As final preparations are underway for the July 31st (9am PT) Let’s Chat! #Ciscosmt Training Series USTREAM broadcast, let’s get the conversation going early! Are there certain social media examples used for on- and offline events that stick out in your mind? What made them great or perhaps ideas to avoid? And what was used to enhance the participants’ experience?
Within my last post on this topic, I mentioned social media is a perfect channel to help on- and offline audiences engage in events and activities. Audiences are able to share their own insights rather than just hearing a speaker present, exchange ideas and connect with others, and add to the overall collaborative experience.
Cisco Live 2013 (Orlando)
Here are some tips to keep in mind when leveraging social media for on- and offline events:
Audiences: use social media to reach new audience segments for an event. After defining the audience in the overall planning stages and listening to their care-abouts, find ways to involve them in different aspects. E.g., polls to pinpoint most popular topic ideas, word-of-mouth opportunities to spread the word, VIP activities for top influencers, and live tweeting to keep engagement going.
Duration: leverage social media on an ongoing basis and draw attention to events and activities along the way, as part of the overall ongoing strategy. Depending on the type of event, promotions may begin a few months prior to just 3 weeks. E.g., a large hosted type of event or ongoing online series may require ongoing promotions year-round. Activities such as participating in another organization’s event or a webcast type of activity, may only require promotions 3-6 weeks in advance. Event-specific social media efforts should taper off within 1-2 weeks afterwards, folding back into the regular ongoing efforts.
SEO: include popular tags, Cisco and/or third-party hashtags, and keywords can greatly increase visibility for an event or activity. Take time to research these tags prior to beginning event-related social media efforts, maximizing efforts and reaching the appropriate audiences.
Monitoring and Measuring: create a program-specific listening and respond plan as part of the overall listening strategy. Since on- and offline events are happening in real-time, planning teams need to monitor constantly and handle responses in a timely manner. And when it comes to measurement, its best to focus on quantitative (number of responses, reach, etc.) and qualitative metrics (sentiment, influencers, etc.). These efforts can help teams benchmark and better understand areas of success and ways they can continue to improve strategies moving forward. (Check out this Cisco Live 2013 Orlando Listening Hub recap blog post, by Cisco’s Davythe Dicochea, for additional insights.)
Integration: tap into existing brand and third party accounts whenever possible rather than creating new ones. It will help continue more meaningful engagements with audience members, tap into existing and established channels, and continue to build reputation and trust among interested parties. Look for the most appropriate accounts and create/use content that relates to the audience’s care-abouts within each channel.
Activities: create a mix of posts, tweets, images, videos, traditional marketing, and activities to provide a full customer journey. As these assets and communications are developed or leveraged, find ways to keep the audience members engaged, focusing on their care-abouts. And just as importantly, make it fun as they get ready to participate in an event, engage with them during the event, and help the audience be the heroes of their organizations afterwards by providing helpful follow-up resources.
Experimentation: pilot new ideas to better understand how innovations or strategies can be implemented for future tactics and increased audience participation. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake. This is part of the process and can often lead to even more innovative approaches.
Messaging: use social media to create 2-way dialogues for on- and offline events rather than just broadcasting upcoming activities. Communications should include a balance of consistency and variety to keep conversations fresh and relevant. And be sure to customize the messages by social media channel, taking into consideration format and communication best practices. Lastly, make it easy of audience members to share and follow information by incorporating social media channel links in all communication vehicles.
The Cisco IT University Program recruits college students from all over the world into Cisco IT for internship and full time opportunities. With a myriad of employers for college students to choose from, Cisco IT identified the need to innovate and explore new ways to become the employer of choice for the best and brightest of the millennial generation. This generation is leading the social media explosion today and is always connected. According to the Society of New Communications Research, 93% of people active online fully expect companies to be present in social media spaces and be willing to have a conversation with them. Therefore, the IT University Program decided to adapt to the communication preferences of this generation and enter the world of social media with full force delivering the Cisco IT experience right to their smart phones.
What does the millennial generation seek in a potential employer?
The ability to work on innovative projects that make an impact
A start up environment that is fast paced, fun and exciting
The opportunity to change the world
This is exactly what Cisco IT has to offer! However, college students today maintain the outdated brand perception of Cisco being the godfather of routing and switching. They are oblivious to the cutting-edge initiatives going on within Cisco IT that are changing the way we work, live, play and learn more than ever before. The natural expertise of millennials must be leveraged for Cisco IT’s game changing initiatives such as the Internet of Everything, BYOD,user experience, collaboration and mobility.
So, what does the IT University Program want to accomplish through the use of social media?
Create increased brand awareness among college students of the endless opportunities available in Cisco IT
Generate online buzz and excitement by showcasing the fun company culture
How does the IT University Program’s social media strategy meet and exceed these goals?
According to Ypulse, 62% of Millennials use Facebook and 22% use Twitter to keep up with a brand or company they like. Based on this research, the IT University Program built a robust online presence using their existing Facebook page with Twitter as a secondary communication platform. When the social media strategy was kicked off, the Cisco IT University Program Facebook page had only 200 likes with a sense of hesitance and uncertainty around the possibility of its success. Within a few short months, the Facebook page has over 1000 likes and the IT University Program has created an incredible amount of excitement internally and externally. The IT University Program’s online audience includes the company’s CIO, IT Executives, Managers, New Graduates and Interns, and even the parents of New Graduates and Interns.
Information distributed through the IT University Program’s social media channels is catered towards each one of these audiences. The IT University Program has engaged its audience and met its intended goals in the following ways:
Held live Q&A sessions prior to onboarding week for incoming new hires and new graduates to ask questions through Facebook and Twitter
Real time coverage of onboarding week in all four locations: RTP, SJ, UK, and India.
Videos of IT Leadership focusing on why new graduates & interns should choose to work for Cisco
Overall, implementing an extensive social media strategy to reach the millennial generation has been a big win for the IT University Program. Not only did it create buzz and excitement around Cisco IT externally but also earned the support and encouragement of executives within the organization. This is how the IT University Program is striving towards Cisco’s vision of becoming the #1 IT Company by innovating and finding new ways to recruit top talent into Cisco IT.
Cisco Live 2013 (Orlando) was bigger than ever this year. There was a record breaking 20,000 registered customers, partners, press and analysts. More than 200 of our top partners were in the World of Solutions, representing a year-over-year increase in partner participation. Our host was none other than Blair Christie. She informed and wooed the crowd, tying together the major themes and highlighting special details throughout the week. Along with showcasing the latest and greatest Cisco gear, services, and thought leadership, there was something new this year. There was something special—the Social Media Hub.
You already have subject matter expertise. It is time to share that knowledge with others through social media. There are many social networks, many rules, many experts and a lot of information to digest. Beyond the basics of each platform, here is some practical advice to get started:
Be careful with posts
Take heed to best practices for sharing for the various social platforms.Whether you’re posting to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram or Pinterest, make sure to follow the norms for that network. Some updates may work well for your audience on Twitter, but may fizzle quickly on Facebook.
Try not to cross-post the same update to different social networks. Do post content in different ways. For a newly published blog article, post an image with the link on Facebook; pose a question from the article on Twitter; use a different image for sharing on Instagram or Pinterest. Each post then links back to the original post, but is shared in different ways.
When posting to brand channels, schedule posts for the future—even if the future is only 5 minutes from now. This will allow you to check the post for grammatical errors and typos, as well as verify that any links work correctly before the update goes live.