BizSugar Blog » Interview: How PETCO Uses Social Media

Interview: How PETCO Uses Social Media

Ready for another social media and small business interview?

Last month we interviewed Adam Wallace, the Director of Digital Marketing at the Roger Smith Hotel, to understand how one independent hotel was using social media to build its brand and get customers in the door. Today, we’re talking to a slightly larger brand as we chat with Daniel Sundin, Community Manager at PETCO.

1. The PETCO brand has developed a strong presence in social media. Customers can ‘like’ the brand directly from the home page, there’s lots of activity on the Twitter account, there’s a YouTube channel and The PETCO Scoop produces some great blogging content. How did the development of all these accounts start?

Like many companies, our social media efforts started small and grew organically. Today, we have a team of folks dedicated to PETCO’s social media presence. People are passionate about their pets, and we want to give them an avenue to connect with each other, talk about their pets and experiences, and share our expertise with them.

2. What does your role of Community Manager entail at PETCO?

The Community Manager role boils down to 3 main tasks:

  1. Monitoring
  2. Planning
  3. Posting

I monitor all of PETCO’s social channels AND mentions of PETCO elsewhere on the web. I also review our competitors’ channels, pet related channels and other retailers. I meet regularly with the other members of the social team and colleagues in other departments to decide what we want to talk about in the coming weeks and months. And, finally, I’m responsible for posting or approving all content on our primary social channels. While some of the content is suggested by other departments to support PETCO campaigns, deals, etc., it’s up to me to write the actual copy and make it appropriate for the social space.

3. Wow. With so much activity – how do you handle the monitoring of these accounts? Do you have a dedicated social media team to watch for new mentions/produce content or does everyone pitch in?

I track all the primary PETCO social media accounts, using a number of social media monitoring tools that allow me to see what’s out there in real time and that help cut through the noise.

4. You have a very engaged audience. Posts on the PETCO blog receive hundreds of ‘likes’ and comments, and you house some great discussions on the PETCO Facebook page. What techniques do you use to try and facilitate conversations? What are you doing to build the following? Surely, it’s more than just “people like talking about their pets”. 🙂

Honestly, the passion people have for their pets – and for talking about their pets – is a big part of it. Our customers are true pet lovers and treat their pets as part of the family. I try to keep the conversation going by aiming my Facebook and Twitter posts so there’s an explicit question to answer, or at least a specific piece of information people can react to.

5. What are some of the benefits you’ve seen from engaging in social media? How has it impacted the way that you do business and connect with your customers in any way?

Social media gives us immediate feedback. It’s extremely useful to hear from customers what products and promotions they like, and even more importantly, the ones they don’t like. Having a clear, official presence in social media is a beacon to customers who have questions or complaints and aren’t sure where to go. It makes it easy for us to address those questions quickly and keep our customers happy.

6. For small business owners who may be hesitant to get involved in social media – what are some of your top tips? Any secrets you can share?

Social media is great for any business, big or small. Here are my top three tips for getting started.

  1. It’s not free: Playing in the social media world well costs a great deal of time, brainpower and resources. Don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s free just because there isn’t an immediate cost to creating a Facebook page for your business. It’s not possible to be half-way into social media – you’re either part of the conversation or you’re not.
  2. Focus on retention, not acquisition: Social media is not the best tool for acquiring new customers, but it can be a great tool for retaining them. If someone likes or follows your business, it’s because they’re interested in hearing from you on some regular basis. Keeping your fans and followers up to date on what’s new and happening with your business or industry will keep them engaged with you and keep your brand top-of-mind.
  3. Stay on topic: It’s tempting to post updates/tweets about topics that interest you but are unrelated to your business. Your updates may even appear successful when the likes, comments and tweets come in. Resist those temptations. If you don’t, the people you’re targeting for your business may be silently un-liking and un-following you. This is especially true of new and prospective customers who don’t yet have a strong relationship with you or your brand. This isn’t to say every post or tweet should be a direct sell for your business, but keep it relevant.

Wow. I love Daniel’s point about how you’re either IN social media or you’re not. There is no in between. What do you think? Is he right? Do your experiences match up with his? Sound off in the comments.

[The last Wednesday of each month BizSugar features interviews with businesses using social media in cool and exciting ways.  Know a business you want to see featured? Drop us an email at bizsugardotcom [at] gmail [dot] com and let us know!]

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