Newell Rubbermaid: Social media from a multi-brand perspective — live from BlogWell

2:10 — Andy Sernovitz introduces Bert DuMars, Newell Rubbermaid’s VP, E-Business & Interactive Marketing.

2:13 — Bert presents GigaTweet, which shows the number of real-time tweets going on right now, and says we live in an amazing time.

2:13 — Bert: When we look at social media marketing, it’s very simple: test and learn. Everyone says they’re an expert, I think we’re all explorers in this space.

2:14 — Bert: The way we got started was to immerse ourselves. If you’re going to be guiding your company, you have to step out there and immerse yourselves. You’ll make friends, you’ll network, and you’ll have some fun.

2:15 — Bert recommends thinking of social media as an ecosystem, and to consider how everything will fit together. And once you figure out something that works, you’ve got to try to scale it.

2:16 — Bert: And have fun along the way. I can’t say that enough. Because if you’re not having fun, nobody is going to care about what you have to say.

2:16 — Bert introduces a case study on Graco Baby. Bert says there were a lot of initial concerns from online moms that Graco might just be in it for the money. So, our initial feedback was to introduce our own people. We went out and met these customers face to face.

2:17 — Graco posted the question: What would you like to see us to do? And what don’t you want us to see us do? And the biggest response was not to pound fans over the head with products.

2:18 — Bert introduces some of Graco’s social media efforts, such as their blog, Flickr, and Twitter presences. Bert warns against focusing on one tool — such as Twitter. Bert: Maybe Twitter isn’t the right place? Bert explains that for them, they began to see a bunch of success when they started participating in Flickr.

2:19 — Bert says that Rubbermaid had a completely different approach to social media. Most people recognized their products, but didn’t know how they fit together, so their target was to engage with people interested in organizing.

2:20 — Bert says they learned a lot about their consumers through this engagement, especially when it came to learning that customers didn’t always understand how to fully use their products.

2:21 — Bert says that opening reviews on their website was one of the best ways to directly reach their customers, but says it was scary. Early reviews for one of their best and most tested products were negative, and Newell Rubbermaid learned it was because customers didn’t know how to really use the product — so it was a learning opportunity for the brand.

2:23 — Bert introduces his case study on Sharpie, saying the goal was to make consumers more aware of their product portfolio and to encourage consumers to buy more often.

2:24 — Bert shows the “Sharpie Ecosystem,” which involves Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, etc. One of their main goals in their initial social media attempt was to not screw it up, because so many great things were happening without their involvement.

2:25 — Bert says that one of their main goals with Sharpie was to show creative uses done by Sharpie fans — not necessarily celebrities. They show art from everyone from fashion and car designers to fathers on sandwich bags.

2:28 — Bert shares some of his key tips:

  • Measure first, during and after
  • Immerse yourself, get involved
  • Integrate it. If you’ve got other marketing campaigns, integrate them with your new programs.
  • Once you’ve created the strategy, look at tools
  • Social media is about people — and the key is to be able to show how you care

2:30 — Bert shares a cartoon from Dilbert in which an employee is encouraged to post fake reviews. Bert says while his goal is to get as many employees involved as possible, education and responsible outreach is a fundamental — it’s why we have the new FTC regulations today.


Q: Could you gives us some key lessons learned?

A: Not everyone who is a customer or key target is going to appreciate you being involved. When one of our representatives went to thank a blogger early on for a positive blog post, the blogger got upset and said, “Stop stalking me.” It was a big lesson for us. Not everyone will appreciate you being in their world. You just have to be careful for that.

Q: How do you deal with the personal/professional line for your employees in social media?

A: That is going to be a problem for everyone. If you’re just business all the time, that’s not going to work. Customers want to know the real person behind what you do. When you’re a real person, guess what? You’re going to say real things. You have to have a mix. Now there is this issue of the “personal brand creation” thing — I think we’re already there. There are ways to deal with it. You can have a corporate Twitter account and a personal account.

Q: How do you handle when a blogger with great relationships with other bloggers leaves?

A: People are going to come and people are going to go. Bert says the key is having employees with a lot of passion. We have passionate employees. When passionate employees leave, you’ve got to find passionate employees to fill their shoes.

Q: You talked about measuring before, during, and after? What do you measure and how do you measure it?

A: Early focus was on humanizing Graco. We started by finding where our brand stood on positive brand awareness, and after two years, we went from 65% to 85%. At the end of the day, the real tough story is — was it all the TV ads, social media, and print? Or was it when the customer walked into the store and saw a great display and decided that was the brand for them?

Q: How do you staff your team?

A: We have a matrix. We have a bunch of brands, and each brand has a team. Each VP of marketing is responsible for the brand strategy, and then corporate steps in to see how to help that strategy happen.

Q: How did you get people to participate at Sharpie Uncapped?

A: Sharpie Uncapped is a community site. We have, we have the Sharpie blog — the part that was easy was once Sharpie started creating content, they were then able to open the door to consumers. Once we opened that door, fan content came in.

Q: You talked about creating content and engaging, but this is a whole new area that requires incremental resources. Did you add staff? Are people working 24/7? How do you get it done?

A: No one in this company has the job, “Social Media Manager.” Bert explains that everyone has traditional job titles, but help with social media. We’ve done this relatively inexpensively, and we do have agencies helping.

Q: How did you all manage it into the work flow, without adding staff?

A: At that point, the agencies help. Monitoring, for example, is a great way for an agency to help identify big issues. But at the end of the day, you’ve got to have employees at the front — they’ve got to be the face.

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