For decades Ben & Jerry’s has been creating innovative flavors and exceptional experiences. In recent years, the Vermont-based ice cream company has used social media to scoop up customer delight far and wide. Mike Hayes, Integrated Marketing Specialist at Ben & Jerry’s, was kind enough to share a few of their brand-driven insights on how they use social media.

Social responsibility is a big part of the Ben & Jerry’s brand. How have you brought that aspect of the brand to life via social media?
Social Responsibility is built into our mission statement so it’s really a part of everything we do including social media. Social media allows us to take our message about social responsibility and the initiatives we want to champion and educate many more people about them. We bring our social mission to life in a lighthearted way which, when done right, makes the topics more approachable. It’s a balancing act of the right messaging, at the right time, in the right way. The Ben & Jerry’s brand has a lot of flexibility, so you shouldn’t be surprised to see one tweet about Grateful Dead lyrics followed by a tweet about Fair Trade.

Ben & Jerry’s is also known for launching exceptionally wacky products. The engaging nature of social media probably allows you to have a lot of fun. Can you tell us a bit about this?
Jerry, our co-founder, said “If it’s not fun why do it?” Thus, we are a pretty playful bunch at Ben & Jerry’s and like to convey that fun and wackiness through social media. As long as we stay true to ourselves and our fun and wackiness is authentic, we believe it will resonate with people. Our hope is that through positive engagement with the brand on social media we can turn Ben & Jerry’s consumers into Ben & Jerry’s brand ambassadors.

Beyond Facebook and Twitter, you also have social outposts on platforms like Google+ and Instagram. How does all of this work together?
Even on a global level we have many different outposts that different team members are responsible for. We meet once a week with all of our team members and discuss messaging and what’s important for us to share. This meeting is made up not only people from marketing and public relations but our social mission team as well. Each outpost has their own niche and slightly different voice, but the story is the same. We often take content created for one channel and use it across all of our channels. For example, a picture taken for Instagram can also be shared on Facebook and Twitter.

How is your social team organized? What tools do you use?
We don’t have one social media team. Social media is part of everyone’s job and we look to all of our employees to create and/or curate content. Ben & Jerry’s is sold in over 30 countries and we have both Scoop Shops and retail locations that we sell our ice cream in. Thus, we have hundreds of accounts ranging from regional to national to global. In each country we have brand champions that are responsible for their own social accounts. We have scoop shops that have their own channels and as a brand we have global accounts. We use an internal social network called the Flavorhood which helps share information and content across different countries. In addition we’ve recently began working with Buddy Media to help share and manage content for Facebook and Twitter.

Social media is moving target for brands. What’s next for Ben & Jerry’s?
As new platforms come out we are constantly testing and evaluating which are the most effective in terms of engagement, brand building, and storytelling. There are lots of different platforms out there and companies need to figure out which they can do a great job maintaining and managing and which are the most effective for what they are trying to do. We’ve been very excited about our growth on Instagram and are exploring other new platforms like Google+ and Pinterest.

If there’s one word you could use to sum up the benefit that Ben & Jerry’s gets from social media, what would it be and why?
Love. We get lots of love from our fans across the globe and in return we try to love them more than they love us. That love drives us to come in everyday and make the best possible ice cream in the best possible way.

I love that answer! Thanks for sharing, Mike. Inspiring insights from a strong brand with a big heart. What’s one word that best describes the benefit your brand receives from social media? Please share in the comments below.