One-on-One with Charlotte Blank, Social Media Manager, General Motors

Welcome back to Online Marketing TV. We're here with Charlotte Blank. Charlotte, welcome. Hello. Thank you. Thanks for joining us. So why don't we just start off with little bit of a discussion about you. Tell us kind of your background, what you do, and then we'll jump into the fun questions. Sure, I'm Charlotte Blank, I manage Social Media at GM supporting all four of our U.S.

Brands and a little bit of global consulting as well. It's kind of interesting, I was thinking about when you kicked off the conference today asking about, you know, how specialized are you in the audience. I think my role is transitioning from being a just social as a vertical to a little more of a holistic digital marketing role and that's just part of this trend where I think big companies are learning about social or specific sub-disciplines of digital marketing. Can't really exist on their own and we need to reorganize internally so that it's all around the consumer and it's all around analytics and data and we're all kind of maybe experts in certain things, but we've got a good understanding all the way around about how those need to connect.

So I think this year my new role will let me you know, learn a lot more about some of the other elements. So talk to me a little bit about your role and how that pervades throughout the organization. Give us a sense of what's going on behind the close doors there and who's working with who and how you kind of fit into that whole equation. Sure, that's really been a big part of, kind of, my job at GM in the last year and a half is we started out with an inventory and a just lay of the land what's the social ecosystem at GM? Because it's kinda new, it's hot, everyone's doing a little bit of it, we work with dozens of agencies and partners, and it was kind of a mess.

And so, there was a need for central kind of a subject matter expert group and an agency helped us with this as well to kind of figure out who everyone was. So we basically now have it set up with each of our four US brands has their own digital marketing team with support from their creative agencies. They manage their own social channels. They manage the tone of voice, the way they speak to their consumers, the type of content that resonates depending on their campaigns and their ongoing messaging.

My role from a central standpoint is a lot of internal organization issues; helping us set vendors and suppliers and help us organize a lot of communication with regular ongoing meetings. And I also manage a lot of our relationships with our partners in the social space, you know, big platforms like Facebook, etc. Got it. Interesting. You know what I heard that is, it sounds like to me you spend significant amount of time managing relationships to get everybody to get on the same page, to do some things help each other in terms of drive this whether it be a technology partner, an agency, or an internal constituents, what's one of the kind of "aha" moments when you tried to manage all these various folks moving the ball forward. We go wow, if I could just encapsulate that idea and keep it moving.

Anything that kind of stuck out to you while you were going through that process? I think we've been swinging on a pendulum of centralized versus decentralized in the model the way we manage social media. There was a real need I think two years ago to kind of put a spotlight on it at the center and have a social agency that did everything for us and we did everything kind of from a central standpoint. kind of moving it back towards the brands and giving them more of that creative voice and the ability to come up with big ideas where social is at the center.

But there are some elements of social media that we still feel very much need to be centralized, and I think the most important is probably metrics and analytics. So when we use social listening tools to understand what people are saying about us, our share of voice and sentiment, but how that ties in from a market-mix modeling standpoint, where it's we're looking at results from our OLA campaigns and our web analytics, bringing all of that together in one central brain that ensures consistency across our brands. I think it's something that we're really missing because sometimes we tend to you know, big company [xx] and you know, Chevrolet might be doing one thing and find success one way and buick another way. So I think this is going to be effort for us going forward this year is bringing that all together in a central. Great so OLA. Online advertising. Got it. So I make sure everybody understands OLA. So let's get a little bit on to the tactical side. What are you starting to see that's driving the needle for where you go, "Wow, if I had to place my bet on one area to kind of put more budget in and to be known for in the organization and put my full gurth behind it.

What would you, what would you say and what are you seeing really kind of make things you know, push forward more than the others. I think a big area of opportunity for us this year will be mobilizing our owners, current GM vehicle owners. Mm-hmm. We've been using our social channels to focus really upper funnel on lifestyle/passion connections. You know, Chevrolet has a music vertical. We're doing lots of music videos and that sort of thing, and Buick with a culinary approach, Cadillac focusing on it's halo products, racing.

So that's where we see people really light up in the social space. But at the same time we know that most of our fans on Facebook are owners. So how can we enable them to, to share the love and to let their friends know how much they, they love our Got it. So we're coming up with great advances in our owners' center, kind of a one-stop shop experience for once you purchase a Chevrolet or other GM-branded vehicle, that you have everything you need there, and what can we do to amplify that with social opportunities like Open Graph, so that every time, I as a Chevy owner engage with my vehicle somehow. I know oil change is always the first thing that comes to mind, but maybe something more fun and awesome than that. Maybe a little offroading or something like that? Yeah. Every time I do something fun, listen to, you know, created a new Pandora station in my vehicle. Right. Now that that's, you know. Sounds a little dangerous to be creating a Pandora station in the vehicle as you're moving, yeah? Maybe my passenger does it.

Or maybe I do it while I'm stopped at a red light. Well done, well done. But there are all these great opportunities. Our OnStar-enabled vehicles have kind of an Open Graph opportunity now with new apps being developed for it every day so we've got great partnerships with Pandoras of the world, etc. So as an example, something you can do in your car you spend so much time in your car, as an owner. So each time you interact with it somehow, how do we light that up in the social space? Yeah. You know, using responsive stories you know other opportunities to get people engaged because they see their friends.


We need to figure out this telepathy thing so we can start like just having these things go strait into our tweet streams and them make it like [xx] That would make it easier that would. That neuroscience degree [xx]. There you go perfect. So I love what you were talking about in terms of lifestyle because what I hear you say is that we're building our social media presence into what people are doing and how they live and what they really like because a lot of times they're not enthusiast about the actual product at an individual level but they're enthusiast about that product as it relate to certain areas and moments in their life. Yes. Talking about just how do you guys integrate in the lifestyle. Do you guys have to partner to other organizations that aren't lifestyle built or are you just trying to build your own mini-brands that are lifestyle built, that incorporate the product, if that makes sense.

Certainly. I think,again, it depends on the vehicle. So we do have for you know, on the nameplate some people. Camaro fans, they just want to just read about their Camaro and they want all content that's Camaro related. But for say a big brand Chevrolet, which means so many different things to so many different people. Right. You know, we range from a Sonic to a Volt to an equinox to a Corvette and to a Camaro, they're very very different communities. So it really underscores the importance of research, and knowing your target and what they are interested in. And from the lifestyle perspective, I think Chevy's music.

Hiller is a good example. We recently launched the Sonic, which is our new small car targeting millennials. and more specific than millennial, it's the cytographic is kind of the first timer. It's the time in your life, yes, you're buying your first vehicle but you also maybe you have your first serious boyfriend, your first real job out of college. It's a very interesting time in your life when everything new and exciting and different. [xx] first time.

So it's how do you tap into that feeling that resonates with people, more so than just, oh, you're buying your first car. Here's why you should buy a [xx] it's much more of a tap into that excitement. So that's what bore this Conic Stunts campaign which we highlighted at the Super Bowl and seeded throughout the internet with a bunch of YouTube videos. Was that the bungee and out of the airplane? That's a great ad.

We got to Sonic off a building with a bungee cord, we had Rob Dyrdek the skateboard celebrity doing a Sonic kick flip, the first time a car has been flipped like a skateboard. Yeah. So just really fun things that you wouldn't ever see a car doing. The first time you time a car did this. So, that's just an example of how you can kind of tap into some lifestyle. And leveraging a big media spend into the lifestyle and social and integrate it all the way back. And that's been such a key learning for us, is that, I'm sure that a lot of big brands struggle with this, that misconception that social is free, and that, oh great, we can just save so much money and just create viral videos. You've got to get it out there, right? We've learned that if you want Chevy numbers in the reach that we like to see with on Chevy, you've got to find some Chevy weight.

So when is the campaign going to come out about the first time I made love in the back seat campaign. Because that would get a lot interest out there, right? I'm not sure if that's completely aligned with the Chevrolet everyday hero platform Right? But the Camaro guys, they could. Maybe they the Cadillac, the Alpha dudes for sure. There you go. Good. So, let's wrap up on one question we're asking everybody in the show here. Talk to me just about a piece of advice you can give to a lot of people that are, to be quite frank, aspiring to be you. I mean, you're doing a lot at GM. It's really exciting. I'm sure a lot of people out there are looking for careers like that, looking to grow their career within their organizations, big company and small. What's allowed you to get to this spot where you're at now and what advice would you give folks that are trying to climb those various ladders out there? I think the advice that I would give people is really follow your passions.

I think I kind of broke outside the mold of it. I have kind of a traditional media and an MBA background and just had this passion for Detroit and auto and just wanted to do something different, and it looked a little weird. Hold on. A passion for Detroit, really, or is this just the Chevy spin on this whole thing? Oh, not at all. No, Chevy, Chrysler owns that. We're America, we're in there, but in high sight I was applying at a company and tearing the walls down trying to get in to this dream job really while they were filing for bankruptcy, it makes no sense. Yes. You know it was an intuitive decision. So that's kind of the advice I give people, that if you're passionate about something, that's the best way to get in.

I love it. And you said something that's really key. I mean what we talked about it earlier today is just allowing it to kinda flow it by itself because if you try to get in the best moment, the best company, the best time, you probably go into a very short-lived situation. But if you get in at the not-so-best time, a little bit worse, a little bit hard. You've got to put in the effort and help build it up. Yeah. Those opportunities, if you allow yourself to think like that, allow the short term to be supplanted by the long term, great piece of advice. Love it. Since I've been there, it's been like catching a kite tail. I mean GM has just been performing so well in the past year.

I'm so proud to have been even a tiny part of it. That's cool. Great, look forward to watching you as your career grows and everything else and thank you for joining us on the show. Thank you..

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