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Kodak's Convergence Ripcurl is a Winning Social Media Strategy

Social media is a hot topic right now, so much so that many companies have found themselves reacting to the social media wave rather than riding it at the forefront. So it’s exciting and interesting when I hear about companies who have had the reputation of being luddites when it comes to digital trends have actually embraced social media with open arms.. most notably, Kodak. Having been highly criticized for its failure to gracefuly transform with emerging technology (think Kodachrome), Kodak has, for many years, struggled with communicating to the world that they are, indeed, a digital company.

Enter Kodak’s new social marketing model which introduced social media as a means to enhance its communication with consumers and the imaging community in general. Since implementing this new model, it has generated great results for Kodak, including positive viral buzz, a loyal and growing readership, industry success and recognition, and robust employee participation.

Kodak’s Social Media Strategy: The Convergence Ripcurl

Recently, as part of the Social Media Mavens series,  Kodak’s Director of Interactive Marketing and Convergence Media, Tom Hoehn (@TomHoehn), gave an exclusive look at the social media participation strategy he co-created for Kodak with Chief Blogger Jenny Cisney (@KodakCB), which they call ‘Ripcurl’.

We are working against a plan that I authored with our Chief Blogger and Social Media Manager, Jenny Cisney called the Kodak Convergence Media Ripcurl. Essentially, it defines our path to participation. It would be silly for us to use phrases like “control the conversation” or “harness the discussions.” We look at it as using the energy of social media to help our business while adding value to the conversations happening 24/7/Worldwide about our products, brand, photography, motion pictures, vlogging, and so forth.

Here is a visual describing the Ripcurl. You will note the words, Twitter, blog, Facebook, YouTube, etc. do not appear anywhere on this graphic. It isn’t about the tools it is about connecting with our customers. This helps people within Kodak understand the opportunity at hand without getting caught up in jargon.

Our proactive (speaking) activities are influenced and informed by our reactive (listening) efforts. When we do it right we will see a variety of results. When we get it wrong, well, we try again and keep moving forward. If we fail, we want to fail faster, makes sense? It helps to have a company culture that is accepting of this approach. We get this encouragement from the highest levels of the company.

This second visual shows more of our tactical activities. It isn’t about a linear engagement and we made the graphic represent that sentiment.

Content creation, distribution, engagement and measures all come into play. Use the energy to propel your business! If you do this incorrectly, the crowd, your customers, will let you know immediately.

Here are some examples of how Kodak has put its Ripcurl strategy in action:

  • Kodak has three blogs. “A Thousand Words” features stories from Kodak employees on a variety of topics but with a focus on photography and imaging. “Plugged In” features stories about Kodak products and services. “Grow Your Biz” features stories from Kodak’s Graphic Communications business. Together, they reflect the breadth and expertise of the company—traditional (photography and film), digital, and print.1
  • In a recent Mother’s Day online promotion they implemented for the Kodak Gallery called Mom-a-thon.com, they gave away up a million free photo cards. Florence Henderson appeared as the ultimate TV Mom in a video they created and posted on YouTube that went viral. It included a fictitious disease that “millions of moms were suffering from”. Well Kodak got some negative comments about the made up name from some moms, so they changed it.
  • Kodak currently is leveraging its new sponsorship with the PGA with a program called the Kodak Challenge. At the end of this year’s PGA Tour Kodak will award a million dollar purse to the player who has the best score from the 24 Kodak Challenge Holes. These holes are from select PGA tournaments that were selected based on their connection to memorable moments in golf and for their beauty. A player must play at least 18 of the 24 holes to be eligible to win. Kodak is promoting this online with a dedicated website, on Twitter and on Facebook.
  • Kodak announced a contest to name its new pocket video camera which for now is called Zi8. After unsuccessfully brainstorming internally, Kodak decided to open up the discussion and ask for suggestions both on its “A Thousand Words” blog and on Twitter. Kodak will then randomly choose 100 people who participated and award them with a Kodak Zi8 camera. Kodak will be sending the person who has the winning name to Las Vegas for the 2010 CES show where the camera will be unveiled along with the story of how it was named.2

An Internal Perspective: Building Employee Engagement

In a conversation with John Ellett, Jeffrey Hayzlett, CMO at Kodak, who was recently named Marketer of the Year by BtoB magazine, discusses how the company managed such a successful transformation from a leader in a rapidly declining consumer business (camera film) to a b-b leader in the growing digital imaging market.

Kodak has always had a culture of innovation. We simply had to move faster. In a digital world, you have to.” To overcome what he called “transformation fatigue,” the company needed to “shift the mood” and implemented an internal campaign themed FAST:

F – Focus
A – Accountability
S – Simplicity
T – Trust

This effort has led the “healthy debate” needed to incorporate ideas from legacy Kodak team members and those who were added through a series of company acquisitions.

Kodak has said that blogging and social media have had positive impacts on its company culture by becoming a tool for internal company communications and being integrated with marketing and PR efforts. So much so in fact, that Hayzlett has Kodak giving social media a big bear hug — dozens, maybe hundreds of Kodak employees are participating in social media.

Blogging has opened up opportunities for employees to share their personal stories thereby helping to boost employee morale. Kodak employees are passionate about their work and their company and the blogs give them a chance to communicate that passion. We currently have over 70 employees who blog (including international bloggers) and new employees continually expressing interest. Externally, our blogs give customers and readers (from over 100 countries) a better understanding of Kodak – from how our products and services can help them do more with their pictures to how the company’s innovations are impacting our world. Our blogs also give Kodak a human face.

The “One Thousand Words” blog compiles posts from Kodak employees who take photos in their personal lives – they share pictures about their hobbies, families, and travels, each which tells a story. How they do it:

  • Promote the blog through the company intranet
  • Spot and encourage individuals who have a story to tell
  • Keep content authentic- Don’t censor or edit posts for employees
  • Tap into employees from the global Kodak network
  • Post daily to keep content fresh and visitors active
  • Link to Flickr pools from employees for cross-promotion

How they sold it in:

  • Developed a key partnership within the communications department
  • Used a visual sales pitch – sample posts, design comps – to demonstrate intent
  • Focus on benefits to increased corporate visibility

For more information on Kodak’s involvement in social media, check out these resources:

Additional links:

  1. Kodak’s Social Media Success
  2. Jeff Hayzlett, Kodak’s CMO, Talks About Social Media to Benefit the Rochester Ad Council

Elizabeth

Elizabeth is a strategic communications leader with nearly 20 years experience in both internal and external communications. She is a passionate advocate for developing communications that foster a stronger relationship between the organization and its employees. She is a global keynote speaker on employee engagement and HR communications. Elizabeth is a certified professional in Employer Brand through Universum Global's Employer Branding Academy.

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