Week 1 Guest Speaker Roundup by Kristen Endow

A Conversation with Melissa Robinson of Weber Shandwick and Green Dot’s Chris Lam

By UCLA X425 Student Kristen Endow

Our first class meeting featured guest speakers Melissa Robinson (@herword), Senior VP of Consumer Marketing & Digital Communications at Weber Shandwick, and Chris Lam (@theChrisLam), Social Media Marketing Manager for Green Dot Corporation. Both speakers provided insight on how they utilize social media to create user-based content, turn social media into earned PR, and measure return on investment.

Melissa Robinson works with large accounts such as CKE, Boingo, City of Hope, Buzz Media, and GM. She handles the western region of GM, dealing mainly with Chevy. Melissa told the class that at Weber Shandwick, they believe “all media is social.” She provided a great example of how her agency creates user-driven content using social media through GM’s “Drive Thru Finals” events, which target college students. These offline events provide a fleet of GM cars with drivers that students use to get take-out meals during finals. The students are encouraged to take pictures with the vehicles and create videos of their experience that are then uploaded to http://www.thefutureiselectric.com/. The campaign has proved cost effective at driving traffic to the GM website, as participating students visit the site to check out their videos and share them with friends. This is a textbook example of how third-party content creation can drive traffic to an organization’s website.

The “Drive Thru Finals” idea was simple, creative, and cost effective. For me, as a newbie to the idea of using social media, it was enlightening.

Chris Lam gave us some great examples of how she used social media with one of her former clients – Original Tommy’s Burgers. She discussed the “Tommy Tuesdays” campaign that gave the public clues that enabled them to cash in on special Tommy’s promotions. Clues were found on the company’s Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Original-Tommys-Burgers/37441912167 and released via YouTube videos. Chris also discussed a promotion with YouTube to win a BBQ grill, as well as a fun “Tommy Face” pictorial campaign. The Tommy’s examples further emphasized how to utilize social media to drive traffic.

At Green Dot, Chris said she now uses social media to address more customer service-related issues. Among the company’s current social media campaigns is a tax refund sweepstakes and a Facebook-based “Money Saving Mondays” campaign based on posting money saving tips on the Facebook page each Monday. Despite these campaigns, Chris explained that the use of social media is still in development at Green Dot and many other financial services-related firms, and she recently began creating a list of social media guidelines for the company.

Both Melissa and Chris also spoke about to measure social media’s return on investment for their clients. One of the methods GM used to measure ROI was a discount code provided to potential car buyers. Methods used by Tommy’s included tracking add-on sales and tracking people who unlocked deals on Foursquare.

Both speakers emphasized the importance of having relevant followers and fans, as well as the importance of working with influential bloggers who have a relevant following. Companies should be able to identify and understand their consumers, and therefore target the right followers. But first, a company must find its voice and carefully craft its message.

It was extremely interesting to hear from both of these speakers. Their ideas and experiences were very insightful.

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