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Ask the Insider: Gary Spangler, e-marketing manager, DuPont

Gary Spangler, e-marketing manager at DuPont, recently stepped into a new role at DuPont that sharpens his focus on social media marketing. He describes the role as part educating and part cheerleading. He also provides oversight and governance. Spangler shared his thoughts on social media marketing, integrating social media with other media channels and why he doesn’t like the word “advertising.

Q. What is DuPont’s approach to social media?

A. We originally launched a series of videos in 2007 called DuPont Science Stories. For that effort, we hired Jeff Jarvis, a well-known blogger, to advise the project so that when we promoted through blogs we did it in a way that was respectful to the audience. We also relied on the Word Of Mouth Marketing Association’s (WOMMA) code of ethics, which guided our first social media marketing policy.

The neat thing about DuPont Science Stories was that the three national finalists for OMMA’s best social media marketing campaign were Frito Lay, Adidas and DuPont. Would you have ever expected that DuPont would be a national finalist against two consumer brands for social media?

Q. How do businesses successfully engage in social media marketing?

A. The foundation of social media marketing is transparency, honesty and saying who you really are. It is my view that bloggers that are truly interested in science topics are happy to have DuPont involved. If you are thoughtful about he communities you engage with, and if DuPont’s contributions are relevant to the discussions, then it will work. You need to be careful not to oversell, and in some cases, not sell at all.

If we are selling, we are transparent about it. We say, “we have this new thing and want to tell you about it.” I don’t really like the word “advertising” when it relates to social media marketing. It’s really more about invitations. We create invitations to audiences. They raise their hands to hear more and volunteer to opt in. In the social media space, we need to move away from advertising and towards invitations.

Q. How much of your job is change management?

A. In DuPont, what works best is creating a well-defined project of some limited scope that can be piloted online. If you then report performance, you can get it sold into the company and change can occur. The “DuPont Science Stories” video campaign was a first foray into social media marketing through video. Its success then paved the way for the creation of a YouTube channel for DuPont. We realized that we could really leverage the channel.

There are so many different stakeholders: e-marketing, marketing communications, business marketing and even specific company regions. Eventually you find someone who holds budget and is willing to test social media. From here, I provide a proposal, become the project manager and lead the initiative. It’s about testing, measuring and socializing across peers and the business.

It’s also about integration. I don’t think of social media apart from search and e-mail. It is complementary. From a business standpoint, you need to listen to what people are saying across social media and let those conversations inform your web content and search terms. This then enables you to have relevant conversations with you customers.

Q. What are you most excited about testing in 2010?

A. I am excited about increasing adoption of social media marketing to grow share of voice for DuPont. When I speak to audiences in DuPont, I use examples of how our products are being talked about. There are conversations occurring all the time about DuPont, and the rhetorical question is, “Are we comfortable not being a part of this conversation?” The answer is no. By listening, we find that DuPont has an opportunity to increase share of voice by being part of the conversation.

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