Social Media Strategy Review: IBM – Ruling the ‘Software’ and ‘Research’ and ‘Cooking’ (!) Knowledge Domains
Summary: IBM are doing so well in social media, because they wisely took ownership of 3 specific domains: software, research, cloud, and became the domain experts across all social channels, when each channels is used differently to ensure the right interaction with the audience. Scroll to bottom of the of the post for key takeaways.
I just love what IBM are doing with their social channels.
To start with, IBM dominates “Research” and “Software” domains on all Social Channels. Pick a channel – Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, and check it – they are The Authority. There’s a whole explanation right here on how taking ownership of a knowledge domain impacts ranking for Google, and I am baking a new post about ownership of knowledge domains and #socialselling (meaning, ROI).
Below is a proof on how it impacts IBM’s customer as well. A detailed analysis of how IBM uses each channel to deliver a different Marketing goal: broadcast messages, converse, PR the brand, inspire, build authority.
And here’s a Brownie Point IBM gets – Let’s face it, software and hardware are “not as sexy subjects” to discuss and socialize about, like coffee, tv shows, etc. on social channels. And even the “sexier” products are struggling to get some social media attention today. So to make something like IBM services and products appealing via social channels – that’s a big thing.
IBM on Facebook
IBM is using Facebook to broadcast its messages and gain ownership on its chosen knowledge domains.
IBM has 8 pages on Facebook that take ownership of those domains where it wants to be synonymous with : big data, cloud, Social Business, Mobile Business. Pages have between 34k – 6k followers depending on the page subject and Niche. Postings are done daily, and ALL POSTS are structured the same: a short line of text, image, link and a hashtag. Engagement rates are pretty low, lower than the avg 0.1% Facebook engagement rate. Which is a little surprising but completely understandable taking into account how hard it is to get any organic reach on Facebook. If you look at their twitter accounts you will see a different picture – also because Twitter makes it a whole lot easier to leverage people, and people, as any social person knows, bring engagement. However, they can do a better job here with leveraging B2B great potential of having brands promote each other, e.g. interview with customers/accounts, shout outs, etc.
IBM on Twitter
IBM is using Twitter to create buzz, conversation, and relationships with its audience.
IBM has [correction] well over 500 accounts, 9 out of which are the strongest and most dominant accounts on twitter, that are covering both local and service: @IBM, @IBMDesign, @IBMWatson, @IBMBigData, @IBMResearch, @IBMUKcareers, @IBMcloud, @IBMSocialBiz, @ibmbizanalytics, @IBMretail
Each account gives a one liner description of the channel, mentions the names of people who are tweeting – which is a great way to show personality, and that IBM is a people company, not some “borg” – and mentions the tweets are following company guidelines. For example: the description on the @ibmdesign page: “Designing an IBM that works together, works the same, and works for me (you, really). Managed by @meezies, @melavumkal, @tarungangwani per IBM’s guidelines.”
Main IBM channel, @IBM, posts a couple of times every day, and mostly it’s about corporate news and references, and they cross tweet, from time to time, from other IBM accounts. Tone of voice is informal, sharp, short and personal, voice. They are very good with following the principle of “no tweet to go live without hashtag+link+@person”. I like how they give shout outs to their different offices across the US : “Congrats on a great year! RT @ibmdesign: It’s been a terrific year…Happy Birthday, Austin Studio! #ibmdesign #ibm “OR “Today the @IBM Instagram account turns 1. Thanks to all who have followed us this year: http://www.instagram.com/ibm ”
IBM offers unique insight on each channel, delivered in a great short, excited, tone. Posting is done between 3-7 times daily. At least 30% of content goes out with a visual. A true commitment to their knowledge domain.
IBM on Pinteresrt
So what can a Tech company produce on visual channels? IBM delivers great Company PR and builds authority through imagery
What IBM does through visual channels is to connect their products and services to imagery, to create the visual appeal and be more “cool” and “sexy”. Their avg follow is between 500-1000 followers, which is OK for a Brand on Pinterest. Their most successful account is IBM Curiosity Shop with over 2000 followers and which talks about “The road to a smarter planet — through visual story media. This page is managed by Chris Luongo and follows the IBM Social Computing Guidelines.” talking about better life, not about IBM directly, and smartly weaves their authority and expertise: how IBM tech expertise contributes to a better world.
IBM on Instagram
There are 5 IBM accounts on Instagram: Formal IBM, IBM Sports (which is the most interesting and successful use of IBM on authority), IBM Australia, and IBM Mobile (which is most neglected one). The latter three accounts are OK: IBM MOBILE is completely neglected, reflecting badly on a company that does such an accurate job on all other channels; Same for IBM websphere. Australia account actually has a nice number of followers. And so what’s really working for IBM on instagram is the Sports page which has a relatively fair amount of followers. Again, what’s working for IBM is taking ownership and becoming an authority of a domain, and linking it to a wildly popular and ‘sexy’ subject – sports.
IBM on YouTube
OK guys, this is where they big bucks come in, and where the above mentioned channels can practically lift a rocking campaign with zero budget, this channel – the youtube channel – is an expensive one if you want to product quality, interesting content. And here IBM holds no less than 14 accounts (!): IBM, IBMRational, IBMsoftware, ibmpowersystems, SmarterCities, ibmbigdata, IBMCloud, ibmbusinessanalytics, IBMSocialMedia, IBM Research, IBM Security, IBM Storage, IBM Social Business.
Here IBM is Doing exactly what they do in all above mentioned social channels, mapping all knowledge domains to the above mentioned areas of expertise IBM wishes to be linked with: cloud, software, research. IBM pages are well integrated with all other channels, streaming conversations around #ibm, allowing easy share on all other channels.
IBM get social, no wonder they partnered with Twitter. They understand the tremendous value of using social to converse and spread their message. They take ownership of entire domains across all social channels and they highlight people in their organization, which is one of the key tactics in getting social success. They don’t just broadcast their messages on Facebook and Twitter. They make it ‘relatable’ for everyone. No Business jargon. No complex paragraphs. Throw away the formal speech out the window. Their presence spans across all social channels including Pinterest, Instagram, emphasizing people: employees and leadership, creating trust and excitement around the brand. Audience sees the people that are behind products and services and knows they are The experts in their field.
IBM creates high quality and interesting content, cross posts and reuses it in a smart way. No doubt the $$$ invested in on the higher side, but it’s clear there’s great planning here to reuse same contenton different channels and in different tone and message to create THE RIGHT engagement. Now that’s #social inspiration!
* Take ownership of a knowledge domain e.g. ‘research’ or ‘travel’.
* Link your brand to other knowledge domains, e.g. IBM takes ownership of cooking through Watson, or on Sports through Tech.
* Post at least once a day, consistently.
* No post goes out without hashtag, link and an image.
* Show the people I : in the organization: mention the names of those who operate the social accounts, command your employees on social.
* Showcase people II : position leadership at the front as global leaders for the domains your brand takes ownership of.
* Use each channel for a different Marketing goal (broadcast messages, converse, PR the brand, inspire).