Getting the Most Out of Social Media w/ Alexander Luyken
Speaker 1: Uncaged Wisdom, Cheetah Digital's podcast for modern marketing.
Louise Hamer-Brown: I'm Louise Hamer- Brown and I'm really excited to be joined by Alexander today. So Alexander, tell us a little bit about your role at Deutsche Telekom.
Alexander: Hi Loiuse. My name is Alexander and I'm working at Deutsche Telekom in the communications department as a project manager. To be more detailed, it's a corporate communications department because there are multiple communications department like market communications as well, or HR communications. So I'm in the corporate communications department.
Louise Hamer-Brown: And is a quite large team or do you lead a team within that department?
Alexander: There are no real teams in this department because we have a new organization. We call it a pool organization and the project organization. So we don't have real bosses. We only have project managers and projects... Let's say project supporters or project employees. And I'm one of these project managers, especially focusing on HR communication projects.
Louise Hamer-Brown: So it's quite a flat company structure and quite an agile way of working?
Alexander: Really. Exactly. That's the point. We try to be more agile and that's why we went away from this classical and hierarchical department structure and team structure towards a more flexible project oriented structure. And this helps us a lot to be more agile, more faster, and also it is a good chance for an individual to develop further because it's very easy to get from one topic to another because there are no more team borders that prevent you from going from one topic to another.
Louise Hamer-Brown: Sounds like a great culture you have a Deutsche Telekom.
Alexander: I can highly recommend it. Yeah, I really enjoy working for Deutsche Telekom.
Louise Hamer-Brown: So for those who don't know Deutsche Telekom very well, can you tell us a little bit about the company and in which countries you operate in, for example?
Alexander: We are Europe's biggest telecommunications company. As Deutsche Telekom, we have a very strong European footprint, but with T- Mobile U. S., some people from the U.S. or many people from the U. S. might know it as a brand. We also have an increasing international and especially U. S. footprint. And we are very proud that we went up to the top 25 brands in the world this year. So our brand value increased a lot in the last year and also in the last years before. So we are very proud of that.
Louise Hamer-Brown: How long have you worked with Cheetah Digital and why did you choose to work with Cheetah Digital?
Alexander: Yeah, this is an interesting story. I think it started seven years ago and we started a collaboration or cooperation with Twitter, and we had an idea of creating social walls and we asked Twitter if they can recommend us somebody implementing this, and they recommended you, among one other but they also recommended you. And in then the end, yeah. We decided to go with Cheetah or in the past, this was Wayin.
Louise Hamer-Brown: Right? Yeah. So Wayin and Cheetah Digital and are now the same organization and that allows Cheetah Experiences to be integrated into all the other Cheetah Digital platforms, such as Cheetah Messaging, EDP and Cheetah Loyalty as well. So tell us a little bit why you chose Cheetah Experiences as your platform of choice.
Alexander: What we liked from the very first minute was the very high usability and that everybody could start a social wall without big knowledge. This was where Cheetah Experience or Wayin came from. And this was one of the key arguments where we said, okay, that's really simple to use as it look like Apple. Yeah. So that was a real wall effect. And within five minutes to build a social wall and it went fine, it has a very high performance, very nice usability. And that was, in the end, one of the key arguments and what we also have to add a very high functionality. Now let's say like filter elements, et cetera. So this was also very important for us not building up a cheap social wall that you can build for free or on some websites. There were a lot of configuration possibilities, but also these configuration possibilities were very easy to handle and to use.
Louise Hamer-Brown: So tell me a little bit about how it works then. So you're using social media to generate content, and then you're using Cheetah Experiences to curate and aggregate that content. And then that content is published on a social wall in multiple countries or locations. Is that right?
Alexander: Yeah, exactly. So the reason we wanted to do this or the underlying motivation was to bring the company nearer to the outside world. So we saw a lot of people engaging or talking about our company in social media. And on the other hand, we saw a lot of employees not being on social media yet. And so we decided to bring both worlds closer together and also by this, the voice of the customer closer to the employees of the company. So what we started is putting a screen in front of the canteen where everybody in this lunch break is going through, and to confront them with all the good, but also the negative feedback around the products and the company itself. And I think this was very eye- opening for a lot of people at the first time, being able to see so direct feedback on the work by customers, from customer to the employee. This was one of the big first steps. And the second step was, we thought, okay, now we managed the people to listen to what the people say, and another step we wanted also to people in terms of media knowledge, yeah, let's say like, not only passively using this media, the social media, but also actively using it. So that's why we invented the# telekomwall and thus allowing every employee to share something on social media which goes on the wall and everybody can see. And this was a very big motivator for many people to say like, oh, wow, that's a nice possibility. I can be part of this. Yeah. So many people decided to go on social media and to go on Twitter and to learn more about this medium. And this was very helpful for us.
Louise Hamer-Brown: So it's the visualization of customer feedback or, UGC for your employees to see, but also your employees to join that conversation using the hashtag, is that right?
Alexander: Exactly. Another target group was the management, because we could use this also as a real time information instrument towards the management. Like having a look at when a new campaign is starting, what are the reactions on the campaign? What are the real time reactions in this second on this campaign? This was also very eye- opening for the management because they saw they are not looking on statistics of the last day or the last week. They're looking at the real time things that are happening right now in this second on social media. And this was also very powerful, I think.
Louise Hamer-Brown: So it's Cheetah Experiences integrated just with social media and the video wall, or are there integrations anywhere else within your marketing techs deck?
Alexander: So what we have done, we have created a website where everybody can access the social wall and can also select on what he wants to see if he wants to see the Telekom owned channels, the content, if he wants to see the outside world content, or if he wants to see especially the Telekom wall content or the hashtags that the company is promoting or using internally and externally. And next to this website, you have already mentioned it, we have set up several physical display walls in all, or in many offices at Deutsche Telekom. At the moment, I think there are over 150 locations or 150 screens in different locations, European wide, where we are placing all this content and we're adding some more information, so we are changing it by the time and adding some new campaigns or new TV advertisements to show all the people that everything we think every employee should know about. So this is our corporate TV, let's say.
Louise Hamer-Brown: You're able to integrate all your campaigns through the medium of experiences in the Cheetah world. And so every campaign that goes live is integrated with this mechanic.
Alexander: Yes, exactly. On the one hand via the social media channels on the other hand, because we switched the view to the advertisements, et cetera, and showing them in full screen.
Louise Hamer-Brown: Well, tell me a little bit about the LOVE MAGENTA campaign.
Alexander: Oh, yes. I love the LOVE MAGENTA campaign. This is a campaign that is... This had started to be as the target group was employees, but more and more we realize that it's not only targeted to employees, but also too, as an employer branding campaign. It works like an employer branding campaign because what we wanted to do is invite the people to share positive stories about their working life and about their love for our brand and especially employees. And this had a big impact and a lot of people are using this hashtag. There are thousands of postings on Twitter, on Instagram. This has gone really big. And what I also personally liked that it had an international impact. So we could unite the different divisions of Deutsche Telekom with this hashtag. So everybody's using that hashtag. So we're also using others. So that's always the case, but everybody is using especially this hashtag to share positive feelings, emotions, and stories on our brand. And that's really nice to see. For one, some people it's just a magenta flower on the street, like taking a picture of it, posting it and saying, oh, LOVE MAGENTA, I love that color. I love my company. And for others, it's something more complex, like telling a little more detailed stories about, for example, they were wearing magenta sneakers on their holidays and vacation, and they were on a cruise ship and they saw another guy on this cruise ship also wearing magenta sneakers. And they met each other and said, okay, you are also an employee, that's nice, where you are working, et cetera. So they became friends there and they took a picture and put that on social media. And that's a nice story how everything can be connected and how you can make people also feel being part of something bigger. And just that's great to see.
Louise Hamer-Brown: And you also have Telekom Ambassadors campaign as well?
Alexander: Yes. That's also connected somehow because we realized that when we set up the Cheetah social wall, that there are special people having a lot of fun sharing and posting content on this wall. And we realized that the social wall was kind of a recruiting instrument for corporate influencers. And we call these corporate influencers Telekom ambassadors, because they are ambassadors of our company, because I personally don't like so much the term influencer, because it sounds like somebody is doing something for money, or he wants to influence somebody negatively, but that's not the case. These people, these ambassadors are doing this on their free time. They don't get any additional money for that. They just do it for fun and because they believe in it. And that's so special about it because it's authentic content. The people create these content because they deeply believe that this company is having great products. And they only post about the things that they really believe in and that they really support. And I think that's very special. The postings are not perfect. Yeah. They are user generated and with the user generated content it's per definition, not 100% perfect, but I think that's what makes it so special. It's not the 100% perfect TV advertisement, which shows a perfect world with perfect models or something. It shows the authentic picture of employees working for a company. And I think that makes a company human and especially for big companies that's very important to show also a human face of this organization.
Louise Hamer-Brown: If you have a good employee experience and employee journey, then you will have much better customer experience as a result. Because if the culture of that company is very positive and the employee engages well with the company, then they're going to engage well with their customers too, and transfer some of that enthusiasm and energy for the company to the customer base. Have you seen any of that sort of coming to life?
Alexander: That's what I truly believe in. And I have seen so many nice examples. I can give you one example. Another colleague was walking around with a magenta, a backpack, and a Telekom logo on it. And an old lady saw this on the street and she was talking to my colleague saying," Hey lady, please stop. I see you are working for Deutsche Telekom. That's nice. I have a problem. Can you maybe help me with my contract? I want to change something and I don't know how to do it." And my colleagues said," Yes, sure. I can help you. Give me your information. I will help you." And that's what she did. And this old lady was so thankful for that. And this is one of many examples where people show their positive attitude towards their employer to the outside world, they were recognized by others. And they get into contact, into touch with others, with customers. And that's where the magic happens. That's where the personal exchange from human to human creates a real authentic experience with the brand. The more virtual the world becomes, it's also important to have a virtual presence, not only walking on the street in magenta sneakers, which is also good, and to have real conversations with people, but the same happens also on social media. Every day I get regular into contact with customers and they say," Oh, I saw you are working for Deutsche Telekom, can you help me in this? Can you help me in that?" And I try to help them. And I think that's very important in today's times.
Louise Hamer-Brown: Customer satisfaction, it kind of measures success for these kinds of initiatives and programs that you're running?
Alexander: It is, but it is very difficult to measure. All this personal events. I'm personally not walking after these people that I have made happy, and I'm not sending them a questionnaire. Yeah. Like proving how satisfied they are. I know they're satisfied. Every day, here down in the street there is a supermarket and the lady operating the small supermarket, she had a problem, and she also saw that I'm working for Deutsche Telekom. And since I helped her, she always smiles the whole face when I enter this supermarket. How do you want to measure that? It's very difficult. Now, so that's why I believe in this concept and at the same time, I know it's very difficult to really measure the overall effects. But I believe the more people behaving in this way and living this kind of culture, of corporate culture and brand culture, the better it is for our company.
Louise Hamer-Brown: If you were tracking sentiment on social media, you would probably see quite a big increase, I mean, improved sentiment value.
Alexander: That's exactly what we do. And we have observed in the last years and continuous increase in the sentiment, or let's say improvement in the sentiment. It's one argument that we are on the right way, but I'm not saying that the ambassadors are doing this alone. It's one puzzle piece in a big story of a good brand, good customer service, good products, a good CEO that is also a role model in social media. But together with all these puzzle pieces, we are able to put that into a very positive direction.
Louise Hamer-Brown: Are there any sort of surprises or anything, any aha! moments from this activity, anything that you hadn't expected?
Alexander: Yes. There's one story that always comes into my mind. It has to do with events. Because this was also kind of surprise. We try to use Cheetah Experiences for internal events as a, let's say, as a playing feature on the Christmas party. We set up a social wall, we put it in the room. But I have to say the Christmas party of Deutsche Telekom contains between 5,000 and 10, 000 employees when it's not corona times. So it's a very big Christmas party. When you imagine 10,000 people in one place having a Christmas party. So what we did, we put a very big screen on it. I put the social wall on it and we said," Hey, share nice moments of your evening tonight on this social wall." And people started sharing. Yeah. We told them, don't show it when you drink or do something like that. That's not nice. We don't want to see that. But when you have a nice moment together with your colleagues, then please share those pictures, put them on social media and on the social wall. And that's what the people did. And many people feared like, oh, this is going to be a real disaster. The people will drink, they will post some really not nice content, let's say, yeah, but this did not happen. The people posted so nice content and with all this kind of content from all the people that we got into the Twitter charts in the top...
Louise Hamer-Brown: Wow.
Alexander: ...the hashtag charts, let's say...
Louise Hamer-Brown: You're are trending now. Yeah.
Alexander: ...trending topics. Yeah. And this was a special moment because I was, in this time, in the back office, let's say checking on the Cheetah tool if the postings are okay or not, because if they are not, I will take them down, but there was no...
Louise Hamer-Brown: No moderation.
Alexander: ...not even one I had to take down. Yeah.
Louise Hamer-Brown: Wow.
Alexander: This was a very positive experience. And at the same time I saw all this content coming in and this was a special moment for me, seeing that the people like this idea so much and they celebrate that, seeing their picture on this big social screen or on this big screen, this was a really nice moment. And it has become kind of a standard for the Christmas parties, that this screen is there.
Louise Hamer-Brown: One last thing. What piece of advice would you give to someone in your position who's looking to do something similar?
Alexander: One thing that you should consider is that social walls are not only like setting up a website and letting content float in. It has so much more potential of supporting your corporate influencer initiative or supporting events or supporting your management also as giving insights. So please when you think about a tool like this, think a little broader and think a little bigger about what it all can support you, because there is a lot of things where it can help you.
Louise Hamer-Brown: Thank you so much, Alexander. It's been an absolute pleasure to speak to you today. And I feel like I've learned a lot about what it's like to work for Deutsche Telekom, and it sounds like a great place to be. So thank you for being a Cheetah Digital client, and thank you for your time today.
Alexander: Thank you Louise.
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On this week’s episode, we have Alexander Luyken of Deutsche Telekom to talk to us about how he uses social media to its full potential! You'll get to hear how Alexander made company relevant content from social networks visible to employees who are not active in those social networks, to help bring the voice of the customer closer to the employees. Tune in to listen to Alexander's insight, including how the #Telekomwall, built using Cheetah Experiences, helped promote internal social networking by sharing knowledge and positive attitudes towards the company!