Thursday, September 24, 2015

Connecting Your Social Media Strategy to Your Organizational Mission: The Marie Jackson Case

Photo credit to EatChicChicago

When Marie Jackson took the helm at Renfield Farms, she set out to strengthen the company’s product offerings and brand equity.  With her internal “change agents”, she identified major goals to move the company towards a more robust product development operation and modernized communications strategy.  Specifically, the company implemented several social media tools to communicate with both internal and external stakeholders.  These social media strategies flow directly from the organization’s overall vision statement.

Brief Background

Renfield Farms is a dairy foods producer, whose product lines are Yogurt, Milk & Cream, Frozen Dairy, and Plant-Based Beverages.  They have passionate employees and passionate consumers.  As the market moved towards more organic products, Renfield was slow to keep up.

Renfield Farms was hurt by bad press caused by a viral video of cows jammed in to pens and beaten with pipes. This led to a boycott of Renfield Farms products by Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.  Consumers felt the company did not respond quickly enough. Renfield Farms Community Relations Director, Margaret Sparks, was shocked by video and slow to learn about it.  This incident highlighted the lack of a social media presence for the company.

It was then that Renfield brought in its first outside CEO, Marie Jackson.  Her previous experience involved brands, marketing, integrated marketing communications.  She was known for developing strong relationships with trade partners, and was an early adopter of social media marketing.  She was also known for her exuberance and brilliant marketing strategies, and her passion for products, energy, and vision.

Communications Plan/Goals

Marie Jackson developed the following:

  1. Win back consumers - Recapture and nurture relationships of passionate consumers through multiple networks, harnessing the power of social media and other digital platforms.
  2. Keep things fresh - Reestablish continuous product-development process.  Capture and leverage customer insight to guide R&D and reduce time to market for new products through internal cooperation.
  3. Optimize our resources - Leverage our cost structure and allocate our resource more effectively.

To implement her plan, Jackson developed a communications plan that incorporated the use of social media.

For internal stakeholders such as employees, she communicated by:

  1. Creating an internal blog
  2. Podcast
  3. Online media platforms such as screensavers on all computers

With external stakeholders, such as customers, she communicated by:

  1. Redesigned the company website and a Facebook page
  2. Introduced a Twitter presence with a character named Farmer Renfield
  3. Created a corporate department for monitoring and analysis

New Product Launch

Jackson then launched a product known as Hale Fresh, a Greek yogurt. She utilized their recently adopted social media tools and developed the following:
  1. A breakfast challenge and snack challenge on social media sites to find fast, fun serving ideas for Hale Refresh
  2. An app that let consumers frag different toppings to find the right combination of nutrients based on daily activities
  3. A new company blog that shared ideas for easy, portable, healthy breakfast and snack ideas for school-aged kids
  4. Celebrity posted Instagram photos of her favorite yogurt smoothie

This was a huge success. The internal and external strategies supported the company vision that “collaboration is at the heart of all our activities.”

Lessons Learned

  1. Develop the organization’s mission and communications strategy
  2. Select social media tools that support the company’s mission
  3. User friendly tools should be incorporated 
  4. Collect metrics from social media channels to understand target market
Graphic by Ben Bond