AVG recently won the #usmaward for embedding social media throughout their organisation. We asked Jill Hunley, the company’s Vice-President of Global Social Media and Online Engagement, to talk to us about their approach.
AVG was founded in 1991 with the express purpose of protecting people around the world using the latest in cutting edge security technologies. AVG gained success quickly and is now recognized as one of the biggest players in the security software market.
AVG currently holds corporate offices in Europe such as in The Netherlands, Czech Republic, Cyprus, UK, Germany, France; in the US such as in the Pensacola area in Florida, San Francisco Bay Area in California, Atlanta area in Georgia, Boston area in Massachusetts, Charlotte area in North Carolina; in the Middle East, in Israel; in Asia such as Beijing and Hong Kong in China.
Jill Hunley, VP of Global Social Media and Online Engagement.
A Social media is changing the way consumers are making their purchasing decisions. Consumers are less likely to be influenced by brand advertising, and have a higher level of trust in online reviews and recommendations. People are also spending increasingly more time researching and evaluating products online before making a purchase. Through social media advocacy programs (such as AVG’s), brands can cultivate user reviews / recommendations / testimonials, and expose them to consumers as they are evaluating a purchase decision.
After a purchase, a connection is made between the consumer and the brand. If the experience is positive, the consumer typically becomes an advocate of AVG. By identifying these brand advocates and mobilizing them to spread the word about our products and services, it has a much greater effect on their friends and followers than paid media.
Q You won your award for the most social business. Can you describe your campaigns in this space and how social media plays a central role?
A AVG has successfully integrated social media into the very core of our business. From Marketing and PR, to Product Development and Customer Service, social media plays at least some part in nearly every department at AVG.
Feedback helps us build better products. Advocacy brings us closer to those who are life-long supporters of the brand and our products. Social also plays an important role in customer support at AVG – we naturally offer support ourselves through our social channels but also reward and recognize our most helpful community members, who assist others with their questions about our products and services.
We take our messaging and content right to the heart of our social media communities – this is evidenced by the fact that not only have people joined our communities, but made it their daily destination for security news and updates. This allows the wider public to have an ongoing conversation with us.
Q As a corporate user of social networks, how does your company value the networks it has a presence on?
A Social media platforms enable customers to easily share their experiences with our products and services, both the good and the bad… and people do share, very often, and very loudly. We embrace and celebrate the customers that share their good experiences, and we assist those customers that have had problems. We have found our social media channels to be an invaluable resource for product ideas, feedback and issue resolution. We value the customer input that we receive through the social networks, and utilize the feedback in our product development.
We also leverage the social networks as a way to provide value-added content to our social media communities. Whether it’s a breaking news story about a new virus, or how to protect your child when they get their first smartphone, the content that we provide is intended to benefit and educate our community.
Q Measuring the effectiveness of social networks is a focus for corporations at the moment. How does AVG track the ROI that its social networks deliver?
A We measure the effectiveness and ROI of our social media efforts in a similar way as other marketing channels. We monitor on an ongoing basis the size and health of our social media communities. For integrated marketing campaigns we measure the impact of the social media components of the campaigns, usually in terms of reach and contribution to driving product downloads. We also closely measure the effectiveness of our content and how it is resonating with the community.
Q How does AVG decide what it spends on which social media networks? Does AVG have a social media roadmap it is working to?
A Our social media roadmap is planned in conjunction with our corporate annual and quarterly planning process, but is fluid and flexible based on business needs and the rapid evolution of the social media technologies and platforms. For example, in our 2012 planning process Pinterest wasn’t even a consideration, but in the past year it’s grown over 2000% and now accounts for 26% of social media eCommerce referrals. Even the well-established platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube continue to innovate rapidly, so our roadmap needs have the agility to adjust to rapidly changing priorities.
Q What’s next for AVG in the social media space?
A We can’t share the details, but we continue to look for ways to enhance the experience of our customers through social media, as well as drive business results. The challenge lies in staying relevant and one step ahead as thousands of brands get better at social media. As Jas Dhaliwal, AVG’s Head of Communities, points out, “Social never sleeps!”