When you work in the Communications Department of a large organisation, you not only spend a huge amount of your time updating, analysing and engaging on a multitude of corporate social media channels, you also have the joyous task of trying to manage a plethora of project workers and external office staff attracted to the hypnotizing lights of social media like moths to a flame.
In fairness, it’s my job to be knowledgeable on such things and so it’s my responsibility to advise staff who come to me with questions (or, more usually, demands). But having the same conversations does grate on your nerves. Although, it’s not nearly as annoying as not being listened to. If you’ve experienced similar, this blog post is for you.
Here are the answers to the social media queries organisational project staff will send your way (wrapped up in a rant-shaped bow). Simply copy, paste, repeat.
“We need our own social media feed”
No, you don’t. Honestly, I mean that. I’m a communicator, I work with these communications channels all day everyday but you can trust me when I tell you that almost 90% of the time the answer to this demand will be - no, you do not need your own social media channel.
“Awww, but why?”
Because your organisation will already have at least 3 or 4 channels, all targeting different audiences, engaging thousands of people numerous times a day to the point where they’ve gained significant loyal followers on each channel. Utilise those before you start from scratch trying to build up an audience.
“But we need to promote the service to our target audience”
OK, I’m all for that, promotion is in my blood. Do you know where your target audience is though? Because if you ask me to set you up a Twitter feed to target teenagers, a Facebook for employer consultancy and a LinkedIn for retired people, it doesn’t instil much faith that you’ve done your research.
You don’t pick your channels based on what sounds popular in the media or what is easiest to update. For example, Vine video creation might sound too technical and time-consuming but if you want to market your services to young people you’ll get more engagement there than the time you may waste tweeting to an eternally low number of Twitter followers, for whom your message is lost in their constantly changing timelines.
Then once you have the right channel you can’t simply re-hash existing content from news sites or announcements about events. You have to create meaningful content. It needs to be a mix of relevant industry news, political movements, events, human interest stories and blatant promotion. Are you prepared to do that? If not, get back on your social media contraception because it’s a big commitment.
“We told the funders we would do it in the bid”
Well that was awfully nice of you. Slightly short sighted but hey ho. This is often the problem with funded projects; a plethora of activities will be inserted into a bid by people with little knowledge of appropriate PR activities and even less understanding of the time involved in implementing them.
Most project workers hired after the bid is won won’t have the time (or even the skills) needed to dedicate to social media activity and a small centralised communications function can’t hold out to managing multiple channels. The corporate channel managers also have to schedule posts so that they achieve maximum impact without overloading the public’s timelines, thus prompting them to remove us from their news feeds. If various channels from the same organisation are flooding the networks it will do more harm than good, so a joined up strategy is really important.
“Well then what should we do instead?”
Great, glad to see you’re on board with us, let me enlighten you…
Firstly, you should do what is rarely done and that is feed back all the great work you’re doing (and upcoming work that needs promoted) to your central communications team. They can then create quality content and strategically orchestrate your messages in among hundreds of others organisation-wide, so that they reach the right audiences, at the best time, for the most impact.
For example, if you send information and photos about an event for older men, we can use this across all channels in a theme, such as Men’s Health Week (this week). We can also incorporate the human stories into blog posts and local media stories. We can even notify relevant partner communities who will re-publicise the information on their feeds for you (not achieved by @mentioning every local celeb on Twitter BY THE WAY - pet hate!) We can time the posts to reach the maximum audiences on each channel, be it morning, afternoon or evening time and we can work with you to decide where best to use your resources - so if something would make a great video, we’ll help you create it. If it won’t, we’ll advise you not to waste your valuable time.
Now, what have you learned?
Social media marketing might sound simple, so easy, the answer to all your promotional problems. However, you have to remember what it is you are promoting. When you work for a business or even a charity, you are selling messages and services that will be, at best boring, at worst, depressing, to most people who are using social media. You’ll spend your days trying to find your needle in the haystack (interested customers), with the world’s tiniest pitchfork, if you don’t use it wisely.
So replace all the myths you’ve heard about social media and content marketing with knowledge. Do your research and THEN propose a strategy for your use (or not) of social media channels. It will help to ask yourself these questions:
- Of your existing corporate profiles, which ones get the most traction? Have they been analysed to understand why?
- Have you evaluated your existing website analytics to understand whether social activity (generated by you or other people) is a major driver of visitors and if they stay to read content/contact you?
- Is there a clear connection between particular channels and your work?
- Do you include photography in all of your work activities or have you the budget to hire those skills in?
- Are you prepared to engage on the social media channels as well as posting on them?
After all this, it may come to pass that your particular little piece of work in this big world doesn’t actually need a social media presence. Just because it’s new and shiny doesn’t mean it’s the best thing since sliced bread. It may be that you need to network and engage face-to-face. Perhaps promotional literature strategically placed will better reach your demographic. Or it may even be possible that a letter (yes, you heard me right, snail mail!) sent to specific influencers will better get you where you need to go…