Getting Social in Maine with L.L. Bean

Laurie Brooks
is a Senior Public Relations Representative at L.L.Bean and has been
there for over 12 years. L.L. Bean is typical of many companies in that
Laurie is running solo on their social media efforts.  Furthermore,
social media is but a part of her role in Public Relations.  Makes
sense to me, it’s but one part of an overall strategy and but one part
of the tactics/tools available to any PR professional.  We chatted
about a few different topics, including how to tie a corkscrew
shoelace, read on.

Q. What is your role with L.L. Bean? 
A. I’m a Senior Public Relations Representative at L.L.Bean. I’ve
been with the company for over 12 years. As in all PR positions, I wear
many (many) hats.  One of those hats is social media.

Q. When did L.L.Bean start to use social media?
A. L.L.Bean started to engage in social media when we
launched customer Ratings & Reviews for products on llbean.com in
April 2008.  We launched our Facebook, Twitter & Flickr sites
around November 2008. And we added social media chiclets to our product
pages in April 2009 allowing customers the ability to share content.

Q. Why did it make sense for you to “go social”?
A. L.L.Bean customers have a real connection to the brand, the
state of Maine and the outdoor lifestyle that we promote. L.L.Bean
customers have been engaging with us for nearly a century! Social Media
provides the perfect platform for the brand and its customers to really
engage easily in a two-way conversation.

Q. What processes did you put in place to enable going social?
A. For the most part social media platforms are free.  It’s as easy
as setting up accounts on various SM sites such as Facebook, Twitter,
YouTube, FriendFeed, Flickr, Delicious, etc.
 
In PR we are already monitoring the web and traditional media for what
is being said about L.L.Bean.  We use web portals such as Google
alerts, monitoring services like Cision and search features on
TweetDeck.

 

Q. What social communication policies have you put in place?
A. In 2009 we created a Social Media Policy for employees.  It’s
based on the current employment policy and directs employees to be
transparent when engaging in social media.  It doesn’t restrict
employees’ use of social media.
 

Q. How many people do you have working on social media at L.L.Bean?
A. It’s basically a one-woman-show.  Social Media communication is
“owned” by Public Relations, but I work in concert with marketing,
advertising and customer service. I currently develop, create and
execute all the social media content for the company on the following
sites: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube Channel, Flickr, Delicious, Twitpic,
etc. Social Media at L.L.Bean has grown organically.  As our social
media presence has grown with more fans and added social media outlets,
we have begun adding additional support.  We currently have three
official Twitter handles.  I am @LLBean_PR.  My colleague, Mac
McKeever (PR for outdoor sporting) is @LLBeanHuntFish and we are
piloting a retail handle for our two Chicago area stores
@LLBean_Chicago that is being operated by the store managers. I do see
social media growing and integrating throughout the organization
allowing use of internal expertise and resources.

 

Q. Do you measure ROI today? 
A. It’s difficult to measure ROI in social media.  The major
investment has been my time, passion and commitment to propel L.L.Bean
into the social media space.  This past year has been a valuable
learning experience.  Our share of voice is growing and continues to
grow on a daily basis. That to me is a positive return on investment.

Q. How do your customers react to you being social?
A. L.L.Bean customers are excited to learn that we are on sites
such as Twitter and Facebook.  We’ve had very positive responses from
L.L.Bean fans and have attracted new customers to the brand.

 
Q. Any great stories from the real world to share?
A. I love the instant feedback I get from using Twitter. There is a
real sense of community between groups of followers.  I can’t tell you
how many times my followers have come to my rescue and helped me out. 
For example: I had someone ask me how to tie a corkscrew shoelace on
his L.L.Bean Blucher Mocs.  Yes, I could have taken the time to either
search Google or go through my preppy handbook, but I knew there was
one particular twitter follower that would have the answer.  I tweeted
him and within seconds he sent me a link with a visual description. 
Here’s the link if you want to do the same with your Blucher Mocs


http://www.planetshoes.com/mmplanet/brands/eastland/knot.jpg


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