By adaptive - November 6th, 2013

Katherine Smith, Director, Social Media & Commerce, Petco

Petco is a leading pet specialty retailer that focuses on nurturing the powerful relationship between people and pets. The company has a vision to deliver healthier pets that are physically fit, mentally alert, socially engaged and emotionally happy. The Petco Foundation, an independent none profit organization, has raised more than $115 million since it was created in 1999 to help promote and improve the welfare of companion animals. In conjunction with the Foundation, Petco work with and support thousands of local animal welfare groups across the country and, through in-store adoption events, help find homes for more than 350,000 animals every year. Petco will also be joining this year's Corporate Social Media Summit San Francisco (Nov 13-14th) to share social media best practice with you

Katherine Smith, Director, Social Media & Commerce, Petco


What drives your Petco’s use of social media?

Building upon our brand promise of “the power of together” with pets is key to everything we do in social. Engagement and celebrating; educating and acting as a resource for our pet parents guides us. Providing excellence in social customer care has become an even more important side to driving how use social. Taking the insights through our active listening, what’s trending and how we can use it to better the business is another driver.


What organisationalmodels do you use for social media within your company?

We based our social media Center of Excellence on how the Altimeter Group and Jeremiah Owangyang might model us as a centralized social media group, where we sit under the Content Organization, which reports in through our Chief Transformation Officer and service our many cross-functional partners.


How does your company value the networks it has a presence on?

We’re extremely lucky here because Petco our executive team are incredibly progressive-minded and support social as a critical way of communicating with our customers, celebrating the human-animal bond and recognizing that our customers need support in the challenges being a great pet parent can present.

They understand that when customers need that support our social channels are another storefront for them to come to. If customers don’t have a great experience with Petco in social networks, it’s just as bad as having a negative store experience, so we do everything in our power to assure it is a great experience. We’re extremely appreciative that our leaders push for that uniform great customer experience.

Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Google plus are prioritized in that order from an active community perspective in our owned channels. We look at our “owned” on-domain community, in a very different way but it is with equal value to how we view our other channels. Because of the quantity of active users we have on Facebook, it tends to be one of our primary communication channels but our on-domain community is where we’re focused on building out content that we know our customers are seeking and in answering their everyday questions.

YouTube is incredibly important because we know that people love animal videos so providing enjoyable as well as educational content is vitally important considering it’s the second largest search engine in the world. Twitter is a passion point and we find it to be great channel to engage on helpful hints, promotions, and with influencers. Instagram is so photo-centric that pets and people naturally come together. Pinterest we’re very excited in testing how we can really provide inspiration to people on how they live their lives with their pets and Google+ is an SEO and networking powerhouse we can’t wait to dive more fully into.



Can you outline a recent initiative that included a social media component?

We’re really proud of the recent broadcast campaign that went out around “the power of together” and how we integrated social as the place to have a conversation around that piece. From being reflected on Facebook, where the spot drove traffic to, and our cover photos across all social channels, the videos on YouTube and an editorial calendar that reflected it, was a truly integrated campaign that used our social channels to amplify the broadcast and carry on the conversation.

We also recently held our largest ever social media contest, The Petco Great Ones Contest, that was an app on Facebook and asked our pet parents to submit how they’re “great ones” via video and essays. The submissions were amazing and we have UGC that touched our hearts and we hope to integrate into more campaigns down the road. The winning prizes were $50K to the winner and $50K to the rescue of their choice, $25K to second prize and so on.


How does Petco measure ROI with the social media you use?

There is a lot of pressure to drive to ROI with social media and as a retailer, I wouldn’t expect any different. We pride ourselves on getting fantastic engagement but the newer, exciting frontier is monetizing that engagement in a way that doesn’t detract from the quality and authenticity our fans expect.

ROI can be realized in many different ways beyond funnel conversions. Customer call center deflection, co-op offerings, SEO, awareness and perception are all metrics that add business value. We offset our costs but don’t necessarily roll-up into a sales transaction at the end of the day on a one-to-one basis. We do track to sales transactions driven across our properties  and onto .COM, but I think it can be a limiting model to only look at ROI with the traditional conversion model and not with the true power of the value social media can drive.


How this would deliver an integrated approach to social media activity?

Petco is really progressive-minded and with that, we’ve evolved and not only changed how we structure our social media team, but also where we reside in the enterprise over the years. I think where social media ‘should’ reside really depends on the company’s definition of how social media will be used.

For us, it was important to create social media with a service organization mentality knowing that we must work as a cog in a cross-functional wheel, with our customers at the very center. We work incredibly close with all of our cross-functional partners, most especially marketing and this is what allows for that integration. Keeping social media in the planning process and not a bolt-on is critically important for us. Whichever business unit will enable that agnostic look and keep things customer-centric is what is most important.


What is your advice to organisations that are beginning to map their own corporate structure with the view to embedding social media activity within their enterprise?

I think it’s important first for organizations to think through what the primary objectives of their social media strategy is and go from there. For instance, if a business is using social media as a place to service customer support needs, I would suggest that they make sure that social media guidelines, SLA’s, moderators and triaging of customer problems is most critical and they need to be at the table in how customer support is being measured, guided, responses determined, etc. If social media is an engagement tool, they need to be at the table in the initial advertising conception so they can recommend how to activate the concept within social media – lots of great ideas can come about in harnessing the power of social media.


What tools does Petco use to help the company manage its social media?

We utilize a host of different tools and are growing every day in our sophistication and needs, which forces us to constantly evaluate new innovations and technologies out there. We have several active listening tools, a moderation engagement tool, a publishing tool, an applications-building tool, a localization engagement tool, and many others. We recently began working with MomentFeed and we’re excited to explore how we can do great stuff at the store level to really engage our customers.


How do you see the management and development of social media in your company evolving over the next few years?

Petco is sharply focusing on our customers and making sure they have the best experience possible with us, from a brand, operational, people, quality, to technology and tools perspective. Community, whether on Facebook, Twitter or your own community, is key to this.

I think inherently in that mixture combined with customer expectations, social media will continue to be further embedded into the fiber of how we do business. Customers are the true drivers of defining how we do business, and with our pledge to keep their needs at the center of how and why we do things, I think social media is another storefront you have to man, with an increased emphasis on delivering outstanding customer service and engaging with them authentically.

Customers in return will surprise and delight you in unexpected and incredibly valuable ways. From providing amazing tips, answers to frequently asked questions, helpful resources, recommendations on what products worked, how to make something better, hilarious photos or stories, or just commiserating with others, customers and community do all of this with very little expectation in return. It’s our obligation to make sure we’re providing the best experience for them to do so.

Check out more from Petco on social media at the Corporate Social Media Summit San Francisco (13-14, November). Take your social strategy to the next level with insight from Petco, Dell, Clorox, Wells Fargo, American Airlines and many more


The 3rd annual Corporate Social Media Summit West Coast

November 2013, San Francisco

Embed social media across your company for a more responsive business, more robust reputation and an increase in marketing conversion

Brochure Programme
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