I had a chance to talk to UPS’s Public Relations Manager, Debbie Curtis-Magley (@DebCM) about their use of social media.
UPS got involved with social media about four years ago but it wasn’t any particular event that drove their use of it. As social media starting becoming more mainstream, stories about UPS began surfacing. UPS’s customers were talking about their experiences with UPS both good and bad. Many of these mentions occurred on Twitter so UPS joined the Twitterverse.
They approached Twitter with the intention of listening to what their customers were saying. Twitter allows for a two-way dialogue directly with individuals and they wanted to join these conversations. For UPS, Twitter was an opportunity to address customer service concerns and provide relevant information for people. It wasn’t viewed as a new marketing megaphone to thoughtlessly broadcast information.
UPS also ventured into Facebook and YouTube. Facebook attracts a different audience and allows richer, lengthier messages. On YouTube, the UPS channel serves up UPS TV commercials, customer stories and new product highlights.
Social media responsibilities fall across several groups within the organization.
Public Relations is responsible for maintaining the Twitter account @UPS and their corporate blog upside.
Facebook is managed by Customer Communications.
Human Resources also has outposts on both Facebook and Twitter. As UPS moves into their peak shipping season, they hire 50,000 additional employees.
Customer Relations also uses Twitter to resolve customer service issues. In the spirit of having conversations between people, their Twitter accounts are the first name of the person at UPS, for example, @EvanAtUPS or @JenniferAtUPS. There are a total of seven different customer service representatives. They do their best to respond to the public; however, they focus on areas where they can help, for example, if someone tweets about a lost or damaged package, they eagerly reach out. Also, they enjoy replying back to customers who tweet praise for UPS drivers.
You may be familiar with The UPS Store retail centers. There are over 4,600 of these independently owned locations providing shipping services. The UPS Store has a Facebook page and Twitter account. Additionally, UPS provides franchise owners instructional material to help them get set up on their own.
In terms of technologies and tools, Radian6 is their workhorse for monitoring social media and it’s supplemented with Google alerts and Twitter searches. UPS keeps track of how stories evolve and spread across social networks. They look at the frequency of topics, messages being shares and their sentiment during the timeline of relevance. It gives them an understanding of how to deal with situations as they occur and prepare for what might come down the road.
UPS started engaging with social media with the mission of providing information to help people with their shipping needs. They positioned themselves as a resource and not a marketing arm. For them, it’s about participating in the two-way conversations rather than broadcasting information. This gives them credibility with their audience so people are more receptive to their messages.
What do you think of UPS’s use of social media? I would love to hear your two cents.