15:14 PM

How to establish a social media culture at conservative or highly-regulated companies

Newsroom plays key role in adopting social media strategy for Fortune 25 company.

At Ragan's 4th Annual Social Media Conference for PR, Marketing and Corporate Communications at Disney World, Brandon Daniels --communications manager at Marathon Petroleum Corporation (MPC)-- revealed some great take-aways from his social media journey at a highly regulated company.

Marathon Petroleum Corporation (MPC) is a Fortune 25 company that's been in business for nearly 130 years. For this traditional-minded company in a closely-regulated industry, launching social media required a significant culture shift. Now, just a year after starting this new venture, MPC has produced measurable social media results. Its social media have grown beyond customer engagement into recruiting, marketing, advocacy, and community support.

A key asset in MPC’s social media strategy is their newsroom. And so far, it has delivered some amazing results. The newsroom launched early last year and coincided with Marathon Petroleum's rollout of its social media endeavors. The company quickly garnered 3,000 followers on Facebook, and 34,000 on LinkedIn.

Brandon Daniels, Communications Manager at Marathon Petroleum Corporation
We're putting stories out there that interest us. We're communicating directly with people who care, and the media tap into that in a very real way.
Brandon Daniels, Communications Manager at Marathon Petroleum Corporation

In the past, a petroleum company or its PR agency might have had to lean on reporters to get a mention of the importance of oil products in feeding billions of people. With the growing exposure they now have on different social channels, they are able to publish directly to their key audiences without gatekeepers.

Its newsroom analytics show that 15-20 percent of the people exposed to a given post follow through to the newsroom, and they spend an average of 1.5 to 2.1 minutes reading the article. Plus, people are going on to explore the rest of the site.

Daniels says, "That's a higher level of engagement than we ever would have appreciated or understood prior to the newsroom."

Key take-aways

Brandon’s presentation traced the transformation of a company that once avoided social media into one that embraces every aspect of social media. The key lessons are:

How to generate support for social media

  • Build your case: Make it easy to digest, but hard to counter.

  • Research: Do your research and compare to competitor activities

  • Find allies: Find out who would benefit from social within your organization and bring them into your team. Sales? HR?

  • Worst case scenarios: Explore what can go wrong if you engage in social media. But also look at what we are missing if you do not.

  • Be the poster child: Every successful project needs an ambassador. If you want it to succeed, you must make sure you support this to the fullest.

How to build an approval-ready strategy

  • Scope: How will you start? Best is to start with one network and slowly build it out to other networks

  • Budgets: Social media is free. But there are many things you can buy that will help you. So make sure you know what investments you will need.

  • Content strategy: Where is the content coming from? Who is making it? It must be sustainable.

  • Crisis plan: make sure you have a crisis plan in place for the most likely scenarios.

  • Success benchmarks: What needs to happen to justify existence of social activities

  • Posting calendar: When, what, and how you will publish content.

  • Legal approval: show the decision makers thet ‘legal has approved’. Then everything becomes easier.

How do you measure success beyond “likes” and “shares”

Marathon tries its best to provide content that meets the expectations of its audiences. For example, Marathon’s largest group of organic social followers comes from LinkedIn (34,500); providing the content creators a great insight in what type of content the larger part of their audience is looking for.
This allows them to do well with content made for this distribution channel. Considering the average engagement rate being between 0.5 - 1.0%, MPC’s content on LinkedIn scores well averaging of 5% per post.

Marathon uses a hub and spoke approach. The hub being their newsroom, and the spokes being their social channels. This approach does well in posting snippets of content on social channels with the intention of redirecting audiences away from these channels back to their hub (read: newsroom). On the newsroom the Marathon team is able to better measure engagement; they have seen the average time spent reading articles increase from 1.15 minutes to 2.10 minutes.

About PressPage

PressPage provides a SaaS PR platform with additional services for creation of advanced social newsrooms, virtual press centers and online media hubs. It enables brands to publish and distribute rich content, and provides direct insights into the results. PressPage empowers PR professionals by adding efficiency and effectiveness to their daily work routine.