May 30th, 2010 | Edwin Dearborn, Chief Brand Officer

Best Buy http://www.bestbuy.com/is a major brand whose brand marketing most definitely includes social media marketing.

Brad Smith, Director, Interactive Marketing & Emerging Media from Best Buy opened things up talking about a “new marketing reality”. Customers are out there, but they’re bombarded with messages. Customers are not listening to us (marketers & advertisers) anymore. Social media is all about communicating.  Customers are listening to each other instead and tuning out marketing messages.

Each company’s journey in social media is different. If your social media consultant starts the meeting with suggestions about starting a Twitter account, leave the room. Treat social media like any other major undertaking with planning, understanding the marketplace, goals and objectives.

Tenets that support Best Buy Social Media Marketing:

  • Deliver
  • Blow you away
  • Never leave you hanging
  • Make a difference
  • Make sure you know all we know

Brad makes the distinction of social media tools and the behaviors we seek to engage and influence. “I don’t use Facebook, I participate. It’s a two way thing.  You’re not half way into social media. When you’re in you’re in.”

Best Buy’s Social Media Marketing Mission:

To connect customers and employees with the Best Buy brand and each other through the right tools platforms and collaboration delivered when, where and how they want.

The focus is on the customer, not the company. “It’s not about what Best Buy wants customers to do, it’s about giving people the tools to connect with each other and employees whenever and however they want.”

Best Buy Social Media Guidelines:

  • (Essentially don’t be stupid)
  • Listen
  • Be findable, think distributed
  • It’s about people
  • Enable creation
  • Make it social
  • Listen some more
  • Be authentic
  • Be transparent
  • Keep it simple
  • Make a commitment

Best Buy and Twitter – @Twelpforce
The thing that makes it work is that they didn’t start with a “Twitter strategy”. It was born of a customer need. Best Buy simply leveraged an asset they knew they had with a customer need. Customers needed advice and there are 150,000 Best Buy employees world wide that are already being helpful. Twitter proved to be an effective platform for that. 2,500 employees are signed up to work as part of @Twelpforce.

When Best Buy started their social journey with Facebook, Brad says they were overzealous and promoted commercial messages to the community. The community responded, “not to do that”. Customers want access to the brand, advice, tips exclusive access that others don’t get.

Best Buy Learnings From Their Social Media Experience:

  • Listen first, talk second
  • Its OK to fail
  • The same social mores apply online as offline
  • Customers don’t care about channels
  • We have to be ready ro respond
  • Customers will tell us and everyone else where our organization is broken. And expect a fix
  • People are forgiving

Overall Best Buy is treating their social media experience as a journey. Best Buy has learned the importance of listening instead of pushing.  It’s an impressive example, not only of a very large brand finding value in a humble and transparent, customer focused social media effort, but one of true Minnesota ingenuity when it comes to new technology and marketplace innovation.

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