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Interview: Toni Jones, U-Haul on Deriving Business Insights from Social Media


We discuss social media strategy at U-Haul, the key drivers of a social media campaign, identifying what data to focus on, important metrics, career advice and more.



Toni JonesToni Jones is an experienced program manager, analyst and customer advocate who has transitioned into the role of Social Media Director for U-Haul. After years of running a team of project managers through the manufacturing and development process, she jumped into social media. Her area of expertise is in social media data analysis, strategy development, content management, and social care. Her social media team stands alone, but is deeply integrated with marketing, customer service, public relations and Web analytics teams.

Here is my interview with her:

Anmol Rajpurohit: Q1. What are the goals of the social media team at U-Haul? Besides increasing the social media referral traffic to the website, what are the other priorities of your social media strategy?

U-HaulToni Jones: The top priorities for our social media team are to provide information and support to our customers throughout their moving journey. We accomplish this by listening to our customer experiences, and developing relevant content to assist them. We also have a dedicated social care team, working seven days/week to help our customers during their move.

AR: Q2. What factors do you believe are the most important drivers of a social media campaign?

Social_Media_CampaignTJ: The factors will vary according to the overall goals of each campaign. For example, a campaign focused on driving brand awareness will measure different data than a campaign developed to drive sales. When developing a social media campaign, it’s important that the measurements of success are established before the campaign is implemented, and periodic “checkpoints” are in place to ensure the campaign is on track.

AR: Q3. Given the tremendous amount of data available over social media, how do you decide what data is meaningful? Once you know that, what do you do with that data?

Social_Media_DataTJ: In order develop usable insights from data, we must focus on the data that measures the success of our social media goals. We tag all of our social media content by goals which allows to measure the success of our campaigns and our goals across multiple channels.

AR: Q4. What are the aspirations of marketing and product teams from the social media team? What are the key social media metrics sought by the various business units within U-Haul? Referral Traffic

TJ: As you might expect, our Marketing and Product teams are interested in referral traffic and conversions driven by social media. And so, we continue working with them to provide perception insights, including sentiment and discussions around our products and services.

AR: Q5. What is the best advice you have got in your career?

AdviceTJ: In a recent interview, U-Haul CEO, Joe Shoen said, “Find something you’re good at and that you like… and you’ll do well.” This is a great advice. During the past eight years, I have worked in various positions at U-Haul, because our Company believes in allowing team members to grow within the organization… by strengthening our skills. I feel truly lucky to work for such an amazing organization.

AR: Q6. What are the key skills that you look for when hiring for Social Analytics related positions on your team?

TJ: When it comes to social analytics, the most important trait is to have the ability to not only understand data and its origin, but also how specific data is related to our business objectives. One cannot work without the other.

Think_Like_A_Freak
AR: Q7. What was the last book that you read and liked? What do you like to do when you are not working?

TJ: I’m just finished reading “Think Like a Freak” by the authors of “Freakonomics”. It’s a great read that offers an interesting perspective on analysis. Not working? This is social media; we never stop working! =)

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