Ever wondered how a movement starts? Here’s a great three minute summary with some valuable lessons:
Ever wondered how a movement starts? Here’s a great three minute summary with some valuable lessons:
How can you ‘sell’ digital to senior colleagues, and take away the fear that can create obstacles to delivering great digital communications?
I wrote a short post on this over at the #nhssm Posterous identifying a few free and easy tools, such as Ideascale and Netvibes, that can help people to learn and understand the benefits of digital platforms in a safe environment.
The post has generated some interesting responses. In particular a reminder from Shane Dillon to acknowledge colleague’s concerns and be prepared to accept that these concerns are sometimes legitimate.
Whenever possible I like to participate in a weekly Tweet-up of anyone and everyone interested in social media and the role it plays, or might play, in the NHS.
The hashtag is#nhssm and all are welome, particularly if you have an interest in healthcare and/or social media.
What has become clear during our weekly chats is that the term social media, in its broadest, most common sense, appears to be limited to Twitter and Facebook. In fact, what I think we are all talking about at #nhssm is the principles of good digital engagement, and how these might be used to good effect in the NHS. The tools – platforms such as Facebook, Twitter or blogs – are secondary to the aims of why we might engage with patients online in the first place.
The difference between digital engagement and social media is an important distinction, and I have written more about it here (for sharing with the #nhssm crowd). There’s some interesting comments too.
Part of the fear of social media as a campaign tool comes from a lack of understanding about evaluation.
‘We don’t have the right tools to measure effectiveness’
‘There’s too much data’
‘Measuring social media doesn’t provide accurate results’
‘I’m afraid of what it might tell me’
Here are five simple steps for evaluating social media activity.
1. Simply measuring is not enough
– collecting and analysing lots of data is all very well, but you need to be prepared to act on the results
2. Measure results, not buzz
– Forum posts, mentions and Twitter followers are buzz. This could be considered different to actual results, which are defined by your objectives. For example, signing up for a newsletter or downloading an activity pack.
3. Find metrics to suit the goals
– Be realistic about your metrics. If your objective is to encourage sign-ups and these increase, then that should be enough. If you want to create a community and generate a dialogue, then the number of conversations is important.
– But don’t get caught up with measuring when the conversations take place, or the frequency of visits from individual members unless you really need to understand more about your results.
4. Be confident, not scientific
– If your campaign goals are being met overall, and the social media activity broadly correlates with this, then you should be confident of its continued value.
– Trying to directly link the cause and effect of social media activity with the overall results of a campaign that incorporates other channels such as advertising or PR is fraught with difficulty and open to interpretation.
5. Embrace failure
– If the results are not positive, fix the problem, don’t be tempted to change the objectives to suit the results. Failure is often dressed up or swept under the carpet, but the beauty of social media is that it isn’t always scientific, and our understanding is evolving all the time.
Have I missed any? Do you have any experiences to share?
I’ve spent the past week or so presenting the results of some social media buzz monitoring research to various teams in my department.
This is the first such exercise they have been exposed to, but the results are proving invaluable and will form the cornerstone of their approach to digital engagement.
We have uncovered all sorts of unusual, but popular, places where people are talking about social care issues.
However, I am beginning to wonder if you can have too much information, even when it seems such good value. The problem is that I am having to sell the idea of proper digital engagement for forthcoming projects, as well as present the results in a meaningful way. And when faced with lots of exciting opportunities the clients, well, panic.
“So, where do we start?”
“Isn’t this going to require a whole new team?”
“How do we manage this?”
And at this point, I can feel the glossy report and its valuable findings slipping into a dusty draw.
So I came up with some simple steps to take a digital engagement strategy forward:
1. Identify the top five spaces where your audience are talking, and listen. Use a simple dashboard like Netvibes.
2. When planning your next marketing project, take the conversation to your audience in their spaces. Don’t expect them to come to you.
3. Identify five influencers within your audience and get to know them. These could be people who post regularly in relevant forums, publish their own blogs, or Tweet regularly. They will most likely be good at engagement themselves.
4. Look at what content you are already producing and think about how it could be repurposed for an engagement channel. Got a newsletter? Could it be turned into a blog?
5. Make time for digital engagement. If you’ve invested time and money in finding out about your online audiences, then you need to decide whether or not you are serious about digital engagement. Ultimately it will require resource if you are to be successful.
We had a team away-day today; a sort of shake down 12 months on from being a group of people relatively new to each other, working in a reactive and fast changing environment.
Away-days and team building sessions are all too easily derided, but when properly planned and hosted they provide the sort of quality time and focus that just wouldn’t be found otherwise.
There were lots of valuable take aways for the team as a whole, but the day really revolved around ‘how do we describe digital communications and what we offer to colleagues?’
Some useful principles came out of this, which I thought I would share here:
Digital communications is:
1. Delivering strategic support from the inception of a comms project
2. Providing insight into new channels and technologies
3. Sharing knowledge, skills and devolving control, to enable people to deliver online comms effectively
4. Defending comms principles to ensure audience, purpose and value are central to all solutions
5. Championing best practice and upholding industry standards
It is not:
1. Building new websites or launching social media channels for the sake of it
2. Delivering ‘buzz’ solutions simply to keep up with crowd
3. Vanity publishing
4. Resolving IT governance issues
Whilst this may seem obvious, for those members of the team who are managing projects and clients on a day-to-day basis, this exercise brought home the need to interrogate the briefs they receive, offer alternatives when colleague’s ideas are not thought through, and have the confidence to back up suggestions and ideas.
I have always enjoyed newspapers, but just lately I’ve been finding myself thinking more about the way I access information.
Three things have triggered this:
1. I am spending more time on the train and thus have more time to read
2. I am earning more money, which has opened up the possibility of subscriptions and daily papers, without worrying too much about cost
3. I finally upgraded my Blackberry and took time to download some useful apps (such as Opentweet)
Like I said, I’ve always enjoyed newspapers, but increasingly I skip much of the news and read more of their analysis. I also buy different papers throughout the week, depending on their lead stories (even though I don’t read much of the news) or supplements (Media Guardian, Media supplement in the Indie, etc.).
The Telegraph mobile site is clean and crisp, and perfect for me even if it isn’t necessarily my first editorial choice.
The biggest change of all however, has to be my increasing use of Twitter to seek out opinions on local, regional and national news and issues. Its perfect for the journey home; scanning updates to my contacts’ professional networks and blogs.
The combination of sources is slightly overwhelming, but also very empowering. My work definitely benefits from being able to keep on top of what the leading thinkers in my area are thinking, as well as the wider political context and a variety of analysis.
I am giving a presentation on careers in media to a local sixth form next week. Thinking back to when I was in their position (not all that long ago, but a very different media landscape), the one thing I wish I had spent more time doing was understanding how people access information. Thinking about this now will give them more career guidance than any number of qualifications.
I was talking to a customer helpline manager today, who works for a high end kitchen utensil manufacturer. They are struggling with a huge volume of emails, which is becoming a backlog.
He was telling me that many of the calls and emails that they receive are not necessarily complaints about quality, but questions about how to use products or order replacement accessories. If customers don’t call, they email.
The company’s website is OK, but not great, and I suspect that people go straight to the ‘contact us’ button rather than explore the site for answers.
Being interested in how people access information online, I suggested a few ideas that may help them stem the flood of emails:
– FAQs: clear, simple and one click from the home page
– Youtube tutorials: show people how to get the best out of your products. Exciting recipes using the company’s utensils, or perhaps a behind-the-scenes peak at their R&D work.
– Customer forum: the customer base is loyal, with many buying products over decades. Why not let them discuss their experiences together, online? Customer generated hints and tips.
– Customer services blog: previews of new products, recent questions, sources of information, and a new recipe or cooking technique every week.
Simple ideas, yes. But also very effective and not hugely expensive to deliver. Particularly compared with the cost of paying someone to manage 100+ emails a day.
A typical Youtube tutorial that can help sell a product and support customers:
This isn’t some MLM scam, or the latest speculation from a Twitter entrepreneur. Just my experience of how good customer engagement can reap financial rewards.
Mission: Book romantic weekend away.
Method: Scrabble around desperately online for four hours one evening, then give up.
Solution: Visited Mr and Mrs Smith. Booked weekend.
However, my girlfriend then noticed that the Mr and Mrs Smith were offering a third night at a reduced rate, as part of an offer against all hotels. I contacted my friendly account manager and asked to take advantage of this, only to be told that this was in fact a mistake.
I thought about this and decided it wasn’t good enough, so emailed the account manager and cc’d the company’s MD.
A few days later I noticed that said company were promoting themselves quite frequently on Twitter. So I sent my modest collection of followers a message and this is what happened:
Result! £150 saved and, best of all, a good example of digital engagement to share with those social media naysayers for whom nothing speaks louder than cash.
If you haven’t experienced this already, try it. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Just lately I’ve come across some great ideas for communications projects.
Slick, well designed and, mostly, based online.
However, every project had one common mistake. No-one had spared a thought for how their project will be resourced in three, six or 12 months time. Publishing new content, promoting the site, sharing information, evaluating success. All of these were glossed over in a rush to deliver a product.
Crucially, the all-important need to engage, and continue engaging, with the audience was not accounted for.
You wouldn’t publish a newspaper without reader’s letters, or hold a public debate without questions from the floor. So why do so many people launch online spaces then fail to respond regularly to the questions and comments that their visitors make?
‘They don’t know what they’re talking about’ or ‘the article wasn’t aimed at them’ are common retorts. But I would argue that, regardless of how niche your communication is, or whether the reader is an expert or not, they are by definition a customer, because they took the time to look at your product. And you know what they say about the customer always being right.
When I’m trying to think creatively about a communications challenge, I still return to the 5 w’s:
Then I try to plan answers to these questions based on a number of months or years, depending on the scope of the project. This has helped me, and others, to think about the delivery of a website, magazine or event in a sustainable, objective way.