Caterpillar's Four Pillars of Social Media
Kevin Espinosa is social media manager for Caterpillar Inc., and we're thrilled to have him as keynote speaker for the Nov. 19 MAPI Social Media Forum. In the below interview, Kevin shares his thoughts on how B2B manufacturers can use social media to complement their existing marketing strategy.
Q: For B2B manufacturers that are early on their social journey, what’s a good place to start?
A: At the highest level, you have to plan how social media will complement your current marketing strategy. There are many ways you can use social media, and at Caterpillar we see 4 pillars:
- Social Listening to understand the current landscape and what you need to improve
- Promotion to bring awareness to everything you are doing (it is your megaphone)
- Thought Leadership to bring people into the sales funnel in a way that provides a lot of value to the reader and sets you up as the expert
- Customer Support to build customer loyalty by providing solutions
Q: What advice can you offer for convincing a skeptical senior management that social is a good investment of resources?
A: Social media is a critical component of a complete marketing strategy, and social listening helps you tell that story. With social listening you can see what people are saying about you, your competitors, and your industry. You can see where these conversations are taking place, what the sentiment is, and who the influencers are. Armed this information, you can plan where to be and what you need to talk about. There is one thing I find interesting about social listening: what you don't see [in the results] is every bit as important as what you do see. Are people even talking about your company?
Q: What lessons learned can you share for creating a “social media army” of subject matter experts who might not have a marketing or communications background?
A: You have to make them comfortable. Just like anything new, people aren't going to do something unless they feel comfortable. For us, this means arming them with the tools they need to be successful, and in this case it all started with educating them. We developed a social media playbook that has all the to-dos and examples that they need to be successful. Another key is to show them is that social media complements all of their other activities and increases their results. We showed them the business value.
Q: What do you see as the next evolution in social media? Will it be a viable source for “big data” or is that just hype?
A: There's a lot of hype around the "big" aspect of big data. At the end of the day, we're focused on using data to be more relevant to each customer, and data from social media play an important role.
Q: How do you balance the tension between using social to tell a story and have a conversation with using it to drive revenue?
A: It all works together and really defines what content marketing is all about. Often, we use social media to tell an engaging story such as how our equipment is being used in a newsworthy way, whether it be building a new airport, helping with a natural disaster, etc. Then, we leverage that story to drive people to more information about that specific product. In turn, that eventually drives them to a form for a quote or to contact their dealer. The key is that this digital sales funnel feels very natural for the prospect. This approach is working very well for us.