For businesses and brands, social media is a relatively new marketing platform that’s grown exponentially over the past few years. It’s not all just poking and tweeting, but it’s a platform where brands can take advantage of realtime, engaged two-way conversation with their customers and industry peers. And investing intellectual and financial resources into social media has never been more important for brands, as experts say social media is on target to be a $30 billion industry (per year) by 2015.
Hiring talent who can take your brand from 1 fan to 1 million is a major factor in determining your business’s success or failure. In a recent story, we tracked down the globe’s finest social media managers behind brands such as Virgin America, The New York Times, Gizmodo, Flavorpill, Thrillist, TOMS, NASA, Intel, Etsy, HowAboutWe, Vanity Fair, Samsung, Fast Company, ELLE and even interviewed our very own Amalia Agathou from The Next Web. These aren’t just talented marketers. These are human beings pioneering a new profession.
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For today’s profile piece, I’d like to introduce you to Madlen Nicolaus (MN), Kodak’s Social Media Marketing Manager for Europe Africa and Middle East Regions (EAMER). Nicolaus tells us her day-to-day routine as well as going to the Oscars at the Kodak Theatre last year and taking 7 bloggers to South Africa for the World Cup to watch Germany (her home country) win against Australia.
CBM: How did you come to work at Kodak?
MN: I came to work at Kodak through their PR agency Ketchum in Germany, where I worked as Kodak’s PR Account Manager. In that role, I developed the local Social Media strategy and program for Germany, before rolling it out across Europe. I guess they liked the results and didn’t want to share me with other brands!
CBM: What’s the best part about working for Kodak?
MN: The best part about working for Kodak is the opportunity to work with diverse and interesting people around the world to help revitalise this timeless company. And I love photography!
CBM: How would you describe the “Kodak voice”?
MN: I would say the Kodak voice speaks quite loudly in the imaging sector, helpfully to Mummy Bloggers, ruggedly to outdoor adventurers, and persuasively to ink buyers! And the whole time, Kodak is listening to what our consumers want.
CBM: What’s your day-to-day like? How do you spend most of your time?
MN: Every day is different. I’m always managing multiple projects across Kodak’s various consumer and commercial business units and regions. So some days I’m in meetings, or on tradeshow floors, developing strategies, leading my local teams for the creation and syndication of content, speaking at events or doing trainings with colleagues to help them create social media programs for their products and events. And this is all before lunch! I also regularly write blog posts, create videos, keep our social channels engaged and stay up to date with the newest online developments. Actually you guys did a very good job, illustrating my usual day-to-day life here.
CBM: What kind of tools do you use for social media monitoring?
MN: Not only do we use tools like Radian6 or Meltwater Buzz to monitor the online conversation about Kodak, but we also have a fairly unique team member: our Chief Listening Officer, Beth LaPierre (@KodakCL). She acts like our air traffic controller and is responsible for the leadership, governance and strategy behind our Digital Intelligence program. Beth analyses the approx. 300,000 Kodak mentions every month, determines the ROI on the different social media programs and gathers insights about niche markets, new products or competitor activities.
CBM: Which social media platforms is Kodak on?
MN: We go where our customers are and we are present on the channels they use the most, so this varies depending on the region and business unit. But we’re on all the major sites, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr or LinkedIn. We have local language channels in more than 20 countries around the globe, where we focus on regional topics and allow customers to easily engage with us in their local language. And for our commercial business we have established separate Kodak B2B channels that focus on the topics relevant to our business customers. We also have our own social networks such as the Kodak Gallery and the Tips and Projects Exchange community.
CBM: Which ones are the most exciting or have been growing the fastest?
MN: This really depends on the region. Most exciting for us are definitely our three Kodak blogs, as they are the heart of all our social media activities. Here is where our employees tell rich, deep stories and where we show the people behind the brand. We just recently celebrated the 5-year anniversary and it is amazing to see that often people spend more time reading our blogs than on our webpages.
CBM: Tell me about an issue that arose in social media and how you dealt with it?
MN: The one that springs to mind was the song an UK customer wrote about his Kodak inkjet printer that didn’t work which he uploaded to YouTube! Our Chief Listener found it immediately after it was posted so we could get in touch with the customer straight away and solve his problem. That was a great example for the importance of having an online monitoring system established within the organization. Only that way we can be aware of what people are saying (or singing!) about Kodak and make sure we can keep our customers satisfied and issues are dealt with swiftly. Quick escalation to the right stakeholders within the organization is always a factor when dealing with these sorts of cases. We have an urgent escalation process in place, so that customer issues like this jump to the top of our customer service queue before they are spread online.
CBM: Any particular awesome moments in your job that you can remember and want to share?
MN: I guess the obvious ones would be going to the Oscars at the Kodak Theatre last year, or when I took 7 bloggers to South Africa for the World Cup and watched Germany (my home country) win against Australia. But really the best moments for me are when I can get our internal people to share and create social media content for the first time, or when our external blogger friends share the things they love about Kodak.
CBM: What do you think of Google+?
MN: I really like Google+, I started using it right away and already more people added me to their circles, than I have friends on Facebook! Now that it’s out of Beta, hopefully we’ll really see what sort of path it will take, and what that will bring for brands. I really see great potential there and I love how it has forced Facebook to up its game, too. Competition can really create innovation!
CBM: How many of your friends have asked you for free cameras?
MN: Quite a few! I’m an evangelist for Kodak and like to talk about it a lot. So at this stage most of my friends have Kodak cameras or other products and certainly my whole family!