Social Media is transforming the way organisations engage internally with their employees as well as externally with their customers.
Best Buy, which is a large multi-channel home electronics retailer with nearly $50 Billion in sales, 3,000 locations globally (predominantly in the USA and North America but starting to also spread through the UK and Europe) and with 170,000 staff is a large organisation by any standard. Their challenge with this size company is not only to communicate externally with customers but also to listen, interact and empower the passion and expertise that is within the company.
Internally they use
- Forums such such as Geek Squad Forums and “Best Buy Community” which is a place to ask questions and to exchange ideas, information, opinions and tips with other technology users
- Wikis like the Best Buy “Loop Marketplace” which is for employee suggestions (an electronic suggestion box), as well as stock market simulation game where instead of trading stocks, employs post predictions of what will be hot in the future and other employees value those ideas by buying them.
- Video’s such as the internal competition for “best video” to encourage employees to sign up to the pension plan
- A MySpace Community “Type” site called “Blueshirt Nation” which enables employees to stay connected via email, sms, or web. As the site says, employees can “share and access information anytime anywhere…mix connects us and makes us more valuable to each other and our customers.”
The internal social media channels are essentially to “harness the energy” of the 170,000 staff as the CEO, Brad Anderson likes to put it.
To engage with ther customers on external social media channels Best Buy use a range of multi-channel social media platforms
Blogs: on topics such as Mobiles, Latest and Greatest, Lights, Camera, Action (cameras), Best Living and others (they have more than 11). These are targeted at different verticals or persona’s that they sell their products and services to such as the online shoe retailer “Zappos” does well. Their Geek Force Blog is obviously targeted at Geeks which seem to breed near technology stores whether that be online or offline.
Twitter: Where they provide customer service as well as announce specials but they encourage their employees to use Twitter to spread the Best Buy brand… and by the way they have no Twitter policy! One of the multiple Twitter accounts they run is called “Twelpforce” which is used for customer service.
Facebook: Where they provide a wide range of content on products, recycling and gift ideas for sharing.
- The Best Buy Over 1 million fans conversing with no moderation mostly sharing positive comments like, “Geek squad baby,” “Bought a laptop today,” “Great company!” A few exceptions describing in-store experiences.
- Questions that Best Buy asked received 100′s of comments from mobile apps & plasmas. Others promoted upcoming events.
- Their innovative Facebook tabs included ways to search products, ask your Facebook friends for gift ideas (and create passive impressions for Best Buy) and links to other Best Buy initiatives.
The Chief Marketing Officer Barry Judge (who also has his own personal blog where he shares what both he and his marketing team have on their mind) comments on what he is attempting to achieve with Social Media for Best Buy
- Talking with Customers not at them like they used to exclusively do with traditional mass media like TV, radio, newspapers and magazines.
- You can no longer control the message
- Be part of the conversation
- Consumers will give you all sorts of information if you are willing to listen
- Be transparent
- Showing people what is good and not so good about you creates trust
- The smart phone is the Internet in your hand
He sums it up with to be relevant in a digital world you need to
- Live digitally with your communication to your customers and staff
- Live digitally with the products you sell
The “Best Buy” case study shows that social media is not just about communicating externally but using the technology and platforms to make your organisation social, connected and energised and from that communicate with your customers in ways that make your brand stand out from the competition.