By Gloria Lombardi

Katryna Deligiannis, Morningstar’s Social Media Associate presented at the Financial Services Social Media 2014 conference and talked about #myMStar, a successful vine campaign the company ran around its core values.

I caught up with Deligiannis to explore the initiative in detail and to find out how Morningstar has been empowering its employees to use social media

Gloria Lombardi: The #myMStar Vine campaign highlights the importance of employee activism. How would you describe it?

Katryna Deligiannis: We launched the #myMstar campaign in April through the @MorningstarJobs Twitter account as a way to showcase the many career paths available at the company. The campaign supported our Morningstar Development Program, an initiative which prepares entry-level employees for a career with us. The aim was to share what it’s like to work at our company.

GL: Who managed the campaign?

KD: Our human resources and social media teams jointly managed the campaign. HR approached specific teams in various departments and asked them to create Vines illustrating their typical working day. Teams submitted their Vines for review and selection. Once selected, the Social Media team scheduled the Vines on our social media calendar for release throughout that month on a number of different platforms.

GL: How did you communicate to your staff about your initiative?

KD: We promoted the campaign internally in different ways. First, we approached teams that we felt would be willing to contribute to the #myMstar project. These were employees who had already expressed interest in engaging with social media.

Following the release of the Vines on social media, we then posted information about the campaign on the intranet. We also emailed our Global Marketing & Communications and Internal Social Media teams to inform them about the campaign and spread the message.

GL: How did you ensure your staff’s support for the initiative?

KD: We encouraged employees to contact HR if they wanted to take part in the campaign. The Social Media team gave interested employees insight into how to download the Vine app, with tips about what makes a dynamic and entertaining Vine.

GL: What kind of content did they share?

KD: Each of the Vines created for the #myMstar campaign highlighted different areas of our business, from Sales to Human Resources to Advisor Solutions.

We shared videos from eight teams on the @MorningstarJobs Twitter account. We also uploaded them on the Morningstar Development Program Facebook page, and on the Morningstar Inc. Facebook page. We also alerted other social media managers at Morningstar to encourage further sharing.

Each Vine averaged a follower reach of 21,000 individuals through retweets.

GL: Why did you chose Vine?

KD: We found that videos were a good way to stir up engagement on our social platforms. They are a useful tool and can make content more personable. And, we wanted to target a younger, university-age demographic as part of the Morningstar Development Program. Vine is the most viable platform to reach this population since 18 and 20-year-olds are the largest users of this app.

Vine also worked well for the campaign because it complements Twitter. It was a good way to promote our @Morningstarjobs account.

GL: Are you using other social media channels to engage staff?

KD: We use our Morningstar Inc. Facebook page. We find that posting photos and videos of our employees taking part in corporate events encourages engagement and sharing. We like also to include pictures of staff participating in giving back to their communities around the world.

Before posting content about our people on social platforms, we always ask for their permission. It’s crucial. We never tag their full names or link back to personal social accounts.

GL: What type of guidance do you give employees on how to use social media?

KD: First, we have a social media policy. When a team approaches us for help with developing a social media campaign, we ask questions to better understand what the team wants to achieve. Then we share best practices, conduct training, and help to develop and manage the campaign.

Our team also uses an internal social media blog on the company intranet. We highlight the latest global trends in social media and best practices around the platforms that Morningstar is currently using. Plus, weekly updates about what to expect on our global social media calendar.

GL: Do your leaders use social media?

KD: Members of our executive team are active on social media in a number of ways. Our CEO Joe Mansueto participates in LinkedIn’s Influencer program and is a member of the Yahoo! Finance contributor network, hosted on Tumblr.

Many of our senior staff are on Twitter. They use it to share expertise. Among them are Scott Burns (@MstarScottBurns) Global Director of Manager Research; Heather Brilliant (@MstarHBrilliant) Co-CEO of Morningstar Australasia; Christine Benz (@christine_benz) Director of Personal Finance; and Russ Kinnel (@russkinnel) Director of Manager Research.

GL: Which impact is this activity having on engagement levels among staff? Could you give me an example?

KD: Recently, Joe Mansueto took part in the ALS Ice Bucket challenge and while doing it nominated Scott Burns, Global Director of Manager Research. This created a snowball effect and resulted in employees nominating other employees from different teams and countries as part of a fundraising effort. We created a private video stream on YouTube so that employees could watch the individual challenges and have the opportunity to connect with each other.

GL: Based on your experience, how can a company help staff use social media successfully?

KD: We developed a social media policy early on in the process and that gave our employees a clear idea of how to use or not to use these channels to represent Morningstar.

Consistently informing employees about what is coming up is also important. We keep them updated via our internal blog and our weekly social media calendar updates.

We encourage them to engage and share the content we are distributing, allowing it to reach larger audiences. We encourage key members of staff to set up and maintain Twitter accounts. It is a way for them to reach stakeholders and important influencers.

GL: Anything else you would like to share with our readers?

KD: Colleagues are excited to share what they do at work; they like to show their work environment to their online communities. This was evident from the level of enthusiasm around the #myMstar Vines. It was also clear from the engagement levels we achieved on Facebook during the #ALSIceBucketChallenge.

Employees who are good at using social media can be our strongest advocates.