AXA CMO Says Using Social Media Is Best Way To Understand How We Can Adapt
One of the most socially active global brand CMOs, Frédéric Tardy uses Twitter and LinkedIn daily.
Earlier this year, Marketing Land discovered less than a third of Intebrand’s top 100 global brands had CMOs with active Twitter accounts.
Ranked No. 53 on Intebrand’s list of top 100 global brands, AXA was one of the few brands with a socially active CMO. In fact, Frédéric Tardy is one of the top 10 most active global brand CMOs on Twitter.
“I use Twitter and LinkedIn every day to promote our brand,” says Tardy, “We also use social media for recruiting and social selling purposes.”
AXA’s social engagement is a global effort, with the brand also taking advantage of international platforms like Asia’s Wechat.
Tardy says, “Our last road safety campaign to protect kids was a huge success in China.”
As CMO, Tardy drives the AXA Group intitiatives, from digital transformation and partnerships to brand, media, strategic marketing and customer segmentation efforts. The insurance and financial services organization is in 59 countries, with 130,000 distributors serving its 103 million customers.
In 2010, Tardy was named CEO of L’Atelier U.S. BNP Paribas, the BNP Paribas Innovation Lab located in the Silicon Valley, a position he says motivated him to become more social.
“I was lucky to work three years in Silicon Valley. The unique way to be part of the tech community is to be active on social media from classic players such as LinkedIn up to the last new startup such as Pickle.”
As one of the most socially active CMOs from a top global brand, Tardy shares how he uses social media and the ways it has benefited his brand.
Amy Gesenhues: What have you learned about social media since you first joined Twitter?
Frédéric Tardy: The best way to understand social media is to use it every day and to test new social media platforms. You need to remain very humble because we learn every day.
For example, I was really surprised about the amount of social media user-generated content from our initiative with Google Niantic lab. We turned AXA retail agencies in the real world into digital Ingress “Portals” in just five months.
The success of the partnership saw over 600,000 social media Ingress users visit AXA Insurance locations to find, collect and deploy more than five million AXA Shields, unique and powerful branded virtual items.
Social media on smartphone is the new airport to build strong brands in this fast-changing world.
Amy Gesenhues: Marketing Land recently published a story about how less than a third of Intebrand’s Top Global Brand CMOs are on Twitter. Why do you think it’s important for CMOs to be socially engaged?
Frédéric Tardy: Traditional companies are facing a huge disruption. The best way to identify customer pinpoints is to listen to them through social media. We need to change our business model to keep and attract customers, especially millennials.
Many executives underestimate this challenge. Using social media is the best way to understand how we have to adapt to this new world. Twitter is a powerful tool to inspire internally and externally about the necessity to move forward.
Every day I engage through Twitter with Fintech and insurance-tech entrepreneurs, with talents to recruit, with marketing experts… I share AXA achievements. The strength of a CMO is clearly linked to his network on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.
Twitter has been a huge benefit for me to identify trends and to leverage my network in our 59 AXA countries. I tweet in many languages to reach more diverse people.
— frederic tardy (@fredtardy) August 13, 2015
Amy Gesenhues: As AXA’s CMO, how do you use Twitter beyond marketing your brand?
Frédéric Tardy: I like scouting startups, sharing disruptive innovation and discussing with brand and Fintech experts on Twitter.
It is also a great way to have insight from the main brand and digital conferences. Twitter is a great platform to inspire an internal and external community about our business transformation.
I also use Twitter to engage with potential global talents to recruit. We were the first insurer to set up a lab in Silicon Valley, and the AXA Lab is just in front of the Twitter headquarters. I most regularly tweet content regarding innovation and AXA initiatives.
I also use Twitter to connect with marketing experts.
Amy Gesenhues: What brands and organizations do you follow on Twitter?
Frédéric Tardy: I like sharing content from nonprofits such as Endeavor.org startups, from our AXA labs in San Francisco and Shanghai.
Interacting with entrepreneurs all over the world is the best way to fine-tune your local marketing strategy and to build a strong global brand.
Amy Gesenhues: Beyond Twitter, which of your personal social media accounts do you use to help promote your brand?
Frédéric Tardy: I promote the AXA brand internally and externally mainly through Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Wechat.
I also use specific platforms such as Elevate, the new LinkedIn tool, to promote AXA branded content. We use Elevate to progressively leverage our 150,000 employees and our 130,000 insurance distributors as brand ambassadors on social media across all touch points.
Amy Gesenhues: What social media platforms does AXA use for marketing purposes?
Frédéric Tardy: We are platform agnostic and use the main social media players. Our ambition is to become the leading digital and multi-access insurer.
For example, we signed a global partnership with Facebook to benefit from dedicated Facebook resources, notably including innovation and analytics teams to help in further developing our brand presence on Facebook, particularly on mobile.
We developed a strong community called “People Protectors” on Facebook regarding protection all over the world. Millward Brown identified our initiative as the first top fan page in 2015 in Mexico.
On the page, we share ways to better protect the people and world around us every day. This might be the signs to recognize in case of a heart attack or a new way to prevent litter in the countryside. It might be a teacher in the Czech Republic who helps children walk to school safely, or a teenager working on a test for pancreatic cancer.
When you “like” the Facebook page, you can keep up with the latest news, be inspired, and get involved… and help us spread the message further.
By “liking,” “sharing” and talking about our posts, our one million fans, in turn, raise awareness around them, meaning that, in total, 150 million people are inspired with a message of protection.
With partners such as the NGOs CARE or Un Kilo De Ayuda, we build projects that our fans can help to make succeed — using their clicks to help us bring drinking water and sanitation to villages in Benin, or dancing to fight obesity and feed malnourished children in Mexico.
The more we are, the more we can do together. We asked our 100,000 fans to access a special Facebook application and use their clicks to plant mangrove trees on the coast of Vietnam; together we planted 80 hectares to protect 14,551 people living in 3,650 homes.
With almost two million People Protectors, just imagine what we can achieve!
Amy Gesenhues: What other ways has AXA leveraged their social channels?
Frédéric Tardy: We set up a global partnership with LinkedIn supporting AXA HR, marketing and communications, and sales teams through LinkedIn offering innovative solutions and access to premium services.
AXA has leveraged LinkedIn’s resources and optimized the use of the social network to attract talents, allow distributors to build a close relationship with their clients and to develop their brand presence.
Amy Gesenhues: What are your recommendations to high-level marketing executives who are not active on social platforms like Twitter or Facebook?
Frédéric Tardy: Engaging with social media platforms is a necessity. Not using Twitter is a risk to be absent from the main brand conversation, especially in emerging countries. For example, we developed a strong expertise in Indonesia, the third-largest country for Facebook.
You need first to set up a strong customer service platform on social media, then to train your senior executives, and finally, to listen to your community through a social media command center.
I also recommend to be very close to the sales team, as social selling is becoming huge. We train our distributors to use social media, and in the countries where we implemented this strategy, the impact on sales was significant.