Caffeinated Marketing

Gettting through all the noise, one cup at a time

When CEO’s “Get It”: Franklin Building Supply & Social Media August 7, 2009

FBSFor the past four years I have been talking to CEO’s, Presidents and high level executives about Social Media as to why they should be paying attention and start dipping their toe in the water.  Well, thanks to TwitterOprah Ashton Kutcher the last 6 months have been a blast talking to people not about why, but how soon can we get involved!  Twitter just made social media easier to understand the voice and the speed at which information can travel.

When I first met Rick Lierz , the CEO of Franklin Building Supply, he was eager to learn about Twitter & the bigger picture of Social Media.  He has learned so much in such a short amount of time and is so excited to move his company forward, it literally makes me tear up!

To my delight, more and more CEO’s are “getting it”.  To be honest, if the CEO of the company doesn’t “get it” you either enter into the SM school of dentisry you move on to another company that has the understanding that if you don’t evolve and change, you die.

I wanted to share a new blog series with you that dives into the minds of these CEO’s and what makes their Social Media plans so great.  Rick was the first person that I wanted to highlight, because there is a plan & you can see it in his eyes that he “gets it”.  I believe he has the potential to lead an industry that is traditionally non-geeky and not so “computer savvy”, yet it relies on all the components of social media: relationships, friendships and camaraderie to get a deal done.  Quite the undertaking, but I have no doubt he will succeed!

When did you first see the possibilities of integrating social media into Franklin Building Supply?
Fairly recently, actually.  I was firmly of the opinion that things like Facebook and Twitter were somehow bad, mostly a fear that they would suck time out of the productive business work day if we acknowledged its existence at work.  The economy turned down in our industry nearly three years ago, and as it went from bad to terrible, we began to experience a complete reset in old beliefs and norms.  For me, the reset included a reevaluation of how we define customers and how we communicate with the world.  I have to admit, learning about social media was the biggest surprise for me in this total reset.  It is very exciting.

What have been the very first steps – tools, training, educating, convincing, rules etc?
We are still pretty early in the process.  The first thing I did was learn about Twitter.  I’m still an analog by nature, so I took a beginner Twitter class at Consilio.  That helped me enormously with the philosophy of social media, which was the key to my understanding the role SM plays in the bigger picture.  From there I expanded my own tool set into Facebook.  I had been on LinkdIn for a while, but didn’t appreciate it before.  And You Tube became something more than an occasional diversion, as I studied how all these tools fit together.  The next step was to gather some receptive people in our company, what you can evangelists, and begin to scratch out a plan to make SM a regular part of what we do in the company.

Now that you have taken the first steps…if you were to do it over again, what would you do differently?
I would do it sooner.  We are still early enough in our evolution that I can’t yet tell what mistakes we’ve made.

What tools do you see being the most effective for your overall purpose of using SM?
Twitter, a web-based community for the public as well as one for employees, a mix of blogs and industry based educational information sprinkled among them, YouTube to share our experiences and have fun.  There are so many free resources out there to help a company communicate internally and externally.  It is an exciting time.

What is your favorite tool to date?
I am enjoying Twitter and I see its promise and relevance, but I can’t claim to be good at using it yet.  I still struggle with the concept that what I have to say isn’t very interesting, so my tweets are sporadic.  I am most excited about launching communities that are interactive, which is still in development.

Who do you recommend the most to others to follow or friend?
Find other business folks who clearly get it.  Their tweets will tell you.  If it’s all about their products or service and not about an ongoing relationship, then its just white noise.  I learned the most early on from the CEO of Zappos.  His tweets are funny, serious, entertaining, teaching, inspiring, and he does a great job of making followers feel like a part of his company.  There are some great local business folks to follow.  You just have to get on and experiment.

What are your 6 mo, and 12 month goals?
By the end of this year, I would like to have a public community and a private community launched.  Before that time, we need to complete our development of policies for social media and begin, through evangelists, to encourage use of the tools available right now by employees throughout.  Of course, a fair amount of education will be in order.  Our industry is evolving, but is still very much analog in nature.  A year from now, I would like all employees in the company to be looking to the private and public communities in the first instance for their information about the company and to be interactive in the ongoing effort to improve what we do for customers and each other.  I would also like to see the public community growing steadily in participation with people from outside the company.  Those are the big picture goals.

Future…if you had unlimited resources?
If we had unlimited resources I would hire someone to be our SM leader, to teach and train and evangelize and get the entire company to the next level of understanding and use more quickly.  Unfortunately, it may be some time in our industry before we can afford such a resource.

Thank you Rick!
-jen

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One Response to “When CEO’s “Get It”: Franklin Building Supply & Social Media”

  1. Jen – This post was GREAT! I applaud Rick’s willingness to step out of his element and learn about the social media tools that can help businesses such as his. I am especially impressed with his reach for some education about the tools (and for his recognizing the need for a comprehensive social media strategy/plan) before he train-wrecked his efforts. I alluded to this all-too common mistake on my blog a few weeks back.

    Kudos to you, Jen, for educating the offline community around you – it shows great character!


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