Tiptoeing into social media

The January 2010 issue of “Benny Bear Bulletin” (company newsletter) just came out today. On the front page is an article written by Marc D. Bridge. (Marc is an Associate Counsel at Ben Bridge Jeweler, and the son of Co-CEO Ed Bridge.) Here’s the PDF file of the front page for your reading pleasure.

Benny Bear bulletin Jan 2010 page 1 cropped

Last fall, I blogged about my social media adventure as “Ben Bridge Girl”, which began quietly in September 2008. Now, 1.5 years later, the topic of social media has made the front page of the company bulletin, and I’m really glad to see it. “Tiptoeing” is a good way to describe what’s been done so far. Marc is growing the company blog’s content and securing approval from the legal department. I’m getting more interactions on the Facebook fan page. It’s also nice to see a mention of theĀ @BenBridgeGirl Twitter account in his article. :)

For many traditional organizations, adopting social media is challenging due to the existing corporate culture and structure, and Ben Bridge Jeweler is no exception. Before seeking returns from social media, there needs to be open and ongoing conversations about it in the company. During the weekly social media chat on Twitter today, Frank Eliason (@ComcastCares) said:

Frank_Eliason_SM41

I couldn’t agree more. It has already been demonstrated that consumers and employees can speak louder and even take over a brand’s voice. (Remember Motrin Moms? Domino’s Pizza?) The smart thing to do is being upfront and proactive in talking about what your company is doing. Everyone in the company needs to be on the same page about this, from the CEO to the receptionist, from the controller to the sales associates. Yes, I understand and appreciate the concerns a company may have about engaging in social media; however, being vigilant and being human are not mutually exclusive. The jewelry retail business is perfectly suited for *being human.* After all, it exists and thrives because of the very human need to express emotions, be it joy, pride, love, or vanity. I would love to see Ben Bridge Jeweler take a leadership role in the industry’s adoption of social media, and that the tiptoeing turn into a nice stroll in the near future.

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12 Comments

  1. Posted January 5, 2010 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    Great article. Veronica — you ARE at the forefront and the one helping Ben Bridge Jeweler take that plunge into the deep end of the social media pool. It might feel like tiptoeing, but the reality is that you and the company are at the pointy edge of the spear. Keep up the great work. Try things. Fail at a few things. And share what you learn along the way. I look forward to your next article and to when you put it all together in a book and take it on the road. I’ll be the one in the front row cheering you on.

    • Veronica
      Posted January 5, 2010 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

      Jeff — You’ve been there to cheer me on from day 1 and I thank you. This blog is growing because of some much needed elbowing from you. :D Ben Bridge has so many wonderful stories, just waiting to be told, and I hope to be part of the adventure.

  2. Posted January 5, 2010 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Surfer-Shuey, Veronica, great article! I really enjoy your writing!

    As we know, tiptoeing and strolling are usually the best ways to get into social. Jumping in and engaging without invite can turn potential advocates and customers away. Small companies and large companies alike, all have challenges and hesitation toward change and social is just a new process for them to learn and adapt. It takes curiosity and true leadership to try something new; to fail and succeed while learning and creating best practices for others to follow.

    You are a rock star, leading the way in social and not just the jewelry business. I watch how you engage with everyone and you are a natural, something I know not everyone is capable of. I personally know dedicated community managers that still don’t understand engagement and are stuck in the newsfeed world.

    You are a true leader in social and are a rock star in being human. Many thanks for being such a great role model and for being so real! Rock on! =)

    • Veronica
      Posted January 6, 2010 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      Charl — Thank you again. You’ve been an inspiration to me. I learn so much by watching you in action! I’ve been very interested in community management/building, well before “social media” became a popular term. That reminds me, I should blog about my “community leader” days at iVillage. :)

  3. Posted January 5, 2010 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

    Hi Veronica,
    Enjoyed the post regarding Ben Bridge tiptoeing into Social Media. Our company, PEMCO Insurance, is another long standing NW Brand that is doing much the same thing. Slightly different approach, but same cautions outlook. Given the similarities in the approach of our two companies and the openness of Mr Bridge in the newsletter, I’d like to suggest that it would be great for the three of us to have coffee sometime and talk about what we’ve discovered thus far. Are you in?

    Rod Brooks
    CMO, PEMCO Insurance
    @NW_Mktg_Guy

    • Veronica
      Posted January 6, 2010 at 9:52 am | Permalink

      Rod — I always enjoy listening to and learning from you! You know I’m a big fan of yours, and would love to introduce you to the Bridges soon! I’ll email you to make arrangements. Thank you!

  4. Posted January 6, 2010 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    Great post Veronica! I love the line about being vigilant AND human – I think once companies dip their proverbial toes in, they’ll see the water’s fine and continue on to the next step. Of course they need to understand their surroundings, limitations, and appreciate how people perceive their brand. Great to see you having an impact – you are really living the execution so many preach about. Looking forward to hearing more about your successes!
    Best,
    Adam

    • Veronica
      Posted January 6, 2010 at 10:17 am | Permalink

      Adam — Thank you for stopping by my blog! I agree. Companies have to know themselves, their customers and decide who/what they want to be before venturing into social media. So many companies are being held back by fear and doubt, which is completely understandable. I hope all organizations will eventually start thinking about how business was done before mass media, and study the human side of it all. Social media really isn’t a brand new concept, just packaged and delivered differently. :)

  5. Posted January 6, 2010 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Caution often resembles stubbornness or resistance to change. Traditional, mom & pop companies are cautious about putting their business (literal & figurative) out on the internets. What if it fails? What if it works? What if people hate us? What if people love us?

    All of these questions need to be answered. And, without an internal advocate or an external educator, those questions are hard to answer.

    • Veronica
      Posted January 6, 2010 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      Geekgiant — An external educator would definitely be a plus! In this economy, however, it can seem like a “luxury.” What’s the phrase… oh, yeah, it’s not “revenue generating.” :D All kidding aside, while a company is taking small steps in social media, it’s important to learn by reading great books and blogs, and studying others’ examples. Thinking inside an organization’s own head is dangerous. :)

  6. Posted January 6, 2010 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Hooray! Couldn’t agree more. It’s great to see that a company with a similar-sounding corporate culture made the leap and is continuing to explore. My fingers are crossed that all of the business justifications made at my end will come to fruition soon. Stories like yours give me hope!

    • Veronica
      Posted January 6, 2010 at 10:34 am | Permalink

      Gina — That’s so great to hear. You and I have talked about the challenges you face and I completely understand. Sometimes you wonder if it’s a dip or a cliff (Have you read “The Dip” by Seth Godin?). Your talent and passion will payoff one way or another. :)

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