Rockwell Integrating Social Media and Direct Mail

I stumbled over this article today that talked about how Rockwell is integrating social media with their direct mail campaigns.  It sounds like they are doing some good things over there, kudos to them!  I wanted to highlight a few things that jumped out at me:

1.  Social media started out more grass roots then they reached a certain point and a strategy was needed.  This is pretty common for many companies who follow this path.

“Ten months back at Rockwell, there was a lot of dabbling in social media by various marketing groups,” Rongstad said, in a presentation this month at the Direct Marketing Association’s annual conference and exposition, in San Francisco, titled “Integrating social strategy into B2B Demand Generation: Rockwell Automation’s story.”

“Some of our people had Facebook sites, and others were actively using Twitter to drive demand for certain events,” Rongstad said. “But there wasn’t a formalized strategy or even results. We were surrounded by various marketing groups, each doing their one-offs. It increasingly became evident to me, since I was involved in b2b direct marketing work that we needed to get ahead of this.”

2.  The agency developed a content plan based on topics being discussed in the social sphere, and identified key influencers.  This is a must…

The agency’s audit examined not only what already was happening within Rockwell, but also how the broader social market was talking about, say, industrial safety. The audit also examined what Rockwell’s competitors were doing in the social space, and worked to identify social influencers in Rockwell’s areas of expertise, which include programmable controllers, manufacturing software and safety products, among many lines.

3.  They established a clever way to classify types of communications for their social networks.  I may need to borrow this brilliant idea.  The communications described do reflect the type of communications that are involved.

Mason Zimbler came up with descriptions of how Rockwell should interact with its social community, ranging from relatively passive communications like “pointing” (sharing information), “nodding” (agreeing with social participants) and “bowing” (recognizing excellence), to more involved communications, such as “shouting,” meaning a social conversation that is more promotional in nature.

4.  There was one thing that rubbed me the wrong way…and it could easily be chalked up to editorial license.  It was the last thing that was said in the article.

All the work we’re doing to build and grow the social community is really to get people to click and convert,” Kerner said. “Yes, we want to have value in the community, but ultimately it’s to drive people where you can convert them into an opportunity.”

I actually think it raises a tough challenge for marketers.  Our job is to lead a buyer down a path we want them to take, and result  in a conversion of some sort that is measurable.  It’s the art of persuasion, or others may call it something else.  It’s one of the ways marketing is measured. At the same time, we can sometimes get ahead of ourselves in our goals and mixing it with social juice.

I always like to remind myself and others that at the other end of every social media profile is a real person.  A person who cares about the time they are putting into their social networking, and who has feelings and opinions that matter. While I’m a marketing person and agree these conversions are very important, we must always remember in social media this is a 2-way conversation.  Anytime folks feel “shouted’ at, you’ll hear about it.  We need to be genuine because all false pretenses eventually show through.

Good for Rockwell for bringing those pieces together.   I’d love to hear more about it, it would be a great session at the  2011 ISA Marketing & Sale Summit!  Hmmm….


  1. Jon DiPietro says:

    I actually find it refreshing to hear somebody “bring it home” to conversions. I agree with what you’ve said about being human and conversational, but that doesn’t mean you can’t (or shouldn’t) focus your efforts on business goals.

    Avinash Kaushik (author of Web Analytics 2.0) insists that web sites should be designed and measured with outcomes in mind. He suggests that all outcomes should support one of the following goals: increase revenue, decrease cost, improve customer support.

    But it’s not a zero sum game. You can engage with your audience in an authentic and generous manner with the ultimate goal of converting as many of them as possible into customers. Everybody wins.

    Thanks for sharing this. Good stuff!

  2. juliann says:

    Hi Jon,
    Thanks for the comment. Understood that marketers do need to be thinking of “outcomes” when it comes to all our online activities on behalf of a brand. It’s just that sometimes marketers can get ahead of themselves and forget that we are dealing with human beings, and not just conversion numbers. The buy process is funny that way – as a buyer we want to feel like the decisions we make are ours and not coerced by a “process”… That’s why marketing has a bit of magic work behind the scenes to make things inviting, interesting, and not feel like manipulation.

  3. […] This article from Telesian talks about Rockwell’s plans for integrating Social Media. […]

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