I've been traveling for business and pleasure for the past 2 weeks. It was a great trip and I reconnected with former colleagues and made new connections. As I was preparing for a social media workshop with Ivory Europe, an independent strategic communications and experiential agency, and some of their marquee clients I used the internet and social media platforms to gain insight about these clients. My goal was to facilitate an engaging, interactive discussion about corporate use of social media.
Preparing some slides to guide our conversation was the easy part. Understanding how the participants (a combination of Ivory employees, PR firms representing financial services companies, public sector marketing and employees from leading social media companies) would engage was the challenge. Ivory Europe was kind enough to give me advance notice as to the identities of the possible attendees. I checked out their company websites to see if they had integrated social networks into their websites. I was surprised to find that only 50% of the sites reflected any kind of social media. I also looked up the individuals on LinkedIn. (Yes, all of them are on LinkedIn). Based on their profiles, I was able to quickly understand who they were, how active they were in using social media and how their backgrounds might influence their participation. Interestingly, there was an intriguing mix of journalism and military service in their prior experiences.
What did I take away from gaining this insight? I felt that this was a group of people who understood the value of communicating, but who also would crave structure around the process.
This group was a great audience for me as I constantly emphasize the importance of planning. I believe in the power of relevant communication. And let me emphasize the word relevant. We discussed how and why businesses are using social media, how they get started, where we think it is all going and why certain platforms make more sense for some businesses versus others (see my previous blogs for how to get started and aligning your use of the various platforms). Our key takeaways from this 5 hour session were:
1. Planning is critical as it helps to align strategy with business goals
2. Understanding your brand and its voice is critical for a successful campaign
3. Content can be re-purposed, but it must be aligned to audience and goals
4. Consistency is important to building a following
5. Listening is the easiest way to get started (and it's addictive!)
6. Human resource is the biggest obstacle. There was a clear understanding that being social takes time and finding the right resources within your business to represent your firm is very important.
Depending on the. nature of your business, your implementation of social media will vary. Whether you are a start-up with an exit strategy to be acquired or a government agency reinforcing policy or an established enterprise planning for a new product launch - social media is an expected element of your integrated marketing strategy. Learning from others and brainstorming internally can lead to a plan that achieves great results. Seek help where you need it (possibly in the planning stage), align resources (make sure they understand your brand and your goals) and get started!
What's your perspective?