Craig Hepburn is Global Director of Digital and Social Media at Nokia, responsible for Nokia’s Agora, Nokia Connects and Switch Hub projects among others. He spoke to CMO.com Europe recently, and the first thing I asked him was what the culture around digital and social media was like at Nokia when he joined in 2010.
Hepburn: I spoke to the leadership at the time and they felt social media and digital were going to save them. They felt they had amazing fans, people that loved the products; they just needed to get that out there and amplify it. But there was definitely this feeling that social media’s cheap, easy and free, and if you can get enough fans and likes that will change your brand marketing. And that was absolutely never going to happen.
So we needed to change the perception of social media within the business. We had to change the mindset of the employees before we could change the mindset of the consumers. I’d be explaining things in meetings and you could see people didn’t get it. Employees and our leadership were saying the words “social media” but they didn’t really understand what that meant, because they didn’t want to come across as Luddites. So we had to give people an opportunity to say: “I don’t really get what we’re doing.”
One of the first projects was this social workplace environment. We started getting our employees to engage in our channels and start to share things internally.
CMO.com: What sort of level are you talking about within the business?
Hepburn: People who’d been in Nokia a long time, aged 35 up. They’d missed that generation of Facebook. They’d heard about it, but they didn’t really understand how our consumers were using it.
I was trying to explain that we needed to connect up our content; social, online, above-the-line, below-the-line. Prior to that it was all TV first, then everything else, and at the end we would be given a brief. I’d be told “we’ve come up with a whole plan, we know how we’re launching it, here’s all the assets and oh by the way can you stick a bit of social media on the end of it?” like a plaster, and I’d get more and more frustrated.
CMO.com: What was the turning point?
Hepburn: In the middle of 2011 there was this big moment. Our then-CEO Stephen Elop had taken the view that we needed a challenger mindset. That provided our digital and social team an opportunity, it really provided us permission to create Agora, which was a way to manifest to the company what our fans and customers were saying about our business every day. And to put that information on massive screens all over the company, unfiltered and in real-time.
Agora really opened things up. It highlighted that we were spending millions of pounds creating content, however customers were creating something far more compelling and genuine. Suddenly the ad guys are going, that’s an amazing bit of content, why don’t we use that in our next ads? Or, why don’t we start with digital? It showed that we no longer needed to create all the content ourselves, we could actually start to build advocacy. All of a sudden briefs were coming to us earlier. We’d be involved in concepting ideas for new campaigns at a much earlier stage in the campaign and product proposition.
On the other hand there was a bit of, be careful what you wish for, because we became overwhelmed. People would skip the marketing creation process and come straight to us. It was too social overload, too much digital, so we had to realign that a little and really work with the marketing creation team to think about digital and social as a core focus for the campaign, putting our core advocates and fans at the centre of our campaigns.
CMO.com: What was the next step?
Hepburn: The next big evolution was the advocacy play. My team were starting to find advocates in social media, not just fans. In Facebook and Twitter, 5% of all our followers drive the biggest influence, so we needed to identify those people. Nokia Connects was about finding our biggest advocates and pulling them into a programme. We didn’t pay them, there were no incentives, we just knew they loved tech and they were always wanting to trial the latest devices. So we’d send them phones for two weeks trial, and we built up this massive social media advocacy programme that now operates in four key markets and has more than 20,000 core Nokia advocates.
CMO.com: How were you finding these people?
Hepburn: To begin with we used EngageSciences. Our social agency 1000heads also found advocates through a word-of-mouth algorithm. But I also met people in the street who loved Nokia. We add them to our Nokia Connects program and over time we developed a strong base. People started to email us, connect with us over Twitter and Facebook requesting trials and offering to create compelling content on our behalf.
We built this community, and we started setting challenges. My social media team came up with ideas for example: who can bake a cake this weekend in the shape of a phone? Or who can come up with the craziest way that your door might look like a phone? But we gave the community a channel to amplify their content, which was why they did it. Suddenly we found that the most influential content was coming from our fans. Then, over time, as we created the new advertising strategy, we invited our fans and advocates to be part of our above-the-line ads through the #Switch campaign.
That led to the Nokia Switch Hub. This was the first time that Nokia had put a hashtag in its above-the-line advertising, and we found fans and non-fans were using it to have a conversation about Lumia. Then harnessing our social management platform, EngageSciences, we were able to create a social content hub in our Nokia.com site called the #Switch hub, which was a page of curated social content. Obviously we’d filter for bad language and anything inappropriate, we were very transparent and we published all the constructive comments both positive and negative. It's extremely important to us that we are open, genuine and provide an unfiltered view of consumer responses. The majority of the consumers who #Switched to Lumia were very happy with their decision. We know that in social consumers can influence purchase decisions from people they know but also other consumers they don’t. They can also sense companies who varnish their presence with only the positive content.
CMO.com: How much of a problem was it getting that idea through?
Hepburn: The hashtag on the ad was the biggest challenge. Above-the-line isn’t dead, but I believe when you do it without any call to action, it’s pointless. If it makes me engage, then I can have a follow-up relationship. It’s just about connecting it to everything else. Develop integrated marketing that joins up the full consumer experience of your marketing; that’s when you see the best responses and build stronger relationships with your core customers.
So Switch Hub started to reflect our openness, honesty and humility, but at the same time still showed we’re proud of our products. The way that we did it was by saying, we don’t need to tell people how good we are, we already have an amazing base of fans and advocates. And Switch Hub was interesting because it really did increase high-quality engagements on our site.
There’s always a balance in content. I love great ideas, I love great ads, but we can balance that by opening up the opportunity of advertising engagement to not just be about big agency networks and spending fortunes on high-end production. Stuff can be done that’s more engaging, more exciting and more real-time, in a completely different way.
For example, I’d seen lots of crowd-sourcing solutions, and they were never really good. But then I came across TalentHouse and the database they’d developed of amazing creatives who offer their services to brands and companies via content challenges. So it's now possible to harness professionally-created content outside of going to creative agencies for all your content needs. They create content and share it with their own networks, so you’re building new brand advocates on the fly and you’re getting the content shared and evaluated before you even decided to use it.
CMO.com: How has all this changed the way Nokia’s department is organised?
Hepburn: It’s not massively changed the structure, but it has fundamentally changed the way we work. Before, we were very siloed and we’ve put a huge amount of effort into getting our teams to collaborate on projects, so these virtual teams are coming together and creating new ways of doing things; for example the 2InstaWithLove campaign, where we built an app to highlight the fact we didn’t have an app.
One of the biggest apps that we’ve lacked in Windows phone is Instagram, so we wanted to show Instagram that there was a huge, passionate community who really wanted their app on Windows Phone. I suggested we build an app which is like a mock-up Instagram app where you take a photo, it creates a Polaroid, it then puts a little hashtag, 2InstaWithLove, users then share it on twitter to Instagram saying, hi Instagram, from Windows phone, we love you, hope you can build our app soon.
It took three months to get approvals and went right to the top, because the problem was that we didn’t want to highlight the fact we don’t have Instagram. But my view was the people who care know we don’t have it anyway. On the day it launched, it was the fastest downloaded app in the history of Windows phone. It exceeded our expectations tenfold and Instagram is now available on Windows Phone marketplace.
CMO.com: How would you summarise your new approach?
Hepburn: Marketing’s no longer just about the big idea. It’s about the big idea plus how it resonates, how it fits with your users, how it creates advocates; all the mechanics of making that content work both for brands but also for your consumers. Putting your fans, advocates and consumers at the centre of your marketing approach can only be a good thing. Don’t try to own the conversation; be part of it and add value.
The interesting thing, going forward, is that we’re always on. The campaign-led stuff is never going to go away, but being able to respond to events and opportunities in real time is really powerful, and companies that are able to do that more often will be the ones that’ll succeed.