Big Brands Share Social Media Success Stories at BlogWell


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BlogWell Austin:  How Big Brands Use Social Media, February 3, 2011, Austin, TX

The weather outside was frightful, but a pack of GSD&Mers bundled up on Wednesday to attend GasPedal’s BlogWell social media event at UT Memorial Stadium.  The “How Big Brands Use Social Media” focus set the stage for a fabulous afternoon chock-full of social media inspiration.  Social media leaders from 8 major brands (Dell, UPS, RIM, InterContinental Hotels, Kelloggs, REI, Toyota and Texas Instruments) gave crisp and hard-hitting 20-minute presentations on their social media approach and unique ways that they are finding success in this complex and dynamic space.  The 20-minute format felt a bit like speed-dating but it was a very efficient and purposeful way to get a broad and rich understanding of how brands are navigating, learning and succeeding in social media.

In helping our clients at GSD&M develop social media strategies, we’ve found that relevant case studies are a great way to explore and identify opportunities that are best for a brand considering their unique objectives and for finding that “sweet spot” where a brand can truly be effective as a first step.  BlogWell showcased 8 distinct brands and successful use cases for social media.   Below are collective highlights and links to more detailed notes for each case study presentation as well as notes to the Social Media Ethics Briefing, which provided essential guidelines for staying out of trouble.

Thanks to and the folks at GasPedal for putting on such an informative and inspiring event.   Also thanks to and contributors for providing all the great links to presentation detail.   This site is awesome all around including a robust archive of video case studies from previous BlogWell events.

BlogWell Insights / Highlights:

  • When a company GETS social media, things change
  • Start SOMEWHERE – Pick an area in the social space that you can be really good – don’t do too much at once
  • Big Brands taking social media staffing and training seriously (ex:  Dell has 600 people trained on their Listening Command Center and 5,000 employees trained to be online spokespeople on various levels, Texas   Instruments has over 115 “Conversation Agents” engaging in social media)
  • Social media is GLOBAL – developing social strategies need to consider language needs, culture, etc.
  • Listening (not just monitoring) is critical first step in tackling social media effectively – Listen to consumers and make that information actionable
  • Critical to find the right listening tool that fits company objectives and key stakeholder’s/users needs
  • There are clear guidelines for social media as set forth by FTC…key is DISCLOSURE.  Guidelines found here:
  • Important to empower brand evangelists to support each other and create environments where customers can communicate with each other  about your brand
  • Demonstrable ROI is the new norm in social, find ways to prove effectiveness, no matter how small
  • Common misconception that Social Media is only a “top of funnel” function and not effective at acquisition / lead generation
  • Private communities (IHG case study) can mirror the “scary” web and allow companies to be two steps ahead
  • 5 Tips for Social Media Defense (UPS):  1) Start monitoring now, 2) Build a credible online voice, 3) Train and empower staff, 4) Know when to respond and when not to, 5) Issues can offer advantages
  • Dell just opened a Listening Command Center (SMaC) with “assignment editors” trained to monitor SM activity and route to the right teams to respond (PR, Marketing, Customer Relations, etc.)


Case Studies Notes / Links:

UPS Logo

  • Debbie Curtis-Magley, Corporate Public Relations – Social Media Defense:   Protecting Your Brand When it’s Under Attack, UPS Case Study Notes


Toyota Logo

  • Kimberley Gardiner, National Digital Marketing & Social Media Manager – How to Leverage Social Media to Build Brand Advocacy, Toyota Case Study Notes


Dell Logo


REI Logo

  • Jordan Williams, Director of Digital Engagement – Donations Instead of Deals (Location-based Case Study – Facebook Places), REI Case Study Notes


Kellogg's Logo


RIM Logo

  • Michelle Kostya, Community Manager, Support Forums; Blackberry – Connecting with Customers Online for Support, RIM Case Study Notes


IHG Logo

  • Nick Ayers, Senior Manager Social Media ICH – Inside-Out: How Private Communities Catalyzed Our Social Media Efforts, IHG Case Study Notes


TI Logo


Link to Ethics Discussion Notes:

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