The following is an excerpt from The Social Media Business Equation: Using Online Connections to Grow Your Bottom Line by CEO of Social Media Delivered, Eve Mayer Orsburn. Eve will be speaking at Pink Elephant's 16th Annual International IT Service Management Conference & Exhibition in Las Vegas, Nevada - February 19-22, 2012.
Pink Elephant is a privately owned, Toronto-based company established by president David Ratcliffe and CEO Fatima Cabral. Their primary focus is providing information technology infrastructure library (ITIL) consultation and education. Operating through many offices across the globe, the company is the world’s number-one supplier of ITIL and IT Service Management (ITSM) conferences, education, and consulting services. To date, close to 200,000 IT professionals have benefited from Pink Elephant’s expertise. Pink Elephant has been championing the growth of ITIL worldwide since its inception in 1989.
To build networks and business.
Social Media Solution
Implement multiple company blogs to share information.
Increased traffic to blog and increased awareness of the company in almost every country in the world.
What Actually Happened
Pink Elephant has been an industry leader for more than 20 years and can claim 85 of the U.S. Fortune 100 companies as clients. In the simplest terms, they provide consulting and guidance to corporate IT departments. In the current state of the IT industry with its increasing risk, easy access to corporate data, and privacy and security issues heralded by web and mobile technologies Pink Elephant has distinguished themselves as experts in IT management.
In spite of the stellar company’s reputation, President David Ratcliffe recognizes the need to spread awareness and education about their brand and expertise. Particularly in B2B, network building is a vital part of growing business. To help achieve this, Mr. Ratcliffe began personally blogging six years ago. The main purpose of his blogging was to share information and advice. As he points out, “If you can impress in people that you are trustworthy and give them advice and share your experience, they will beat a path to your door for more.”
David writes his own blogs, and shares everything from business advice and videos to pictures and insight about what goes on at Pink Elephant and within the industry. He gives away free tips and resources. The blog provides a place for his personality to really shine through and for people to get to know what kind of guy runs the company. Statistics on David’s blog show that he now receives visitors from nearly every country in the world.
Other workers within the company are also encouraged to blog and share about their aspect of the business. David recognizes that customers really appreciate insight into the company and the industry, and emphasizes that “people want to buy from people they like.” If any Pink Elephant employee gets good attention on their own through blogging or other efforts, then it will reflect well on the company. For these reasons, everyone at the company is encouraged to use their own name and put a personal face to what they do.
Even the company mascot, Pinky the Elephant, was set up with a company blog. Each person who attends a Pink Elephant conference is given a small pink elephant, and the Pinky blog encourages visitors to submit photos of their pink elephants taken in different locations worldwide. This is a fun way to bring awareness and grow participation for the company.
The way David Ratcliffe sees it, “Social media is a godsend, the perfect way for us to interact with our competitors, our customers, and our employees.” There has never been any expectation of or focus on ROI for Pink Elephant’s social media endeavors, only relationships and communication. As of early 2011, the company has not even yet created an official social media policy despite communicating in the social space for six years. David simply advises (very strongly) everyone in the company to “Never, never say anything critical, publicly, about our competitors.”
Pink Elephant began exploring the possibilities of other social media platforms in late 2009. There was some internal debate between Mr. Ratcliffe and his wife, CEO Fatima Cabral, about why Pink Elephant should launch a social media initiative. At one point David asked Fatima, “When you booked our last vacation, where did you go? What site did you use?”
She replied, “TripAdvisor.com.”
“Exactly. You didn’t go to the hotel’s home page or the airline’s main site. You don’t want to hear from them how great they are. You want to hear from everyone else how great they are. That’s why we need to be on social media.”