Bill Strawderman

Title: Senior director of digital marketing and social media
Company: Siemens
Size: €79.55bn market capitalisation; 362,000 employees

MARKET MODEL: Building circles of trust

According to Bill Strawderman, the key to social engagement is creating “circles of trust”, a market model based on the concept that “influence is earned through the hard work of building trust”.

Earning trust is central to Mr Strawderman’s work as senior director of digital marketing and social media at Siemens USA, where he has been charged since August 2013 with enhancing the reputation and brand awareness of the German firm’s US subsidiary. The unit has about 52,000 employees within the US and contributes nearly one-quarter of Siemens’ total revenue.

Siemens is and wants to be perceived as a good corporate citizen. To that end, Mr Strawderman is helping to lead the digital aspect of a challenge called “The Baton Pass”, in which Siemens has pledged to donate up to $1m to Stand Up To Cancer. Between March 16 and September 5, Siemens is giving $1 every time someone passes a physical baton symbolising courage and hope at one of its fundraising events around the country or a digital baton on its Facebook page, defined as a “like”, comment or share.

Mr Strawderman says he helped revitalise the digital portion of the campaign by “articulating a clear purpose, creating strong emotional resonance and making it easy to participate”. Indeed, activity is often enthusiastic on “The Baton Pass” page, thanks to the company’s ability to establish credibility and trust—something he says was won through the value of the idea and a willingness to “take a back seat” and let people share that idea. Siemens, which makes imaging technologies that help diagnose cancer, is 85% of the way to its pledge.

The key to reaching and influencing people effectively is tuning in to them, says Mr Strawderman. “Sometimes the magic is creating simplicity in expression, injecting it with emotional currency and enabling people to rally around it—preparing the soil, so to speak, to help ideas grow.”

For instance, on Mother’s Day weekend, Siemens posted a portrait of a mother and child, emblazoned with: “Your action is a gift. 1 like = $1 donated”. It garnered more than 32,000 likes and 1,440 shares.

Mr Strawderman describes himself as a “restless marketer and change agent with an analyst’s mind and poet’s soul”. He blogs and tweets as the “Marketing Bard” and fancies himself a digital troubadour.

He entered the world of social business at AT&T, climbing the ladder until a “wickedly lucky reorganisation” left him in charge of business-to-business digital marketing and social media. For a mid-career marketer, the shift was disorienting. But he was soon introducing social technologies into the organisation, cultivating 200 employee bloggers, who published on the company portal, and encouraging them to promote their posts on social networks.

This work also required building a circle of trust. “People within the company had to trust that we would not be a liability to the brand,” Mr Strawderman says. So the group was trained to communicate and write for an online audience via AT&T’s Networking Leaders’ Academy. “We equipped them to be the voice of the brand.”





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