Xerox Selectively Tests Emerging Marketing Platforms

xerox-christa-caroneXerox has a small budget dedicated to experimenting with emerging ad and marketing platforms, but CMO Christa Carone is selective in choosing where those dollars go. The company, founded in the early 1900s, ran a small paid tweets campaign on Twitter that helped boost follower numbers and drove traffic to a YouTube video intended to help re-brand Xerox as a 21st century tech services firm.

The company also takes a nuanced approach to international social media management, allowing execs at its 160 country locations to create Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn accounts, but monitoring them for quality assurance. The U.S. marketing team recently had to shut down one of those Facebook pages when it wasn’t up to snuff.

“We’ve been allocating some dollars for experimentation every year because the marketing landscape is changing so quickly every single month,” Carone told ClickZ on Monday. That experimental media budget accounts for less than 5 percent of the overall marketing budget, she said.

“As a result of our recent paid Twitter activity, we increased interested followers by 50 percent, and increased awareness of a new video on our YouTube channel through engagements including retweets, replies, favorites, and clicks,” said Carone. The company also ran a promoted “Who to Follow” campaign targeted to people interested in B2B.

“When I look at this from a business-to-business perspective… I say ‘OK, paid Twitter promotion activity can be effective in a very tactical way.’ ” She would not use the platform to market to large corporate clients buying multi-million dollar systems and services. In addition to selling printers, Xerox offers IT outsourcing services, handles transactional processing for highway payment systems such as E-ZPass, and does administration of electronic medical records.

The firm does a lot of “very targeted digital advertising” such as display advertising when promoting specific, lower-priced products, said Carone.

“I know that the CIOs of major companies are not going to be making a $5 million… deal based on their connection with Xerox on Facebook,” she told the audience during a Digitas New Front event last month. A ClickZ article detailing her comments generated a lively discussion and some skepticism about Xerox’s social media marketing.

“I’m always encouraging my team to come to me with an idea,” said Carone. “Somebody did come forward with a Pinterest idea the other day,” she added, noting that her team has presented a handful of marketing ideas including “good old fashioned direct marketing” that she needs to evaluate. “I’m looking at all of these…. The one thing that marketers have right now are a tremendous amount of options, but we [don’t have] a tremendous amount of dollars.”

Xerox does not have a digital group in its marketing team. Rather, said Carone, “Digital is absolutely part of the business-as-usual landscape for everything that we do.”

The company launched its “A World Made Simpler” YouTube video April 16 and promoted it via paid tweets. The video’s goal is to shift perceptions of the Xerox brand and help educate potential clients about the company’s newer business services offerings. It’s become a tool for the firm’s direct sales force to help start a conversation about Xerox.

“We look at marketing as an engagement tool,” said Carone.

As opposed to Facebook, LinkedIn has been a better place for Xerox to interact with corporate clients and potential clients. The company plans to showcase 25 of its technology products and services on its corporate LinkedIn page in about two weeks, said Erin Isselmann, director of social media PR for Xerox.

“For the first time ever, people are sharing [our] content on LinkedIn,” said Isselmann. “I think it’s because LinkedIn is the platform that people are increasingly going to.”

When attempting to influence a 10-year, billion dollar outsourcing deal, potential clients are “not going to be in the same mindset [on Facebook] as [they] are on LinkedIn,” said Carone.

The firm does encourage its execs overseas to use social media including Facebook, though. “Anyone can come to corporate and put up a Facebook page; we’ll provide all the guidance you need,” said Carone, adding that Xerox does not centralize marketing efforts because it is based in so many different countries. Her team does monitor what international teams are doing, and gets involved if there’s a problem.

For instance, they removed a country-specific Facebook page recently because the person managing it wasn’t providing enough content there. “It just wasn’t being managed,” said Carone, who said she couldn’t recall which country office the page represented. “It’s a really good example of how a social media governance model can work for a really large company,” she continued.

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