Volvo’s social media team is still small, just three and a half people, and its social media use is some way behind many others. But social media is becoming increasingly important for the car company, with an increased budget this year. So what are the lessons from Volvo’s social presence?

Lesson # 1 Listen to what people say on social media – and react to it

Like KLM, Volvo has found that it’s vital to react to what people are saying on social media. For example, as part of a recent ad campaign, the company ran a banner ad online that they were planning to use for a billboard campaign too. Feedback was not promising; 50% of Volvo fans on social media thought it was inappropriate. The campaign was quietly dropped.

Lesson # 2 Social media is too important to outsource

Volvo handles its social media in-house. It reckons there is huge value from the social media team being able to chat informally with the customer service team about dealing with customer issues, as everyone learns how to handle social.

Lesson # 3 Don’t be afraid of data

Measuring the impact of social media is hard, but vital. There is a very real expectation that you should be able to quantify what you’re doing. While Volvo may not be there yet, it’s working towards that, and hopes to make data available to staff on a real-time basis very soon.

Lesson # 4 Use social media to provide innovative services

Social media isn’t just for listening to customers and responding to their comments. It can also be used as a platform to provide innovative services, such as Volvo’s CoPilot Business. This is a website and supporting social media channels for small businesses buying or leasing a Volvo, to help them with driver safety and compliance.

Lesson # 5 Make it fun

People like to have fun, and social media is viewed by many as a source of entertainment. Companies that can tap into this have the best chance of succeeding. Volvo’s #JoyRideLive campaign, offering customers a chance to tweet them and drive the new Volvo XC60 to the New York Auto Show, was an example of blending fun with function.

Lesson # 6 Innovative social media use can replace advertising spend

Unlike some of its competitors, Volvo chose not to pay for a commercial during the Super Bowl . Instead, using the hashtag #VolvoContest, it asked people to tweet during other car commercials to say who they felt deserved to get a free Volvo XC60 and why. Judges would decide who would get the car. There were a massive 45,000 mentions of the Volvo hashtag during the Super Bowl, with an average of four tweets per second during competitors’ commercials. The lack of advertising spend will surely have paid for the free cars several times over.

Lesson # 7 Social marketing works for B2B as well as B2C

Volvo Construction Equipment has successfully used social media to market to businesses, drawing on lessons from its car company. As well as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, the company has also consolidated services on its website, which includes videos and images, and is designed to generate engagement. In a competitive market, it’s managed to increase its global market share using social media.

Lesson # 8 Spread your presence, but have a hub

Volvo uses several different social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube. With several different parts of the Volvo Group all having different pages, there are lots of different places for customers to find the company. This, naturally, increases its chances of being found. But it also has a hub, where business customers in particular know that they can find everything that they need.

Lesson # 9 Tell the story, and tell it well

Pictures are good, but the story is the most important thing. Whether the quality of your images and content is perfect is not as important as the quality of the story itself. Get that right, and Volvo’s CMO reckons that all the rest follows.

Lesson # 10 Be prepared to invest

Social media does cost money. KLM has managed to monetize its social media presence, which is the ‘holy grail’. Volvo’s not there yet, and in fact is struggling even to demonstrate the effect of social media on the company’s bottom line. But it’s still prepared to put money into social, and consider it an investment, not a cost: an essential forerunner to an effective social media presence.

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