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A Conversation with Kelsey Dahlager, Target

How Target Creates a Cohesive Brand Experience Across Thousands of Social Moments

by David Gorman

In our recent Opal Quarterly Showcase, I was delighted to host a conversation with Target’s Kelsey Dahlager. As a senior manager on their enterprise social team, Kelsey oversees reporting and tooling, and champions process improvement—including helping Target ensure that every piece of social content that goes out into the world is organized within Opal. With thousands of Opal moments every year, that’s no small feat!

Read on for the first post of our two-part Q&A, with real-world examples of how Kelsey and her colleagues combine technology and process to ensure Target customers experience one cohesive brand across every social channel. (Some answers have been edited for length and clarity.)

Q: Thanks so much for joining us today. Can you start by introducing yourself and talking a little bit about your role at Target? 

A: Glad to be here! I sit on our enterprise social team, and am our Senior Manager of Social Performance and Capabilities. That’s kind of a mouthful, but to break it down, I own our reporting processes and a small team of analysts. I’m also in charge of our tool suite and general process improvement, such as trying to streamline our workflows. I think my boss would say that my job is to try to make everybody else’s life easier.

Q: What’s your north star for using Opal at Target? How do you look to put it to use? 

A: It’s definitely evolved over time, since Target has been an Opal customer for five or six years. We’re Opal OG’s at this point, which feels good. But originally, Opal was brought on as a platform that would help us increase visibility and break down fences between all the Target teams that live and play in the social space. 

As you can imagine, in a place as big as Target, it’s not only our enterprise social team that’s producing social content on behalf of Target—it’s our in-house media agency, our recruitment marketing team, our communications team, and so on. We have several channels, and it’s not always one team at the wheel for each of those channels, so Opal was brought on as a platform that would help us increase that visibility. 

If you think about it, our Target guests [Target’s preferred term for their customers] don’t care what Target team produced the content that they’re seeing—they just know one Target. So if we’re putting different messages with different strategies and different priorities out in the world, we run the risk of looking almost disjointed at times. 

Opal has really helped us cut down on being 10 different Targets when we show up in that social space. That increased visibility has really helped in terms of calling out and fixing brand safety issues before content goes live, as well as sharing best practices pertaining to creative or language we use. I think it just leads to a more cohesive Target on social.

Q: That’s awesome to hear—and thank you for being an Opal OG! I’m curious, with that cohesiveness delivering an experience for your guests that does feel like one Target, I’d imagine that also creates some peace of mind internally?

A: For sure. No one person in our Opal touches every piece of content, because as I said, we have content flowing in from all corners of Target. But just that visibility across the fence to see what other teams are doing does help us all sleep a bit better at night. 

We’re seeing that content before it goes live, as opposed to not knowing what another team is doing in social until it’s on Facebook and the guests can already see it. At that point, it’s like, “Oh shoot, I wish we could have connected those dots a little earlier.” That increased connectivity has been super helpful and has brought more visibility to the way that all work in a shared space. 

Q: You’ve got a lot of teams working in Opal at this point!

A: Yeah, definitely. As I said, our goal is to have basically everyone who plays in the social space on behalf of Target in Opal for content planning. Before anything goes live into the world that thing should be in Opal.

So that means not only our enterprise social team and our in-house media agency, but we also have brand marketing (so when you think of capital-T Target marketing campaigns, for Easter holidays and that kind of thing), creative partners, our communications team, and our recruitment marketing. 

And then we also have several external agency partners in Opal as well. All the different internal teams that I’ve mentioned have different external partners that help us get to the end goal with content as well, so it really is a rainbow of people in our Opal.

Q: I’m curious about how you make that work. Different groups usually have different visibility needs, different structures, and different ways of working. How do you manage that?

A: For sure. We’ve done a lot of thinking about that in the last year—shoutout to my Opal partners Ben and Austin—because we have people in different roles using Opal in different ways. We have copywriters and graphic designers, agency partners, and some brand strategists and leaders who are just there for approval moments. 

So when we bring people on board, it’s increasingly important to train them in what they’re actually there to do, instead of presenting “Here is the world that is Opal. Please understand everything.” Let’s make sure that we’re training people in a way that makes them feel comfortable for the job that they are there to do. 

It’s also been a really big focus of mine that people aren’t just there to provide visibility to other teams. As I said earlier, that was our original north star—everyone who plays in social just needs to be in Opal because, whether it’s helpful to your workflow or not, we need that visibility. 

I’ve been trying to make sure that teams who are already in Opal because they “need to be for visibility” also understand the efficiencies that their workflows could benefit from. So you’re not just in Opal because we’re making you be in Opal—you should really enjoy it because it has all these advantages you can use. So I’m trying to understand the use case and the workflow for everyone who’s currently using Opal, and educating those partners in the greatness that is Opal and that they’re understanding the value beyond doing what’s best for Target in terms of visibility. 

Check out part two of our interview here where we’ll cover how Target uses Opal on a daily basis: organizing work by the StoryFirst Framework, collaborating with brand managers, saving time with stamps and nested labels, and more.

To learn how marketers like Kelsey and brands like Target are improving visibility and working more efficiently, get in touch with us here or email me at solutions@workwithopal.com.

About the Author

David Gorman

SVP of Product and Co-founder

Software Enthusiast, Karaoke Superstar & Pioneer of AI + Marketer Collaboration

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