Fortune 500 Series: How Intel is listening, engaging with its community

This Fortune 500 company has implemented significant social business programs ranging from integrated marketing to internal communications, and even engaging with its technical community.
Written by Jennifer Leggio, Contributor

Simply said, Intel is doing great stuff. Much like the other companies I have profiled in this series (Cisco, Office Max, Texas Instruments and Newell Rubbermaid), this Fortune 500 company has implemented significant social business programs ranging from integrated marketing to internal communications, and even engaging with its technical community. I spoke with Kari Aakre, Intel's director of consumer and social media inside the company's Global Communications Group. She has a huge responsibility, from corporate branding and product awareness, all leveraging social media. Since her role is global, it's critical that she work collaboratively with other social media practitioners throughout the huge company to make sure that the company's social media strategies not only map to corporate business objectives, but are ubiquitous.

Q. [Jennifer] At a high level, please tell me about the company's social media strategies.

A. [Kari] Intel's objectives and supporting strategies in social media are focused in three key areas. We want to drive conviction for Intel and preference for Intel products through social media. In order to do this, we actively make social media a part of our integrated marketing, PR and business strategy. But we also know that integration of social media into campaigns will not be successful if we aren't also enabling and empowering our employees to engage in these social media programs. From the infrastructure to the training for employees, to creating internal communities where employees can listen, share and respond with one another, we're making sure the support is there for employees to participate both inside and outside the Intel walls.

Finally, and perhaps most important is the monitoring or listening to what's being said about Intel and our industry, bringing feedback inside the company, and using the listening model to help us respond when and where appropriate. Of course there are areas or topics where it's sometimes not appropriate to engage in public discussions online, including some financial topics, legal matters, etc., but there are many places where our customers and consumers are talking and we can learn from them.

Q. When considering new social media strategies, what is your first move...To hire? To invest? To seek out market data?

A. Our first move is focused on seeking out market insights, listening and learning and then investing as needed, whether that is through budget allocation or people resources or some other form of investment. We've found that we have so many employees inside the company who are already very active in social media and bring a tremendous amount of experience and expertise to the table. We're tapping those people, as well.

Next: Social business economy and structure -->

Q. Has a social strategy been a larger or smaller priority with the economic shifts over the last six months?

A. I don't think the priority has shrunk or grown with the economic shifts. Sean Maloney, Intel's chief sales and marketing officer, has talked a lot in the past about moving a significant amount of Intel's advertising budget away from TV and radio to online. We've been active in social media now for the last few years and recognized the value early on. That said, there is certainly broader interest in social media strategy across the company given the state of the economy.

Q. Do you have specific team members dedicated to social media or is this integrated into your existing marketing structure?

A. There are specific employees dedicated to social media in many groups across Intel and the majority are integrated into existing teams, including in the marketing and PR groups. In mid-2008, we created a Social Media Center of Excellence in the corporate marketing group that focuses on helping the company appropriately adopt social media broadly.

Q. What has driven your adoption of social media - sales, customers, marketing trends?

A. Intel sells chips that go into many of the computers, mobile devices and other technology around the world. We don't sell direct to consumers, but certainly aim to build preference for technology with Intel inside. Social media is an excellent tool that lets us actively get feedback from our customers and partners, but also from the end users who purchase the products based on Intel chips. We can also directly engage, where this is not possible through other traditional forms of advertising and marketing. This is a valuable resource for any company and one of the primary drivers of our adoption of social media.

Certainly sales generation and conversion is a by product of the listening and engagement, but the focus has to start with listening.

Q. How do you measure the ROI of your social media programs? If you are using social media to drive leads, how are you driving and measuring?

A. This is an area that we continue to research and evaluate market data and insights on the best approach to measure ROI. Depending on how each group inside the company is using social media, there are a variety of ways to measure ROI, whether that is through buzz monitoring and analysis, comparing dollars saved by utilizing social tools, securing leads, etc. From our own internal research, we know that social media plays a significant role in the purchase process of products with Intel technology inside for both businesses and consumers, and we also know this is a critical space for engagement, but specifically measuring the impact and ROI is an ongoing quest.

Next: Case study, activity and ROI -->

Q. What is one example of a social media project gone right (with ROI if possible)?

Early in 2007 Intel's Web marketing organization recognized the trend of customer generated conversations and how they preferred to have conversations with others regarding information about Intel's products. With a flair for experimentation we decided to see what would happen if we hosted the conversations ourselves. And the results have amazed everyone and proven the experiment a success.

Intel launched the Open Port site in 2007 as a way to support our business customers and technical community. The community site now incorporates seven different sub communities where community members post blogs, host forum discussions, and post resources including wiki documents to engage with each other.

As of April of 2008 Intel was supporting 25% of the dialogue, with the community supporting 75%. In July 2008, an active technical expert began answering our Ask An Expert section of the site. He alone has responded to over 60 community questions.

Additional info:

  • Over 20 companies utilizing the community based model to activate their Intel technology (Intel vPro Technology) (high % in fortune 1000 rank).
  • 65% of the dialogue is answered by the community
  • Eco-System participation is rich (HP, Dell, Lenovo, Panasonic, Altiris, Landesk, Microsoft)
  • While we agree with the 90-9-1 participation mix, we are currently seeing 3% in the Activate participation bucket vs. 1% in Open Port

Q. How is your company using social media to drive productivity internally? Drive awareness? Communicate with partners and customers?

A. Here's an overview of some of the things Intel is actively doing through social media, both internally and externally.

Internal Collaboration: Intel has a robust community of employees who collaborate internally using social tools such as Intelpedia (internal Wikipedia site launched in 2005), internal blogs, and internal micro blogging tools that closely resemble Twitter. There are hundreds of blog posts each month, many garnering equal numbers of views and comments. Intel recently migrated its internal community infrastructure onto a platform that affords employees greater ability to collaborate through a tool that resembles an internal Facebook platform.

Infrastructure & Training:Last year, Intel created its external social media guidelines. The company also created a company-wide Social Media Center of Excellence that focuses on helping the company adopt social media broadly. This group created an extensive training program for employees on digital marketing, including social media.

Becoming a "Listening" Company: Intel is evolving an approach to engagement that includes an "Active Listening" framework to monitor and engage in online conversations related to the Intel brand, products and the broader technology industry.

Twitter: Intel has nearly 150 different Twitterers (groups & people who Tweet for Intel) and that number is growing every day. They're directly engaging with consumers, customers, developers, partners and others.

Communities:About 15 active communities (like Intel Software Network & Open Port) with devoted community managers who are active both on and off the site.

Intel Blogs: Launched a few years ago there are now there are over a dozen different Intel blogs featuring posts from Intel technology experts, executives, and Intel Fellows sharing their expertise and engaging with customers, partners and consumers.

External Collaboration: In mid-2008, Intel formed the Intel Insiders, a social media advisory team of a diverse group of social media and networking pioneers. The group helps advise Intel on how to better connect with online audiences interested in technology innovation. They're not paid, but Intel does provide them with a variety of products (some on loan, some to keep) to use and provide feedback on. We also bring them to key events where Intel is present.

Editorial standards