Chatting with Honda about social media

Alicia Jones, who is a Supervisor in the Corporate Communications department at American Honda Motor Co., Inc, was kind enough to share some thoughts with me on their usage of social media.  Honda clearly has the major channels covered, from Youtube through Flickr, and I wanted to learn more about.

Q. How does social media fit in at the highest levels of your business?  Does it feed into specific corporate goals?
A. Certainly, we’re using social media to support our business and corporate goals in a variety of ways such as launching new products, communicating corporate messages, addressing rumors, connecting with the communities in which we do business as well as connecting with our enthusiasts / racing community and more. Specifically in my area of Corporate Communications, we use it to humanize the brand, understand what is being said about the company, deliver key messages about our efforts on topics related to the environment and innovating new technologies, and as an avenue to foster relationships with journalists and bloggers. We can share more of the “small stuff” now too like stories, events or happenstance that Honda fans might like to know about but previously we didn’t have any way to share. We also use it to shine a light on some of the many nonprofit organizations we work with as well — many of which have expanding presence of their own in social media.

Q. How have efforts from other automotive companies, like those by Ford with Scott Monty, influenced your approach?
A. We watch the social media space and have learned from the case studies and examples of many companies, within automotive and outside of automotive (after all, we’re more than just a car company). It is hard to pinpoint what has really influenced our approach—that’s one of the great things about social, so many folks are willing to share and discuss what works and what doesn’t. We try – and continue to learn – to meld the best practices and counsel of many along with our own experiences for an approach that fits within Honda’s culture. It isn’t easy since we tend to be a very private company, which neither pats itself on the back nor opens up too often. But we try to strike a balance that is approachable and transparent as well as respectful and professional.

Q. What processes did you put in place to enable going social?
A. We established processes to quickly respond to issues, rumors or threats online with appropriate information as available. We also outlined how to manage customer service inquiries that come in via Twitter since those accounts are operated by our communications teams and not by our customer service division. We continue to develop processes and refine the existing ones.

Q. What social communication policies have you put in place?
A. We have had an associate (employee) policy in place since 2008, similar to many other major corporations, speaking largely to having associates be transparent of they’re affiliation to  Honda when discussing related business.

Q. Do you measure ROI today?  If yes, how?  What have been the early results?
A. That’s the Holy Grail right now. Truthfully, we don’t have solid measurement in place yet for social but it is an area we’re focusing on now. Within each social media tool we measure level of engagement as well as quantity of fans/followers of course. We’re also tracking reach for a couple of campaigns to understand how many people are speaking about it and in theory how many people are reading that consumer-generated content.

Q. How many people do you have monitoring the social channels today?
A. We have a third party company that specializes in monitoring assist us with that and we do our own spot checks internally as well.

Q. What tools are being used today? How did you go about tool selection?
A. At this time we use a variety that help us better manage and monitor including Nielsen BuzzMetrics, CoTweet, TweetGrid, UberTwitter, FlickUp and TweetDeck among others. Things are evolving everyday however and we’re looking to streamline and improve our methods.

Q. How, if at all, do your social media tools fit in with your other backend systems like CRM, Ticketing, ERP, HRIS, etc..?
A. They do not currently however this is an area we’re exploring.

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Filed under: Random thoughts, Social Strategies Tagged: CRM, Social Strategies
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