Yamaha Sled Talk was one of the first corporate blogs in Canada. Started 2 years ago by Chris Reid, National Manager, Product Planning and Research, Yamaha Motor Canada and their agency, Social Media Group, Yamaha Sled Talk has grown into an active community of snowmobile enthusiasts receiving approximately 1400 visits and 10-20 comments each week. We chatted with Chris about Yamaha Sled Talk's success and his upcoming presentation at the CMA National Convention.
OD: What has been the biggest surprise with Yamaha Sled Talk over the last 2 years?
I think it's important to understand the concerns we faced when proposing a corporate blog, mostly with regards to risk management associated with the nature of our business.
For some, I think the simple fact that we have not been overwhelmed by customer relations issues and are still on line with Sled Talk has come as a rather large surprise.
For me personally, it has been the genuine enthusiasm and support shown for what we are doing by our customer subscribers.
OD: How do you measure success of the blog? How do you communicate that success up and down the line?
I rely on analytics to generate the metrics which are highlighted in our mid-term planning and presentations. Just as importantly, I monitor our comments closely, responding to many, sending links to our marketing people to the appropriate content with my own interpretations.
Our Google ranking has shown continuous strength with our SEO results providing a good measurable as well.
I also monitor targeted user group forums and reference any links where Sled Talk is being cited within the conversation. I seldom speak to the success of Sled Talk outside of our management team with the selfish notion of not attracting our competitors into a similar arena. (So far… so good! 😉 )
OD: What were the pros and cons of working with an outside agency on the blog?
I believe without the assistance of SMG we most likely would have not launched Sled Talk and if we had, it is questionable as to how long we would have survived. They (Maggie) put forth a lot of effort to scope our business model and thoroughly understand the risks and hurdles both real and perceived.
Having a credible third party present the pros and cons to senior management of something as radical and forward thinking (for our industry) as Sled Talk was a critical step in winning the required support to move ahead with the project.
Also the initial guidance for the application, etiquette and execution were all provided by SMG which proved extremely valuable. Cons? hmmmmm can't really think of any.
OD: Do you see the conversation started on Yamaha Sled Talk expanding to other platforms? Facebook? Twitter?
I do believe we will enter more social arenas looking forward, starting with our own web-site www.yamaha-motor.ca, which is on the radar for a complete overhaul. Sled Talk has proven that we can live and grow in this space. Our challenge will be in deciding just how and when to take the next steps.
OD: What advice do you have for other companies who are thinking of starting a blog?
First of all, do the homework. There are several good books on the subject and many evangelists abound on line.
It is critical to have the right staff involved to provide good content on an ongoing basis. Many 'purists' may not agree with my next statement but it is important for the company to have a clear HR policy and vision with regards to social media and their employees, this is to protect both. Logically, this formal 'rules of engagement' will vary depending on the company and products offered.
Finally, if the marketing department does not have someone with the professional background and experience, spend the money to enlist a good agency to at least get you started.
6. Can you give us a sneak peek of something from your upcoming talk at the CMA?
I just did!
Chris Reid and Social Media Group's Maggie Fox will be presenting Getting Naked: Yamaha's Conversation with their consumers at the CMA National Convention at the end of April.