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10 tips to kick off your Digital Forum

Who is running digital marketing in your company? Your company’s social media team? The web marketing team? The product marketing team? Your bloggers?

Truth is, everybody in your marketing organization should be engaged in digital marketing today; the marketing message, vision and goals of your company should be reflected in everything your employees do that is related to the product and your customer.

With that being said, wouldn’t it make sense for your marketers pertain to understand how these digital channels come to life? Wouldn’t an educated and able internal workforce help you build integrated marketing programs and break down silos?

Here at Cisco, our answer was yes. And with that the Digital Marketing Forum was born. The Forum provides a communal place where we can demonstrate, educate and enable our internal workforce to use digital marketing, while encouraging best practices and the opportunity to share learnings.

After successfully pulling off our first Forum, we want to share 10 tips which will help you plan yours:

  1. Get executive commitment. Work with your executive team on topics and get their support for the forum.
  2. Make it count. Research the groups that should be invited, gather email alias and names and send out a save the date ahead of time. Be aware of global teams and their time zones.
  3. Plan for success. Treat this internal event as you would any external event and plan ahead of time with firm deadlines.
  4. Pick one topic or message. Don’t overwhelm your audience, keep it to one simple message or topic of great importance.
  5. Be flexible. Have a back up plan in case a speaker or topic falls through.
  6. Be mindful of the event length, date and time. Try to limit your event to 2 hours maximum and pick a day and time of the week that is not crazy busy (don’t try to get people Monday morning… )
  7. Put on your teacher hat. How can you present your learnings and best practices so people can easily follow and remember? What worked for us was 10-minute case studies.
  8. Use digital channels. Make sure mobile and onsite workers can attend through online channels.
  9. Get an outside speaker. Share industry thoughts and knowledge from a different perspective; define topics beforehand.
  10. Evaluate and adjust. After the event solicit feedback trough surveys, polls, chats, comments on your community sites; ask people for ideas and new topics.

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I’d like a side order of “tweets”, a blog, and a dozen “likes” please.

October 5, 2012 at 9:41 am PST

Like most social media users, I use sites, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Blogger, to reach out to family and friends, network with colleagues, and share personal blogs.  These venues make my social conversations both manageable and enjoyable.  However, when I sought to utilize social media as a way to market our department brand, I went from a fast food menu of the big three (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) to a dizzying array of social media networks from which to select.  Google+, Chimein, Dribbble, Picasa, Pinterest, Digg, and Instagram are just the tip of the iceberg in a sea of social media networks that number in the hundreds.  Add in the many international social media networks found around the world and what were a few simple choices, became an overwhelming social media menu; and new social media networks continue to pop up faster than I could say, “I’ll have fries with that.”

With so many choices, how would I pick and choose the most effective social media networks that would provide the perfect social media options for my branding plan?  After all, part of the “mystique” is the desire to utilize the next social media network de jour.   An impossible task that would have had me spending more time on investigating every social media option rather than actually using available networks productively, so I backed away from the menu and outlined a social media strategy by asking the following questions:

  1. Who was my audience?
  2. What was the purpose of using social media?
  3. How would I dedicate and manage my time resource and stay involved?
  4. Budget – do you have one?

My audience is made up of fast moving and customer driven, professional technical teams who digest information quickly and move on.  Social media is the vehicle that would put the information I need to get into our engineers’ hands at real time speed and with interaction exchange.   I listened to their conversations and identified topics of interest and will present information in an engaging format that will enlist their attention.  Visuals, such as pics and videos, and sound bite titles, such as tweets with links, are most successful for this group.  Additionally, by employing gamification methods as a fun teaching tool, I would build awareness in a group that is often too busy to engage.  Factor in that I had both a finite amount of time I could dedicate to these resources and encourage active participation and no budget, I would have to use free, social media resources and utilize the tools they provide for metrics oversight.

Being able to answer the above questions allowed me to narrow my choices, from the many social media networks available, to purpose-specific and globally popular social media platforms.  With recognized voices such as Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, most of my audience was already familiar with these social media networks and would provide an easy learning curve to those who were not.

There are countless social media tools out there and not every tool works best for all business plans.  Define your social media goals and the outcome you want before you begin selecting from the social media menu and if you are still not sure what to do, invest in a social media agency.  They can assist you in defining a social media plan with the outcome you desire.

Resources:

  1. Wikipedia -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_social_networking_websites
  2. Building a Successful Social Media Program – Cisco Learning Catalog Course

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#smtraining Twitter Chat Recap

It’s been a whirlwind week for the Cisco Social Media Business Group. We completed a 2-month, internal core course series, that included over 30 introductory to advanced level offerings for employees. And we held our first @CiscoSocial #smtraining Twitter chat with @petra1400, @christyjpark,  and myself (@elhoust) just yesterday! We appreciate everyone’s participation and insights!

Building on our initial training blog post, Twitter chat framing, and 13 tips and tricks post,  here are some of the interesting key takeaways.  For those that would like to access the #smtraining Twitter chat transcript, here is a handy link.

@CiscoSocial #smtraining Twitter Chat Key Takeaways Read More »

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Design Considerations For Enterprise Social Networks

While enterprise social networking has been covered extensively in the media and by IT analyst firms, one of the least discussed aspects of the topic has been the issue of design and the potential impact of design on employee adoption of such tools and applications.  At the June Enterprise 2.0 Boston conference, I presented a session, “Design Considerations For Enterprise Social Networks: Identity, Graphs, Streams & Social Objects”, in hopes of drawing attention to the issue and to spark conversation around design practices. The session did not focus on any particular user interface (UI) technique or product implementation (e.g., e-mail, community site, social collaboration platform, etc.). Instead, the information was presented at a holistic and inter-disciplinary level, covering a collection of related issues:

  • Affordance-centered design
  • Social theory and design
  • Work and personal value
  • Blended user experience
  • Psychology of adoption
  • Enterprise architecture

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The Power of Social Networking in Business

By Steven Shepard, Contributing Columnist

In late spring of 2012 my friend Gary Martin and I attended a photography workshop in Death Valley. Rather than fly into Los Angeles from the east coast, we chose instead to drive from Gary’s home in western Wisconsin to California.

The trip took four-and-a-half days; we drove through Minnesota, where we had the pleasure of visiting the one-and-only Spam Museum (yes, there really is one; that’s an article for another time); South Dakota; Wyoming; Utah; a tiny sliver of Arizona; and the southern cone of Nevada, before we made our way into California.

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