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LBM Interviews Reed Stoven of the ATK / BLACKHAWK! Team

LBM: Reed, we want to give our readership a little bit about your background. Where did you go to school and what is your degree in? How long have you been working with ATK and what are your job responsibilities?

RS:  I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from the University of Minnesota and an MBA from the University of St. Thomas.  I have worked in the digital arena for my entire career, starting on the IT side and moving over to marketing in the consumer electronics field.  I’ve been with ATK for a year and a half.  I oversee the digital strategy for ATK’s consumer products, which includes the growing area of social media. 

LBM: In focusing on social media – who is the typical Facebook customer and what can you tell us about them?

RS:  Facebook is approaching 600 million users globally.  50% of the U.S. over the age of 12 is active on Facebook.  The customer base is incredibly varied, we see people from all over the world and across all ages.  It’s an incredibly powerful tool that allows companies to engage with their customers and fans in real time.  For fans that “like” your page, you can be sure they are passionate and vocal. 

LBM: What methods do you suggest to get messaging above all the chatter?

RS: The number one thing I can suggest is to keep fans interested and engaged through a variety of different avenues. Use a combination of exclusive video, photographs, questions and polls.  Seek feedback from your fans on a regular basis and listen to what they would like to learn about. 

LBM: What type of growth rate have you seen since working with the BLACKHAWK! Facebook page?

RS: As I mentioned earlier, Facebook is expanding at an exponential pace.  It’s no longer question of who is using the platform, but who isn’t using it?  We’ve seen incredible growth in the past few months.  But, that only tells part of the story, what’s most exciting is seeing fans become more active and engaged with our products and brands. 

LBM: What other new media platforms are out there? Where do you see social media going in upcoming years and why venture into it at all?

RS: The list of social media platforms is increasing daily.  In addition to Facebook there is Twitter, YouTube, Color, Foursquare, Gowalla , Reddit, Flickr and countless others.  There are a lot of options and not all will exist a few years from now.  You need to look closely at each platform and understand its strengths and weaknesses.  Not all will work for your company or brand. Social is no longer a separate avenue, but something that is becoming integrated and layered into the full Web experience.  Also, look for location and photo sharing to have a larger presence. 

LBM: What tips and advice could you give to a company just starting out in social media? What have you seen work? What has failed?

RS:  Listen first. Then understand what you want to say to your customers and fans before you jump in.  Having a clear strategy is key.  Be realistic that it takes time to grow your presence and it won’t happen overnight.  Don’t focus exclusively on the numbers. You need to invest time and energy into social media, you cannot simply set up a page and hope that customers will find you. And most importantly, be ready for feedback that is both positive and negative.