As I mentioned in a previous blog, I had a chance to speak at the Blogging for Business Conference in Salt Lake City today (and no, I am not tooting my own horn, well, maybe I am). At risk of being a name dropper, for the second time in less than a month, I had the chance to hear Christopher Barger, the Director of Global Communications Technology for GM, speak as the keynote the conference.
I was again impressed with how some of the bigger brands, like GM, are embracing the changing nature of marketing by not only hiring someone like Chris, but giving him enough leash to do what he needs to do. According to Chris, there are still some big challenges working within corporate America, but when GM not only has major executives blogging, but has executives from their Hummer division sitting down for candid conversations with green bloggers, you know the landscape has changed.
I was equally impressed with Jake McKee, who used to be the Global Community Development Director for Lego. His entire speech was about the Lego MINDSTORMS product and the project to lunch a new MINDSTORMS unit. They went out to the community and recruited 4 influencers to participate in the product design process. Once the product was launched, the results were absolutely amazing. There was an existing community in place and Lego finally included them in the brand. The co-creation process drove instant adoption. (By the way, Jake is now on his own and can be found at www.communityguy.com.)
It finally hit me today that big brands are finally starting to get it. GM and Lego are only a few of the corporate behemoths that are starting to experiment with community involvement and social media. A friend of mine, Tac Anderson, is trying to change HP from the inside out. The great thing about it is these brands have the budget to experiment with different ideas and tactics. Social media has always been known as the great equalizer and now big brands are turning the tables by learning how to compete in this new environment.
Not to be outdone, Jason Brown of Brown Lures gave a great presentation how a small start up is taking on the retail distribution cesspool by using social media to generate passion among fishing hobbyists. They are now able to leverage their fan base to drive retail shops clamoring to their door in order to carry their products.
The message came across loud and clear, no matter the business you are in, you need to be involved in social media and you need to develop a model of engagement rather than interruption.
What examples of brands big and small have you seen embracing social media?