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How Kodak is using social media to convert users into consumers

 How Kodak is using social media to convert users into consumers

By UTalkMarketing Editor, Clark Turner.

For marketers Social Media remains a dark horse – a powerful but problematic tool that requires a marketing re-think. No longer can marketers simply push out messages. Now, God forbid, they have to actually engage in dialogue with their consumers.

Some brands get it. Others don’t. But for those who do, it can open up a whole new opportunity for brand-consumer conversations and a chance to build a loyal customer base.

Kodak is one of the success stories with a huge and dedicated Facebook fan base, together with 15,000 (at last count, and growing) Twitter followers. But it’s not come about accident. The company’s social media success has been built on the back of defined goals delivered under a clear strategy.

The man at the helm is Kodak’s Chief Marketing Officer, Jeff Hayzlett (pictured), who joined the company in back 2006. Four years down the line and the company, as was then, has now been turned around and transformed.

Hayzlett, who is responsible for worldwide marketing operations, leads the company's efforts for marketing programs, marketing network operations, brand development and management, business development and corporate sponsorships.

But here’s what’s interesting. While most companies have been using social media in the B2C arena, it’s in the B2C sector where Kodak has been concentrating its efforts with a programme built on what Hayzlett calls ‘The 4 Es’ - Engagement, Education, Excitement, and Evangelism.

“The first one of those is engagement.  Let’s get engaged.  Those conversations are going on the internet, out in social media, whether it’s on Facebook or Twitter or on the blogs, with you or without you.  So we choose to get engaged,” he explained.

“The second one is education.  They educate us; we educate them.  The third is about excitement.  How do we use that to excite people?  Then the fourth is evangelism to get the word out there and turn these people into brand ambassadors.”

Hayzlett continued, ”Our social media activity is very, very heavy for us. We have market mover programs inside of our B2B space.  We do a lot of education, a lot of conventions, trade shows and a lot of road shows in our B2B space.

“We spend a lot of time with our channel partners.  Everything that we make internally for all of our videos, training videos, goes to all of our partners.”

The company operates a ‘Kodak Inside’ platform for its employees in addition to ‘Inside Out’, which takes the same content (or most of it) and makes it available for Kodak customers – striking a balance between the two operations.

The social media activity sphere encompasses the aforementioned 15,000 Twitter followers but while some marketers are dismissive of the channel, the Kodak marketing boss, freely admits he’s a fan.

“I describe Twitter very much like a fax machine.  It’s like any other marketing tool that’s out there,” Hayzlett confessed.

“I think it’s one that’s gonna stick around a little bit longer because of the mechanism that you’re able to trigger it in a way which it ties to a lot of different places, but there are lots of other great tools that are out there.”

The marketer started Twittering for his family but soon was being followed by 27,000 ‘Kodak families’ – with some 20 or 30 percent of those also operating on Facebook.

“So then I started gathering all these other followers, and a lot of them were B2B, so it was all these commercial printers and photographers,” said Hayzlett

“So now it has expanded beyond that.  So it’s a way for me to interact directly without filters and without someone else telling me what they said or how they said it.  I’m directly talking to bloggers.”

He continued, ”I’m directly talking to photographers. I’m directly talking to commercial printers and our customers and to the CMO of Best Buy, and so forth, through our tweets and through Facebook and a lot of other things.”

In the Kodak marketing boss’s view the channel is completely measurable, being able to monitor what products are being discussed and what’s being said about them.

“I can see people who say something about our Kodak ZI8 and immediately, I can send them a tweet about it.  I can automate those things.  There are a lot of different ways, and you have to be fairly sophisticated in understanding whether you’re being sold to or it’s a real conversation,” he explained.

“We’re hiring a chief listener, someone who actually listens to all those conversations that are going across the landscape of social media and then helps to route those conversations and manage those conversations, because there are so many you can’t keep up with.”

The hope is product suggestions and “If you did this, I’d buy it” comments will be fed to product teams helping the company to move quickly to market demands - and what is in effect an ongoing market focus group -  to drive Kodak’s business.

Despite having broken new ground and being a pioneer in social media, the forward-thinking marketing freely admits he has made some mistakes along the way.

“I launched a mobile campaign in motion picture theaters, where I had a trailer going on and it said, as it was running, ‘Text us with your response and we’ll send you a coupon for our inkjet printer, for instance’.  

“What happens when people walk in a motion picture theatre?  They turn off their phones.  Well, nobody texted us.  Duh.  So there’s one.”

Hayzlett concluded, “You learn from it and, hopefully, it doesn’t cost you a lot of business and, hopefully, you can learn from it very quickly and then change very quickly. “

To see the full length version of Jeff Hayzlett in

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