Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Social media Twitter interview: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

The level of competency and the manner of response, shown by the organisation's social media manager/ staff, says something about the overall competency of the organisation.

This recap, of what happened two weeks ago, illustrated that to me.

Ivan Chew (ramblinglib) on Twitter @ShannonPaul Twitter _ @ramblinglib @ShannonPaul

Minutes after I blogged and tweeted about this post, I received a twitter reply from @ShannonPaul, Social Media Manager of Blue Cross Blue Shield Michigan. With an offer to answer questions.

Got to admit, the speed of response was impressive. But even more so, it was the unsolicited offer to answer questions.

I replied that I'll think of good questions to ask. But before that I corrected my mistake on the blog post. Sorry, Shannon, I really thought "Shannon" was a guy's name. Forgive this librarian's ignorance.

Before asking my questions, I decided to do some homework. Read up Shannon's blog (was humbled by her About Page, subscribed!) plus her current work at A Healthier Michigan.

Decided on my five questions, tweeted to Shannon, to which she replied almost immediately as well.

Here it is (in actuality, I tweeted all five questions in a continuous thread, and perfectly happy if Shannon only answered some of them. But she graciously answered all; in between she was also responding to other tweets):

Me: Q1: how did you discover my post about BCBSM? I tweeted it but neither the tweet nor url mentioned BCBSM directly.
Shannon: We use @Radian6 to monitor brand mentions. They're usually really fast, especially at picking up tweets :)

Me: Q2: how did that YouTube comment episode turn out? Happy customer? Satisfied? Still cheesed? both parties met objectives?
Shannon: I don't believe that person ever followed up with me, but I can't be 100% sure in this case.

Me: Q3: what's the top 3 goals for @bcbsm's social media forays/ strategy?
Shannon: Top 3, eh? Build/strengthen relationships with consumers and business customers, gather feedback, provide quality health info
(Shannon managed to answer coherently within 140 characters. Fwah! Talk about being concise.)

Me: Q4: apart from an overall social media plan, does @bcbsm social media team have specific goals for the week/ month?
Shannon: Q4: Of course, but they're a bit granular and vary from week to week :)

Me: Q5: what would ur employer consider as 'success' for @bcbsm and @HealthierMI?
Shannon: Q5: Goals vary by business area. For @HealthierMI 2011 is about building an audience, 2012 will be about loyalty/engagement.

That's the five. I honestly felt like asking 50! Found the responses very useful. It corroborated with some ideas I had in mind for my new work scope (updates in another post).

Thanks again, Shannon.

Here's the other thing: Shannon's responses were also examples where the Social Media Manager/ staff can respond off the cuff and still keep their jobs!

Obviously she did not have to obtain clearance from Blue Shield Michigan's official corp comms department for some of the responses (for instance, the one about their success criteria). Unless, their corp comms staff was sitting right next to her. I doubt that.

To recap what I mentioned at the start of the post:

Perhaps the more subtle part was this -- the level of competency and the manner of response, shown by the organisation's social media manager/ staff, says something about the overall competency of the organisation.

To me, it says a heck of a lot about the organisation's understanding and approach to online engagement. Particularly their intent and the service potential.


  1. Thank you for the kind words about me and our social media program at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. We are working very hard every day to make our organization more accessible and responsive to our customers and other stakeholders via social media. It's always an honor anytime anyone outside our team recognizes that work as something positive.

    Thank you again -- and please keep in touch :)


    P.S. No worries on the gender confusion surrounding my name -- it happens all the time and you are 100% forgiven!

  2. You're welcome. Just paying it forward, Shannon!


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