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What Does the Social Shake-Up Mean to Caterpillar?


I had a chance to sit down with Kevin Espinosa, Social Media Manager at Caterpillar to discuss some of the topics that you will see at the Social Shake-Up Conference. The following is a transcript of our conversation.

SMT:   How does a company as big as Caterpillar go about creating social interaction with your customers?

KE:      First of all we use social media to support our overall business strategy. That means one of the primary things we want to do is support our Customers and find people that aren’t doing business with us. Social media offers us tremendous reach, but we need to make sure it is relevant to our customers. It also gives us the platform to provide solutions to our audience through thought leadership and compelling content. 

That goes right in line with our four pillars of social media. One is Social Listening so we can understand where the people are, where the conversations around our industry are, what they’re saying about Cat, what our competitors are doing, et cetera. Our second pillar is Promotion - or being able to reach those people through different channels and cast that wide net that social media does so well. Third is Thought Leadership, we provide solutions to everyday problems which is far better than just advertising. We consider this the new top of the funnel. Those companies that are providing solutions are top of mind for me when it comes to buying the product that I’m interested in and our customer are no different. Four is Customer Support. When a new channel comes along no matter what it is, take for example the advent of the telephone.  People are going to call you with questions that they may have. That’s no different than today with social media. You have to have all the back office capabilities to answer all the questions that come to you.

SMT:   Do you find these four initiatives are breaking down barriers in your organization maybe between marketing and customer support or some other areas?

KE:      Definitely. I see this question tied very closely with our customer interaction center.  And they quickly have to know either can they respond to that question or do they need to escalate it to the person that’s appropriate. Maybe it’s an engineer in a specific product, or marketing that needs to help with that sale with some product information, or the salesman at the dealership that actually needs to make that call. It’s really neat how the traditional channels are integrating with the new channels, and you see more evidence of that every day.

SMT:   Are you trying to harness some of the data that you’re getting from your listening platform to leverage that for Caterpillar in some way or feed some of these groups in some ways that’s kind of interesting? 

KE:      Yeah.  I’m glad you honed in on social listening.  Even though social listening is one of our biggest pillars, we don’t consider social listening just part of social.  We do social listening for every part of our business, not just for our social efforts.  We listen to it from a brand perspective, from a marketing perspective, and from a product prospective. 

Social listening is in our Information Analytics group, which you might call our “big data” group.  Social listening is just another component of data to understand that 360-degree view of the customer and they use social data to paint that complete picture.  So that’s a perfect question and how important we think that social is contributing to big data in the future to either do predictive sales or, again, to paint that 360-degree view of the customer that everybody wants.

SMT:   Are they pulling it together and putting it all into a CRM system if not where does it go?

KE:      To be quite honest with you, we’re in our infancy as far as our maturity level with that.  We are building that big data centralized database in order to feed all these different sources, social just being one of them. 

With social media, somebody likes your page or somebody re-tweets or somebody comments on something you posted.  The big question these days is – so what?  What do you do with those people that have done that?  In traditional digital marketing, we have marketing automation and we have the science of if they do A, then you do B.  You can do these very scientific things with traditional and digital marketing plus marketing automation.  That really doesn’t exist yet with social, and that’s what we’re trying to figure out.  If they like our page, then what do we do next?  Not only on a social perspective, but how does that play with your other digital channels?  If they do these three steps in social, do I hand them off to a Website, a particular piece of content?  Once that lead score starts generating, when do you hand it off to the dealer salesman and you have that face-to-face call?

With big data, we’re trying to piece all those steps together logically and create that digital experience that the consumer wants.  But then from an internal perspective, do it with the right channel.

SMT:   I understand Caterpillar was named one of Fortune 500’s social media stars by CNN Money.  Can you talk a little bit about why they chose you guys?

KE:      I think it really goes back to what I said in the beginning on how we even utilize social media.  They recognized we haven’t gotten caught into the trap of we’re concerned that we have a million likes on our Facebook page or that we have 100,000 followers on our Twitter page and that we have 27 Facebook pages.  We’re not worried about the numbers; we’re worried about the quality of content that we put out there and that relationship we’re building with the consumer.  If you look at Websites 20 years ago, it was the same thing where people were just trying to get visitors and the numbers were big.  Oh, we got a million visitors this month in our site.  Wahoo!  Then it wasn’t too much longer where people will start thinking so what. 

So I think we’re being more recognized for the quality and the thought we put in our social efforts, the type of content.  We do a lot of content planning around what happens on social in relation to our other channels.  And I think that part is being recognized.

SMT:   Very exciting Kevin. It’s truly an exciting world we live in, and I look forward to seeing you speak at the Social Shake-Up Conference in September.  We’ll get a chance to meet face to face there. Thanks for a great interview, and I really appreciate your time.

Join us at the Social Shake-Up this September to be a part of the conversation! Click here to register now.

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