Thanks for coming to this session about reputation building and social media. Feel free to tweet. My name is Kevin Hunt. I am the Corporate Social Media Manager at General Mills, I report through the Global Communications department. I’ve been in my position since 2010. I handle the social media strategy tied to building our corporate reputation, supporting what we call “Brand General Mills”.
But I also work with our many brands around the globe - recognize a few of your favorites? - where my role is one of counsel, guidance, training, and collaboration on things related to their social media initiatives.
When it comes to food I am not a chef, baker, or anything more than an amateur cook… You won’t see me on Food Network anytime soon. I leave the food to our experts in nutrition, food science and production across General Mills. But I am qualified to talk about a different kind of recipe, one to consider for company reputation in the social media landscape.Before we get out the mixing bowl, it’s important to note that there isn’t one recipe, or one approach to follow. Just as every cook adds a little touch of their own to what they make, every company is different and requires a different approach. But we can at least agree on some of the ingredients.
Before we do that - some background. Just last week, Altimeter Group published a report that sets the table for this session. Pun intended. People like me, with roles that touch the risk management side of social media, were asked: “In the following areas, what is the level of risk that social media currently presents for your business?” What answer came out on top as the most “critical risk”?
It was “Reputation or damage to the brand” - 89% viewed it either as a critical, significant or moderate risk. That’s why you’re here, I presume.
Your company or brand reputation is who you are, what you do, and what you stand for. The Reputation Institute, took that a bit farther, in a survey in June, saying…
“What you stand for matters more than what you produce and sell.” For longstanding companies like General Mills, reputation is definitely about what you stand for. And it also is about operating with integrity, for decades. That trust is priceless, and can be your best asset. And I would add that perhaps it’s even more important for newer companies to demonstrate their values right out of the gate, and start building up a history of integrity – in addition to great products.
A recent survey of Chief Reputation Officers, found that “Companies with established reputation strategies communicate more with stakeholders” and that those companies subscribe to the notion that “the best defense is a good offense.”
WeberShandwick did a study on reputation about this time last year. The research identified six areas that reveal a world where consumers no longer just buy products based on their own merits but also shop by company reputation. They found that seventy percent of consumers surveyed avoid buying products if they do not like the parent company. So, where does social media fit in? What exactly does it mean to “Invest in reputation” or have “established reputation strategies”? Especially in the online environment we’re all operating in today?
Are we all in the same kitchen now? That’s a peek inside the Betty Crocker kitchens by the way. I would argue that your ingredient list for reputation covers several things you’ve heard before…
… so with limited time today I won’t get into all of these. Of course it starts with listening. Of course you need to interact with stakeholders. Of course you need to have guidance and training.But the most important ingredient for reputation building in social media– one I want to focus this talk on – is…
… storytelling. Whether you represent the entire company or a brand, you need to have channels of communication you can use to tell your story. I fully subscribe to the “Every Company is a Media Company” theory, or at least the notion that companies should be creating compelling content as part of their PR and marketing. Because companies that are creating good content, hiring people to write, shoot, edit and all of the above, know that their reputation is at the heart of it. And that reputation matters to the bottom line.
Ann Handley, the co-author of “Content Rules,” said in a recent interview… “Your content should tell your story. It should be rooted in who you are…
…your content should be the soul of your brand.” Everything you do or post online is a piece of content that can affect your company’s reputation.
I manage our blog, called “A Taste of General Mills.” We write blog posts, post videos and photos that highlight the company, its people and projects. It’s about reputation. Having a journalistic style home for stories people want to read or watch.
The blog, in the middle here, is the hub of all our corporate social media activity. It’s where we break news and provide information our stakeholders care about.We also have a presence about everywhere you would expect… LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and more.So what do we do on the blog? We write about people with interesting careers at General Mills, the innovative culture and why innovation is important to our brands and products, our history, the people and organizations and companies we partner with, our goals in sustainability, our commitment to health and nutrition, and so on.
As I said, we highlight fans of our brands in many ways.
We also focus on our customers – Walmart in this case. And a chef from a grocery partner.
We also cover company events with same-day blog coverage… the Pillsbury Bake-Off contest. Or our recent Investor Meeting at the New York Stock Exchange.
We also spotlight employees, through profiles and Q&A’s… And, in special circumstances - on the right is part of a series I did on employees at our Joplin, Missouri plant who were affected by the tornado there last year. We wanted to raise awareness of the needs that Joplin had, and the spirit of the community that we have been a part of for many years.
Finally, we have some fun too. Like when Fruit Snacks sent New York Knick Jeremy Lin a jersey made of Fruit Rollups and he tweeted his thanks. Or, when “Mad Men” worked Bugles into a few scenes this past season.That’s just some of what I oversee on the blog, as it relates to our ongoing reputation-building strategy. I now want to highlight some activity and content from our brands in social media.
First, Cheerios. On their Facebook page they recently asked fans to describe Cheerios in one word.
The results, ended up on the back of Cheerios boxes. A simple yet effective reputation building activity, using input from consumers.
Another Cheerios example is how they introduced the singer of the new “The One and Only” Cheerios jingle. They produced a video, and interview with her.
It is content that allows fans to learn more about the brand, in this case the woman behind the new jingle, that helps maintain that emotional connection to the brand – promoted through the brand’s social media channels.
As you might expect, Betty Crocker is quite active in social media building and maintaining its longstanding reputation. It has our largest following among all our brands. Betty is all about food. Their YouTube channel provides consumers with some really great content to reinforce the helpfulness of the brand. Whether it’s about beer – yes, beer! Or their “Betty 911” helpline on Twitter and Facebook, or taking you behind the scenes of a photo shoot in the General Mills Photo Studios.
Another General Mills brand with a clear brand identity is Nature Valley… and their commitment to the outdoors and the national parks.
Nothing drives that home like their Trail View project this year. Nature Valley Trail View dot com gives you a Google Street-View style tour of several national parks.
They strapped a 360-degree camera to the back of one of the project’s team members and walked hundreds of miles of trails. The results are an amazing online experience.
But I also like that they took the time to tell the story of how they did it. With videos and interviews with the team on their YouTube channel and coverage of their launch event at South by Southwest.
And, continuing on their brand promise… Nature Valley has posted several videos on their YouTube channel featuring tips for hiking, camping and so on… encouraging fans to get out and enjoy the great outdoors.
I want to move now to some examples from other companies that I think also are on the right track in terms of using social media – and content – to build their company and brand reputations. Let’s start with one of our great customers, Target, another fine Minnesota company. Target launched “A Bullseye View” sort of a blog but more of an online magazine.
Another customer of ours is Whole Foods… their Whole Story blog is full of great user-friendly content as well as company-related information…
I also like The Cisco Network
General Electric has GE Reports….
Intel launched its iQ platform… curated content by employees, as well as original content related to technology and Intel’s role…
Speaking of large teams dedicated to a company blog… I recently talked with Scholastic’s Morgan Baden on my podcast… She oversees the On Our Minds blog… 12 bloggers, plus a variety of guests, all aimed at people who love books, teachers, parents….
Finally, Starbucks has really grasped the reputation-building aspect of social media…
They also feature community-minded content on their Facebook, a video series that profiled how customers do good works with their coffee – this man delivers to cancer patients. As well as highlighting employee and community service projects. They understand that by doing these things, not only do they look good, their customers look good too.So what do all those examples show?In social media, “Reputation speaks volumes.” What you speak in social media on behalf of your company and brands affects your reputation. You have the opportunity to make the impact a positive one for many years to come.Social media is an excellent way to build connections with individual consumers and other stakeholders in a way we could not do before.So do it, create good content, and create relationships that will help your company and brands thrive online and offline.
Building reputation in social media
SOCIAL MEDIA AND REPUTATIONAugust 16, 2012 @kevin_hunt @GeneralMills #GoToExplore
In the following areas, what is thelevel of risk that social mediacurrently presents for yourbusiness? @kevin_hunt @GeneralMills #GoToExplore
#1Reputation or damage to the brand @kevin_hunt @GeneralMills #GoToExplore
Who you are, what you do,and what you stand for @kevin_hunt @GeneralMills #GoToExplore
“What you stand formatters more than whatyou produce and sell.” @kevin_hunt @GeneralMills #GoToExplore
“Companies with established reputationstrategies communicate more withstakeholders.” “The best defense is a good offense.””Navigating the Reputation Economy: A Global Survey of Corporate Reputation Officers.” @kevin_hunt @GeneralMills #GoToExplore