Caterpillar Interview with Brian Stokoe – Part 1
Caterpillar Inc recently purchased a long time Wisconsin-based company, Bucyrus International. Wondering if social media has begun to extend into this B2B space of heavy duty coal mining equipment and since Bucyrus was a past client of mine, I sent a tweet. That led to an investigation of Caterpillar and what they were doing in the social space. Since I am not one to let a sleeping dog lie, what started as a quick tweet to see who was listening at Caterpillar, turned into a Q & A session with the newly named Caterpillar social media program manager, Brian R. Stokoe (BRS), plus an hour long interview that we shall post. In the meantime, let me share with you Brian Stokoe’s response to some of the questions I asked.
What do you hope to get out of your social-media efforts looking at your business goals and strategy?
BRS Answer: From our perspective, there are three primary objectives we can derive from social media activity. These include Brand Awareness, Sales / Leads, and Customer Support. As you can imagine, each of these objectives has their own tactics and strategies, and we are approaching each in a way that can be measureable as to demonstrate value.
How are you tracking your efforts to make sure the company’s social presence is meeting the goals you described?
BRS: We are moving to a process that ensures that every post, reply, and comment is rolled up into a reportable metric dashboard, so we can see and share successful activity in our organization.
Have your social-media efforts improved sales or cut costs? By how much? How are you tracking this?
BRS: Yes. We have pretty solid metrics that are proving the case for importance of social media in the industries where we participate. I can’t share how much of an impact we’ve seen, but we are seeing positive momentum. From a tracking perspective, we are using multiple methods for evaluation, including surveys, listening tools (eg. Google Analytics, Radian6), and individual case studies.
Does the company have different Twitter accounts for customer relations, media relations and recruiting?
Note: I initially reached out to Caterpillar through Twitter and got a very timely response.
BRS: From a twitter perspective, no. Our internal organizations have been enthusiastic about establishing Facebook accounts, but twitter has had less attention by the corporate relations groups in our company.
Are your social-media efforts all run through one department, or do different departments handle their own social presences? How do you coordinate these efforts to maximize effectiveness?
BRS: We have a dandelion origination (multiple hub & spoke), where my central organization works as the primary hub, but our business units, which have end customer messaging responsibility, manage their own hub and spoke organization. In my role, I act as the primary strategic program manager and work with the various organizations to create social media plans that make sense in Caterpillar’s big-picture.
Do you have any regulations that present any special challenges for your online efforts? How do you overcome them?
BRS: Not really. In general, we are trying to create or participate in social media environments that make sense for our customers, who are typically people in the world that manage their own businesses (typically industrial in nature).
More about Caterpillar
- Improving social media monitoring… (customerthink.com)
- Impact Interactions to Present “B2B Social Media -Moving Beyond The Hype” at iStrategy San Francisco April 4, 2011 (prweb.com)
- Social Media is more rational than most brands think (hardknoxlife.com)