When a company rebrands, the ramifications are felt throughout the enterprise. Six months after the relaunch of the 3M brand, Carlos Abler, Content Marketing Strategy Leader, and Christian Plewacki, Social Media Strategist, discussed the changes they're leading at 3M subsequent to the global giant's rebranding.
A Few Things You May Not Know About 3M
Older consumers may still think of 3M as the makers of Scotch Tape, while others recognize the brand for its ubiquitous Post-it Notes.
In reality, 3M is a global enterprise that creates products in 46 technologies for consumers and businesses. 3M products are sold in 200 countries. Their 89,800 employees are located in more than 70 countries. In 2014, 63% of 3M sales came from outside the United States.
According to its website, 3M has prevented the generation of nearly four billion pounds of pollutants through completion of more than 11,800 Pollution Prevention Pays (3P) projects since 1975.
In early 2015, 3M relaunched its brand to be more reflective of the applied science and innovation company that it is at core. Simultaneously, like many enterprises, 3M looked to optimize the way it uses content and social media. Carlos and Christian are among those leading the way as 3M undergoes a digital transformation in alignment with its revitalized brand.
Scaling Content Excellence across the Enterprise
In a company as large and widely distributed as 3M, the very idea of scaling content and social media excellence across the enterprise is daunting. The organizational matrix within the enterprise which needs to be included in the digital transformation encompasses executives, centers of excellence, internal business groups, people on the front lines who interface with customers, and so on.
Within the many nodes of the matrix are units that operate like traditional marketing and sales organizations. In other words, there are many silos that need to be engaged for the transformation to succeed.
The rebranding is a positive force in this regard because it:
- Positions 3M as a customer-centric company.
- Makes it easier to recognize natural alignments within the enterprise and organize those aligned silos into federations that develop architectures of stable and consistent practice.
- Helps focus efforts on adding value to customer relationships before, during, and after the sale.
As federated teams work together, they develop more sophisticated uses of content and social media. At this point, as Carlos phrases it, "the silos get sexier."
Among 3M's 89,800 workers, there's no shortage of really smart people. For several months, one member of Christian's team has been leading the charge to find those employees who have in-depth subject matter expertise, and who have accomplished much while with 3M, in order to seek out ideas and anecdotes worthy of sharing. Several tools are being used to facilitate scaling of this effort, a necessity for an enterprise as large as 3M.
Beyond using employee-told stories in a traditional social media marketing way, 3M is looking to add value to customer relationships by leveraging technical team experiences to provide information that decision makers and influencers will find invaluable as they consider which product to buy.
Focusing on Customers
As Carlos and Christopher move forward, they agree that the key to their success is to remain focused on customer while humanizing the brand.
That means re-shaping media channels to accommodate more holistic relationships with customers who may now be buying numerous 3M products from different divisions and don't even know it.
It also involves enabling and empowering the strong employee base and shifting from speaking unilaterally to customers, to doing a better job of listening.
Social media will lead the way in giving focus to the customer. Close collaboration across the enterprise will be critical.
It's a huge undertaking - we'll check back in six months or so and see how they've progressed.
On This Social Business Engine Podcast Episode You'll Discover
- How 3M has historically been very decentralized and the impact on their social business journey.
- Why Carlos says "the silos get sexier," and how different departments need to work together.
- How identifying employee advocates among 3M's large employee base is a massive undertaking and what is involved once they are identified.
- How 3M plans to include user-generated content, customer partnerships, and less corporate messaging; a true path to humanizing the brand.
Featured On This Episode of the Social Business Engine Podcast
- 3M on Twitter
- 3M's website
- 3M Newsroom and Blog
- Carlos Abler on LinkedIn
- Christian Plewacki on LinkedIn
- Download Social Business Journal Vol. 5: The Community Playbook
- Subscribe to the Social Business Engine show
- Write a review of this podcast in iTunes
- Bernie Borges on Twitter: @bernieborges
- Social Business Engine on Twitter: @sbengine