[Jim Deitzel, Newell Rubbermaid's eMarketing Manager}
By my count, there will be more than 100 people interviewed for Twitterville. Each will hopefully add at least one important aspect to the value of Twitterville to businesses. I selected Rubbermaid because Jim Deitzel for two reasons: (1) He has brilliantly used Twitter to tap in to NAPO, a community of professional home and office organizers, people who were passionate about the issues to which Rubbermaid offered solutions products. He did it by being generous to community members and also, by soliciting their help. For this section I have also interviewed Lorie Marrero who talks about the ways that Jim's Twitter activity and eventual friendship have helped her professionally. (2) Not every company has the sexiness of say an Apple Computer. But almost every company has a community it needs to engage with and through twitter may companies will be surprised by how easy it is to join relevant conversations and benefit by them.
The following is my Q & A with Jim, which will be incorporated into my chapter Called Global Enterprise. Local Touch. Please tell me what you think.
1. When and why did you start using Twitter?
The 1st @rubbermaid tweet was on May 16th 2008. I registered for a personal Twitter account in the Fall of 2007 but didn't start using it until this spring. The reason I started using the @rubbermaid account was because I was searching for places professional organizers were hanging out online. I had stumbled upon a couple organizers using Twitter and decided to try to engage with them. It's worked well.
2. I noticed, that you post your name on the Rubbermaid Twitter account. Can you tell me the thinking behind doing it that way, rather than just as a brand? What difference has it made?
There's always a person behind a Twitter account. I wanted people to know who they were talking with and I wanted them to get to know me personally. I wanted people to know they could count on me, not just a logo, to answer questions, talk about partnerships, and just feel connected.
I use Twitter to announce recent blog posts. Similar to RSS feeds, but more personal. I've chosen to NOT have my blog posts automatically update Twitter as I prefer to add my own commentary to the announcement. I also respond to people who comment our the blog if they also have a twitter account. I do believe using the two together strengthen the community. Blog comments are nice but they don't always have the interaction depth as back and forth @replies have on Twitter. I also use twitter to read about blog postings from the people I follow. The Twitter posts do increase traffic.
There's tremendous value in connecting with professional organizers. They have the ability to be wonderful advocates. I don't think about my relationships with professional organizers in terms of dollars or market value. I think about them as people who have very similar interests and goals as Rubbermaid. We design, manufacture and market products that are used in organizing around the home. Professional organizers help people get organized around the home. Working together we can both strengthen and grow our businesses in ways yet to be discovered.
5. What role do you think the Rubbermaid Twitter account has in building a community of organizers? What does building that community do for Rubbermaid?
I've found many professional organizers to be very social media savvy. Without Rubbermaid they have a strong community. When Rubbermaid participates in the community we add value from injecting a different perspective and voice into the mix. The strong the organizer community becomes the more we can participate. I want the professional organizers to have a robust online community because I enjoy participating and the stronger they are the more I can learn from them.
I've learned that people want to talk to us and that they enjoy becoming familiar with real people inside the company. I think it helps put a face to the brand. I've learned that the people on twitter are fairly progressive and most of them are in the same boat as everyone else (figuring out what this new communication medium is all about). I've learned that sharing is valuable, being open and honest is important, and for some reason, people seem to think it both wonderful and odd that Rubbermaid has a twitter account. At the end of the day, it's just me having conversations with other people.