This post on Intuit is the second in the Big Social Media Meets small Business series I launched to profile how big companies are engaging small businesses via social media. (See the first post on American Express’s Open Forum.)
Big Social Media Meets small Business looks at the opportunities created, programs, initiatives and strategies undertaken, and lessons learned by big business. It’s a resource for big companies, but it will also explore ways small business can learn from big companies to use social media more effectively.
Profile # 2: Intuit – Making Social Media Accountable to Small Business
Today’s interview is with Ed Matlack - Group Marketing Manager for the Online Engagement Team at Intuit. He oversees a team dedicated to promoting product word of mouth for Intuit’s Small Business Group. This includes running the Intuit Small Business Community, one of the largest, active small business communities in the United States, as well as managing the teams engaged with customers on Intuit Small Business’ Facebook and Twitter presences.
For better and worse, how is social media specifically changing the way you communicate and work with small businesses?
“Definitely it’s for the better. Intuit has always had a strong customer centric culture exemplified by the work we have done with customer follow me homes and product design for delight approaches. Social platforms allow us to listen and respond in real time with customers in ways that would have required greater time and money in the past. This is allowing us to transform how we look at product development and get really focused on solving problems for customers first. Sure, we make mistakes and we hear it loud and clear from our customers, but that is good. It means they care enough to give us feedback.”
Describe how Intuit is 1) helping small businesses with their social media strategies and 2) using social media to reach them.
“Intuit uses social media to reach our customers in several ways – through our own social presence in social networks, through social media applications we offer to customers, by actively engaging with customers about questions they have about our offerings, or about how we can help them with their business.
“Our most effective social media channel is Facebook. Facebook is the #1 referrer of traffic to our social content (e.g. our blogs) and we also know that small businesses are spending more time on Facebook than other social media sites. We also have more engaged/active fans on Facebook.
“We make it easy for a business to install a Facebook ‘Like’ button on their website, so that their customers can easily engage with their business socially. We give customers the ability to easily sell their products right on their own Facebook page. We’re also investing in additional tools and offerings specifically tailored to making social media easier to understand, and easier for small businesses to use as a part of their strategy to get more customers.
“We also run campaigns, such as Love a Local Business (Youtube), which give value to small businesses and creates the opportunity for small businesses to win grants based on “Love” votes from their customers. The program has been running for a little over two years and has given out just shy of $1 Million in grants so far. This program has been great for small businesses that have won the grants, but even for the businesses that don’t win, they get great positive feedback from their customers that they have used to both promote and improve their businesses.”
What are some of your biggest takeaways from working with small businesses as part of your social media efforts?
“One of the most important insights we have had in our interactions with small businesses is just how important it is for them to hear from their customers. For small businesses, getting validation that they are valued by their customers and their community is helpful in making some key business decisions as well as provides a greater sense of reward and personal achievement. Social media can provide more touch points for small businesses to interact with customers and get this type of valuable feedback.”
What lessons about social media can small businesses learn from Intuit, which has many more resources at its disposal to test ideas and reach customers?
“Listening is the first and most critical component in social media. Without listening you will not establish trust and never build strong networks and communities. Listening doesn’t require massive resources; it just requires that everyone think about the customer first and apply the required time to listen to them. Lots of people think about social media in terms of the fancy and expensive campaigns they see in the media or the new technology sprouting from startups. The core of social is relatively simple and low tech. Listen to people.”
What role does your Small Business Community play?
“Our Small Business Community is a core social platform. We don’t think about it really as a channel as you would in a marketing sense, but more like an enablement platform for us to engage deeply with customers and for them to engage with each other. The Community answers over 30,000 questions a month that range from technical how-to’s to opinions on how to make small business decisions. It is and will remain at the heart of what we consider social because it is our primary means of listening and getting feedback from customers.”
Drop me a line if your “big company” uses social media to reach small businesses or you have program designed to help small business with their social media.