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You'll definitely want to tune into this exclusive interview with GM's Director of Social Media, Mary Henige.
The interview is courtesy of two highly respected marketing communications professionals Hugh Macken and Deirdre Breakenridge. Be sure to follow them on twitter & check out their blogs - top notch quality. (I had the pleasure of meeting Deidre last year at an RIT symposium where she delivered an excellent presentation)
Here's an excerpt of Hugh's blog post:
Henige, a 25 – year corporate communications veteran at GM and award-winning corporate communications professional, outlined the company’s approach to social media as it relates to both internal and external stakeholders. In doing so she stressed the importance of an empowering corporate culture that has provided the foundation for strong levels of internal communication. It’s that internal communication and collaboration that have been key to GM’s recent social media successes according to Henige.
“It’s not magic,” said Henige. “What we do in social media is a lot of hard work, it’s engagement, it’s building relationships and that’s something that people in corporate communications and media relations are particularly skilled at doing.”
What struck me as most interesting was the willingness and ability of Henige and her counterparts in marketing to take a collaborative approach to social media rather than one based on a turf-war mentality.
What’s even more interesting to me is the nature of that collaborative relationship. Indeed, one of the most important roles of the social media team led by Henige in relation to social media appears to be that of a trusted internal social media consulting center of excellence. According to Henige, ”Because we serve as a resource to our internal…colleagues, our expertise is sought after all the time.”
Citing GM’s sponsorship of the South by Southwest Conference as an example, Henige stressed that the collaboration between GM corporate communications and various departments within the divisional brands like Chevrolet have been key to GM’s success.
“Increased collaboration is the way that you win…[Responsibility for social media - related initiatives] should be shared. If you really want to do [social media-related initiatives] well, you need to leverage the expertise of each team…We’ve made great progress this last year.”
The collaborative efforts Mary spoke of are a vital key to any social program - especially given the size of an organization such as GM. The layers upon layers of people offer an endless supply of internal feedback, ideas and support when the concepts are positioned correctly. If a company with 32k employees can wrap their head around this strategy, why is it so difficult for dealerships with only 50 employees?
We often talk about the disconnect between the OEM's and the dealerships, both new and used. I hope the success GM, and other manufacturers, can use this momentum to help push the boundaries of their collaboration to the dealership levels as well.
I often wanted the ability to reach out to the OEM's for an extra boost of relationship marketing to the used car buyer as well. Shopper loyalty doesn't just apply to the new car market. Brand loyalty can be created and retained at the used car level. How many times have we seen that loyal buyer who loves his Chevy Silverado and is perfectly happy buying used? Now imagine GM connecting with that segment all the way down to the independent dealer as well. Possible win-win-win for OEM's, franchises & independents.
Lofty goal? Sure. But someone like Mary sure seems like she could tackle that task.
Thanks again Hugh and Deidre!
What are you thoughts about GM's efforts and your experiences at the dealership level?
Hugh Macken's Blog: VMR Communications
Deirdre Breakenridge's Website: DeirdeBreakenridge.com