Leveraging Your Company’s Internal Power for Good Social

Sonny Gill, US Cellular

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Sonny Gill, US Cellular

Sonny Gill, U.S. Cellular @sonnygill

Sonny Gill, Social Media Manager at U.S. Cellular, joins the Social Pros Podcast this week to discuss social media strategy on the regional level, competing with the big dogs, and maintaining a level of excellent customer service using social and traditional strategies side by side.

Read on for some of the highlights and tweetable moments, or listen to the full podcast.

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Tweetable Moments

“Social has definitely become a staple in our customer service.” -@sonnygill (tweet this)

“I shake my head at this year’s SuperBowl yet again because branding only goes so far.” -@jkrohrs (tweet this)

Call Someone Who Cares

U.S. Cellular on Social Pros

Jeff kicks off the show this week asking Sonny about U.S. Cellular’s “Say Hello to Better” tagline, wondering about how they run their customer service channels: does social media get priority over calls/emails, or vice versa?

Sonny explains that they utilize all channels equally, and sometimes their Facebook page becomes more of a forum, where customers are answering questions for each other. As U.S. Cellular integrates their social media and customer service platforms, they’re heading down that road of social being a skill rather than a job.

U.S. Cellular has a YouTube program called “Call Someone Who Cares,” which is a series of videos they made in response to people’s tweets complaining about other providers. The videos are cute and clever, and Sonny points out that all the singers in the videos are actual U.S. Cellular employees. They set up an internal portal where they could screen employees in American Idol style auditions, and they did a great job of finding some real talent within the company. This is a true example of empowering your employees to be brand advocates.

Social Media Stat of the Week: 100+ SuperBowl commercials, 0 Twitter handles

Jeff analyzes the SuperBowl XLVII commercials, and of the 83 non-CBs, non-NFL commercials that aired during the SuperBowl, only 6% included a Twitter icon, and not one of them included a Twitter handle. In an age where social TV is on the rise, this is more than a little shocking to our “Marketers from Mars“.

Jay and Jeff are very disappointed, pointing out that these advertisers missed an opportunity to have an on-going engagement with their audiences after the last whistle. And yes, Oreo jumped on the blackout with their clever “dunk in the dark” advertisement, but there was still a surprising lack of calls to action. With the exception of Axe (“Enter before midnight for your chance to go to space”), there were no timed calls to action, which we’ve learned from email marketing are the most effective.

Holy Social!

Turbo Tax has been going after H&R Block pretty aggressively with their commercials, insinuating that a trained tax professional who spends the rest of the year as a retail worker or a plumber is unqualified.


In response, H&R Block started a Twitter campaign, #IamHRBlock. Many of their 90,000 tax professionals across the country are tweeting their photos and their experience with the hashtag. H&R Block has mobilized and empowered their national employee base to stand up for themselves and make their voices heard on social media. Zena says, “It’s a really top-shelf way to go about responding to a fairly disparaging campaign.”

Social is about people, not logos. H&R Block is now rolling this campaign out to traditional media. CEO Bill Cobb wrote an open letter to newspapers nationwide, in which he encourages people to follow the hashtag on Twitter and see for themselves the credentials of his employees. It’s a creative mix of traditional and social in a campaign that has already been quite successful.

Social Pros Shoutouts

Sonny: One of them is Brian Kotlyar at Dachis Group. He really thinks outside of the box. He’s able to get down to the problem that you’re company is having, or kind of solve for a strategic or creative challenge that an organization may be having.

Something unique about him is he’s a very young kid, actually, and yet he’s able to talk with executives of our organization and be able to talk with them eloquently. He’s able to convey what social means or what campaign that we’re working on really means for the organization. He goes under the radar in terms of being someone who is very strong and knowledgeable in the social business arena and someone – even though I may be older than him – I definitely look up to him in terms of a colleague and a professional.

We’ll also give a shout out to my colleague Sharif Renno. I’ve worked with him since starting at U.S. Cellular a year and three months ago. He’s just a really fun, personable guy. I think what’s really unique about him from a social standpoint is, he used to work on the retail side for U.S. Cellular.

He was one of those mavericks, I guess you could say that was really out there just engaging in social via his personal Twitter account and just reaching out to folks that are in his community. He really showed our leadership the importance in how you can leverage social, not just online but offline. His sales numbers increased a lot from the activity that he was doing online and offline. That really sparked something for our leadership and our organization.

See you next week!

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