ISM Episode 22: Ben & Jerry’s Mike Hayes, Associate Digital Marketing Manager

Ben & Jerry's Mike HayesBen & Jerry’s Mike Hayes, Associate Digital Marketing Manager, is my guest this week on The Inside Social Media Podcast, as my journey to connect with the biggest brands in the world and share with you how you can model and adapt their social media insights and strategies continues. 


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If you were to ask me to sum up Ben & Jerry’s social media strategy in three words, they would be: They.  Get.  It. 

Why?  Because all of their social efforts revolve around genuine interaction and engagement with their fans; from sharing fun stories to getting fan input on the next flavor of ice cream they’re going to make.

Ben & Jerry’s carries their core values of being socially conscious and having fun into all of their marketing efforts.  Their consistency is something any business can learn from.

When you listen to this episode, you’ll quickly pick up on the fact that success in social media doesn’t happen by chance.  It starts with a clear goal from which you work backwards.  

In today’s show, you’ll learn, among other things:

  • Mike takes us behind the scenes of some really successful social media campaigns that Ben & Jerry’s is running right now.  He shares how they came up with the strategy, why they’re doing what they’re doing in the campaigns and how they’re implementing it.

  • We talk about the importance of carrying over your business’ core values into your social media efforts.

  • We dive into content creation and why you do NOT need a professional team behind you in order to produce awesome content that people want to engage with.

  • And I get Mike to tell me what kind of ice cream he would be if Ben & Jerry’s came out with a Mike Hayes flavor.  

And of course, a ton more mouth watering tips and strategies.  

Want to Be Featured On An Upcoming Inside Social Media Podcast Episode?

I’m working on putting together an episode where I profile you, the listener.

I want to hear how what you’re learning from the show has helped you in your business. 

Have you taken a strategy you’ve learned and implemented it in your own business (or helped you get a job, etc.)  And, tell me how what you implemented help your business.

I’ll interview you briefly for the podcast to tell your story.  If you’d like to be featured during that episode, click this link to email me (put I WANT TO BE FEATURED in the Subject) and tell me what strategy you took, how you implemented it, and how it helped:  YES! I want to be featured on the podcast.

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INSIDER SHOW NOTES: Ben and Jerry’s Social Media Strategy Tips

  • It’s all about building relationships with people.  How can you interact and engage with them?  Have one-on-one conversations with them?  These can be great offline experiences.  Digital allows you to take that to greater scale.  Try and have your offline campaigns compliment your online campaigns and vice versa.
  • Always listen to your fans.  They will tell you what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong.
  • Tell the story of your brand through your digital content.

On Finding Your Voice…

  • Instill your business’ core values into your social media efforts, into how you talk with your consumers.  Always stay true to the root beliefs of your business.
  • Have your business’ mission documented which will help in communicating your values in a clear way that aligns with your overall business goal.  Find the right platform that will allow you talk about those values with your consumers.  For Ben & Jerry’s, Twitter tends to be that channel.

 On Determining Which Social Channels to Use…

  • Is your message global?  Is it targeted to specific people?  That can be an initial step.  It’s about how do you reach your target audience and then finding the right community to convey the right message.  For example, Ben & Jerry’s uses Twitter to share articles.  Facebook for them is more of a conversational platform.  Discussions around different topics.

On What Goes Into Planning and Strategy of a Social Campaign…

  • Digital marketing no longer sits by itself.  It’s part of overall marketing; how your business communicates. 
  • Have goals first, then find tactics that can meet those goals.  Know your goal, work backwards from it. How will you get there?

On Content Creation…

  • It can be as simple as taking pictures with your smartphone.  You don’t need big budgets or to be an art director to create cool pictures.  You just need a camera and some creativity.

On Where Brands Get Social Media Wrong…

  • When brands only focus on what only they want to focus on and don’t provide value to their consumers.  This causes a huge disconnect between you and your consumers.  They’ll start to tune you out.

On Measuring Your Social Media Efforts…

  • It really starts with your goal.  What’s your goal and how will you measure whether you’re achieving it or not.
  • If it’s just an overall social media presence, for example, it might be about simply connecting with your consumers.  You can measure that — how many people you’re connecting with, does that grow, decline over time.  What issues are you talking with them about, etc.
  • There is no perfect system for measuring!

On Mike’s Top 3 Things to Start Out in Social Media…

  • What is your goal?  Nail that down first.
  • Which tactics can you do really well that align with your goal?  Which channels make sense for you?
  • Figure out what value you can provide to people.

 On Figuring Out What Your Consumers Want to Talk About…

  •  Listen!  See what people are talking about, what they engage most with.
  •  Keep testing different types of content and tweak accordingly.

 On Trends Over the Next Year that Affect Small Businesses…

  • Focus on the platforms that are working well for you.  Optimize things to take them from good to great.  Continue to build those communities to be the best you possibly can.
  • Shift towards short, concise videos that tell a deeper story than pictures, such as Instagram video and Vine.
  • Couponing, offers — how can those things be integrated into social media.

Transcript

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Rick:  All right, folks. I’m here with Mike Hayes. Mike’s the Associate Digital Marketing Manager for Ben & Jerry’s. Mike, welcome to the Inside Social Media podcast. Thanks for being here today.

Mike Hayes:  Thanks for having me, Rick. I appreciate it.

Rick:  Absolutely. Mike, I have to start out by asking you a question. Prior to being at Ben & Jerry’s, you were at a company called Magic Hat Brewing Company. One of your job titles was Wizard of Wonderments and Digital Delights. Is that actually your title or is that something that you made up? I love that title.

Mike Hayes:  Yeah. I’m lucky enough to work for two great Vermont brands. I’m now working at Ben & Jerry’s, but before here, working at Magic Hat. There, we’ve got to come up with our own titles. So, I was first a Minister of Fermentation Elation Relations before I moved up the ladder to the Wizard of Wonderments and Digital Delights.

It’s the same thing here at Ben & Jerry’s. We try to really infuse fun in everything that we do, and that goes all the way down to our job titles.

Rick:  Yeah. That’s a good lead in, actually, to a question I have for you. So, for what I can tell, you guys do a really good job of staying true to those core beliefs and values like you just talked about – like having fun and being a little wacky in your social media.

This topic plays in to finding your voice in social media, which we do talk quite a bit about here on the show. But, a company’s core values and how they play in to at social media isn’t something we’ve really, specifically, dove in to here on the podcast. So, I think this might be a really good discussion for our listeners.

Can you talk a little bit about what goes in to carrying a company’s core values through to their social media?

Mika Hayes:  Yeah. I think there are two things. Jerry has a great quote that says, “If it’s not fun, why do it?” Then, Ben has a great quote that says, “Business has a responsibility to give back to the community.”

So, really taking both those aspects, business has a responsibility to give value to its communities not only to its consumers, or its partners, and business; really then, the fun aspects. We try to infuse both of those things in how we talk to our consumers online and in how we engage with them.

Rick:  Okay. So, how might a small business do something similar? Well, they have core values, they have, maybe, a smaller set of beliefs that they go by. How might they parlay that or carry that in to their social media?

Mike Hayes:  Yeah, totally. I think, first, it’s finding the right community to really engage with those people on the topic. For us, Twitter is where we talk a lot about our social mission.

Here at Ben & Jerry’s I should mention that we have a three-part mission statement. Not only do we try to create the best ice cream in the world, but we try to have a viable company with an economic mission. Then our social mission – that really ensures that we’re giving back to the community.

So, I think the first thing is having that documented really definitely helps in making sure your communicating your values in a clear way that ladders up to a bigger goal to the company; then finding the right platform you to talk about those values. For us, our social mission, we try to do it on all of our platforms.

I definitely think, for us, Twitter is definitely the spot where we put out a lot of different messages about a lot of the things that we believe in. Sometimes it resonates with people and sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s always building our brand, really showing people what we believe in as a company.

I think that’s been one of our challenges – How do you take a social mission that’s not just pictures of ice cream, and really convey that to your fans? I think we’ve had a lot of different success in that space, from our campaign that we did that tried to overturn Citizens United, to a lot of the communication that we’re doing now around fair trade ingredients that we use in our ice cream.

Rick:  How do you figure out which social media platform that you’re going to pursue for a specific campaign?

Mike Hayes:  Yeah. It depends. Some that works for us, you know, we’re a global brand, so some of our platforms are really global and some of them have extra targeting capabilities that you can really target on different messages to specific people. So, we, kind of, use that as our initial guide as to which one we’re going to use, and which platform are we going to use, and then which channel within that platform. On Twitter we have a bunch of different handles even within the United States.

I think a little bit is about finding the right way to reach the right people, and then finding the right community to convey the right message. What we found out on Twitter is Twitter is really good for putting out articles and really sharing articles; maybe not so great around having a discussion. Facebook, for us, is really a spot where we can have a discussion, specially now with their implementation of the reply feature. People can really have a back and forth that is really visible to everyone.

Rick:  Sure.

Mike Hayes:  So, we’ve really tried to use that platform to really engage people in discussions around different topics.

Rick:  So, you’re kind of, answering a little bit about what I want to dive in to a little bit more here. I really want to dive in to the, sort of, strategy and campaign planning because a lot of businesses think that social media sits by itself within their business, when in reality, it is really one piece of the overall marketing puzzle.

Before we hit record here, we were talking about, you know, you’re in the busy season right now, a lot of people are buying ice cream in the summertime, you have a lot of campaigns going on. So, can you back us up here and take us, sort of, as you start to think about a campaign, what goes in to the strategy and the planning aspect of that campaign?

Mike Hayes:  Yeah. I think a lot of different things. But, first, you know, my title is all about digital marketing, that I work in digital marketing. But, now, digital marketing is just marketing, right?

Rick:  Sure.

Mike Hayes:  It’s just how we communicate. So, it’s so infused in to every step along the way. I think that’s really important to mention. Then, I think, for us, it’s… I’m sorry, I forgot your question.

Rick:  No, that’s okay. I’m just trying to delve in to a little bit deeper in to – I love it – dive in to a little deeper in to strategy and planning of the campaigns.

Mike Hayes:  Alright.

Rick:  Just, sort of, a behind-the-scenes look. Like what goes in to that for you guys?

Mike Hayes:  Yeah. For us we have a slew of different channels and a slew of different tactics that we use on different channels. I think it really depends on what is the goal for the campaign. For some of our campaign it’s really just a pure awareness on builders. So, maybe it’s launching a new product, and it’s that first week, and we’re really just trying to get that message out there to as many people as we can.

But, then for some of the other campaigns, it’s just really about educating people and educating very specific people that might not even be our fans on these different communities. So, we really try to focus everything on having goals first, and then finding tactics that can meet those goals.

Rick:  Love it.

Mike Hayes:  Without those goals I don’t think you have a clear message, and your tactics aren’t as clear, and you don’t really know what you’re trying to achieve. First thing I do, when we’re developing a campaign is like, “What is the real goal here? What are we trying to do?” Then, we can develop tactics that meet that goal.

Rick:  Sure. That’s an important lesson that does come up quite a bit here on the show is that you have to start with a goal and work backwards from there. That’s certainly not just a “big brand” strategy. I mean, that’s something, anybody who’s using social media to achieve something, needs to start with, especially small business owners who tend to get overwhelmed very easily by the social media options out there. So, such a really, really good point.

Mike, you mentioned there that you’re in digital marketing, but it’s really, when it comes down to it, just marketing. So, how are you guys set up there within Ben & Jerry’s?

Mike Hayes:  Yeah. Here in Ben & Jerry’s, I’m based here in Burlington, Vermont. About a hundred people that just work in our office are here. We do everything from research and development, to our social mission team, to marketing, to our stores which we call Scoop Shops and we support them here as well.

In terms of marketing for the United States, we have two teams. We have a brand team that works on developing the actual flavors and getting them to the shelf. Then we have our team, which called Integrated Marketing that has all kinds of the consumer-facing marketing – that’s everything from events, to digital, to advertising. I, kind of, work within that team. That team really was created to work with all the different departments within Ben & Jerry’s.

Actually, before I hopped on with you, I was in our weekly meeting, U.S. meeting, with all the different departments. So, we take our social mission department, our consumer affairs, our brand team, we have an in-house web development team, and really pull all those individuals in to a room for an hour. We go through all their different departments, and they give us updates. Then, we go through all the different platforms and everyone gives updates within those platforms. So, that’s a really great way to really integrate digital in to all the different aspects of the business, and really also provide an opportunity to hear about what other things people are working on in the business that might affect social or the stories that we might identify that we want to tell on social.

Rick:  Sure.

Now, obviously, I mean, your end goal is to get people to buy ice cream. So, can you talk a little bit about and, sort of, carry on what you were just talking about as far as, you know, the integration of online effort versus offline and how affects each other. Specially, I’d love to hear the angle from a social media perspective.

Mike Hayes:  Yeah, for sure. I think since we started as a company, our goal is to build relationships with people. So, way back when – we’ve been in business for thirty-five years – but about twenty years ago we started to have these music festivals in Vermont. They were just a cool way to get people to Vermont, to come together – everyone, all of our fans come together – and really interact and engage with them, and have these one-on-one experiences.

Then, you know, Ben & Jerry hopped in, what we call, a Cow Mobile which used to be an R.V. and ride around the country, and gave away free Ben & Jerry’s. This was long before, you know… Now, we have mobile marketing tours and all that sort of stuff.

Rick:  Sure.

Mike Hayes:  They were just giving away ice cream, building relationships with people. That’s really what we’re just doing on digital now, but at a different scale.

In that same way, though, we haven’t lost those offline experiences because those offline experiences are still very valuable. Nothing beats that, kind of, one-on-one interaction you have offline. So, I think we try to really compliment our offline programs with online programs and vice-versa.

Rick:  Sure.

Mike Hayes:  I think one great program that’s a really great example of that is our truck tour that we do through social media.

Before Twitter existed, we would just go around in these ice cream trucks giving away free Ben & Jerry’s. That was great, people love it, and we got to interact with our consumers. Now what we ask our fans to do is actually tweet us and tell us where they want the truck to go.

So, we go through the Twitter feed each morning, look at who tweeted us from the day before, and then actually go deliver on those accounts. That, kind of, combines that online experience of requesting the truck and bringing people something really amazing; that offline experience that we actually have to end up coming and scooping them ice cream, and then talking with them, chatting with them, and then actually developing a relationship with them in real life.

Rick:  That’s great. That’s called the “Scoop Truck,” right?

Mike Hayes:  Yep, the Scoop Truck. We have two, one on each coast.

Rick:  Okay. Alright. So, I am in L.A. and I’m tweeting out, “Hey, come to this certain part of L.A.” But, then you also have people tweeting you from, let’s just say, San Francisco. So, how do you decide, like, how do you figure out where to go over which period of time?

Mike Hayes:  Yeah. So, we basically spend a few weeks in each market.

Rick:  Okay.

 

Mike Hayes:  This year, on the East Coast we started in Miami, and then went to Tampa, Washington D.C., New York, Hartford, and then ending up in Boston in September. Then, on the West Coast we did San Diego, L.A., San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle. We did a few weeks in each market.

Rick:  Gotcha. Okay.

Now, you recently ran a really cool social media campaign called City Churned where you ask people in New York, Washington D.C., Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco to vote on a city-specific ice cream flavor. You promoted on Twitter and Facebook. You created a promotional video that you ran on Facebook and also promoted on Twitter.

Then you drove people from those social channels to a microsite where once people were there, they can vote on things like the base for the new flavor, ingredients, and decide whether it should be an ice cream or a Greek yogurt, and help name it. Then, they could share all those actions on social media. It’s super cool.

This wasn’t the first time you guys crowdsourced flavor ideas. From what I understand Cherry Garcia and Chubby Hubby were also crowdsourced from past flavors. I love this idea of crowdsourcing ice cream flavors, especially because crowdsourcing ideas is something any business can do in social media.

So, can you tell us how successful this campaign has been, maybe, compared to those past two ones? What did you learn and what might you do differently the next time?

Mike Hayes:  I think the first thing is always listen to your fans. They have some great ideas. They definitely tell us when you’re right and when you might be wrong. I think that we’ve really done that over the years, and really, in the last few years with digital, have tried to do that even more.

So, like you said Cherry Garcia was something that one of our fans submitted to us via… Well, actually at that point it was just through the mail. They wrote this letter to us that we should create this flavor to Ben & Jerry, and we actually went out and did it.

Same thing with Chubby Hubby. There’s a story behind that one as well: these friends playing a trick on one of their co-workers saying that it was actually a new flavor at Ben & Jerry’s had created. It actually wasn’t at that time, but then they shared that story with us. We loved it, so we actually went ahead and created that flavor.

I think, you know, it’s listening to your fans, listening to those stories, and actually trying to incorporate in to your business.

Rick:  Sure.

Mike Hayes:  That was just, kind of, really read that up and taken to the next level with City Churned – not only listening to our fans in each one of these cities, we’re also listening to the city itself. Like Ben & Jerry’s, cities are all made up of different things. So, it’s not only the people, but it’s the weather, the public transportation, it’s what people wear.

We have these really cool and unique voting mechanisms that correlate to different ingredients that we would include in the flavors. So, we’re pulling in all these different voting mechanisms and ingredients, and we’re also using local ingredients to each market to really just connect with that market more, and use that local flavor.

Rick:  I love it. Tell us more about the voting mechanisms there.

Mike Hayes:  Yeah. A – You can go to our website and vote. Then, we also have some conscious and unconscious voting mechanisms happening in each city. In some markets we set up turnstiles for two, different ingredients – vanilla in one turnstile and chocolate in the other. As people walk through it, we actually counted those votes.

In New York City, we counted hybrid cabs going up off 5th Ave versus hybrid cabs going down 6th Ave. In Seattle we have, every day, if you can see Mr. Rainier that counts for one vote for one ingredient. If you can’t see it, that counts for a vote for the other ingredients. So, we really try to not only have people vote, but use the city itself to create these flavors.

Rick:  That’s so great. So, where are you at in the campaign? Are you still in the voting phase? Where are you at?

 

Mike Hayes:  Yes. So, we’ve already created the flavors for D.C., New York, and San Francisco.

 

Rick:  Okay.

 

Mike Hayes:  We’re actually having our Portland flavor launch this weekend, and then Seattle in September.

 

Rick:  Awesome. When you do these types of campaigns, do you notice higher sales with those particular flavors because people have had direct impact in to, you know, what that flavor is?

 

Mike Hayes:  We don’t necessarily correlate it to direct sales. We definitely really just, kind of, measuring the impressions and the engagements that we get with people and the relationships that we build through our tactics.

 

Rick:  Gotcha.

 

Mike Hayes:  So, I think, that’s what we’re really focused on more than correlating specific programs with direct sales.

 

Rick:  Okay. Mike, there’s been a lot of talk here in the podcast about content creation and how social media is really about creating content. You’ve actually talked a lot about that that adds value to your consumers. The problem for small businesses though is it does tend to be time and resource intensive.

 

Now, I’ve noticed that Ben & Jerry’s content are not overly produced, but it’s really fun, and people love it – they engage with it. Can you give maybe a few tips for simplifying content creation for small businesses?

 

Mike Hayes:  Yeah. First, it’s a struggle for us as well, so you’re not in the boat alone. Here, we do all of our content and creation in-house. The only person that works solely on U.S. Digital would be myself. We have all different people in the business working on it as well.

 

For instance, our Facebook community manager is also our Assistant Brand Manager. Our Twitter Community Manager is our Web Developer. So, we really try to involve digital in to people’s daily jobs that might not just work on solely digital things.

 

Rick:  Sure.

 

Mike Hayes:  So, that’s really helped and adds to the team.

 

With content creation it can be as simple as taking pictures with your iPhone. When we first started with Instagram, I’d say probably for the first year, year and a half, maybe even two years now, we didn’t use a picture that didn’t come from my, personal iPhone.

 

Rick:  Okay.

 

Mike Hayes:  So, you don’t need huge budgets, you don’t need to necessarily be an art director to create this content. You just need an iPhone, and some creativity to really produce some amazing content.

 

Rick:  Cool. Where, in your estimation, do brands get social media wrong?

 

Mike Hayes:  That’s a great question. For us it’s really listening to the community and providing value. I think when brands only focus on what they want to focus about and don’t provide value to their consumers, it’s really where they go wrong and they don’t really make that connection with those consumers as well as, I hope, that some of our stuff does.

 

Rick:  Sure. Now, you recently launched a social media hub on your main website. Can you tell us more about that and why you guys created that?

 

Mike Hayes:  Yeah. For us, we really try to connect all the different things we’re doing from BenJerry.com, to all of our social community channels, to even our advertising. It’s how do we connect all these different pieces? How do we get people sharing on different networks? How do we get people to go in to BenJerry.com?

 

Even though our outposts are definitely strong and they’re a great representation of the brand, we tell much richer stories on our website. So, the goal there is really just to get people to go to BenJerry.com, and really to aggregate all the stories that are happening on all these different channels in to one place.

 

Rick:  Gotcha. Okay.

 

Now, Mike, there’s a million dollar question that comes up on the show here every episode. I’m going to let you try to guess what it is. I’m going to put you on the spot here. I’ll give you a hint, though: that every brand has a challenge with it.

 

Mike Hayes:  What’s the return on investment on social?

 

Rick:  Yeah. How do you guys measure your social media efforts there at Ben & Jerry’s?

 

Mike Hayes:  A couple of different ways. I think it kind of goes back to one of your prior questions, you know, “What’s the goal?” Sometimes there are these short term campaigns that there are certain goals – whether it’s a new product launch where the goal is really about impression, or sometimes it’s getting people to sign a petition for us, so it’s in those petition sign ups.

 

For us in the evergreen social media, it’s really just about connecting with the consumers, and connecting in really valuable ways. So, not just really doing, kind of, that light engagement with likes and just impressions, but really having discussions with people, getting people to share, and really developing those relationships with them. So, that’s really our goal.

 

Rick:  Okay.

 

Mike Hayes:  Through some new technology now, we’re able to really get a great analysis of our return on investment, but that’s really only in the last year, I’d say, that that’s really come through.

 

Rick:  Okay.

 

Mike Hayes:  We do run a marketing mix analysis with Nielsen each year. I’ve done some things in partnership with Facebook that have shown that the stuff that we do, our activity on Facebook, returns three to one. So, we definitely know that it’s valuable in terms of sales and in terms of building those relationships.

 

Rick:  Gotcha. What do you mean by that three to one on Facebook?

 

Mike Hayes:  Yeah. So, when Facebook first implemented their premium ads.

 

Rick:  Okay.

 

Mike Hayes:  We were one of their beta partners. They are able to let us test their products, and we ran a Nielsen Marketing Mix Analysis on that, and for every dollar that we put in, we get $3 in sales in return.

 

Rick:  Okay. You mentioned Nielsen and you said some more advance measuring. What kind of tools do you guys use?

 

Mike Hayes:  For all of our marketing that we do in the United States, we work with Nielsen to basically look at how much do we spend on each one of these programs, and then what was our return, whether engagements or impressions, and how do that affect the business. They have some very talented people that take all those numbers, try to make some sense out of it, look at sales trend, and then try to correlate different activities to those investments.

 

That’s something that we do each year with them. It’s definitely not perfect. There is no perfect system, but it’s definitely helpful directionally, and tell, you know, “Should we be investing more on print?” “Should we be investing more on digital?”

 

That’s why we actually have stayed in print. Print, for us, returns very well and is a good spend for us. So, we continue to spend there as well as increasing our spending on digital.

 

Rick:  Gotcha. Okay. So, let’s bullet it out here. Let’s say you’re a small business owner with a very little budget for online marketing, but you want to start leveraging social media to market your business. What are three things you would do to start out?

 

Mike Hayes:  Yeah. I think it’s, you know, establish your goals. What are you trying to do? Are you trying to get more people aware of your business? Are you trying to get more people inside your store? Really nail that down because, I think, without nailing that down, the next few steps aren’t really going to be helpful.

 

I think the second one is really to find out which tactics you think you can do really well. There are lots of different social networks. We can’t be on every social. It would not work and do a really well job. Most small businesses can’t be on every social network and do a really great job. So, it’s figuring out which ones are you going to invest in and allocate resources to.

 

Lastly, I think, it’s figuring out what value you can provide to your consumers. We definitely have a lot of different messaging that we want to get out to people whether it’s our new product line of Greek frozen yogurt, or that we’re switching to fair trade ingredients, but not just dwelling on those two topics that you want to communicate about. Figuring out what does your fans want to talk about and really working that in to the messaging as well.

 

Rick:  Sure.

 

Mike Hayes:  Because if you’re just talking about what you want to talk about, often times, you’re going to turn away people that have followed you or want to engage with you on a different topic.

 

Rick:  Sure. We’ve, kind of, touched on different points, but how do you guys figure out what your customers want to talk about?

 

Mike Hayes:  Yeah. I think it goes back to another question of just listening, and seeing what people are posting, see what people are engaging with you on. A lot of this is in trial and error. It still is for us.

 

Rick:  Sure.

 

Mike Hayes:  We’ll post one thing, and we’ll see that no one engages it, no one responds to it. Sometimes it could be timing and that sort of thing, but often times it just didn’t provide any value, no one really found it interesting – just always tweaking. I think that’s just, kind of, what social media is. It’s trying, hopefully succeeding more than you’re failing. Sometimes you do have things that weren’t as successful as you would have hoped it to be, but then it’s just optimizing and optimizing.

 

Rick:  Sure. Just a couple more questions here for you, Mike. So, what’s an example of a time where you saw a brand using social media really smartly? Why did you think it was successful? And then, you know, what might small businesses be able to learn from it so that they can model something similar?

 

Mike Hayes:  Yeah. You know, I’ve always been fascinated with Red Bull. A – Because I like the outdoors and the sports that they often sponsor. But, I think, they’ve done probably one of the best jobs out of any brand of really creating stories and then telling those stories in amazing ways, whether it’s through photos or videos. They do a really amazing job. It’s definitely been an inspiration for us.

 

I think the hardest thing is for a lot of small businesses, and even for us at Ben & Jerry’s, is that we don’t have the budget that Red Bull does. They have a lot of stories that are almost perfect for social media with these, kind of, stunts that they do.

 

Rick:  Yeah, sure.

 

Mike Hayes:  So, it’s sometimes hard for us to really develop content at that level.

 

I think, another great example of, you know, companies like JetBlue doing the amazing job that they do with customer service on their different channels specifically, where I’ve interacted with them, on Twitter.

 

Rick:  Sure.

 

Mike Hayes:  Then, going on to a brand like Patagonia where they do a great job with their blog and really talking about in-depth issues that they care about.

 

So, I think the interesting thing there is almost that there’s three, what I consider, really great brands doing three very different things in social media, and using social media in three, almost, very different ways. I suspect that all three of them have very different goals.

 

Rick:  Sure.

 

Mike Hayes:  So, I think, it shows us how important that goal is, and then figuring out how you want to use social media to tackle those goals.

 

Rick:  Yeah. Gotcha. I agree with all three of those examples. I’ve had Morgan Johnston form JetBlue on the show before.

 

Mike Hayes:  Oh, he’s great.

 

Rick:  Yeah. Red Bull I’m working on. Patagonia is a brand that I’ve already started to do research on. So, thanks for those examples, those are great.

 

What are the trends in social media that you’re seeing over the next year or so? How do you see those trends affecting small business?

 

Mike Hayes:  For social media I think, for us, it’s a lot of just blocking and tackling, and really just optimizing that. Really just focusing on Facebook, and Twitter, and Instagram, which are, kind of, our three, big communities; really finding ways to produce great, high-quality content on there that engages with our fans but also tells the story of Ben & Jerry’s.

 

I think we’re seeing a lot of movement in that video space – short videos that tell a really deeper story, and then pictures. You’re seeing that with Vine, and Instagram. Before those, you had things like Socialcam and that sort of thing. So, I don’t think that space is necessarily there yet. It might be Instagram Video, it might be Vine, but I think that’s definitely something that I’m keeping my eye on.

 

Because we have Scoop Shops, like, store locations here in the United States, we’re looking a lot at couponing and offers, whether that’s through Facebook offers, or through Groupon and Living Social, and how that can be more integrated in to social media. I think there are a couple of different things that we’re definitely looking at and have our eye on, but a lot of it is just also focusing and optimizing the things that I think we’re doing good and making them great.

 

Rick:  Sure. Okay. Last question here for you, Mike. If Ben & Jerry’s were to create a flavor after you, let’s call it the “Mike Hayes,” what would it be and why?

 

Mike Hayes:  I’d probably think it goes something similar to “Everything But The.” I think in digital more and more you’re involved in all of the aspects of the business. I think that’s a really great thing about it. It’s really exciting, there’s something new with almost every bite.

 

So, each day I come in, there is some new news about the next, new platform that you’re supposed to be on in social media, or this new tactics that’s out there. That’s why I really like digital. It’s not the same, old thing year after year. It’s something new each week. You get to try different flavors, almost, of different things and see what resonates with your community, what doesn’t resonate. So, I’d say it would be something similar to “Everything But The.”

 

Rick:  Okay, I love it. So, Mike, where can people connect with you? Where can they connect with Ben & Jerry’s in social media, and the campaigns you have going on right now?

 

Mike Hayes:  Yeah, definitely. So, I’m on Twitter @hayesbtv. BTV is our airport symbol here in Burlington. Connect with Ben & Jerry’s, @benandjerrys.  We’re on Twitter, Instagram, Google +, and Facebook – everywhere. Then, BenJerry.com for all our information.

 

Rick:  Okay, great. I’ll be sure to link all those links up in our show notes for today. Mike, thank you so much for taking a few minutes to talk with me today and being in the show here. I really appreciate it.

 

Mike Hayes:  Yeah. Thanks so much, Rick. Really appreciate it.

 

Rick:  Absolutely.

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