Smart Social: Concluding Our Conversation with Walmart’s Senior Director of Digital Communications, Chad Mitchell

Walmart logoChad Mitchell is Senior Director of Digital Communications at Walmart.  Positioned within Walmart’s  Corporate Affairs division, he and his team are responsible for managing and supporting all aspects of Walmart’s corporate digital presence, including the corporate website, social media platforms, and email communications both internally to associates and externally to customers.  They are charged with managing and protecting Walmart’s corporate digital reputation, both reactively and through proactive influencer outreach.

Chad recently joined Social: IRL Principal Ben Smith, for Smart Social, an ongoing series of conversations with leaders and innovators in social business.

The first part of the conversation can be viewed here, featuring in-depth discussion on approaches to influencer outreach and brand advocacy, including details of a new social media-based employee advocacy program Walmart is launching in 2014.

This second instalment moves beyond Walmart’s corporate programs to focus a more personal conversation with Chad, including lessons learned in dealing with negative comments and attacks, and then stepping back to consider the ongoing theme of the interview series and discuss what “smart social” means to him.

In continuing the interview, Chad shares personal takeaways and learnings from the last 12 months and talks in particular about dealing with negative comments and attacks, the challenge in not taking them personally, and understanding how and when to respond. He also gives a valuable reminder that despite so much focus on social, not to lose sight of the value of your corporate website and of how powerful of a channel that can still be.

In concluding the interview, Chad explains how he defines “smart social” and talks about the importance of truly understanding our audience and being able to deliver the right message, to the right audience, in the right channel, at the right time.

Smart Social: Walmart’s Chad Mitchell on Influencer Outreach and Employee Advocacy

Walmart logoChad Mitchell is Senior Director of Digital Communications at Walmart.  Positioned within Walmart’s  Corporate Affairs division, he and his team are responsible for managing and supporting all aspects of Walmart’s corporate digital presence, including the corporate website, social media platforms, and email communications both internally to associates and externally to customers.  They are charged with managing and protecting Walmart’s corporate digital reputation, both reactively and through proactive influencer outreach.

Chad recently joined Social: IRL Principal Ben Smith, for Smart Social, an ongoing series of conversations with leaders and innovators in social business.

We’ll be sharing the interview in two instalments. In this first instalment, conversation focuses on challenges and opportunities around influencer outreach and employee advocacy.

Part One: Chad discusses how his team defines, identifies and engages influencers in the social media space, and shares valuable insights on creating meaningful influencer relationships and outcomes.

Part Two: Chad discusses the the challenges and opportunities social media brings to influencer outreach, both in terms of identifying potential influencers and in creating the right content and message for the right audience in the right channel.

Part Three: Chad addresses the need for transparency and authenticity in influencer outreach, and to understand the scrutiny a brand such as Walmart is under with today’s outreach initiatives being conducted in full public view online.

Part Four: The conversation moves from influencer engagement to employee advocacy and Chad discusses the tremendous value of employee brand advocacy and steps Walmart is embarking on to engage, activate and empower their associates to fill this valuable yet largely untapped role.

Part Five: In concluding this first instalment of the interview, Chad discusses identifying and overcoming challenges to effective employee advocacy, from both corporate and associate perspectives.

Continue to Part Two of the interview here.

Smart Social: A Conversation with Ignite Social Media’s Jim Tobin

Smart Social SmallJim Tobin, is president of Ignite Social Media, widely recognized as being “the original social media agency.” He is also author of 2008’s Social Media is a Cocktail Party and a new book publishing in the fall of 2013, Earn It. Don’t Buy It. The CMO’s Guide to Social Media Marketing in a Post Facebook World.

Jim recently joined Social: IRL Principal Ben Smith, and Expion VP of Strategy, Zena Weist, for Smart Social, an ongoing series of conversations with leaders and innovators in social business.

During the interview Jim discussed issues ranging from the evolution of Facebook and challenges it’s now facing in keeping users engaged, to Facebook’s advertising model and its impact on user experience, to frustrations with the current state of social marketing and an over-reliance on buying impressions rather than earning engagement.

The interview was conducted via Google Hangout.

Part One: Jim discusses the title of his new book, in particular the reference to a “post Facebook World.” From there Jim discusses where the onus lies in keeping users engaged in the channel – with Facebook in the UX, or with brands in the quality of content created and shared? Jim also discusses Facebook’s current advertising model and whether financial success had come at the expense of user experience.

Part Two: Jim discusses social media advertising vs. social media marketing and the need to move beyond simply buying impressions to develop a deeper understanding of your audience and what they care about –  why they care about your brand, what gets them to react to your content, what gets them to advocate for you.

Part Three:  Jim discusses the current agency environment and the role of niche specialty agencies, such as Ignite.  A key point of emphasis, the need for greater agency collaboration with a focus on the end-user experience.

Part Four: Jim shares some of the frustrations he feels towards the current state of social media marketing and a too common reliance on buying impressions rather than earning results. It was these frustrations that ultimately proved to be the motivating factor behind his new book.

Smart Social: A Conversation with H&R Block’s Scott Gulbransen

Smart SocialScott Gulbransen is Director of Social Business Strategy at tax giant H&R Block, and is the veteran of 13 tax seasons.

Before H&R Block, Scott helped create the social media platforms at both Applebee’s and TurboTax.

Scott recently joined Social: IRL Principal Ben Smith, and Expion VP of Strategy, Zena Weist, for Smart Social, an ongoing series of conversations with leaders and innovators in social business.

During the conversation, Scott provided valuable insights on some key issues, including empowering employee advocacy, the “local social nugget”, aligning social initiatives with business strategy, marketing with the unexpected, and the role and responsibilities of the company’s social media department within the greater organizational structure.

The interview was conducted via Google Hangout.

Part One: Scott discusses where the social media department is housed within the H&R Block organization, and the role the department plays in “leading and empowering,” rather than controlling social.

Part Two: Scott discusses the “local social nugget” and explains how and why H&R Block are working to empower local offices to tap into the power of social communications.

Part Three: Scott discusses employee advocates and explains why, even in a regulated industry, empowering employees to speak about your brand in the right way is not only powerful advocacy, but is actually safer for the brand.

Part Four: Scott discusses the”Stache Act” – a marketing campaign that earned H&R Block a great deal of attention and acclaim. Scott explains that while the campaign was about having fun and playing on the unexpected, the key to its success revolved around “making a business case and having real business reasons for what you want to do” and ensuring social was aligned with the greater business strategy.

Part Five: Scott answers the question, “During your time at H&R Block, what are you most proud of?” His answer is not what you might initially expect, shifting focus from the ‘Stache Act and other high profile successes, to strategy and team members.

Part Six: We conclude the interview by focussing back on the “Smart Social” theme, and Scott explains what “smart social” means to him.

A Conversation with Frank Eliason: Delivering Value and Creating Remarkable Customer Experiences

Smart Social SmallFrank Eliason is Senior Vice President of Social Media at Citibank, and author of @YourService.

Frank became renowned for his pioneering work at Comcast in bringing customer service to the social web under the @ComcastCares Twitter handle. This work has been recognized by many news organizations, including ABC News, New York Times, and Business Week.

Frank recently joined Social: IRL Principal Ben Smith, and Expion VP of Strategy, Zena Weist, for Smart Social, an ongoing series of conversations with leaders and innovators in social business.

Parts one and two of the conversation were shared in an earlier post, with valuable insights from Frank on the @ComcastCares  backstory and birth of social customer service.

Parts three and four of the conversation are embedded below.

Audio podcasts are also available via SoundCloud and iTunes.

In part three of this interview via Google Hangout, Frank expands on his recent post Are We, Social Media Professionals, Destroying Social Media. In particular, Frank discusses real-time marketing trends and the need for brands to be part of the social media community in ways that deliver value and not detract from user experience. .

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In concluding the  interview, Frank answers the question “what does smart social mean to me” with some valuable advice for brands: If you want to win in social, concentrate less on social itself, and more on creating remarkable customer experiences.

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A Conversation with Frank Eliason: @ComcastCares and the Birth of Social Customer Service

Smart Social SmallFrank Eliason is Senior Vice President of Social Media at Citibank, and author of @YourService.

Frank became renowned for his pioneering work at Comcast in bringing customer service to the social web under the @ComcastCares Twitter handle. This work has been recognized by many news organizations, including ABC News, New York Times, and Business Week.

Frank recently joined Social: IRL Principal Ben Smith, and Expion VP of Strategy, Zena Weist, for Smart Social, an ongoing series of conversations with leaders and innovators in social business.

Parts one and two of the conversation with Frank are embedded below. The remainder of the conversation will be shared in a later post.

Audio podcasts are also available via SoundCloud and iTunes..

In part one of this interview via Google Hangout, Frank shares the backstory of how @ComcastCares came about and social customer service was born.

.In part two of the interview, Frank shares events from July 26, 2008, and his realization about the more personalized nature of the social media space – “human connections, not brand messaging.”

Live Hangout with Socialized Author, Mark Fidelman

Earlier today, Socialized! author and Forbes columnist, Mark Fidelman. joined Social: IRL’s Ben Smith as the first guest in a new series of “on air” conversations featuring leaders and innovators in the social business space.  Upcoming guests will include Frank Eliason, Michael Brito, and Jay Baer, with the conversations being co-hosted by Expion VP of Strategy, Zena Weist.

Video of this morning’s conversation is embedded below.  An audio only podcast is also available via SoundCloud or iTunes.

Mark covers a variety of topics, including:

  • Understanding the difference between social media and social business.
  • Why the journey to becoming a social business must start with internal process.
  • Empowering employees.
  • Working with the C-Suite.
  • Overcoming hurdles on the path to becoming a social business.
  • Crisis response and recent social media brandjackings.
  • Influencers vs. brand advocates.
  • Creating a “digital village” of empowered advocates.
  • The meaning of “Smart Social”
  • Opportunities and trends for 2013.