nike, Payless ShoeSource, and more

Coca-Cola's Group Director of Social Center and Production, Sarah Traverso, shared a behind-the-scenes look at how they overhauled their social media strategy starting with their #RefreshTheFeed campaign. SocialMedia.org Blog >>

Nike Director of Global Commercial Communications Stephen Strand discussed the goals and inspiration around their new IGTV series on everyday athletes. Oh No Tech >>

Payless ShoeSource opened a fake luxury store — complete with a fake Instagram account — to see how much fashion influencers would pay for their shoes. The ads and footage from the event will run across the brand's social media channels. Adweek >>

Under Armour kicked off promotions of its Icon line in a long-form episode on IGTV hosted by influencers Jacques Slade and Jazeri Allen-Lord. Mobile Marketer >>

Brinker International brand Chili's used social media to drive attention to its Cyber Monday Deals by sharing sneak peeks across channels with #ChilisLove. Marketing Dive >>

Anytime Fitness recently joined SocialMedia.org. Their membership will be led by Senior Manager of Digital Strategy Christian Betancourt. SocialMedia.org Members >>

Former FedEx Manager of Global Social Media Julie Clement Cochran was hired as the Lead Manager of Social Content and Platform Strategy at Wells Fargo. LinkedIn >>

PerkinElmer is looking for a Social Media Specialist to drive major social media initiatives and optimize their overall social media strategy across their corporate channels. (Waltham, MA) PerkinElmer Jobs >>

Gap Inc. brand Banana Republic is hiring a Senior Director of Marketing and Brand Communications to develop and execute brand storytelling across digital and social media. (San Francisco, CA) Gap Inc. Jobs >>

YMCA needs a Senior Marketing Director to oversee the implemenation of marketing initiatives and lead their digital and social media strategies. (Wichita, KS) YMCA Careers >>

Sarah-Traverso

Coca-Cola’s Sarah Traverso shared how they developed and executed their #RefreshTheFeed rebrand on social

When we looked at the calendar entering into the holiday season, World Kindness Day felt like that perfect moment for us to refresh our feeds with that new, uplifting messaging. Sarah Traverso
This past summer, Sarah Traverso — Coca-Cola’s Group Director of Social Center and Production — and her team launched new content with a youthful, teen focus during their “Share a Coke” campaign that included a social documentary series following a group of graduated high school students.

According to Sarah, this successful campaign — which served as an authentic moment for them to connect with younger audiences and share meaningful stories — sparked a conversation about how they could overhaul their social strategy to be more holistic and encapsulate Coca-Cola’s core brand values.

In mid-November, that new holistic strategy went live via Coca-Cola’s #RefreshTheFeed brand repositioning on World Kindness Day.

“We had decided from those early conversations to create a visual look and feel that was more laser focused with the type of messaging and content we put out there and how that content makes people feel,” said Sarah. “When we look at Coca-Cola and who we are as a nearly 135-year-old company, we’ve always stood for optimism, inclusivity, and connection. And when we looked across our social channels, we felt like some of our messaging was a little inconsistent.”

Looking at at their consumer audiences, they found that people — especially younger consumers — were seeking out positive messages on social media. And so they worked to reposition their content and messaging to focus specifically on ways they could uplift their audiences.

“Which is a great for Coke, because Coke stands for moments of happiness and bringing people together,” explained Sarah.

In their initial concept, Sarah and her cross-functional partners wanted to create a moment where the brand alluded to the fact that something was coming on their social platforms.

We are fortunate enough to be able to reach half a million people every day organically. So, being able to provide those moments of optimism and uplift to our current audiences has been great. Sarah Traverso
So they worked to find the exact date that would be the right moment to go live. “When we looked at the calendar entering into the holiday season, World Kindness Day felt like that perfect moment for us to refresh our feeds with that new, uplifting messaging,” explained Sarah.

Then on the Friday before World Kindness Day, they went dark on their feeds — archiving all of their previous posts on Instagram and pushing their content on Twitter and Facebook below the fold to make things look like they were refreshing or loading on the feeds.

Then, once they had built excitement and intrigue around their “dark” channels, Sarah and her team launched their new, uplifting content.

“On World Kindness Day, we published about a hundred pieces of optimistic content that we created both within Coke and through partnerships with four known street artists to help us amplify and spread the message,” said Sarah.

She said they wanted to make sure the artists were a good fit with not only what the team wanted to do visually, but also with the values Coke wanted to put forth in their new messaging.

“The look and feel we were going for was sort of on the graphic design side, so it lent itself to more graphic artists and street artists,” explained Sarah. “But we also wanted artists who are fans and lovers of the brand. The artists we chose already spread positive messages through their own art. So it felt like a really good fit.”

Those artists shared the content they contributed across their own channels, and Coke partnered with micro influencers to raise awareness and excitement.

“We were also able to take the #RefreshTheFeed content and put it on our Times Square board — which is great for the holiday season,” said Sarah. “And internally, we refreshed our campus here in Atlanta with all the new content.”

View this post on Instagram

❤️ boldly. #RefreshTheFeed #WorldKindnessDay

A post shared by Coca-Cola (@cocacola) on

According to Sarah, the refresh has been hugely successful across their social media channels.

“The response so far has been overwhelmingly positive, which has been really great to see,” said Sarah. “We are fortunate enough to be able to reach half a million people every day organically. So, being able to provide those moments of optimism and uplift to our current audiences has been great. But then to see it spread far beyond that is truly a great feeling.”

She shared the intrigue they were able to build leading up to the launch was one of the most surprising moments of success. “We had no paid media behind our channels when we went dark,” explained Sarah. “So the number of people who found it and engaged with it in a really meaningful way was fun and surprising to us and just reinforced that people are seeking out our content.”

Successfully tackling an undertaking of this scale in only a few months was a huge team effort.

For Sarah, who leads their North America Social Center which manages social for 10 of their brands in North America, getting this social refresh to the finish line meant massive efforts from lots of different disciplines and functions within that holistic team.

It really takes a village here, which is probably one of the best things about a company like Coca-Cola. Sarah Traverso
“We also partnered with our broader IMC content team, media and connections team, PR team, entertainment team, brand team, and more,” explained Sarah. “Everybody played a hand in really helping shape this new strategy — from a tone of voice perspective all the way through how we amplified it out from our social channels to Times Square and Coke.com.”

“It really takes a village here, which is probably one of the best things about a company like Coca-Cola,” she said.

As they continue their new strategy into 2019, Sarah and her team plan to be more purposeful about being the most optimistic brand on social.

They are kicking off the next wave of campaigns in line with their new strategy for the holiday season. “What we’re getting ready to do is in the same vein as #RefreshTheFeed, but leans itself into the holiday season and the spirit of optimism and the spirit of giving,” said Sarah.

From the launch on World Kindness Day, Sarah and her team also received interest from other artists who wanted to participate and see how their can work to extend #RefreshTheFeed through the holiday season and into 2019.

“So far, we’ve seen a really great outpouring of support and people wanting to see how they can be a part of it and help spread the message,” said Sarah.

She’s excited to see how the content continues to develop over the next year.

To anyone looking to get started on such an undertaking, Sarah said to dive right in.

“Don’t be scared to do something new and different and take a step back and look more holistically at the messages you’re putting out there,” said Sarah. “You have to try to decide what you want consumers to feel and take away when they come to your channels, and move on that.”

“And don’t be overwhelmed to tackle something that might feel big, because as you get into it the, the amount of energy and reinvigoration it brings to your team far outweighs any of the difficulty.”

Sarah Traverso has been a member of SocialMedia.org since 2018. You can follow her on LinkedIn.