SamsungSamsung is one of the most admired companies in the world. With a roster of high-quality HDTVs, smartphones, and cameras, it is not surprising that the company's products speak for themselves, but there is also very talented people making sure the world knows about the latest and greatest from Samsung. Last night, on The Social Nerdia Show! live podcast's 28th episode, I had a conversation with Matt Moller and Keith Swiderski, Samsung's Social Media Strategists. They told me all about their customer-centric approach to engaging with people on the social web and provided some advice for making an impact in social media.
You can listen to the entire conversation with Matt and Keith on the Flash player below. You can also subscribe to all our shows on iTunes, stream it from a mobile phone on Stitcher, and listen to it LIVE on Thursday nights on blogtalkradio.

Samsung has been doing several things all over the social web, including campaigns like Tap & Take, Twitter accounts, and even incredibly popular Extreme Sheep LED Art. However, Samsung is not new to social media. From message boards and forums like the ones found on CNET to early social networks, Samsung has always paid close attention to what people say online.

"In addition to listening and gathering, we want to go out and actually engage customers and help them get the most out of their products," Keith explained. "When Windows 7 beta came out a lot of people were using our netbooks. We found out that people really liked it and it enabled us to know how people were using our products." He continued by saying that "moving on to Twitter and Facebook was a natural extension to let consumers know that we're about more than just our products."

Social Media at a Large Multinational

Because Samsung is such a large company, "a lot of these (social media efforts) evolved from the bottom-up. Samsung empowers its people with getting involved in new things and being on the cutting edge," Matt explained. Samsung doesn't have a social media policy with specific details about what employees can and cannot do online. "Samsung feels strongly in its employees right to freedom of speech and being able to express themselves."

Matt also said that the different territories and regions worldwide are able to take control of how they reach customers with social media. While there is a consistent and unified message for the Samsung brand, Matt also said that he doesn't think there will ever be a "central entity that will control all social media" because that would not really align with what social media is about.

samsungbehold_socialnerdiaWith so many people talking about Samsung, the company tries to connect with as many people as possible in an "open and honest" manner, and they also try to give some extra attention to those with increasing influence, including bloggers. "Bloggers have become as important as traditional media, if not more important in our space."

Matt told me that he's always seen social media as being very similar to CRM because "it's about building communities, engaging with customers who have express an interest, and talking to them in a real, transparent way." The future of how CRM evolved may really come down to how people decide to provide their information to companies. Matt emphasized that "there's a lot of people that are concerned about privacy. I want to honor everyone's privacy and at the same time give them the most relevant experience. It's a sensitive exchange."

The Ultimate Democracy

Marketing has changed dramatically in the last 10 to 15 years. Direct marketing has lost a lot of its weight because the internet has allowed us to communicate with each other from anywhere in the world. Today, marketers get immediate feedback. "We couldn't do that before without doing surveys, focus groups, or using your gut."

The internet also allows companies to better prepare for the worst. Keith explained, "we anticipate possible problems and create scenarios so we can react to them. We now can have people react before (a problem) mushrooms into a stampede."

samsungcamera_tapandtake_socialnerdia_estebancontrerasSocial media has not only allowed marketers to move quickly, but it also has changed the dynamic of what it means to engage with customers. As Keith said, "it's a great time to be in marketing. It has become the ultimate democracy in that you are actually having one-on-one conversations with your customers." Real conversations means that marketers actually have to listen. And marketers need to care. Keith compared it to a party in which you want to interact instead of simply talking about yourself.

In terms of how success is measured, the internet has allowed us to obtain very detailed data about how customers visit a web site. However, it is sometimes difficult to put a dollar value on the results from social media. "The actual investment in social media doesn't have to be that large and that's part of why it's such a great medium. Some of our goals are engaging with the brand and creating loyalty, and a lot of times that can't be quantified with a number," Matt said.

Advice for Future Social Media Managers

I asked Matt and Keith about what it takes to be a social media manager. They explained that you need to be a good communicator, develop best practices, work with various divisions, understand the culture of the company, and actually care about the customer. You also need to be passionate.

"Don't feel like you have to go to school and have a PHD in social media. We want people that breathe and live the internet," Keith said. "Don't wait for someone to give you permission. You want to get going and constantly be moving forward. Just go on and do it. Try it. Learn from it," Matt added.

Keith provided a great idea for any company that is still hesitant about getting involved with social media: "The best advice I can give a company that isn't sure about social media is to get online and type the name of their brand and see what people are saying. I defy them to wait a day before they get on to start talking. "

JANUARY 2010 UPDATE: The day after this podcast was recorded I sent an email, with my resume, to Matt Moller. Two months later, I became Samsung's first Social Media Manager. I sold my house and moved across the country to be part of a historic Samsung transformation that's only just begun. To read more about that story, read "How I Became a Social Media Manager with the help of WordPress, Twitter, and BlogTalkradio"

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