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Building A Social Media Program? Here’s Expert Advice

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Almost every company wants to add social media to its marketing mix, but many professionals still don’t know how—or how to justify the cost to executives holding the purse strings.

One role model is Zebra Technologies, a global leader in tracking and visibility systems, which launched a comprehensive social media program after its $3.45 billion acquisition of Motorola Solutions’ enterprise business.

The acquisition created a combined company of about 6,500 employees, with more than 10,000 global channel partners, all of whom were hungry for information about the combined company’s new strategic direction. Customers in the retail, healthcare, manufacturing, transportation, and logistics industries also wanted details about how Motorola Solutions’ business—rugged mobile computers, barcode scanners, and RFID devices—would integrate with Zebra’s product line.

To convey this important information, the Zebra team decided to deliver its messages about new products and policies via social media, using Oracle Social Cloud.

Today, Zebra uses Oracle Social Cloud not only for marketing awareness, but also for lead generation, and to “listen” to customers’ social media comments, both good and bad, so that it can weigh in where needed. That information helps Zebra sales managers prepare for meetings with prospects, while product managers incorporate feedback from customers into product development.

“That is what is so powerful about social media,” says Mike Strutton, Oracle vice president of social media products. “There are conversations about your products, information about your brand, and sentiment or insight about market dynamics that you can tap into.”

Measuring Social Through Impact

More than 80% of Zebra’s revenue comes through a dedicated sales force and its global network of 10,000-plus partners. With so many partners, who mostly do their own social media, it’s difficult to track the exact relationship between Zebra’s social media activities and sales, the company says.

Statistics collected from Zebra’s Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts show that the company has increased its followers across the three channels by 236% since the acquisition, while increasing average monthly engagements (the number of times a viewer “Likes” or comments on a post, shares a post, or clicks on a link) by 285% and average monthly impressions by 175%.

Social-Savvy Tips

Sally-Anne Kaminski, manager, global social media strategy at Zebra, offers the following tips for marketers looking to bring more discipline to their social media activities:

  • Define your goals, and make sure all of your social content helps you reach them. The Zebra team adopted a singular guideline: Publish only “meaningful, relevant content to build credibility and lead customers to Zebra.” Having a unified direction globally was key to quickly growing Zebra’s social presence.
  • Protect and enhance your brand. This advice applies whether you’re using social to communicate financial results to employees or to talk with customers who need technical support.
  • Use paid social strategically. Zebra built a robust paid advertising campaign aimed at re-introducing the brand and getting updated contact information from a group of key accounts.
  • Get executives involved in the tactics, not just the strategy. To raise awareness and provide thought leadership, the social team enlisted company executives for its social advocacy program, while amplifying Zebra’s brand messaging.

“Today, social media is a key component of our digital strategy,” says Sarah Bryowsky, Zebra’s director of digital marketing. “It’s the voice of our brand, it helps drive demand, and it helps us gauge the pulse of our customers.”

Linda Currey Post covers science and technology advances as a senior writer at Oracle.

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