Ian Ferguson – social media community manager

I’m so pleased to welcome Ian to the social media team. Ian’s a Community Manager, responsible for helping our Co-op better understand online social communities, having spent the best part of his early career helping others do the same.

A Picture of Ian Ferguson - social media community manager
Ian Ferguson

Communities are important to Co-op, because we’re co-owned by over 5 million members, who each live in local communities where we operate Food stores and Funeral homes. But, increasingly we’re all forming communities online too, ones that transcend geographical boundaries and instead form around common interests and ideas.

It’s Ian’s job (and Scott’s, Sophie’s and Catherine’s) is to to find relevant online communities, understand them and introduce them to our Co-op, as well as to keep talking and listening to our existing members. The two-way dialogue we can have on social media means we can welcome more and more people, their thoughts and ideas into our Co-op.

Welcome to the team, Ian.

Jordan McDowell
Senior Social Media Manager

New Membership and social media

Just like our Membership contact centre, our social media community management team have been busier than usual with the launch of our new membership. We’ve been helping thousands of members and customers understand more about it since it launched on 21st September.

Our team are based in Manchester at 1 Angel Square and between us work 365 days a year (yes, Christmas day too) and have around 20,000 social conversations with members, customers, and colleagues each month. We’re not alone though, colleagues in our Food and Insurance customer service teams help us out too.

A picture of the social media team

Membership launch day saw our usual social inbox traffic increase by 80%, with members sharing which local cause they’d selected to receive their 1% with us. They were also asking us questions about how it all works.

The main topics of conversation we’ve been having with members, and the answers to their questions, are:

  • How do I nominate an alternate Co-op cause, to receive my 1%?

Our colleagues chose their community’s 3 Co-op causes for launch, but we’ll be asking members for their nominations on our next round of causes, very soon.

  • Where is my card and does my old card work in the interim?

All cards are being posted to members currently and will be with members by mid-October. Old cards work in the interim meaning the 5% and 1% is being earned already.

  • Does the 5% replace the dividend?

The 5% doesn’t replace the ‘divi’, membership points will still be accrued in the usual way on the total spend (not just Co-op branded products and services) and a ‘divi’ will be paid out again once our rebuild projects conclude in a couple of years.

  • How does the 5% and 1% work in independent co-operative society businesses?

The 5% and 1% can’t be earned on transactions with independent co-operative society businesses, but membership points still accrue. If that independent co-operative society makes an annual profit and pays a divi, it’ll be paid to members by us, on the independent society’s behalf.

I’ve been really excited by the level of intrigue among our members on social, members who perhaps hadn’t considered the Co-op as a different way of doing business before.

Members, like our colleagues, recognise something different is happening at the Co-op, and we’re just getting started.

Jordan McDowell
Senior Social Media Community Manager

Using WhatsApp to connect store managers.

Being able to instantly communicate and interact with each other within an organisation is something that is easy to take for granted – particularly when you all work under the same roof, but can be a challenge when you have over 2,800 food stores.  The short video below tells the story of how we use WhatsApp at the Co-op to connect all our store managers.

Let me know what you think, you can find me on Twitter @GailTwist or feel free to comment below.

Social Media Forums for Angel Square colleagues

Hi, I’m Rebecca, the Co-op’s Social Media Campaign Manager. My job is to reach people on social media channels using owned and paid media.

Sharing knowledge and best practice is one of the main focuses of our Social Media team. For the last three years we’ve been holding forums for colleagues who want to keep up with all things social, and it’s great to see that there’s still real interest in these events.

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All content for the forums is produced in-house and we use them to share what’s going on in the world of social at the Co-op as well as updating on new channels, new advertising options and user trends. At previous events we’ve also had guest speakers from Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and have hosted a blogger discussion panel with two mummy bloggers.

Latest learnings

Last week we held a forum in our Manchester Support Centre, 1 Angel Square.

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Gail, our Social Media Lead, was up first. She talked about the reintroduction of Google+, Twitter testing new multi-answer polls and Snapchat launching Story Explorer.

Next it was my area, campaigns. Sometimes we focus on individual campaigns, but this time we played a short film, created by Campaign Executive Ben, to showcase the range of activity since the last forum. Check it out below:

We like to revisit previous forum topics to show progress or share results. This time we looked at community management to show what the new team, headed up by Jordan our Senior Community Manager, has been up to since they joined. It was great to be able to share real results and promote the reasons why it’s good to use social media as an engagement tool, not just for broadcast.

Last but not least we had Fiona, our Content and Planning Manager, up to talk about using social media for thought leadership. We like to share valuable skills with the forum attendees so that they can apply these in their own social world. You’ll be pleased to hear that blogging was a key part of this section.

We always try to leave time at the end for a lively questions and answers session. We get asked some interesting questions which shows that people have really listened. This time we had a question around the use of ad blockers and how we think this might affect social media advertising results. We know that Facebook and Twitter users already have the option to hide individual adverts or hide all adverts from brands and that this negative response can be tracked (on Facebook only). We believe that the introduction of ad blocking technology will drive more of a focus on native advertising (in the newsfeed/ timeline) and as advertisers we have to make sure even more than before that our adverts are targeted well and contain relevant content.

So, that concludes a sneaky peak into the work we do on social at the Co-op. The forum is currently only held in our Manchester Support Centre – our goal for 2016 will be to get more of our colleagues involved. So watch this space!

Co-op Insurance Scoops Award

Last night we were crowned Digital Project Team of the Year at the Post magazine’s Data, Analytics & Technology Awards. Why? For delivering a project that made people smile – Nostalgia FM.

AwardsPic

Here in the Insurance Digital Team we love to create content that gives people a different perspective on our business and we have a lot of fun creating it.

Nostalgia FM launched on 14th September with a Twitter promoted trend, a big-bang on Facebook, and a very busy day (and night)! As midnight came we handed over the promoted trend baton to Starbucks and their pumpkin-spiced latte.

But not until we’d had over 1,000 shares and more than 700 conversations (people love to reminisce about their driving playlists – the cheesier the better).

It’s difficult to achieve standout in the crowded insurance market, so Nostalgia FM was created as part of our customer engagement strategy.

We love getting external acknowledgement for our social campaigns, especially as this award follows a recent Twitter case study on our summer #MessyMoments campaign and coverage in E-consultancy’s Best Social Campaigns.

We’ve got loads of stuff in the pipeline that we think you’ll love, so keep an eye on us – you’ll never guess what’s coming next!

You’ll find Nostalgia FM, along with our other fun stuff, at The Hub, Go take a look, you may be surprised at what you discover (bet you didn’t expect to see goats on an insurance site…)

Join in:
Twitter
Facebook

Chris Twigg – Customer Engagement & SEO Manager

Social Media – The Customer Service Tool For Millennials?

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“In my day we didn’t need an app to remind us.” “Back in my day you’d just ring someone.”

They both sound like something you’d hear from your grandparents, however they are also comments heard at a conference on ways to improve customer service for millennials. During which there was more discussion on call abandonment rates than response times on Twitter.

There was a big emphasis on instant chat tools (which are fantastic, I use them often myself). However businesses seemed more open to investing money in trialling these tools without first trying social media, and when four in five millennials prefer to use social media over web, phone or online chat, this surprised me.

More and more in my job as a Community Manager and also in my personal life, I see people use social media as their first point of contact with businesses. For many its second nature to tweet the local council and quiz them on road works, to tweet train companies about delays to their journey, to send Facebook messages to hotels enquiring about check-in times, even just a quick tweet to find out a business’ telephone number. Many millennials live fast paced lives where they want information (almost) instantaneously and at their own convenience. Because of this social media is favourable as it delivers information to their fingertips ready to digest in their own time.

This “back in my day” thinking can be damaging to businesses. We don’t live in the same kind of society as “back in the day”, we live in a 24/7 society where millennials would rather go to the dentist than call a customer service line.

If you think millennials are hard to communicate with now just give it another 10 years – my younger siblings don’t ring their friends and family, they tweet, text or Google Hangout. A telephone conversation is almost an alien concept! I wonder how they will choose to communicate with businesses when they come to the age of paying bills, buying products or booking holidays?

@Cat_Storey8, Social Media Community Manager for The Co-operative Group.

Hello from the world of Social & Digital Engagement

Gail Lyon (so you know what I look like)

Gail Lyon (so you know what I look like)

My history with the Co-op goes back a long time, a really long time – in fact if it wasn’t for the Co-op I wouldn’t have been born. My Mum and Dad met across a crowded dance floor in the now sadly demolished Helena House in St Helens at a Co-op dance. My Dad’s first job was at the Co-op – he went from wrapping meat in brown paper to having his own store and so it felt like fate when 3 years ago I was approached to join the group.

Helena House - Image courtesy of Geolocation
Helena House – Image courtesy of Geolocation

I am results junkie – I love seeing an instant reaction, that’s why I guess I love social media so much, and why I ultimately ended up making a career out of it. I started my working life at BT, after a couple of years I went to Siemens to set up their telemarketing operation and then moved into marketing, where I did every job under the sun from product management to proposition development – chasing a job where I could see the results of my work immediately. I became impatient with direct mail, advocated the use of email and the wondrous world wide web. Finally I ended up with responsibility globally for their digital and social presence.

And so back to today – I’m the Group Social Media and Digital Engagement Lead for the Co-op – and I can honestly say I LOVE my job – why? Well, I work with the most amazing group of individuals – smart, passionate, kind, caring, co-operative with boundless energy – wanting to make a difference and get stuff done.

I’ve had the opportunity to build a strategy and an approach to social media from the ground up with the aim to turn the Co-op into a social organisation, with social integrated seamlessly throughout. We’ve gone from a team of 3 to a team of 10, covering both internal and external campaigns (paid and organic), content creation and community management. We developed the first UK retail Snapchat campaign which was named by Campaign Magazine as one of the top 10 digital innovations, was short-listed at Cannes Lions plus we were awarded best use of social media at the e-commerce awards for a Twitter campaign for our electrical business.

I love being able to have an idea and do something about it – a perfect example of this is how to connect our store managers quickly, simply with no cost – what was our solution – WhatsApp. Something easy to use, roll out and perfect for our disparate employees. On launch day we saw over 3,000 messages, images and videos, in the trial area we saw double digit sales growth – all because colleagues could connect, talk, bond and share. I’ll save the details for a later blog – but need to credit Jordan our Senior Community Manager for making the idea a reality.

And now it gets even better, what more could a digital professional ask for – we have a leader in Mike Bracken with an exciting vision of how the Co-op can be a pioneer again in a digital age, I feel beyond excited and privileged to be a part of it.

If you want to say hello you can find me on Twitter @gailtwist (Twist’s my married name in case you were wondering)