And no, it’s not just for the sake of social media presence alone. Kodak is, literally and figuratively, swimming and sailing in social media space—replying swiftly to users’ tweets, creating polls, seeking suggestions, organizing contests, uploading viral videos, and more.
The social media success of this company can be attributed to the fact that Kodak’s SMM is a well-thought strategy, and not a bunch of loosely tied tactics—something that anyone with a brand should seek to emulate.
As Jeffrey Hayzlett, Chief Media office and Vice President at Kodak puts it, the company has specially appointed energetic individuals all across to achieve “4 Es of Kodak”: Engage, Educate, Excite and Evangelize. I must say that I was quite surprised to read that the company has a professional Chief Listening Officer (CLO). The CLO, as Hayzlett disclosed in this interview, monitors all the social media outlets to hunt for conversations involving Kodak so that they can be addressed, assisted, and enriched by the media evangelists later on:
“In fact, we’ve just put in a chief listening officer who acts like an air traffic controller… who listens to the conversations that are going online because I can’t be online every second, every minute (although a lot of people think I am). But it gives us an opportunity to listen to the conversations and route those to sales people, route those to customer service or get them fixed or just say ‘thanks’.”
It seems that Kodak has plunged into the social sector with a no-nonsense approach. You might call Kodak’s earnest commitment to be all over the online space to be the company’s “secret to social media success.” Here’s what Tom Hoehn, Director of Interactive Marketing and Convergence Media, has to say about Kodak’s social media strategy:
“From the consumer side our products are all about enabling people’s self expression, telling the stories of their lives … On the commercial side it is about making connections to get people answers to questions they may have about our products and services. We have embraced social media for some time now. Our blog launched in September of 2006 and our Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube presences followed in early 2008. We love what social media is doing for our business.”
Kodak’s personal interactivity
Another thing that separates Kodak’s social media strategy from the rest is the fact that it lets the real Kodak people talk online. Obviously, the logo does not do the talking for other brands, but with Kodak, it’s explicitly the person talking.
Kodak’s Chief Listener’s Twitter account features her actual photo and a small Kodak logo below that. And in all the conversations, she maintains a tone that’s light and personal. Jeffrey Hayzlett also uses a rather easy tone in his feeds. This strategy helps the company in two ways:
- The customers are assured that they are not talking to the company’s logo.
- Using a gentle tone can help to calm down upset customers if needed.
The Ripcurl strategy
Convergence Ripcurl is the winning social media strategy at Kodak. The driving forces behind this model this have been Tom Hoehn (Interactive Marketing director) and Jenny Cisney (Social Media Manager and Chief Blogger). The duo describes Ripcurl to be their “path to participation” in the social space. Here’s what Tom Hoehn has to say about the concept officially called Kodak Convergence Media Ripcurl [PDF]:
“You will note the words, Twitter, blog, Facebook, YouTube, etc. do not appear anywhere on this graphic. It isn’t about the tools it is about connecting with our customers. This helps people within Kodak understand the opportunity at hand without getting caught up in jargon … Our proactive (speaking) activities are influenced and informed by our reactive (listening) efforts. When we do it right we will see a variety of results. When we get it wrong, well, we try again and keep moving forward.”
How do Kodak’s blogs fit?
Kodak runs three corporate blogs:
- A Thousand Words, a lively blog on how Kodak employees think about imaging and photography in their personal lives. The stories cover a rainbow of topics, but with photography as the focus.
- Plugged in, an instructive resource on Kodak’s products and services, announcements, reviews etc.
- Grow your Biz, an insightful place presenting the experiences of all those who have a passion for print and communication.
In Kodak’s Social Media Guide, Jeffrey Hayzlett explains how these three corporate blogs helped the company:
“The blogs start conversations as I mentioned before, and they also have a direct positive impact on Kodak’s search engine rankings. In addition, Kodak receives more than 11,000 mentions in other authors’ blogs every month in the form of product reviews, opinions on products, rants, fan mail and more. We directly participate in many of these conversations to ensure our customers know we’re listening and to share answers and additional insights.”
As with the other social media channels used by the company, Kodak’s blogs are kept brimming with energy and enthusiasm. For instance, back in 2009, they posted a contest on the official blog which asked people to email a snapshot (theirs or their family’s) to the company. On being selected (and with the person’s consent), the snapshot appeared six times on Kodak’s screen in TS from 31st December, 2009 to 31st January, 2010. Going by the comments that appeared on the Kodak blog, it seems to have been a successful move.
This strategy isn’t just about creating a couple of social media profiles—it’s about keeping the ball rolling, and Kodak is really smart at that! The company knows precisely how to trigger interest, how to maintain that level of interest, and how to keep it growing.
Kodak has also successfully used this strategy to generate worthy ideas from its end-users. For instance, Kodak found that its customers were fuming over its latest launch named “Zi8 Pocket Video Camcorder”. With a little more research, the company found that a majority of people liked the product per se, but they didn’t quite like the name. The company immediately responded by throwing open a virtual contest that required followers to suggest a good name for the next Kodak pocket camera, which was ultimately named the Kodak Playsport.
And as Jeffrey sums it up:
“It’s all about bringing people together around shared interests and reaching them in way that’s meaningful and memorable … I strongly believe that if you get involved in social media, it will grow your brand, strengthen the connection between you and your customers and keep you grounded and aware of what people really think about your company. It’s well worth the time invested.”
So, if you are ready to take the plunge and are on the look-out for a starters’ guide to social media, take a look at Kodak’s Social Media Guide. If it has worked for this massive brand, there is no reason why it won’t for you!