the new world
of social media?
we’re here to help!
This booklet is a short introduction to the subject of social media.
We also run workshops and seminars on the subject and are happy
to answer queries over the phone.
You can also follow our thinking by visiting the digital section
of our blog:
Alternatively, please get in touch:
Head of Marketing
Tel: + 44 (0)20 7229 5720
What’s it all about?
THe use of social media is groWing aT an
unprecedenTed raTe and is increasingly being
considered as an imporTanT parT of THe
corporaTe communicaTions mix.
Social media is essentially about people having conversations
online and while individuals have been early adopters,
organisations have been slow to open up to this conversation,
being more used to a carefully constructed monologue. There are
some notable exceptions, such as Nike, GE, General Motors and
Dell to name a few, and we will share some good examples
with you throughout this booklet.
As this shift to a more open online dialogue begins to take place,
companies are starting to realise that they need to change their
mind-set and approach social media as an opportunity rather
than a risk.
We hope this booklet will highlight the key points you’ll need
to know about social media and provide evidence of how it is
already working for business.
01 Salterbaxter’S guide to Social media
so what is
Social media is a term used to describe a new breed of digital
communication that takes place within an open and collaborative
environment. It shares all of the following characteristics:
Whereas traditional corporate communications is about one-way
broadcast, social media encourages conversations between a
wide group of people. Social networks are helping to support this
Participation and experimentation are expected within social
media. The emphasis is on sharing and commenting on content
freely without too many barriers. Voting functionality is also
allowing audiences to quickly evaluate the usefulness of content.
Communities with the same passions and interests, such as cars,
the environment or even The Apprentice, can quickly congregate
and communicate easily with each other.
The relationships built through social media gain momentum
through their connections. Communities form by openly sharing
resources, contacts and ideas. Informal networks are then built
through connections with friends and colleagues.
02 Salterbaxter’S guide to Social media
companies using it?
Social media is now allowing organisations to build dialogue with
many more people by participating in their social media spaces
– from employees to investors, management teams to NGOs,
community groups to journalists and, more importantly, consumers.
Traditional channels for corporate communications are being
supplemented by publishing content on existing social networks.
In some instances social media channels are even replacing them.
And by their very nature, these communications are more open
and transparent, shaped and ‘audited’ by the audience.
But for corporate material to be successful in this environment
the content must be meaningful, relevant and engaging; and
companies need to understand they cannot fully control the
message or the destination.
These channels now offer the opportunity for more trusted
and targeted dialogue and should be considered for a range
of communications including:
Brand and reputation
PR, press and media
plus social media
03 Salterbaxter’S guide to Social media
There are more
than 150 million
users on Facebook 1
Social networking is now the
4th most popular online activity
ahead of personal email 2
over 14 million articles 3
rate is 752%4
There are more
than 1 billion
tweets on Twitter
04 Salterbaxter’S guide to Social media
unique visitors 6
There are now over 1 billion
users on the internet 7 YouTube has
over 100 million
viewers online 8
LinkedIn has over 36
million users spanning
170 industries 9
1. Mark Zuckerberg, 7 Jan 2009 2. Global Faces and Networked Places: A Nielsen report on Social Networking’s
New Global Footprint, March 2009 3. Wikipedia statistics, 28 Feb 2009 4. Mashable/Compete, 9 Jan 2009
5. Techcrunch, 12 Nov 2008 6. Techcrunch/comScore, Dec 2008 7. Internet World Statistics/comScore, Dec 2008
8. comScore, 5 March 2009 9. Advertising Age, 2 March 2009
of social media
On the following pages we outline a range of social media tools
and techniques, providing interesting examples in each section:
01 campaign microsites
02 communities of interest
05 social forums
07 personal production
08 information gathering
06 Salterbaxter’S guide to Social media
This is a small or mini website, separate from an organisation’s
main website, that has a distinct URL and delivers focused
content about a specific campaign, product or service. It is a
destination for a communications programme that people can
return to again and again at minimal cost to the organisation.
Nike – Nike+
Nike created this campaign microsite to encourage one million
runners to run in one race, in one day in May 2008. It is estimated
that 10 million miles have been run due to this campaign, equating
to 26 trips to the moon and back and 401 runs around the world.
GE – Eco-imagination
GE created a new innovative culture under the banner of
‘eco-imagination’ to reflect their new emphasis on green technology.
Over 200,000 people downloaded the breakthrough technology on
this site, called Augmented Reality, that helps consumers see a
digital hologram of GE’s Smart Grid technology.
Vattenfall – Climate signature
Sweden’s largest electricity supplier set out to mobilise the
international business community to act on climate change. Over
240,000 people have signed up to their climate manifesto ahead
of the UN climate conference in Copenhagen this November.
Aviva Ocean Racing http://www.avivaoceanracing.com
National Grid Floe http://www.nationalgridfloe.com
Heineken Know the Signs http://www.knowthesigns.com
Coca-Cola Let’s Get Together http://www.letsgettogether.co.uk/
07 Salterbaxter’S guide to Social media
communities of interest
This is an online space where people with common interests
can share their experiences and opinions, create unique
personal profiles, build relationships and use those connections
to accomplish a task. They represent a significant arena for
organisations to connect to new audiences and build dialogue.
Shell was one of the first global corporations to invite people to post
questions about their industry when they launched Tell Shell in 1998.
Shell Dialogues now includes open debate and there have been over
50,000 page views and 500 questions answered since the
site launched in May 2008.
WWF – Earth Hour
More than 4,000 towns and cities across 88 countries took part
in Earth Hour to raise awareness of climate change by turning off
their lights for one hour on 28 March 2009. It is estimated that over
100,000 people signed up to the Earth Hour site online.
Dell – Community Home
Dell experienced negative publicity from a consumer site called ‘Dell
Hell’. In response Dell has now become the leading voice of computer
manufacturers in social media environments. The Dell community site
now gets more than five million unique views per month.
78% of people trust
the opinions of others 1
HP community http://www.communities.hp.com/online
Nike Looped online community http://nike6.loopd.com
TED Ideas Worth Spreading http://www.ted.com
1. Source: Nielson ‘Trust in advertising’ Report, October 2007
08 Salterbaxter’S guide to Social media
Co-creation refers to content produced in collaboration by
end-users of websites or social media as opposed to traditional
media producers. The ultimate aim is for content to be more
democratically created and shaped by the audience. It often
includes suggestion boxes, where people share ideas on new
products and service developments.
Starbucks – My Starbucks Idea
This site allows customers to voice their own ideas about what
they’d like to see changed or improved at Starbucks. Users submit
their ideas related to employees, coffee and tea, and merchandise.
Ideas are reviewed by Starbucks’ employees. Over 75,000 ideas
have been suggested, resulting in new products and services
Toyota – Why Not?
Users are asked to submit their own innovations in six areas
– safety, water, land, air, community and energy – while learning
about Toyota’s efforts in these areas. Over 60,000 ideas have been
submitted to win a prize.
Dell – Ideastorm
Dell wanted to build an online community that brought users closer
to the creative development of new technology by allowing them to
share ideas and collaborate with one another. More than 11,000
ideas, new products or services ideas have been posted.
GM Next Wiki http://wiki.gmnext.com/wiki
BP SimCity Society http://bpsimcitysocieties.com
IBM Wiki http://www-941.ibm.com/collaboration/wiki/dashboard.action
The Spark by T-Mobile http://www.thespark.t-mobile.co.uk
09 Salterbaxter’S guide to Social media
A blog, an abbreviation of ‘web log’, is a website where entries
are written in chronological order and commonly displayed so that
new entries appear at the top of the page. Many blogs provide
commentary or news on a particular subject such as food or local
news; others function as more personal online diaries.
Sun Microsystems – Jonathan Schwartz
Jonathan Schwartz, the CEO of Sun Microsystems is often held
up as a great example of what a corporate CEO can do with
blogging. It shows how today there are no such things as ‘internal
communications’ – just one message, direct from the CEO to everyone.
BNP Paribas – For a changing world
This multi-lingual blog site is aimed at BNP Paribas employees
and the general public. The subject matter is focused on the
company’s CSR track record. What is remarkable is the frankness
of the employee statements and the site’s ability to collect ideas
about changing mortgage calculations, including reactions from
the general public.
General Motors – Fact and Fiction
GM has developed a reputation for creating good car enthusiast
blogs, such as http://fastlane.gmblogs.com. More interesting is GM’s
Fact and Fiction site that sets out to counter the misinformed opinion
spread by social networks about the restructuring of the business. 73% of internet
It is GM’s official record of the facts, leaving users free to make users have
up their mind on what to believe. read a blog 2
Coca-Cola conversations http://www.coca-colaconversations.com
Waitrose CEO diet blog http://www.waitrose.com/blog/index.aspx
Nokia conversations http://conversations.nokia.com
GE global research blog http://www.grcblog.com
2. Source: Universal McCann Comparative Study on Social Media Trends, April 2008
10 Salterbaxter’S guide to Social media
An internet forum is a web application for holding discussions and
posting user-generated content. Internet forums are also commonly
referred to as web forums, message boards, discussion boards,
discussion groups and bulletin boards. Messages within these
discussions are then displayed either in chronological order or
as threaded discussions.
Sainsbury’s – ‘Your Ideas’ forum
Sainsbury’s became the first UK supermarket to get involved in user-
generated content, opening the ‘Your Ideas’ forum with its customers
back in June 2006. The site is a network of forums hosted on
sainsburys.co.uk, that now has over 61,000 members, discussing
topics ranging from child obesity and what makes a good curry.
Vodafone customer forum
Vodafone set up a customer forum to answer questions on
pricing, contracts and their overall service standards to improve
their customer support. Over 30,000 customer complaints were
answered online and customer satisfaction results improved by 30%.
HSBC Business Network
HSBC’s Open talk e-forum took this idea a step further and included
polls, inspirational talks for their business customers as well as a
knowledge centre and tutorials for start-up businesses. The site has
helped them stay close to their customers during challenging times.
34% have joined
an online forum 2
BT community forum http://beta.bt.com/bta/forums/index.jspa
Adobe support forum http://www.adobe.com/support/forums
Powerwise, Canada http://www.powerwise.ca
Google Health Groups
11 Salterbaxter’S guide to Social media
Micro-blogging is a form of blogging that allows users to send
brief text updates or media, such as photos or audio clips, and
publish them to open or restricted groups. These messages can be
submitted by a variety of means, including text messaging, instant
messaging, email, digital audio or the web.
Scott Monty for GM
Scott Monty is a social media guru who was recruited by GM and
Ford to raise their profile through social networks. He has over
18,000 followers on Twitter and conducts daily interviews with
blogs, news sites and television. In April 2009 this increased traffic
by 100% to thefordstory.com. The CEO video was watched by over
GE at Ted whiteboards
GE invited a selected audience from TED (Technology, Entertainment,
Design) to answer three key questions online that addressed key
issues affecting GE’s business. The challenge for the contributors
was to keep their responses to 140 words using Twitter. The ideas
were then posted on ecoimagination.com.
Stephen Fry has over 400,000 followers on Twitter making him
one of the most followed people on a social network site in the
UK. He has quickly emerged as the British ambassador for
micro-blogging in the UK and his tweets are now making front
Twitter now has 11
10 Downing Street http://twitter.com/DowningStreet
Barack Obama http://twitter.com/BarackObama
Rio Tinto http://www.twitter.com/riotinto
CEO at Zappos http://twitter.com/zappos
2. Source: Universal McCann Comparative Study on Social Media Trends, April 2008
12 Salterbaxter’S guide to Social media
The advent of digital cameras, home editing software and online
publishing services have empowered individuals to reach a large
audience at a much lower cost and greater frequency than most
media. Today, many people are creating their own content free,
such as film and radio content, uncensored from the constraints
of the mainstream media. This has also given organisations more
control of their own news and corporate message, making them
less reliant on mainstream media.
GM Social Media Newsroom
One of the best examples of corporate social media is GM’s
newsroom that mixes social media and traditional media well.
The whole site is tagged and it has now substituted traditional
news platforms to become the ultimate source of information
relating to GM.
Philips Social Media Newsroom
Philips have taken this concept one stage further and tagged all their
media photos and linked them to Flickr. Again this has helped Philips
control the source of its own news and material.
Johnson & Johnson YouTube channel
This YouTube channel covers a wide range of topics including
nutrition, diet, sexual health, gastric bypass surgery and obesity. The
goal of the site is to provide useful health information for consumers
direct from Johnson & Johnson.
clips online 2
Kodak 1,000 Words http://1000words.kodak.com
Nestlé Creating Shared Value http://www.youtube.com/user/NESTLECSV
Honda The Power of Dreams http://dreams.honda.com
13 Salterbaxter’S guide to Social media
People are getting smarter in the ways they collate, read and review
content online. With access to endless web content it is easy to
become overwhelmed with information. New tools and techniques
have been developed to cope with this issue, such as news feeds
from Google which have been helping social networks access the
most relevant and up-to-date blogs and news information.
BT Innovation RSS and Podcasts
BT’s RSS-enabled website helps subscribers scan article headlines
and link back to the latest full articles on the website for their
GadgetZone, Futurewise, and Innovation news.
Ford – Digital Snippets
By subscribing to the Ford RSS feeds for individual news stories, users
are instantly updated with the latest digital snippets related to that
story. A snippet can take the form of copy, photos, video or audio that
can be shared on the internet and reposted on any website.
http://ford.digitalsnippets.com 39% have
Lyondell – RSS Feeds to rss feeds 2
Lyondell’s feeds are usefully subdivided into categories allowing
visitors to select what they want. Lyondell provides 12 separate
topic-based feeds so that different types of journalists can
subscribe to the news most relevant to them.
Intel Press Room RSS feed://rss.intel.com/rss/intel-pressroom.xml
Adobe on Del.icio.us http://delicious.com/adobe
Google Reader www.google.com/reader
2. Source: Universal McCann Comparative Study on Social Media Trends, April 2008
14 Salterbaxter’S guide to Social media
how is this changing
iT is clear, social media is no longer a fad,
nor Will iT seTTle long enougH To be fully
undersTood. companies are beginning To
realise THe implicaTions of social media and
are demonsTraTing innovaTion by TesTing THe
WaTer WiTH specific iniTiaTives.
The most important thing for companies to understand is that
they have to join the social media conversation rather than seek
to control it. This means the message has to move from being
controlled and one-way to a more inclusive, authentic and
The companies that are able to embrace this, and learn from
the people they reach, will be the ones that excel in managing
their reputations online.
i think it’s really
interesting! i didn’t like it. What
Have you seen the do you think?
latest skittles site?
mars is really
brave to do it
15 Salterbaxter’S guide to Social media
1. Understand the rules 4. Avoid blandness
of the game Due to all the web noise you
Social media requires a will need to make the content
different way of thinking. Think relevant, interactive and
strategically for the long term and engaging to draw people in.
remember it’s about real people Make the content easy to read,
and open communication, not use sub-headings to make the
about a static corporate message. content relevant and instruct
Just by being involved in social a design agency that knows
media shows companies are their social media onions
willing to be part of the debate. (preferably us!)
2. Authenticity 5. Think community first
Write about real things that Understand who your audience
people care about, using an is: where are they online; what
authentic tone of voice. Post are they doing; and what tools
new information frequently to are they likely to be using?
help build credibility over time Then develop a trusted and
(social media is about sharing credible web presence on the
after all). Focus on explaining social networks they are using.
your point of view with openness Encourage feedback where
and honesty to address high levels possible and don’t forget
of scepticism (overt corporate PR to respond!
doesn’t work well in this space).
6. Track measurable results
3. Accept you can’t control As budgets are tight it is
everything important to learn how to
Seek advice to help clarify the measure truly relevant results.
potential risks and rewards of any Think hard numbers: no. of hits;
social media project. Accept there no. of questions posted; no.
will always be negative detractors of favourable comments. Also
and NGOs taking a narrow view. think qualitative results, such
If you are cautious, undertake a as increased sentiment towards
trial project first and measure brand or spontaneous responses
results to help build your social from staff. Use these metrics to
media confidence. Accept that review and revise future plans.
you won’t be able to change the
culture overnight, but you can
take small steps which can lead
to a snowball effect.
16 Salterbaxter’S guide to Social media
iT is clear THaT social media Will be an
imporTanT asseT for corporaTe communicaTions
and THe companies THaT Will succeed Will be
THose THaT creaTe meaningful relaTionsHips
THrougH engaged and commiTTed neTWorks.
Understanding the nature of this new collaboration online is
key. Opening up to sharing with others and recognising your
corporate message will be owned and defined by people outside
your organisation remains the biggest barrier to change for
But social media is happening all around us and offers
companies the opportunity to engage with a whole range of
stakeholders. All that companies now need to do is start an
open and honest conversation.
this way to
17 Salterbaxter’S guide to Social media