BC Tip: Enel - Facebook Messenger news bot

Enel offers a news bot through Facebook Messenger which shows some promise for corporate communications

 elen, Enel’s Facebook Messenger bot, introduces itself

elen, Enel’s Facebook Messenger bot, introduces itself

The Feature

Enel, the Italy-based power company, offers a Facebook Messenger news bot which it has named ‘elen’.

 The bot is accessed via a Facebook Messenger icon in Enel.com’s navigation, positioned prominently next to the hamburger menu icon on the right hand side of the header. It can also be reached via the group’s Facebook page.

The bot begins by introducing itself as a news bot and informing the user that they can tell it what topics they are interested in, or use a menu presented in the bot, which is a series of links to areas on the corporate site such as news, press releases, and stories.

It also offers an introduction to the company and its sustainability activities. Users can ask elen questions or type in topics, and the bot automatically produces basic answers or links to the corporate site.

If it gets stuck, as it did on a question about the company’s position on global warming, elen allows the user to request an answer from a human – which we received promptly.

The Takeaway

Elen will be useful to audiences who want basic, general information and news, and the informal tone helps to humanise the company. It also sends a signal about the company’s innovative approach, but those wanting more detailed information are still better off sticking with the corporate website.

Ultimately, the bot works best as a way of funnelling Facebook and mobile users back to the corporate website, and presumably deflecting contact about basic company information (but still needs humans for more complex answers).

It is something of a risk to tie the bot to a particular platform, in this case Facebook Messenger. Not all corporate website users will have installed Facebook Messenger, and may be unwilling to do so or to log in on desktop.

Promotion of elen is weak too: although the Facebook Messenger icon is located in the header, some users may not be aware of what it is. It is not clear, before clicking on it, what exactly the user will get in return.

T-Systems Germany, by contrast, has a careers chat bot offered directly from its website which does not require any third party platform installation, as we wrote earlier this year, and which states clearly what it can be used for.

https://www.messenger.com/t/EnelGroup

For more commentaries, tips and downloads for online corporate communications professionals, visit our website.

If you have a query or for more information about Bowen Craggs, please contact Dan Drury: ddrury@bowencraggs.com.

BC Tip: ITV - Not loving islands of information

British broadcaster ITV fails to make the most of a significant new strategy

 ITV plc corporate home page

ITV plc corporate home page

The Feature

UK-based broadcasting and production company ITV plc announced a major new strategy in June.

As of early August, the corporate site home page http://www.itvplc.com/ has a rotating carousel promoting the 2018 Interim Results, the 2017 Annual Results, and information on ‘What we do’.

The new strategy is mentioned, but in an area under the carousel and below the ‘fold’ on many devices. Along with an overview, there are links to find out more by downloading the 2018 Interim Results presentation or the Interim Report.

The home page strategy area also offers link buttons relating to ‘Broadcast & Online’ and ‘ITV Studios’, but – as with the presentation and report links -  these open PDFs without warning although at least they do appear in new browser windows.

The home page does not link to the new strategy page, housed at About ITV > Our Strategy.

The Takeaway

At a time when ITV has a higher public profile than usual – thanks in large part to the popularity of its Love Island programme in the UK  - the corporate site misses an opportunity to sell its new strategy, and how the company will capitalise on its current success.

The site still feels as if it is in ‘news’ mode rather than presenting a consistent, integrated view of the new strategy. This might be understandable in the immediate aftermath of a big announcement that the web team may or may not have been privy to, but they have had enough time to rectify matters.

Many users on smaller screens might not scroll, and so miss the strategy area on the home page. The strategy could have been promoted in the carousel as a main item. Even though the timing meant it was competing with the Interim Results part of the announcement, some mention of it could have at least been made on the Interim Results panel.

The PDF links were probably a temporary measure when the announcement was made and perhaps before the strategy page existed. But linking to them now, instead of the strategy page, does not makes sense.

For more commentaries, tips and downloads for online corporate communications professionals, visit our website.

If you have a query or for more information about Bowen Craggs, please contact Dan Drury: ddrury@bowencraggs.com.

BC Tip: Samsung Electronics - Board committee transparency

Samsung Electronics hides its corporate governance pages away, but they contain some unusual, but welcome, transparency on board committee activities

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The Feature

Samsung’s global Investor Relations site, available in English and Korean, has a Governance & CSR section, which contains pages on the company’s six board committees.

Each ‘Committee’ page lists its members, with links to individual biographies; and outlines the committee’s responsibilities and duties.

Unusually, each of these pages – see the Audit Committee page, for example –  has a sub-section called ‘Activities’, which has committee meeting dates, agenda items (along with an indication as to whether each item was approved or not) and the number of committee members present. The information is presented in tables and click-to-expand menus by year, back to 2012.

The Takeaway

Recording committee meeting dates, agenda items and attendance back to 2012 sends a strong message about Samsung’s approach to governance and transparency, and is a level of detail we have rarely seen in corporate governance sections.

The company could go further: agenda points could be explained in more detail (for example, linked to board documentation), and the exact voting results for each motion could be recorded rather than just saying whether they were approved or not. And attendance figures do not reveal exactly which members were present.

The biggest problem for these pages is that they are so hard to find: there is a lot of clicking and scrolling required to find them, especially if users start on their local Samsung sites.

However, despite not being as well signposted or executed as they could be, including board committee ‘activities’ on corporate sites is an idea worth emulating if the aim is to improve the organization’s reputation for transparency.

For more commentaries, tips and downloads for online corporate communications professionals, visit our website.

If you have a query or for more information about Bowen Craggs, please contact Dan Drury: ddrury@bowencraggs.com.  

BC Tip: The British Royal Family - Making a royal mess of navigation

The marriage of Meghan Markle to Prince Harry received a lot of news coverage globally, but the Royal Family’s website is not without a hitch when it comes to navigation

 The Royal Family's website

The Royal Family's website

The Feature

The British Royal Family’s website has a splash page, with an image of the newly-wed couple.

Clicking on ‘Explore’ or scrolling down reveals the ‘usual’ home page, which employs tiles, with and without photos, to guide users to content within the site.

The main site navigation is hidden behind a hamburger icon and the label ‘Menu’ at the top right of the page, but there is a brief left hand menu, indicating the user has landed on a page ‘About the Duchess of Sussex’. The only other option in this navigation is ‘Biography’, and there is no breadcrumb trail.

Clicking on the Royal Coat of Arms at the top left of the site header, which appears without a site title, takes the user back to the home page – with the splash image displayed again.

The Takeaway

The site as a whole looks appealing, and the use of big, bold images featuring smiling, candid shots of the Royal Family adds a warmth and authenticity to the site. The incorporation of Instagram images on the home page and in other areas also sends a positive message of modernity and inclusivity.

But the overall impression is let down by deficiencies in the navigation.

The fact the home page defaults to the splash image each time the user returns to it is likely to frustrate some, and the lack of any site title or navigation on it could confuse those who arrive here from links or search engines. While devices like splash pages can be used to add impact, especially around important events, the fundamentals of user experience should not be forgotten.

Those users who navigate within the site, or who find themselves sent there from search engines, are given no help with orienting themselves; even clicking on the Menu label and icon does not reveal where in the site they are, and there is no website title to help – just the Royal Coat of Arms.

For example, a Google search for ‘Duchess of Sussex’ returns a page from the site as the first result, so the lack of orienting devices including the absence of a website title will be a major problem for them.

Site managers should remember that it is not enough to ensure good search engine performance: the experience of the user once on the site, especially those who may arrive deep within it, must be taken into account too. And that means providing easy ways of understanding where they are, and how to navigate around the site, in addition to visually appealing and easy to read pages.

For more commentaries, tips and downloads for online corporate communications professionals, visit our website.

If you have a query or for more information about Bowen Craggs, please contact Dan Drury: ddrury@bowencraggs.com.

BC tip: Asda - Merger, what merger?

The UK supermarket's reluctance to talk openly about a major deal is likely to frustrate website visitors

 Asda's corporate home page - no merger in sight

Asda's corporate home page - no merger in sight

The Feature

Asda and Sainsbury’s, two of the UK’s biggest supermarket companies, have announced plans to merge, attracting a great deal of coverage in the mainstream media and even debate in the UK Parliament.

The Asda corporate site has nothing on its home page about the deal, and even navigating to the Newsroom still reveals nothing (as of the afternoon on the day the announcement was made).

It is only when the user clicks ‘See All Press Releases’, and accesses the press releases listings page, that a news article is shown – with no image and the utilitarian title ‘Proposed combination of J Sainsbury plc and Asda Group Limited’.

The article is brief and advertises a ‘Digital Press Kit’ – which turns out to be some standard images of employees and stores available at the bottom of the article.

Asda’s parent company Wal-Mart did carry a home page story about the deal – but many people may not be aware that Asda is a subsidiary of the US company.

The Takeaway

Given the huge public and media interest in the deal, since it would create a retailer with massive power over suppliers and potentially affect both customers and employees, Asda’s online reticence about the merger is unhelpful for people visiting its corporate site. (This approach contrasts with another current high-profile merger in the US, where both T-Mobile and Sprint have material on their customer-facing sites, and have created a dedicated website about the deal.)

Granted, the terms of the tie-up suggest Sainsbury’s is the dominant player, so it is possible that Asda as a company is less enthused than Sainsbury’s clearly is: Sainsbury plc’s corporate site has plenty of material, including videos, prominently displayed on the home page, and even posted an article about pre-deal speculation over the weekend before the formal announcement.  Or perhaps Asda is expecting rival bids and so is anticipating further announcements and changes.

But that is all guesswork. What is not, is that there will be plenty of users coming to Asda’s corporate site wanting to find out what the company thinks and says about the deal. Making a limited amount of information hard to find is likely to frustrate them, whether they are journalists, customers, jobseekers or employees.

BC tip: SAP - Transparency though Glassdoor, but presented opaquely

SAP is embracing Glassdoor as a channel through which to engage with employees and respond to criticism. But oddly it seems reluctant to shout about it.

 SAP response to criticism on Glassdoor

SAP response to criticism on Glassdoor

The Feature

We wrote almost two years ago how SAP has established a vibrant presence on Glassdoor, the site where employees can leave reviews of companies as employers.

The company has invested time and money in creating an enhanced employer profile, on which it displays awards and feeds from its other careers-focused social channels such as Twitter and Facebook. It also posts updates directly, and has created other bespoke information on life at SAP.

A closer look reveals that the company responds to both positive and negative employee reviews – the central part of Glassdoor.

For example, on February 4th 2018, the company thanked an employee for a 5-star review, while on March 7th it engaged with an employee who had posted a review titled ‘Trash’ and which complained about sexism, racism and homophobia. The company detailed its efforts at inclusion, apologised to the employee for their experience, and provided an email address for the employee to take matters up with the HR team.

On the SAP website, Glassdoor is not included in the links to social channels in the footer. The company’s Glassdoor profile is advertised on a page at SAP Careers > Who We Are > Social Media Channels, but this page is quite hidden in the site – not in the navigation and only accessible via small links on other pages such as Careers > Who We Are.

Unlike two years ago, there is no advert on the Careers landing page for the Glassdoor presence (only a reference to a Glassdoor award).

The Takeaway

SAP’s activity on Glassdoor shows how employers can engage with employees and show how transparent they are.

There are alternatives to this approach: this recent PR Week article sets out the legal avenues to have posts removed, or prevented in the first place. While these options may be useful in extremis, such as if an employee at the company in question has been identified, it is preferable to demonstrate transparency by facing negative reviews head on.

Given that employees will be posting reviews – both positive and negative – on the site, whether a company has chosen to tailor its presence there or not, it makes sense to respond to criticism and put forward the company’s point of view.

There is evidence to back up the benefits of this approach: a 2016 Glassdoor survey found that 62% of jobseekers said a response to a negative review would improve their perception of a prospective employer.

However SAP’s seeming reluctance – or perhaps it is just oversight - to publicise its engagement on Glassdoor seems odd, and to undermine its efforts there. Other companies such as BNP Paribas do a much better job of showcasing their Glassdoor presence.

BC tip: KFC - Not catering for journalists

KFC’s response to its chicken supply problems in the UK has been admired – at least for customers. But it has not put much on the menu for the media.

 KFC UK's 'Crossed the road' store finder

KFC UK's 'Crossed the road' store finder

The Feature

KFC’s UK website responded to a shortage of chicken in its restaurants with a helpful page allowing users to search for their nearest open restaurant.

The URL was memorable https://www.kfc.co.uk/crossed-the-road and also advertised in various publications, through humorous and eye-catching adverts, as well as on social media accounts such as the KFC UK Twitter feed.

The site also featured a menu detailing which items had limited availability, and offered rewards to customers inconvenienced by the shortage.

However, the UK site offered no press releases: there is no News section. There were no links to the global/US site, or to the website of the chain’s parent company Yum! (Yum.com); although neither carried any news on the UK shortage in any case. In fact, we could find no mention of Yum! at all on the UK KFC site.

The contact page on the UK site defaults to an email form; users can get to a page with a phone number, but that is for customers, with the press office number displayed in small text below.

The Takeaway

The media can be a helpful ally in communicating the reasons for problems at a company, and the response to them. But while KFC helped customers get their takeaway, journalists coming to the site hungry for the latest official releases, or detail about the supplier switch which caused the shortages, would have been left unsatisfied. These problems could have been at least partly mitigated by easily-found press contact details.

It was also a missed opportunity to explain more about the company’s supply chain – both to those interested in the company’s CSR approach, and to potential partners. The parent company Yum!’s site would have been the place to publish this, and any press releases. But even if they had been available there, the lack of any connection between the KFC UK site and yum.com meant that journalists would have needed to know or research who the parent company was to find them.

It is understandable to prioritise customer communication in a crisis, but companies should remember that other audiences will be looking for information too, and may well visit 'customer' sites which are not primarily intended for them.

Having good, permanent signposts between the different parts of your web estate, and to helpful contact options, can help direct those audiences to their correct destinations, and give you one less thing to worry about in a crisis.

https://www.kfc.co.uk/crossed-the-road

BC Tip: Deutsche Telekom - Experimenting with a chat bot

Using an innovative way to communicate with jobseekers brings mixed results – but some promise

katy_whole.png

The Feature

Deutsche Telekom offers an unusual way for jobseekers to interact with the company.

The corporate website exists in English and German, and on the German version a blog alerted us to the existence of a chat bot, ‘KATY’, in the careers section of the subsidiary T-Systems Germany site.

KATY appears as an overlay panel available on the right-hand side of all pages in the section; users simply type in questions and the answer is provided (or not).

The bot did not prove that useful. We asked it several simple questions in both German and English, and most of the time received a standard message that it could not help us.

Even when we wrote, in German, that we were looking for jobs in Stuttgart, we were simply directed to the job search mechanism, rather than a listing of available jobs in Stuttgart from the job search site.

The Takeaway

The fact that Deutsche Telekom is prepared to use a chat bot – and to advertise it on its blog and other channels, such as its Whatsapp messenger service – is perhaps as much about reinforcing its credentials as an innovative tech company than providing services of real use, at least at this stage.

In mitigation of KATY’s deficiencies, the blog publicising the release of the bot states clearly that it will not be perfect yet and that, as an implementation of artificial intelligence, it needs to learn from successes and failures. Only offering the bot on a subsidiary country site, at this stage, seems sensible too.

The blog also says humans at T-Systems will sometimes help the chat bot as it learns. This seemed to happen when we asked it about company benefits. We initially got the reply that KATY could not assist, but then several minutes later received another answer – presumably from a person – setting out some high-level information on company benefits, although there were no onward links and many jobseekers may have given up on KATY by then.

As ever, the success of using new technologies relies on the skill and effort of the humans behind them.

https://www.t-systems.com/de/de/karriere/willkommen-bei-t-systems/karriere-126456

BC tip: BP - Making existing material go further

BP selects some of its best images from 2017 for an effective New Year photo feature  

BP 2017 picture show

The Feature

BP has an online magazine which is one of the main sections of its website.

At the end of 2017, BP selected nine images which it had previously published in the magazine during the year to create a new article ‘Picture show: the faces and places of BP in 2017’.

The images are varied, ranging from an employee working in a laboratory to schoolchildren at an event to a landscape of an offshore platform. Each one is titled, credited to a photographer and has a short caption.

The feature was posted in the Observations sub-section and heavily promoted around the site, including on the global home page, and on the company’s Twitter feed.

The Takeaway

Individually the images are impressive, but taken together their impact is increased. The user is drawn to scroll down the page to see all the photos, partly by the strength of the images, but also by the bold titles such as ‘Line of sight’ or ‘The colour purple’.

The images seem to have been chosen and captioned carefully to convey the wide range of projects and locations that the company operates in, to convey key messages, and to provide a retrospective on the year.

For example, the top image ‘Hanging out’ is of an employee high up on rigging, installing equipment on a platform. Not only is the image stunning, with the operator in the foreground far above a ship in the background, but the fact he is wearing safety gear – and that the caption underlines this – is designed to communicate BP’s approach to safety.

A link to a magazine article from April 2017 on the company’s North Sea business, where the platform in question is located, is an effective way of drawing the visitor in to related information.

Crediting the images is a nice touch too – not just to recognise the photographers, but it also helps add to the magazine-feel of the piece. One criticism is that the original articles in which the photos were published are not linked: this would add context and interest.

Overall this is a powerful way of telling the company’s story and engaging the website’s visitors, simply by reusing valuable material the company already has. A useful pointer for companies that could be helpful not just at New Year, but at any time in the editorial calendar.

https://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/bp-magazine/observations/bp-best-of-2017-in-pictures.html

BC tip: Goldman Sachs – strident tweets from the top

The chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs uses his personal Twitter account to convey the firm's position on contentious sociopolitical issues in a way that is high profile yet at 'arm's length' from official channels. 

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The Feature

Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and CEO of US investment bank Goldman Sachs, created a Twitter account in June 2011 but did not start tweeting from it until June 2017. Since then, he has tweeted sparingly (28 times) but stridently on contentious social, environmental and political issues, from Brexit to US participation in the 2016 Paris Agreement on climate change.  

The Takeaway

Mr Blankfein makes what appears to be carefully calibrated use of Twitter to convey Goldman Sachs' position on big global issues in a way that is high profile and 'straight from the top' – Mr Blankein’s Twitter biography says simply 'CEO @GoldmanSachs' – yet also at ‘arm’s length’ from the firm’s official corporate communications channels. For example, Goldman Sachs signposts four Twitter accounts from the footer of its website (including the 'Official Goldman Sachs Twitter account') but Mr Blankfein's is not one of them. The points made in his tweets are reaching far beyond the confines of Twitter: news outlets from the Financial Times, via the BBC, to Reuters, have extensively covered them in recent months.

Click here to read the 'Explain yourself Index' – our new report on the best companies in the world at telling their stories online.

BC tip: BBC News – A very usable filtering system

Elegant handling of complex filters draws readers in to a collection of articles on British jihadists.

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The Feature

The BBC news website has a database of over 250 British jihadists, which it claims is ‘the most comprehensive public record of its kind’.

It presents this information on a standard page using a series of filters which control the profiles of jihadists in real time further down the page.

There are two levels of buttons: the first, colour coded, allows users to filter by the current status of the individuals. The next level can be used to narrow down by category, such as ‘Attack planners’ or ‘Converts’.

Below this three drop-down lists allow further refinement by age, gender and hometown. Finally there is a free text name search, a results counter, and the option to view the profiles in grid or list format.

The profiles themselves display head shots where available, and on click, display summary details of the individuals with links to further articles featuring them on the BBC web estate.

The Takeaway

A jihadist database may not have obvious parallels with online corporate communications, but the filtering system is notable for the way it elegantly allows users to drill down into information, and then discover related pages.

Knowing what we do of the BBC’s approach to website usability, we expect this will have been rigorously tested.

It packs a lot of functionality into a compact area. The filters are complex and multi-layered, yet the layout is easy to understand and use. The combination of colour coding, real-time results, buttons used with drop-downs, and the results counter means that the effect of the user’s filtering choices is immediately obvious, and can be quickly undone or amended. It also enables browsing or targeted searching.

The BBC’s filtering system could be applied to any area of a corporate digital site that needs to present a lot of information, and onward links, in a usable way. News and feature repositories, product selectors and even board and committee pages could benefit.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-32026985

BC tip: Washington Post – Memorable design features

Design elements from an online special feature could be adapted for corporate stories.

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The Feature

‘Tampa Bay’s coming storm’ is a special feature on the Washington Post’s website, published in July, about the disaster that could unfold if a strong hurricane hit the Florida city.

It is full of creative animations, illustrations, embedded videos and professional photography; with interesting arrangements of the elements to increase impact – for example, as readers scroll down the page, a pull quote from a government official appears alone against the backdrop of an animation of a hurricane.

The Takeaway

The Washington Post feature represents the best of online journalism at the moment – great writing combined with unique and eye-catching visuals, all of which make the most of the web as a medium. You continue to scroll because the writing is compelling and the design elements keep surprising.

Companies with the appropriate budgets should consider adapting the ideas in the ‘coming storm’ feature to engage with readers and make their own online stories more memorable.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2017/health/environment/tampa-bay-climate-change/

BC tip: Procter & Gamble – Proxy fight microsite

The US consumer goods giant goes online to make its case against an activist investor.

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The Feature

Procter & Gamble (P&G) and activist investor Nelson Peltz have spent, according to the New York Times, at least $60 million in a proxy battle over whether Mr Peltz was to get a seat on the P&G board. (Yesterday the vote went management’s way, but the conflict over P&G’s strategy is expected to continue.)

Part of the company’s war chest went towards a microsite – voteblue.pg.com – which forcefully made the case for management and against Mr Peltz. Leading with the banner ‘A Profoundly Different P&G’, the microsite had facts and figures backing the company’s strategy; supporting quotes from well-known analysts and business professors; and attacks on Mr Peltz’s record. The microsite also had prominent ‘How to vote’ links for shareholders.

Before the vote, the microsite was well signposted from P&G’s main corporate site. After the vote, the microsite was promoting the results.

The Takeaway

It is unusual for a company to set up a microsite to fend off an activist investor, and voteblue.pg.com is possibly unique in using the tactics of a political website – unapologetically taking management’s side; attacking its opponent; and frequent calls to action – ‘how to vote’.

The political nature, and plain language, of the microsite may reflect the fact that P&G had to persuade individual shareholders, who own 40% of the company’s shares. It is an approach that appears to have paid off, at least in the short term.

The lessons for other digital managers may be niche – what to do when your company is in a public tussle with an activist investor; but as activists pursue more and larger corporate targets, it is a situation that could become increasingly common.

https://voteblue.pg.com/

BC tip: BT Group – Summaries in the results archive

Visitors to the telecom giant’s financial archive can easily see summaries of historical financial material for any quarter without leaving the page.

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The Feature

The financial results archive page in BT Group’s corporate website investor section has a series of clickable boxes listed horizontally according to financial year – from 2017/2018 back to 2004/2005.

When clicked, the box is highlighted in purple and a series of click-to-expand menus appears for each of the four quarters and any supplemental reporting or updates.

For example, the menu under 2016/17, ‘Fourth quarter and year to 31 March 2017’, expands to include key developments for the year, a statement from the CEO and links to the press release, webcasts, slides, etc.

Unusually, the ‘Key developments’ and CEO statement text are not links, but provided within the menu.

The Takeaway

Including summary performance information in HTML directly in the click-to-expand menus – rather than providing these as separate linked pages – makes it easier for analysts to do research across years and reporting periods.

It also helps that the set for each quarter is comprehensive and that file formats are clearly signposted with icons.

One drawback is that PDFs open in the same window, forcing visitors to use the back button on their browsers if they want to return to the archive, but this is a weakness across the whole site, not just the investors section. Another weakness is that press releases jump into the media section, which is on an older template, without any obvious way back.

Despite these drawbacks, the summaries on the archive page itself are an efficient and usable resource for investors.

http://www.btplc.com/Sharesandperformance/Quarterlyresults/index.htm

BC tip: Suncor Energy – Social media pop-ups

Social media icons with pop-up menus can help integrate digital channels and send visitors to the right place.

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The Feature

The social media icons in the footer of Suncor Energy’s corporate website have pop-up menus with links to different pages on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

For example, on clicking the Facebook icon, links to five of the Canadian oil company’s Facebook pages appear – the main corporate page; careers page; and consumer and campaign sites.

For icons with one channel, such as Flickr, there is an introduction ‘Check out our Flickr photostreams’. YouTube has a longer introduction to its two channels: ‘We maintain several official YouTube channels to share official Suncor videos as well as relevant videos and playlists from our stakeholders.’

The pop-ups also work in smartphone view of the responsive site. Unusually, the set of icons has one for Suncor’s blogs, with a pop-up menu describing three that the company maintains.

The Takeaway

The pop-up menus are a quick way of promoting multiple social media pages from one set of icons, and help visitors find the right channel.

Many companies have a main Facebook page and a Careers page, for example, and these can be brought together without worrying which one is being promoted in the footer at any given time.

There are weaknesses in the way Suncor uses the icons – some of the Facebook channel headings are unclear, for example. The blog menu is promoting two blogs that are no longer maintained.

One company we know used pop-ups, then dropped them.

Used in the right way though, they could be a neat hub for a company’s social media pages, and a good way to integrate the company’s online presence.

www.suncor.com

BC tip: Total – Corporate history wiki

A French energy company uses a wiki to personalise its corporate history.

BC tip - Total.png

The Feature

‘WikiTotal: Your Stories, Our History’ is a wiki page for employees, former employees and anyone who has had dealings with the company in its nine-decade history to share memories.

Promoted on the corporate site’s home page and within the history section, the wiki already has several contributions, called ‘testimonials’, including images and short narratives in English and French. There are six categories – Countries, Activities, Brands, People, Products and Periods.

The wiki is billed as part of the company’s ‘One Total’ initiative (‘expanding to include our history’).

The Takeaway

History is always more accessible when it focuses on people, and the Total history wiki is an interesting attempt to inject personality in an area of the website that can end up as a dry recitation of mergers and acquisitions.

With the focus on employees, the wiki combines internal and external communications – employees and jobseekers are likely to find it interesting. It is also a chance for the company to reinforce its values through personal stories.

It will be interesting to see how Total develops the idea and integrates it into the main corporate site. The strength of a wiki is the expansive and spontaneous feel, but content can quickly become unwieldy and vary in quality. If the digital team manages to incorporate the most interesting contributions into the website’s history section, perhaps leaving the wiki as a feature for browsing, it could be a useful example to follow.

http://wiki.total/en/home

BC tip: The Draft House – Retweeting from across the group

A UK-based pubs company’s approach to local Twitter feeds could be adapted by corporates.

BC tip - Draft House.png

The Feature

The Draft House has a group Twitter feed – @DraftHouseUK. Each of the pubs in the group has its own Twitter handle, based on its location eg, DH Tower Bridge, DraftHouse WB, DraftHouse MK, etc.

All of the group's Twitter accounts bear the group logo as an identifier but in a different colour to help to easily differentiate at a glance.

The group account regularly retweets each pub’s tweets on the group-level account.

The Takeaway

The Draft House approach is a simple way to ensure that a group-level Twitter account is always busy, interesting and reflective of the whole group.

In a corporate context, this approach could be applied to country, regional, division or individual Twitter accounts.

https://twitter.com/DraftHouseUK

BC tip: PepsiCo - Convenient management images

A drinks giant has an unflashy but useful one-stop-shop for management biographies and images.

BC tip - PepsiCo.png

The Feature

The ‘Our Leadership’ page on PepsiCo’s corporate website has a conventional set of headshots for its global executive team.

On click, a biography opens, with the option to download the biography in PDF and a JPEG headshot. The feature is not available in smartphone view.

The Takeaway

PepsiCo’s download feature is simple and not flashy, but will be a useful tool for journalists and/or picture editors.

It means visitors can read a biography and download an image without leaving the main management page.

http://www.pepsico.com/Company/Leadership

BC tip: Merck - Rise of the footer

A US pharmaceutical company’s home page footer expands upwards when the mouse hovers over it.

BC tip - Merck.png

The Feature

The Merck.com home page has a narrow footer panel with three headings in a row – ‘Latest News’; ‘Social @ Merck’ and ‘Other Merck Sites’.

When visitors hover the mouse over any part of the panel, it rises up the page to reveal more details under each of the categories – summaries and links to press releases; the latest tweets and social media follow icons; and links to other parts of the web estate. Moving the mouse off the panel causes it to collapse back down the page.

On a smartphone screen, the three elements of the panel are stacked vertically. The expandable footer appears to be limited to the home page; it is not on any of the section landing pages, for example, or anywhere else that we clicked.

The Takeaway

Merck’s expanding panel tries to do for footers what the mega dropdown menu has done for primary navigation. On the Merck home page, the feature is a space-saving way to let visitors see options that are not in the main menus at the top; and helps to keep the home page from scrolling. It could be a useful design in some circumstances – if footers can expand downwards, why not have the option to go up too?

It is not clear this works completely – for example, the way Merck have implemented it means they cannot have a longer home page, even if they wanted one. There are some other disadvantages in the way it is executed – on smaller laptop screens the panel obscures some of the text in the carousel.

If in doubt, a useful guideline to follow is, don’t try to innovate with navigation.

www.merck.com

 

BC tip: Intel - Breaking news on a blog

The computer chip manufacturer shows another potential role for a resurgent online channel.

The Feature

Intel’s CEO, Brian Krzanich, announced on Monday via a company blog, policy@intel, that he was quitting President Trump’s American Manufacturing Council. This followed the resignation of Merck CEO Kenneth C. Frazier, a higher-profile event in part because the US president attacked him personally on Twitter.

We could not find any reference to the resignation anywhere on Intel's corporate website, or even a link to the policy blog (including using the internal search engine). This goes for the online newsroom too, and we could not find an official press release.

The New York Times linked to the blog post directly in one of its stories about the resignation. 

The Takeaway

Intel using a blog to break news, rather than an online press release, makes sense – a blog is direct, easy for journalists to link to, and (usually) more readable for the general public than press releases.

In this case Intel had a ‘go to’ channel - it maintains a blog on public policy and so it was a natural fit.

The fact that we could not find the blog post or a link to it on the website is interesting, but it is not unusual for corporate sites to be silent about controversies. A big reason is often legal caution (although the Intel policy blog is run by Intel’s lawyers). 

We have noted how blogs have been making a comeback, although in some corners of the IT world they are well established. Google has long-favoured using blog posts over traditional press releases to disseminate company news. But not in every corner – Apple recently launched its first-ever blog, for technical discussions about artificial intelligence).

The point for other digital comms teams is that breaking controversial news is one more potential role for this ‘old is new again’ online channel. 

http://blogs.intel.com/policy/2017/08/14/intel-ceo-leaves-manufacturing-council/