The communications landscape has changed, where we consume information has shifted and gaining share of attention has become even more challenging. Whilst new social media channels may seem to offer free methods to reach your audience they also bring new challenges and require new skills.
The way we consumer information has changed and for marketers demand a new way of thinking on how we communicate. We cannot dictate where a potential customer consumes our message – if we are going to be successful in reaching and influencing our audience we have to meet the new challenge of communicating our message across multiple platforms and more importantly recognise that our audience is also our marketer – if we deliver customer driven contact in a timely way our audience will act as our virtual advertising agency and extend the reach of our messages.
We also had to recognise the increasing use of mobile as a method for consuming internet content and with social sites extremely important in this space it was imperative to build our presence in social channels if we were to keep in contact with our audience.
When looking at our strategy, rather than thinking first about the platform that communicates our strategy focused on the messages that we are looking to communicate then how we convey these along the various digital channels. A core element to this new approach was recognising in that with digital engagement many of these communication channels are two way and it is necessary to ensure that we can manage this two way engagement.
When looking at the digital element of our strategy we felt that is was important not to look at social as something separate. Social channels have been integrated into our main digital channels, here on the GS homepage text links come from an RSS feed for the Viewpoint blog and banners promote YouTube videos. It is also important to look at how these on-line activities interact with off-line activity.
The role of video is increasingly important with improvements in download speeds and increasing usage of on-line viewing of video. Here we focused on optimising the messages for the online viewing with videos 90sec – 3 minutes and a new clean style of presentation deployed with new presenters. Videos are embedded from YouTube, though also available on iTunes for download where YouTube has been blocked by an organisation.
And the use of video continues to evolve with integration into Facebook reaching out to this huge potential audience
The Viewpoint blog is a tool we use to quickly and easily add articles which we then syndicate across social networks. Here we bring together video (embedded from YouTube) articles and other key messages.
Articles posted on the Viewpoint blog are then posted on Twitter, Facebook and other social networks
In building our twitter following a lot of time was spent researching and posting content from other sites, gaining the trust of our followers as a trusted voice in this space that is not just ‘pushing’ information but actively engaging with our followers. About 70% of our postings receive re-tweets including for our own content. Retweets of BT’s content help drive traffic – and retweets of other peoples content also helps to drive awareness of the BT Viewpoint twitterfeed and helps drive an increase in followers.
To help organise how content is used we developed the BT Social Content flow – each piece of content is viewed to how it can be used across variety of channels – this is a continuation of the them of content being platform agnostic
We recognised that our people are key, recognising they are a potential asset not just a risk. On one hand we needed to address a lack of understanding – many only seeing the ‘social’ in social media – but also encourage the use of responsible digital engagement.
Methods of measuring your success are numerous, typical web measurements such as page views and clickthroughs continue, with other measurement such as comments and mentions. When it comes to followers, especially on services such as Twitter, it is not just about the number of followers – it is fairly easy (if you know how) to drve hundreds if not thousands of followers. However what is more important is the quality of the followers which whether these are active accounts (as opposed to broadcast or @followus type accounts where people ‘collect’ followers) and this can be measured by the level of engagement through retweets of messages and lists
With social much of the success is harder to measure as it is difficult to give a value to mentions, retweets and syndication of content through RSS – however they do have a huge value
And of course there are no borders for how your content could be used – extending the reach of your content beyond the original intended audience – however like the content their peers/connections have no borders too so every retweet, digg or embeded video can have its benefits.
From starting the strategy in February 2010 we have built a social following of over 20,000 followers which drive over 7,000 page views per month.
So how can this be used in local government. Many of the tools and techniques that I used for BT were used whilst I was Mayor of Lambeth to great effect…
First Mayor of Lambeth to Twitter and blog, and first to have these Twitter updates and Flickr activity integrated into the Lambeth website.
Social media raised awareness of the activity of the Mayoral office, the work of the council and of community organisations
There is a growing online community of people interested in local issues. Social engagement aids with this engagement and as Mayor I received many messages
Social media does not mean you can ignore traditional methods of communication
however it does add and can in itself becoming the focus of the story
Discover links to all our social channels via bt.com/viewpoint
Digital Engagement Christopher Wellbelove BT Global Services