How the USPS Built a Social Media Program that Combines Content and Customer Service

How the USPS Built a Social Media Program that Combines Content and Customer Service

Nicholas Sucich, the Executive Producer of Digital Communications at USPS, joins the Social Pros Podcast to discuss how social can bring you closer to your customers.

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Full Episode Details

Sell social up the companyHow the USPS Built a Social Media Program that Combines Content and Customer Service

Customer service is the bloodline of most businesses. And, the rise of social media has enabled brands to pursue a direct connection with their customers. However, a lot of the time, it’s easier said than done.

Working for a 600,000-employee federal agency is far from being the most fertile ground for social media communication.  As a result, this is the challenge that Nicholas Sucich, the Executive Manager of Digital Communications at USPS faces on a daily basis. People are sending less mail these days and, in many ways, social media is to blame.

So, how can you make social an integral part of your digital communication strategy when there are literally thousands of players and not everyone remembers you’re all on the same team? It starts with getting social media approved in your organization and to do that, you need to get a seat at the table and sell social to your corporate leadership.

 

In This Episode:

  • 05:23 – How to use social media as a customer service outlet
  • 07:31 – How to use data and insights to improve social listening
  • 10:20 – How to manage social communications at scale
  • 16:23 – Why you should establish social media protocols for employees
  • 19:40 – How to use social media as a recruiting tool
  • 24:46 – How to prepare and plan for crisis communications on social
  • 34:07 – How social media compares to traditional forms of broadcasting

 

Quotes From This Episode:

“If there’s something out there that’s missing, people will tell you and if you’re not taking action against that intelligence, you’re making a big mistake and not paying attention.” 

“Social media is really an integral part of serving the customer well.”

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Episode Transcript

  • Nick Sucich

    You have to continue to be a salesperson for the social business, right? For most companies and most executives who are going to fund your programs, right? They have to be able to feel like they’re getting a great value for what they do. For people that are trying to sell us to an organization, you need to get a seat at the table.

  • Jay Baer

    Adam Brown, our special guest this week is Nick Sucich from the United States Postal Service and as he said just there, and talks about a lot in this episode, you guys think you’ve got problems getting social media approved in your organization. Imagine working for a 600,000 employee federal agency which isn’t exactly the most fertile ground naturally for social media communication. But Nick has done a remarkable job.

  • Adam Brown

    He really has. One of the things I note about this episode is the level of scale of everything that Nick and his team are doing, and especially in and around getting your corporate leadership to understand and value social. Here you have a situation where social media, in some ways, is a bit of a competitor to the US Postal Service. People sending less pieces of mail, but corporate realizes the importance of this for marketing, for issues crisis communications, for promotion enough that as they pivot their business social is an integral part of it. And as Nick says, he had a seat at a table during all these big decisions.

  • Jay Baer

    Yeah, they’re doing some great things in social as you here in this episode across the entirety of the spectrum. I’m Jay Baer from Convince & Convert. He’s Adam Brown from Salesforce Marketing Cloud. This is Social Pros. Our guest this week as mentioned, Nick Sucich from United States Postal Service. Stay with us for a super interesting episode. Nick actually gave us, I don’t know, four or five, six tips at the end of the show. We always ask every guest as you know, Social Pros listeners, what one tip would they give somebody looking to become a social pro, and Nick served up like six. That was like drop the microphone so good. Make sure you stay with us until the very end of the show for that. It’s worth the wait, trust me.

  • Jay Baer

    Also worth the wait is listening to our sponsors for this week, we love them dearly, including Salesforce Marketing Cloud who have a terrific piece of research called The Salesforce State of Marketing Report. This is the fifth edition, I think, fourth or fifth edition of that report. Salesforce interviewed 4,000 marketers from around the world and asked them what’s really important to them. We talk about AI, it’s impact on marketing, the impact of customer experience on marketing, how those kinds of things are blending. How the role of social media is changing a lot of organizations, we certainly talked about that in this episode.

  • Jay Baer

    Make sure you download that report, it won’t cost you anything. Salesforce will give it to you for free, which is very kind. If you go to Bit.ly/jaysays. B-I-T-.-L-Y-/-J-A-Y-S-A-Y-S. Bit.ly/jaysays, you can grab that. Also this week the show is brought to you by our pals at Emma. Terrific email service provider out of Nashville, Tennessee. Emma helps you create pretty emails, effective emails, and emails that get better over time. They’ve got all the tools and technology that most email service providers have. They can do your marketing automation, and your testing, and your nurture and all those kinds of things that are important. But what I like best about Emma, and why they’re a treasured sponsor here are the show is that they’re real people and you can actually get them on the phone.

  • Jay Baer

    Because sometimes if you’re trying to take your email to the next level, you need some help, right? You need it like, “Hey, how does this work exactly?” It’s not just all DIY, click here and we’ll get back to you with a form. You can actually communicate with a real human being who knows a lot about email and make your program better. They’re super great people, and I think living in Nashville doesn’t hurt in that regard because there’s booze, there’s music, and there’s hockey. It’s all pretty great down there. Find out why I like Emma so much. Go to myemma.com/jayisawesome, myemma.com/jayisawesome, to learn more about how Emma can make your email program better. Let’s get right into it, this week Nick Sucich who runs digital for the United States Postal Service this week on the Social Pros podcast. Thanks for being here.

  • Jay Baer

    Nick Sucich from USPS welcome to the Social Pros podcast. Now Nick, the thing about the United States Postal Service is, it is unlike maybe anybody we’ve ever had on the show, Adam. It is truly everywhere. There is no availability issues, it’s pretty much all the places that you can be. Nick, can you contextualize that for our listeners? I just think it would be interesting to give people a sense of just how big it is.

  • Nick Sucich

    It’s big in the sense that it’s in everywhere, every place that you look. With 30,000 plus offices, 145 billion pieces of mail, 157 million addresses that we deliver to, and it continues to expand every year, we’re everywhere, right? We’re in our territories, we’re in all the contiguous States, we’re in Hawaii, Alaska. You name it, we’re there. You look out the window Adam, in the background, you’ll probably see a truck go by at some point during the day.

  • Adam Brown

    You’re right.

  • Nick Sucich

    Our iconic brand, blue boxes everywhere you see them, the trucks that we have in the streets, we’re just… It’s big. It’s sometimes overwhelming when you think about it.

  • Jay Baer

    Well, a lot of times on this show we talk about, how do we use social media to get customers? Everybody is a customer of you guys, at least in one form or fashion. Obviously there’s other options out there for some forms of delivery, but you have a pretty strong foothold in the market I would say. I guess what I’m interested in is, do you think about social then not only as potentially a product description vehicle, but also a customer service outlet?

  • Nick Sucich

    We look at really social media in a couple of different ways, right? We look at it to promote the brand products and services, stamps. We also look at it as a customer service vehicle. We pride ourselves in great customer service and we found social media is really an integral part of serving the customer well. While we have care centers, traditional phone service, email, chat, and so forth. Social media, for those customers who prefer to come in on that platform, is something we recognized early and began back in 2014 with some pilots and social customer response, which we call, which is the care aspect of our social program. We found, very quickly, that people were adapting to this.

  • Nick Sucich

    Being everywhere, we just alluded to the fact that we’re everywhere, so that means we have a pretty big audience coming at us on social. We deal with anywhere from 15,000 inbound posts per week up to mid-twenties during our peak season. It’s big. We also look at the other piece of our business, which is our business intelligence. Understanding what the conversation is about postal. As you can imagine, being everywhere, there is a lot of information to digest but that helps us build a better business and deliver better customer experience.

  • Jay Baer

    Let me ask you about the social insights for a second then I’ll pass it to Adam, I’m sure he’s got a lot of questions on the social care side as well. You have tremendous social listening capabilities and it’s a big part of your program is social listening to the voice of the customer through social commentary. Because you’re everywhere and you have tens of thousands of offices, how do you pull insights out of that very, very large amount of data, and how is that distributed in the organization? Are there summary reports you say, “All right, here’s the sentiment if you will, and then here are some key things you might want to think about. It’s just so much conversation. It’s really interesting to me how you actually parse that and make it actionable in the organization.

  • Nick Sucich

    You’re actually right. There is a lot of information and we parse this out on a daily basis. We do a very… Everyday, approximately between one and 3:00 PM, we come out with a daily report. That daily report is a summary of all the conversations going on that are relevant to us, mostly conversations that are coming in on our own handles, but also what’s going on in the other social space. That includes competitors, that includes unions and associations, that includes what the public is saying even as far as private citizens, even with small followings, we pay attention to that.

  • Nick Sucich

    The intelligence group also looks at traditional media and it also breaks that down by area in the postal service. The public doesn’t really know this, but the postal service is broken up into seven areas throughout the country, and that’s how we disseminate, our management of mail throughout the country. We break down conversations by area also. We have a five person team that does these stats every morning at seven o’clock and runs until about seven o’clock at night. Just disseminating that information. We put this out every day between one and three.

  • Nick Sucich

    It’s a fairly lengthy type of document, but everybody uses it for very different needs, whether it’s the operations group, human resources, it could be our postal inspection service, our law enforcement arm. There’s lots of different people that use it for different things. And even though the report is fairly lengthy, it doesn’t… not everybody’s looking for the same things. They’re not perusing the entire thing, they may look at just their own piece. That goes out. Then there’s an abridged version of that that goes to our executive leadership team, including the postmaster general who really just wants the top line things just to be abreast of what’s going on a daily basis.

  • Adam Brown

    Nick, you mentioned some mind boggling statistics, billions of pieces of mail, millions of addresses that you deliver to, and 15,000 inbound conversations. My question for you is, how do you deal with that level of scale? I would say probably, most of the people listening to our show, although there are quite a few, may have more than that. Most are not dealing with the level of scale that you’re dealing with. As you said, on a variety of topics from customers, to government officials, to union interactions. What does that look like as those conversations come inbound, and you begin to parse them from a social customer service standpoint and address the customers, and get that information to the people in the organization that need to hear it?

  • Nick Sucich

    Really there’s two different things going on here. It’s really a two-part question you just asked. Number one is, when a social customer responds the customer care piece, yes there’s quite a bit of inbound posts that we have every day, lots of conversations revolving around that. We do have a dedicated team does that. I mean it is an arduous task and people in that function are extremely dedicated to customer service. I got to be honest, when I first started the program as a pilot back in 2014, I spent three months doing the customer service part. It is very difficult because, as you know, people weren’t coming in for the most part, with a rosy story. They want something perhaps they’re mostly packages may not have been delivered timely, or they may have an issue, or may have been lost, not necessarily by us, but the manufacturer sending it. There’s international mail that you have to deal with. That’s a whole different ball of wax.

  • Nick Sucich

    Then prioritizing. In our customer response, we prioritize things. What raises to the top. There’s things that are critical. People with package issues or something will raise to the top of that heap. It’s very difficult for that team to do the amount of work that they have. The other part to that question is, you talked about, we talked about the union officials and other government entities is, the response team really deals with that on a day-to-day basis. Like I said, there’s a dedicated five-person team to that. They’re cracking from the time they come in at 7:00 AM in the morning to getting these reports out.

  • Nick Sucich

    The reports just aren’t the daily reports, there’s other intelligence gathering that we do for products and services. How do we improve the customer experience? If we’re trying something out, like for example, Informed Delivery, which allows you to see your mail in your email, what’s coming in that particular day. How is that doing? How can we improve that? We’ll run intelligence scenarios on that looking for comments from people. I mean, the intelligence part of all this really is the most fascinating part to me. How we can understand the conversations to not only improve the customer experience but also deliver a better product and/or service.

  • Nick Sucich

    If there’s something out there that’s missing, guess what, people will tell you. If you’re not taking an action against that intelligence, you’re just making a big mistake, you’re not paying attention. Early on I decided that the business intelligence piece was so important, but like most people, they start off with the products and services piece, the editorial, right? Everybody is familiar with that in the beginning and it’s fairly cut and dried. Then the customer response or customer care, I mean, we all understand that, but the intelligence piece is really what continues to evolve for us.

  • Jay Baer

    Nick, I know you have… Let me just say real quick. Actually, I love Informed Delivery. I get that myself in my email inbox every day, it shows me what I’m going to get in my mailbox later that day-

  • Adam Brown

    Me too.

  • Jay Baer

    I love it.

  • Adam Brown

    I love the little pictures.

  • Jay Baer

    Man it’s so cool. It’s such a great idea. I hope everybody has that listening to the show. If not, make sure you sign up for it. It’s pretty great. It’s like getting a surprise twice. You get a teaser, and then you get to actually open the mail. It’s amazing. Nick, I know you have-

  • Nick Sucich

    20 million and counting.

  • Jay Baer

    Is that really? 20 million. Wow-

  • Nick Sucich

    20 million we’re up to right now.

  • Jay Baer

    What a success, just as an email program by itself. That’s a pretty remarkable achievement. Email pros, we’ll have you on that next. I know you have on the social care side, on Twitter, @USPSHelp. You’ve got the dedicated help account. In the many, many inbound inquiries, and questions, and comments that you get, are they primarily Twitter? Where else are you getting customer interactions and has the venues that you see people commenting on changed over time?

  • Nick Sucich

    We look at customer issues at the… on Twitter and on Facebook. The majority of what we get is Twitter. It’s just people find that, I think, a simpler format to work with, right? For us, quite honestly, it’s a little bit easier to manage Twitter than it is Facebook. On Facebook obviously you can go into some mammoth detail about what your issue is. On Twitter you’re limited to the space that you have, and we can get through some of those. We find that Twitter is really the preferred format of most of the people coming at us for customer service issues.

  • Adam Brown

    Nick, I’m curious with, I don’t even know how many employees that US Postal Service has now. It’s got to be-

  • Nick Sucich

    635,000.

  • Adam Brown

    I was going to say somewhere between probably a half a million and a million. Employee communication, employee outreach has got to be an important aspect of the entire executive team. Are you finding that you’re able to use any kind of digital tactics to engage with those letter carriers all the way up until your leadership? Second, do you have any kind of social media protocols, or standards, or expectations of the carriers and employees on how they can use social media to discuss the US Postal Service?

  • Nick Sucich

    That’s a really big question. It’s a great question and it’s a complicated one too. Right now we’re looking into, we’re actually developing an employee social advocacy program, and it’s complicated, right? In the federal government, whereas in a private sector business many companies, many large brands, have employee advocacy programs. We are also looking into that. We’ve developed it, we’re almost ready to launch a pilot. But there’s lots of issues that employees need to understand first. It needs to be really controlled. We have to worry about privacy issues that private sector employees don’t that are protected by… Federal employees are protected, we have to abide by the Privacy Act. There’s lots of legal pieces to that.

  • Nick Sucich

    Advocacy is great. You have 635,000 employees. Eventually we want them to talk about the business, but we wanted them to talk about the business in an intelligent way, right? By giving them the right content to use so that we have a uniform message across the entire organization. What we get now is sometimes employees do a really good job their… If you look at our Facebook page, you’ll see employees on there. They do a really good job of talking about the business on their own. But sometimes they don’t, right?

  • Nick Sucich

    For us that’s not good for the brand. Even for them sometimes it can be arduous if you’re not doing the right thing. We reach out to them. In our business intelligence group, we have embedded, from human resources, a dedicated person that actually reaches out on HR type issues. Whether it’s an employee that’s got questions, whether it’s somebody that wants to actually get a job with USPS, and a lot of times you’ll see that posted on our Facebook page. It’s mostly Facebook, not too much on Twitter.

  • Nick Sucich

    We have a big employee following on Facebook probably more so than many brands out there. We want to be smart about how we develop a program and we want to be able to incorporate employees into the program, but we have to really have some strict guidelines. We have a policy that’s fairly straightforward, but it’s a regimented policy. As you can imagine, harnessing the power of 635,000 employees is great, but if it’s not harnessed well, it can be really problematic for the brand. We spend a lot of time and effort, and quite frankly dollars, to really protect the brand and promote the brand well.

  • Jay Baer

    Related to that question, Nick, how much do you overtly use social media as a recruiting tool or positioning USPS as an employer of choice? Obviously with 635,000 employees, that’s a lot of slots to fill. Not a tremendous amount of turnover, I suspect. But still, that’s a lot of a lot of open job recs in theory. Is there a social program on the employee or brand perspective?

  • Nick Sucich

    We’re very tight about how we let people in the organization speak for the organization. There are very few pieces of the business that are allowed to speak about the business. One of them is human resources. Human resources does a lot of recruiting on social, both at the national level and most [inaudible 00:20:36] at the national level really talks about the excitement of working at the postal service and the opportunities afforded to you, and the career path that you can take. There’s lots of options once you get your foot into the door. But also at the local level, there’s always lots of positions, believe it or not, in what we call the entry way, gateway positions. Like city carrier assistant and rural carrier assistant is your foot into the door here in postal.

  • Nick Sucich

    We always have lots of openings and do lots of recruiting at the local level. Some of those areas, the seven areas I referenced earlier, have outreach on social, but it’s doing it smartly. It’s making sure that you’re talking about the brand in the right way, and then also making sure that the people that are potential employees are also understanding about what their actual job is. For example, we’ve put together a number of video pieces that we use on social about what it’s really like to be a carrier. I mean, some people’s expectation is, “I’m going to have a satchel with a few letters in there, and I’m going to walk around and talk to people as I walk down the street.” It’s a very physically demanding job that, especially in today’s environment, and we really want to have people understand about that.

  • Nick Sucich

    We use social media as a way to visually say, hey listen, carrier it’s a great job. You can do well in the company, there’s a lot of mobility within the organization. But honestly, you have to deal with elements. You had to deal with the weather. You have to whether it’s hot, whether it’s cold, and you’re carrying a lot more packages than you did 25 years ago, that’s for sure. Those packages can be up to 70 pounds. It’s using that medium. Especially a lot of our people that come in are younger, get their foot in the door for the first time. We want to make sure, and we’ll use social, that they understand the expectations. Given the fact that the demographics of social are such that we can hit that audience, we use it and our HR teams throughout the organization use it.

  • Jay Baer

    I feel like there’s a real partnership here with CrossFit. That’s the deal. USPS, CrossFit joint venture. We’ll just take all the champions. American Ninja Warriors brought to you by the USPS.

  • Nick Sucich

    [inaudible 00:22:57].

  • Jay Baer

    I can do this all day.

  • Nick Sucich

    You’re not in shape. We’ve interviewed lots of people that have started and they said… The greatest line, I interviewed a young carrier in New York one time. We were doing a number of these programs and she said, “If you’re not in shape, you’ll be in shape.” That was her line.

  • Jay Baer

    Exactly, it’s like the army. You mentioned younger people coming in as entry level USPS employees, and because you’re one of the brands out there that actually touches every demographic, right? It’s not as if there are certain segments of the population who are in or out of your customer base. I wonder how much you think about participating in social in venues that tend to skew younger. Snapchat, Tech-Talk, things like that to communicate to those audiences, “Hey, USPS is your friend. Certainly we’d love to have you as an employee, but if nothing else postal service is here, it’s amazing, it’s great.” Have you kicked that around like, “Hey, let’s start to reach them while they’re young and grow them up through the ranks as USPS devotees?

  • Nick Sucich

    We have looked at those venues and we always continue to look at new ways to do it. We haven’t ventured into that area yet, but we are looking at that as we look at younger audiences and those coming into the organization that are newer. But primarily right now it’s more the traditional platforms, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. But we’re always looking for the right venue for us to talk about our business, whether it’s about the business or whether it’s through recruiting efforts to get the right people coming into the business.

  • Adam Brown

    Nick, the former public relations executive is coming out here. But I wanted to ask you how you prepare and plan for issues and crisis communications, which a lot of our listeners see social as an integral part of, when you’re dealing with the volume that you’re dealing with. You’re dealing with, as you said, neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow. You’re going to have disruptions, you’re going to have other types of issues and crisis events. Is there something that your team as a part are planning for? Do you have mock crisis situations or any kind of contingencies to prepare, and you being able to use social during those inevitable sensitive times?

  • Nick Sucich

    That’s a great question. Early on we realized the importance of how social plays in crisis situations because lots of times when the power’s out or something, sometimes there’s cell towers available and so that information is flowing freely. Exactly, we do mock communications things, mock crisis things, but we work really very closely with our, we have a large emergency preparedness team. Just taking the most recent example of Hurricane Dorian where we meet every day on the issues. We have daily meetings. It’s interesting because social is at the table when we have operations, we have human resources, we have the inspection service, we have other pieces of the business at the table, supply and management.

  • Nick Sucich

    Because as you can imagine, it’s a huge endeavor when crises happen. You’re closing post offices, you’re moving now, you’re doing alternate pickups at other stations, you got to get the word out to people. We do a couple of things in the crisis management piece. Number one is, the intelligence team plays a really important part of that. Once a crisis happens, when we do these daily report outs we deal with our area vice presidents, we deal with operations in the field. They’re curious, they want to know what people are saying about the movement of mail, and that includes not only our customers, but our employees too. “Are our employees safe? Are our employees in trouble?”

  • Nick Sucich

    What are people seeing out on the highways? I mean, remember, mail is about transportation and sometimes we find out on social that things are shut down before we even get officials from the area talking about that. That’s an important part of the business. Are we hearing anything that the inspection service would be with regards to mail? Because remember mail is important in the sense that there’s people’s checks in there, there’s people’s personal information in there. We’re obligated to protect all that, and so we constantly have to listen.

  • Nick Sucich

    The other piece to that is our editorial team. For example, in Hurricane Dorian, we really used two pieces of our business. The intelligence team was an important integral role in anything that we do, then the other piece was the editorial team. The intelligence team was constantly looking at the individual areas effected by the hurricane to get intelligence on what people are saying, whether it’s employees or whether it’s customers. What other agencies are saying. Because sometimes other agencies will put out information with the best intentions, that’s incorrect. “This post office is not open,” when it actually is open. We have to be able to scour that. We get that intelligence and pass it on to the local operations people who can then work with the local agencies to correct that.

  • Nick Sucich

    On the editorial side, it’s important because during crises people are transient. Where you have a flood that is actually, or a hurricane that has unfortunately wiped out your home, you have no place to live, so you have to have a change of address. The editorial team addresses that by putting out constant information about how to do that and how to do that efficiently and correctly. That’s mostly through video or mostly through still images that we do that. That’s really an important part. A really good illustration of how the crisis management work was unfortunate in Hurricane Maria where we were seeing just a huge amount of care packages coming from the mainland us into Puerto Rico and they were breaking open.

  • Nick Sucich

    Of course people thought that our employees were stealing, so we picked this up on social. We also were able to relay that information to the postal inspection service, our law enforcement arm. I talked to them and they immediately investigated, came back to me and said, “Hey Nick, people aren’t stealing anything. The packages are breaking open,” because people were overstuffing them. We were able to then go back on social, let people know, and then we put out a video on how to pack a box correctly in both English and Spanish. We do that a lot. We do multi-language depending on what the event is. Immediately it cleared that issue up. Social was so integral in helping us understand what was going on. Five, six years ago, we probably would have been lagging multiple days behind. That’s really a good scenario [crosstalk 00:30:29] crisis-

  • Jay Baer

    That’s incredible. Yeah, the nimbleness of that and be able to do the social listening, interpret it, say, “Here’s what needs to happen,” create the video, and get it out there in a quick turn is really impressive. Especially for an organization of that scope and scale is really commendable Nick. One of the things I noticed-

  • Nick Sucich

    I mean…

  • Jay Baer

    Go ahead.

  • Nick Sucich

    I mean, I think I’ve got to give credit to our leadership team, right? Social media for a lot of organizations is scary. Particularly in the federal government, there’s even more restrictions on it. The support from our leadership team in understanding the value of social and bringing it to the table is really some smart business on their part. That’s really how we evolved pretty quickly, once we had a clear vision, right? Once somebody could articulate a clear vision of what we wanted to do and keep the story simple, which I was able to do, I was able to sell it to the leadership team. As a credit to them, we’ve been reaping the benefits ever since.

  • Jay Baer

    You’ve got a program this summer on your Facebook page and elsewhere, the Summer Zip codes program where you’ve taken a different zip codes in the US where you deliver, which I guess it’d be all the zip codes, and featured those places, which is really neat. It’s cool photography and nice little features. I’d like you to maybe describe that program a little bit and talk about how that was spun up, and from that more marketing perspective, if you will, ‘marketing’. What does the editorial calendaring process look like for USPS in social?

  • Nick Sucich

    We have a three-person editorial team right now, and we work closely with agency partners to develop these types of things. Since we’re everywhere, we’re always looking at fun ways to engage an audience. We try to be humorous to the best that we can, right? We can’t be outrageous, but we can be humorous. But we also want to feature some interesting pieces in places that we’re at every day and feature… in this particular instance, we used the zip code, right? Because there’s like 45,000 zip codes in the US and so there’s plenty of interesting places within various zip codes throughout the US.

  • Nick Sucich

    We get a lot to use. We use a lot of USG stuff, particularly on Instagram because people are fans, right? There’s lots of fans out there, whether it’s our employee base or our customer base, we’re down the street every day. People love their carriers. They love their post offices. There’s a lot of crazy designed post offices that have been out there and it’s… We figured, “What better engagement way to do that than to develop these little scenarios?”

  • Nick Sucich

    We also do something on Instagram called Mail Trucks where we place our iconic mail trucks all across the country, whether it’s in front of St Louis or the Grand Canyon or something. It’s just fun, right? It generates a lot of conversations back and forth and reinforces the fact that, “The brand is everywhere and no matter where you are, we’re going to be,” right? Just trying to be fun and engaging with an audience.

  • Jay Baer

    Yeah, it works. I was really struck by it. It’s really great content both on Facebook and on Instagram. It’s really cool. I want to ask you one more question before we get into the big two that we close every show out with. Again, our guest this week, Nick Sucich is the executive manager for digital communications at the United States Postal Service. Nick, historically you’ve been in the USPS for quite some time. Before that you were in broadcast journalism.

  • Jay Baer

    One of the things we talk about on this show a lot is that social media has become manifestly multimedia, right? Where this used to be a writing contest for all intents and purposes and now it’s not as much of a writing contest, it’s more of a photos and videos contest as we just alluded to with your Instagram program. Does that feel like you’re on the right side of history here? You came from a TV background and now social media is becoming more like TV. Talk about those similarities if you would.

  • Nick Sucich

    You’re exactly right Jay. I spent 15 years in broadcast at the affiliate level, did a lot of work at the network level, did a lot of sports broadcasting and so forth. But I’ve been involved in the visual space forever. Yeah, I mean, maybe it could be a happy accident. You said it was a writing exercise, now it’s turned into a visual exercise. My background in all that lets me understand what people like, how the business has evolved, right? Back in television in the older days, long form stuff was king, right? You could do a seven, eight minute piece and people will be engaged with it. That really changed over time and even in my career in broadcast. By the end of it all, I had three or four minutes to do a piece, but I used to double that amount of time.

  • Nick Sucich

    Now if you can’t tell a story in 30 seconds you’re in trouble. But my visual background has really helped me to articulate a vision to a great team that I have. I have a digital creative team that is fabulous in doing this. They’re top notch guys that I’ve been able to recruit. I mean the whole team is like that. Yeah, I mean, I would say that the background in that medium has really helped me to help the team, to articulate a vision to them because I’m able to let them know what I’m looking for and we’re all on the same page.

  • Jay Baer

    Yeah, it’s fantastic. It worked out great. When I go get my mail today, I’m going to say, “This came from Nick and his guys.” I’m going think of you this afternoon when it is delivered, my friend. Nick [crosstalk 00:36:19]-

  • Nick Sucich

    [crosstalk 00:36:19] also think about the 630,000 men and women that got it there today for a very reasonable price.

  • Jay Baer

    In my career, and in Adam’s as well… Adam and I tend to drink tequila. It has happened more than once in my life where I’ve sat there and pondered how any mail ever gets delivered, right? Because it really is a miracle, right? Because, the whole idea of letting people… I mean, my handwriting is absolutely indecipherable. Just, you scrawl something and it actually goes where it’s supposed to go on time, the whole thing is bonkers actually. We think we got a hard job. Holy cow, it is really something, as you said famously, “Rain, nor sleet, nor snow, nor hail, nor pestilence, nor locusts will keep us away.” It’s pretty crazy to even ponder it.

  • Nick Sucich

    We know about your handwriting Jay and we’ve been meaning to talk to you about it. I saw it in one of our executive meetings. It did come up.

  • Jay Baer

    Here’s the problem. It has probably showed up in a social listening report. The problem is working in digital marketing since 93, I don’t write anything. I only type stuff, right? I’ve atrophied to the point where it’s basically just like a series of squiggly lines.

  • Nick Sucich

    You laugh about that, but in today’s world that… even when you look at the schools where you used to learn how to, they really don’t teach it as much-

  • Jay Baer

    They don’t teach it [crosstalk 00:37:52]-

  • Nick Sucich

    As they used to.

  • Jay Baer

    Removing cursive from the curriculum and all that. Yeah. Yeah.

  • Adam Brown

    Keyboards skills for their cursive skills.

  • Nick Sucich

    We’ve developed videos that actually teach people how to address a package in a letter. It’s not part of how I grew up, or maybe you guys grew up, but it is the reality and we want to be able to help customers understand.

  • Jay Baer

    Yeah, don’t you wish you had face ID on envelopes, right? Like you have in your phone. It’s just like, this is some sort of biometric envelope or addressing that would solve a lot of issues. Maybe someday the cost will get to the point where that’s feasible.

  • Nick Sucich

    Well, mail processing is an exercise in technology, right? You would think that-

  • Jay Baer

    That’s amazing.

  • Nick Sucich

    There’s millions of people sorting things by hand like you saw on the old school movies, but it’s really all about technology now. Mail processing, one machine can process 35,000 pieces of mail per hour. On Instagram, as a matter of fact, we highlight that in a feature we call Tech Tuesday, which has become very popular. It’s the inner workings of USPS and how your mail process. That’s something we developed because what most people think of us is the letter carrier putting things in a little case. But it’s really not that, right? What they see is at the end of the line they see some guy, man or woman, walking up to their door and delivering letters or packages. But to get to that point, it’s a huge exercise in logistics and technology. We always fancied ourselves as one of the leaders in that, although the public really doesn’t see that. That’s why we developed Tech Tuesday on Instagram to give people some insight.

  • Adam Brown

    Great idea.

  • Jay Baer

    Yeah. That’s so fascinating. It really is a technology company, but the last mile is analog. Yeah. [crosstalk 00:39:44]-

  • Nick (Sucich)

    It’s the human part of it.

  • Jay Baer

    Yeah. Nick, we’re going to ask you the two questions we’ve asked everybody here on the Social Pros podcast, almost 400 episodes now Mr. Adam Brown, we’re almost-

  • Adam Brown

    Can you believe it?

  • Jay Baer

    … at 400. Yeah, it’s a long time. It’s a long time. Every week since 2012.

  • Nick Sucich

    The pioneers. Pioneers in the industry.

  • Jay Baer

    I guess. Yeah, to some degree that is true. Nick, if somebody is looking to become a social pro, what one tip would you give them?

  • Nick Sucich

    I mean, I think that you have to be a couple of things. You have to be dedicated to what you do, and enjoy it, right? I had been in this visual business for a long time, probably 35 years now, and every day when I come in here I still love doing it. If you don’t have the passion for it, it’s like anything else, I don’t believe you’re going to be successful at it. On that note, be passionate about it. If you’re passionate, it’s contagious, right?

  • Nick Sucich

    The other thing is, you have to continue to be a salesperson for the social business, right? For most companies and most executives who are going to fund your programs, they have to be able to feel like they’re getting a great value for what they do. For people that are trying to sell this to an organization, you need to get a seat at the table. You need to say, “Here’s the value,” and sometimes you have to actually go do some legwork in advance to that. “Here’s the value of what you get for what you’re paying for,” right? Because every business has to do that.

  • Nick Sucich

    Then you also have to be prepared to defend your approach and how you’re doing things, right? If you’re going to set up an organization, you need to show people how they all work together. In social we do that with social customer care and the editorial team in the business, intelligence team is convincing the powers to be that, these are all working in tandem together and you’re getting great value for that.

  • Nick Sucich

    I think lastly is, anybody setting up a program, anybody who’s dealing with it ongoing is, make sure that no matter where your program sits, and for us it happens to sit in corporate communication, but that varies across businesses, is make sure that you’re inclusive of other pieces of the business. Make sure that they feel like they can depend on you to get things done, to help them out, to help their business unit. Because, remember, we’re all telling the same line, but sometimes it gets a little competitive within an organization. We realized that very early on, we went through those growing pains, we went through the endless presentations and debates about who should be what. But at the end of it all, we’re all friends and the program is mature to the sense that it’s an important part of how the organization does business.

  • Nick Sucich

    I think the last thing is getting the right people to work for you, right? If you don’t have people that really love what they’re doing, and that’s cliche, right? It’s really just a bunch of computers with some software, right? I think that I’ve been able to recruit those right people and keeping them passionate and understanding that what they’re doing is really advancing the business forward and creating a stronger company or organization for the future.

  • Jay Baer

    In the many, many years we’ve done this show, that might be the best answer to that question we’ve ever had Nick. I love the idea of selling social up into the organization. It’s something that’s overlooked far too often, especially when you start getting to the point where you’re asking for real resources. Somebody’s going to sign off on that, because there’s opportunity costs associated with that. The interdepartmental cooperation, absolutely.

  • Jay Baer

    I’ll tell you, the thing I like best about that answer that we almost never talk about on this show, and Adam we’ve got to work on this, is this idea of recruiting in social, right? That it takes a village. You’ve got to have a bunch of other talented people on your team. We’ll work on that. We’ll put some episodes together, Social Pros fans, on social media team recruiting, and what to look for, and how to attract the right personnel to your larger social team. That’s a spot on answer Nick. Thanks so much for your thoughtfulness there.

  • Nick Sucich

    Sure.

  • Jay Baer

    All right Nick, last question. If you could do a video call with any living person, who would it be and why? Now you teased this with me off-air that this was going to be something that we would not expect. Now I’m super pumped up on what it’s going to be. The floor is yours.

  • Nick Sucich

    Well, I mean, I hope I haven’t set expectations too high guys. If I were to talk to somebody today who’s living, it would be Jon Moss. Most people will not know who Jon Moss is, but I am a fanatic car enthusiast, right? I work on my own cars. Jon was a former executive at General Motors in the 90s and early 2000s at a time when big companies like that were not looking at performance vehicles as a viable option to sell to the public. What Jon did early on, he has a long career, but what he did in the bureaucracy of General Motors is convince the organization that there was an audience out there, there was a buying audience for performance automobiles.

  • Nick Sucich

    What he did is he took a rather large sedan, what he’s best noted for. He took rather large Chevrolet Impala and Caprices that most people in the 90s associated with cop cars. They’re ugly, they’re big and fat and wide. He took that car with very little resources and a small team and took it and brought back the Impala SS in 1994. When he brought that [inaudible 00:45:51] 21st anniversary of the car being discontinued in 1969. While nobody expected it to really do well, it sold gangbusters. As a matter of fact, they ran it for three years and in 1996 they stopped the run on December 31st, which they traditionally would do in the middle of the year, but it sold so well that he defied what General Motors thought it would. He did lots of that with the S10, with the truck program and all.

  • Nick Sucich

    I’m just a car nut, right? I’m a car enthusiast. This weekend I don’t know when this shows airs, but hopefully by then I’ll have all my shocks installed and my struts and everything like that. I go in the garage, break it down. Very, very different than what I do here today. It’s a catharsis for me, [inaudible 00:46:44]. Plus it saves a lot of money. I don’t have to pay a mechanic to fix my cars. I got five of them and a motorcycle, so I’m always doing that. My wife’s like, “Well, is there any time for the rest of us?” I’m like, “Well, these cars keep breaking down, I can’t help that.” That’s me, and it might be unusual. I don’t know if any of your other 400 guests or so have actually been car enthusiasts in that [crosstalk 00:47:09]-

  • Jay Baer

    I mean, not to that level. I mean five cars and a motorcycle that you’re working on, that’s a deep hobby. Way to go. That’s impressive.

  • Adam Brown

    That’s pretty incredible.

  • Jay Baer

    Yeah. You need to be on a car show, not this social media podcast. We’ll work on that.

  • Adam Brown

    [crosstalk 00:47:24].

  • Nick Sucich

    I still love social media guys.

  • Jay Baer

    Thank you.

  • Nick Sucich

    It’s still my primary here. Sometimes this is out of necessity. I mean, five cars, my sons have cars too, and some of them are performance cars. It’s a fun way for me to put this business aside for a few hours on a weekend and do something different.

  • Jay Baer

    Yeah. That’s amazing. Don’t let your team members hear that, they’ll have you working on the mail trucks, right? “This guy knows how to do it. Why do we need to outsource this?”

  • Nick Sucich

    The mail trucks are four cylinder.

  • Jay Baer

    Not your thing.

  • Adam Brown

    [inaudible 00:48:02].

  • Nick Sucich

    I’ll probably get in trouble from the four cylinder audience.

  • Jay Baer

    You’re a cylinder snob. Yeah, that’s it. I like it. Yeah. That’s fantastic. Nick, thanks so much for being here, terrific show. I appreciate you sharing your wisdom and your insights and your ideas about social media at the United States Postal Service. Of course, thanks so much for your role in making sure everybody actually gets their mail when they need it and while they need it. We appreciate it very much.

  • Nick Sucich

    Well thanks guys. From my point of view, what you guys do is great because it allows people like myself and others who are in social to understand a really well-rounded perspective from colleagues working in other pieces of the business which I have used many times. You guys have done a great service for people like me in the business. Thank you.

  • Jay Baer

    No, our pleasure. Thank you so much. It’s nice to hear. Social Pros, fans and listeners. You heard it right there from Nick Sucich from the USPS. Don’t forget all the different show notes, transcripts, links, everything going all way back to episode one is available at socialpros.com. If you haven’t had a chance to leave us a rating or a review, we would love that, that would make us so happy. Helps with the algorithms and all that stuff. You can go to Apple, you can go to Google, you can go to Stitcher or Spotify. All the places you get podcasts you can find Social Pros. On behalf of Adam Brown from Salesforce Marketing Cloud, I’m Jay Baer from Convince & Convert. We’ll be back next week with another episode of, hopefully, your favorite podcast in the whole world. This has been Social Pros.

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