It would have been early 2011 when we decided to appoint our agency and agree the timetable of training and the strategy involved. Naturally you cannot engage with social media without a plan, so the first meeting was about creating a strategy and that would drive how the training days looked.
The key contributors to the plan were then trained in the various SM channels and the rest was up to us to make it happen. The first important task was to get our channels branded and the design team got to work to produce the layouts for our Blog, Twitter and Facebook pages.
We only had 15 followers to send our Tweets to and we clearly understood that getting noticed would take time and patience. We learnt that the framework that makes Social Media a success is listening first then engaging with the Twitter community where we have an interest, as this seems the most active area, followed by LinkedIn groups. But listening also involves trawling news sites to see what is interesting to our audience and setting up alerts wherever possible. This gave us insights into what was interesting and how we could potentially be writing about what is important to our audience.
61 blog posts, 733 Tweets and 714 Twitter followers later has it all been worth it?
There was a comment on YouTube video which illustrates the answer to that question 'We don't have a choice on whether we do Social Media, the question is how well we do it' (Erik Qualman). If you have a business which is interfacing with clients on a daily basis, you will no doubt feature in some way in social media whether you like it or not. As it is a free publicity platform, the desire to praise, scorn, vent frustration or get into topical debate is to be expected and this has been the case.
We have been using the platforms to deliver useful content, but have had mild critics and advocates, and the response mechanism has always been to thank your advocates or whether to respond or fall silent to critics or not. In the main the response has been positive, if you give away good advice and content people will appreciate you. If you overtly sell or promote, or overdo the posting people get put off by you and will ignore you, which is why our number of posts and Tweets looks quite low compared to some and why we operate by way of quality and not quantity.
Klout score has been around 45 recently but has fallen down a few points occasionally as you cannot always be posting out content or overdoing the Tweets to hit someone's timeline. We all have day jobs and different attention spans and interests, so take it or leave it and apply good discipline as you cannot hit everyone's attention span. There are ways to engage your audience, people like to see personalities, so we've added signatures and told a few jokes and where there is good cause to, retweet others content. The legendary #FF to signify the follow Friday has been good for getting noticed and connecting with other twitter users.
We like to think our brand has been sociable but we know we still have a long way to go, as moving in online PR means devoting the right resources in the right way to engage with our audience positively takes time. We have found that not concentrating specifically on the ROI but the purpose of being social and sharing information will lead you to pockets of research, feedback, customer service and new opportunities just by listening and engaging at the right time in the right way.
Patience is a virtue in the social media world and also the ability to be sociable in a professional manner, our advice is embrace rather than ignore it. Click here to download our info-graphic PDF about our journey.
Contributed by Raj Rajput and Nilesh Parmar.