WeightWatchers Social Media Use – Conversation with Lauren Salazar

In my MBA Internet Marketing class, I ask my students to complete a social media project, where they observe and evaluate two competing companies’ social media efforts over the course of three weeks. It is always fun to see what comes out of that project, and to witness how competitors try to edge each other out in the social media space (or one excels while the other one totally flops). This semester, one of my students went above and beyond what was required of the project. Instead of just doing his observation and own evaluation, Rich Radford decided to contact the companies’ social media team in order to get a first-person perspective on why they do what they do. It was not easy, as his story will tell. But with his journalist background, he persisted and eventually got to speak with WeightWatchers’ social media director Lauren Salazar about the company’s social media initiatives. Below is a guest post from Rich about his interview.

WeightWatchers Key

Image by Flickr member slgckgc | CC 2.0

Note added on April 17, 2012:

After posting Rich’s guest post yesterday, I received an email from Lauren Salazar describing the circumstances under which she agreed to the interview with Rich. Apparently there has been a misunderstanding. She shared information with him with the pretext that it is for his class project only and that the information discussed would not be shared publicly, such as through a blog like mine. Because of this prior agreement, I have decided to honor WeightWatchers’ request and remove Rich’s post.

My take on all this? I still think Rich did a fantastic job trying to reach out to the companies themselves (and he wrote a really engaging post too). What’s interesting from all this is that, even though we think of social media as an open space, it is still sometimes too open to be comfortable for companies. There is still a lot of this “eggshellish” mentality, either from an individual perspective or from a company perspective. With the severe consequence that can result from a single sentence (or word) one says in social media, it is understandable why this eggshellish mentality may be the case. Even in personal interaction, there are often implicit but well-known boundaries of what you would disclose about yourself and what you would not. I think that, for many, this boundary in the context of social media is still very hazy. It is something that will need to be more firmly established for both companies and their employees in the near future, if social media marketing were to rise to a more central role in the enterprise.

 

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