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Archive for: September, 2008

PY – This weekend Constantin Basturea and I are attending the superb UGA Connect conference for the second consecutive year. To mark the occasion, I asked our Fall intern Lindsey Loughman, a UGA Graduate and Connect attendee last year, to write a guest blog post about the conference.

Connect 2008 is a conference that is near and dear to my heart. Connect is an annual event at the University of Georgia, that brings together professionals and educators under the banner of social media education.

A little background, Connect 2007 was a student campaign lead by Dr. Karen Russell. Dr. Russell and others at Grady College, UGA’s journalism school, realized that social media was changing PR and there was a growing gap between PR education and practice. Connect was one way that they could try to close that gap.

It provides an opportunity for industry to exchange notes. Educators bring with them emerging studies on the effects of social media and results of best practices, while practitioners bring the experience of case studies and social media techniques. But, at its core Connect, is about building relationships in the real world, boosting the plethora of online venues where students, practitioners and educators are connecting like PROpenmic.

Connect is also a big part of my story and how I came to Converseon. Last year I worked in a class under Dr. Kaye Sweetser to provide live coverage of Connect. There, I feel in love with social media and met Paull and Constantin for the first time. It was a perfect match; all at once I had found an incredible new field of PR and some of the most talented (and very cool) people who practiced it everyday.

My Connect story has played out, but I can’t wait to see what new stories and relationships that will be formed this year. And you can too if you follow their blog, Twitter, and Flickr accounts.

Converseon worked in partnership with Graco Children’s Products (a Newell Rubbermaid brand) on a full scale social media strategy. The success of the community building, relationship driven approach has led to us submitting the following case study for the Forrester Groundswell awards on Graco’s behalf.

The Challenge
Connecting a 66 year old brand in a tightly-regulated environment with a highly-interconnected online community of influentials with a proven skepticism towards brands.

Graco needed to assess a complex and fragmented online conversation that occurred across multiple websites and environments including message boards/forums, hundreds of parenting blogs, numerous parenting social networks, Twitter, YouTube and many other social media venues.

The Concept

Graco first “listened” to the conversation to develop a clear understanding of the conversation landscape in the parenting category. This informed a strategy to:

- Make Graco an accepted and welcomed participant in the online parenting conversation.
- Humanize the Graco brand and build lasting relationships with the community by demonstrating that behind the brand are a group of concerned and engaged parents.

Implementation
Listening (“i.e. Conversation Mining”) activity found that there was a robust, active parenting conversation that was largely resistant to commercial efforts to engage them in conversation.

A core thrust of the strategy: Don’t force the brand into the conversations, but instead environments to facilitate relationships between influentials and be invited to the conversation.

A core component: A series of Graco blogger “Get-Together” events across the country t to allow Graco to engage in an acceptable manner. This laid the groundwork for the subsequent launch of a corporate Graco parenting blog authored by a multi-disciplinary team of Graco employees. The blog was carefully crafted to focus on “parent first” issues, stories, advice.

The blogging effort was supported with the complimentary use of other social media tools, including Flickr, Twitter, YouTube and more.

Successes

  • Conversation Mining results showed the volume of the online conversation for the Graco Brand nearly doubled, while the polarity of online mentions rose from 68% positive in 2007 to 83% positive in 2008
  • Amongst this shift, 100% of posts sparked by proactive outreach have been positive
  • A significant increase in positive recommendations/reviews – this desirable topic became the most common discussion of the Graco brand
  • Graco featured on the Today Show, Business Week and as a case study at BlogHer Business conference
  • In just 6 months is ranked as the 59th top parenting blog in the hundreds strong Parent Power Index
  • Thousands of monthly unique visitors to the Graco Blog, increased traffic and conversions at main Graco site
  • Graco Blog ranks on the front page of Google for many relevant search terms
  • Technorati Authority of 88 resulting from 224 blog reactions in 6 months (higher than many Fortune 500 blogs)
  • 155 posts at the Graco blog garnering 530 comments

Hear What Others Have To Say

To connect with Graco online subscribe to their corporate blog, see parenting blogger videos at the Ready For The Road Ahead car seat site, follow them on Twitter and see pictures from their blogger events on Flickr.