How Thomson Reuters uses social media as a business — not just marketing — tool
June 6, 2012 - Questex Media’s ON DEMAND Expo looks at all manner of digital content across four main tracks: content creation, delivery, marketing technology and the business of social media. The event takes place June 13 to June 14 at the Javits Center in New York.
In a session called “Managing Content in the Age of the Digitally-Distributed Enterprise,” Jen McClure, senior director of social media strategy for Thomson Reuters, will be presenting how her organization is able to listen to and better serve its customer via social media — all while protecting its role as a premium content provider. Here, McClure spoke with ABM about establishing guidelines employees using social media and how social media needs to be a tool for the business side — not just content or marketing.
ABM: What is the role of social media for Thomson Reuters? How does this fit into the overall content and business strategy?
Jen McClure: My role is senior director of social strategy. I work across all the functions in the business to figure out how we are going to implement social and use it throughout the organization — not just as marketing and communications tools but really as business tools and working with customer support and sales support. We are increasingly thinking about ideation and crowdsourcing, identifying customer needs and building relationships with social tools. When they think about Thomson Reuters, a lot of people are thinking about our Reuters news business. That’s one place where we use social externally. My colleague Anthony De Rosa thinks about how we use social editorially and simultaneously, how we can be a news organization that sells media content while being social. That’s a huge challenge — if we’re giving content away, how are we protecting our business model? That applies across our professional services division too, from financial to legal to tax professionals. The key is figuring out content strategy but also business strategy. What are we trying to accomplish through our social media presence? A lot of time it’s looking at the wealth of content we have — we’re unique in that way. We’re not just a company that says we want to be in social, but then has to do deal with this onerous process of creating interesting and engaging content. We have a wealth of data and content to build value and develop relationships without giving it all away for free.
ABM: Are there specific takeaways or social media best practices you can share from your experience with Thomson Reuters?
McClure: It’s important to have foundational elements in place. The first step is to have employee guidelines, to make sure they know about the guidelines and make sure they are trained on those guidelines. We ask all employees who are using social media professionally to go through social media training. Another aspect is figuring out how we are presenting ourselves to the world through social tools. Like a lot of organizations, we were very excited to get on the social media bandwagon a few years ago. But because the organization is so broad, there was no one here with a dedicated social media title, and a lot of efforts were either under-resourced or duplicative. People didn’t realize how much you have to commit to fostering interaction and monitoring conversation. The title of my topic at the On Demand conference is “Managing Content in the Age of the Digitally-Distributed Enterprise.” Customers can discover us anywhere now, not just on our corporate website. We need to offer a seamless way for interaction.
ABM: Can you share a specific social media initiative that’s paid off for the company?
McClure: Our Knowledge Effect blog is the place where we can tell the full Thomson Reuters story. A lot of people think about Reuters, but they don’t know we own Westlaw or that we are the home of OneSource tax and accounting software. We’re able to show in an easy, inexpensive and engaging way that the whole is greater than sum of its parts. We launched the blog a year and a half ago and the only resources needed were a WordPress platform, myself and my coordinator. We didn’t have access to a budget but we did have access to great content around the company. The blog is getting 30,000 to 50,000 page views per month and it’s boosted participation on our other social media channels by 300 percent to 700 percent.
ABM: How do you assign value to social media?
McClure: I’m always uncomfortable when posting sheer numbers but it’s a place to start. Ultimately, the goal is to have a metric you can correlate to your social media strategy that also impacts the bottom line. We need to look at how social media can be deployed in ways other than marketing and communications that can be linked directly to sales. We also don’t want to ignore social as an internal corporate tool — we have a new social intranet and the goal there is improved efficiencies and engagement.
By Matt Kinsman