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Social Innovators Series: Melissa Thompson

Melissa ThompsonIn our Social Innovators series, we highlight leaders who use data and creativity to build world-class social marketing organizations. Here’s Melissa Thompson’s story.

What are the first three tabs that Melissa Thompson, Social Media Lead at Brooks Running, opens in the morning?

  1. Her social media editorial calendar
  2. Her budget-in-flight deck (paid social media tracking + how much she is spending daily)
  3. Her Simply Measured social analytics dashboard

And that’s just while she’s drinking her first cup of coffee. “Once I’ve taken a look at my day, I dive into the granular. I make sure our creative is set for the day, and look at our Twitter activity.” Then, Melissa moves into campaign development and what’s up next, from campaign brainstorming to competitive audits to cross-functional strategy planning with retail partners.

Here’s what she’s learned along the way.

1. Speak the Language of Your CEO.

Melissa’s team has heard this message loud and clear: “If we can’t speak the language of the CEO, then we can’t prove the importance of social.”

While building a community on social media is the company’s No. 1 priority, it’s also important to use these channels to drive interest and engagement in the brand’s product portfolio. “Building our community is still our priority, and something we want to drive forward.” But now the Brooks social media team is also tasked with making the connection between that community and interest in its products.

2. Work with an Agency

Melissa and her small-but-mighty team of three work with their media agency for their paid social strategy, tasking the agency with sophisticated targeting, audience demographics, and forecasting who Brooks will be able to reach with their current media spend.

I talk a lot about bandwidth. We’re a team of three: me, my manager, and my coordinator. There’s a lot of content being pushed out, so our social agency helps with copy, scheduling, and proactive community management. For Facebook, they’re dealing with positive sentiment, so our runner experience team only has to focus on negative or direct customer service questions.

Melissa and team also partner with their social agency to generate more ideas when spearheading Brooks’ social strategy: “I think as many brains in the room as you can get on campaigns is really important. Our agency helps us bring fresh, innovative ideas to the table. Then we just have to figure out if we can bring them to life.”

3. Cross-Function Is Key

Brooks’ global marketing team holds regular integrated marketing meetings, including Sales, Marketing, and PR all in one room. The teams talk about hot topics and shares how those topics are cascading down into each channel individually.

Brooks’ Global Running Day campaign is a great example of how this cross-functional ethos played out: “Global Running Day is a social media holiday. We call it the Christmas Day of running—the first Wednesday in June. Every part of the marketing funnel works on the campaign, all the departments get in a room with our individual plans and ask: How do our plans ladder up from a global perspective? Are we all bringing it to life? Does the messaging add up to PR?

But the cross-functionality doesn’t end there. Sales, Marketing, and PR have half a dozen more team meetings before Global Running Day arrives, to make sure all teams are on the same page, pushing the needle.

4. Find and Embrace Your Niche

Melissa keeps an eye on competitors and uses this knowledge to understand and expand her niche. She uses the Simply Measured competitive scorecard and social analytics dashboard for an apples-to-apples comparison, month-over-month, on how Brooks stacks up against competitors.

I’m interested in a deeper dive: looking into the content and not just the numbers, to see how we line up from a creative perspective. What I’ve learned? As competitive as this space is, a lot of our competitors are very similar to one another. One of the things that I’m the proudest of is that we are showing up very differently than our competitors. I think it’s authentic to us in terms of who we are as a brand, but also authentic to runners.

Brooks, as Melissa puts it, “takes the relatable approach,” shying away from over-sophisticated, catalog imagery. “Instead of Rain runs don’t scare us, our messaging is, Okay, the rain is out there, but we’re going to gear up and lace up our shoes. We see the value in that, because at Brooks we believe a run can flat-out change a day, a life, the world.”

Melissa also cites the importance not just of knowing your niche, but expanding it: “The hardest thing about the running space is not just your competitors, but the belief people have about categorizing themselves as runners. People who run 2-3 times a week will not label themselves as runners in surveys because they didn’t run in college or high school. It’s a really big challenge. How do you speak to that runner?” And now we’re back to the top of the funnel, trying, always, “to get new people in our shoes.”

Want to ask Melissa your burning social media marketing questions? Find her @Meliss_Jo on Twitter.

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Lucy Hitz

I’m the Head of Marketing Communications here at Simply Measured, where I'm responsible for our content program, social media marketing, PR, and comarketing ventures. I love yoga, The X-Files, peaty scotch, hiking, and poetry. If I were a social media channel, I’d want to be Instagram, but I think I’m Twitter.

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