Jul 11, 2011

Andrea Kozek on social media at Brady North America

I started paying more attention to Brady Corp, manufacturer and distributor of many things for creating a visual workplace, when Brady answered questions I asked on the AMEConnect Facebook site. I also saw retweets* and #FFs** from BradyNASocial in Twitter. There seemed to be a real person behind the logo who made me feel good about the company, who was using the relationship-building approach to social media. Our social media efforts were getting a boost from theirs. This was someone I thought I could learn from.

I sent a Twitter direct message*** and asked if the person behind the messages might be willing to join one of our AME Social Media Council conference calls. Andrea Kozek replied that she’d be happy to. We chatted on the phone and I told her more about the council and AME; she told me more about Brady Corp and her approach to its social media. Andrea has years of experience with PR and social media in industrial companies as well as with coaching executives and celebrities.
I was right about her being someone we could learn from. [This is an example of what I call escalating a social media relationship: Follower/like, to comments, to direct message, to phone meeting, and so on… networking.]

On our call, Andrea talked about social media as a way to develop relationships with customers and potential customers, not to push promotion on them. She cites a few of her principles:

  Pursue online visibility
  Avoid “shiny objects” (because it’s hot or popular doesn’t mean it’s the right fit)
  Be selective about channels (Twitter, Facebook, etc….)
  Become a trusted business advisor to your audience

She says she’s found that people in manufacturing are somewhat slower to engage in social media. (We found that 30% of AME’s members don’t use any social sites at all.) Two obstacles for both internal users and customers are access to a computer during the day, in some companies, blocking of channels. Smart phones are changing the game, however.
What Andrea is aiming for is more people from her company representing it online, because that reflects favorably on Brady. That echoes my point that leaders in any organization should bite the bullet and get into the conversation, any conversation.
Increasing and sustaining meaningful activity also tends to increase page rankings on search engines, if that’s one of the goals you are pursuing.
Brady is now taking the temperature of the most-used and some up-and-coming social networking tools, Andrea told us, trying to see what happens. Here’s how it looks now:

·      Twitter: observe people, share a little bit of knowledge, gather opinions
·      Facebook: Fewer people join (“Like”) their Facebook page, but the number is growing. Facebook has helped employees learn about what’s going on in other parts of the company.
·      LinkedIn: Focused on people rather than companies. Collaboration with key individuals at Brady with expertise in using their products to build profiles and to understand how to use relationships to advance the company’s interests.
Andrea Kozek's 
LinkedIn profile
·      YouTube: Brady is looking for link building and information sharing. The focus is on adding value, with videos on how to do a better job with lean and solve specific problems with items Brady sells. The emphasis is on “how to” rather than selling the products.

        Flickr: Image searches on the web are growing, which is why this photo sharing site is growing as well. Brady is creating galleries showing examples of visual workplaces, something that many of us want to see and get ideas from. 

The company wants to get information on trends, competitors, or leads. To do this, a company must give people the time and ability to monitor channels to pick up on issues rapidly. 

Next post: Social media, conferences, and trade shows.

*Retweet - Prefixing someone’s message with RT to forward it to your followers to share something especially appropriate or interesting. It helps them by expanding the number of people who become aware of them.
**#FF - “Follow Friday” On Fridays, people use the #FF hashtag before a list of twitterers (@AMEConnect for example) you think are notable. Helps them and you


Joe said...

Karen, this is a brilliant summary of social media usage for a company. EXCELLENT example of useage of the various platforms. This is an important reference piece...do use it further!!

Karen Wilhelm said...

Thanks, Joe -
I think any company could take Andrea's lessons and use them to increase their connection to their market. I especially like the use of the "how to" aimed at producing a visual workplace, not just demonstrating products. And Andrea's a super-nice person.

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