Social Networks are a specific form of social media. They're about people connecting and sharing – like the biggest pub in the world where everyone has their smart phones out.When it comes to the UK, and you're strapped for resources, there is generally only one network worth investing in. Any guesses? No prizes!At BHF we've tried a few of the other networks but none have really delivered the same returns on the effort.Show of hands:who has a personal facebook profile?facebook page for your organisation?Manyof these principles also apply to twitter. Even though it's founders refuse to call it a social network. So who has twitter accounts for your organisation?
You've already heard from Dean about the importance of listening and some of the tools you can use to do this. I want to reiterate this and give you a metaphor to help see you through until it becomes like second nature.When you enter a new social network its like being in a new job. You shouldn't hide that you're there but you should listen keenly and learn the rules first.Work out the who is interested in the same things, what are acceptable topics, and what the tone of voice is. It may be your brand – but it's their social space. It's critical that you don't suffocate the community.Don't try to over-impress – its better to fit in and be helpful rather than be seen as some sort of try hard to be avoided. It may impress the boss but it won't help you appear to be part of the community.First impressions are lasting and you don't want to lose your new job!BHF started its facebook and twitter accounts over almost 3 years ago and we posted links on our website. We weren't sure how we were going to use them – so we waited and listened. And then we saw – slowly at first. People were making heart felt expressions of why they supported BHF, and advertising fundraising they were doing. They were also asking us questions. It was then that we knew our role was not that different to any other channel – just more immediate.Being a cause driven organisation we're fortunate that there is a natural fit with social media. People use social media to express themselves and their beliefs. As a cause – endorsing us (or challenging us) is one way people can express themselves to the world.
Like any new job – once you've settled in you need to start thinking about how you can get noticed.At BHF once we'd recognised our role on the networks it was at the same time that we realised we were reaching a plateau in the numbers of people finding us on facebook. So we decided to take action. Tactics:paid advertising campaignincentivised – exclusive 'offers' and competitions to draw fans (blogger challenge, photocalls)we provoked conversations so it showed in our fans streamswe got the wider organisation involvedwe engaged in relevant conversations in other groups / streamswe asked our fans to spread the wordWhat we didn't do was create an app. BHF tried this once before and it really didn't pay off. It might have been the timing (it was when our fan numbers were lower and facebook was less popular) but personally I'm not sure many branded apps have ever delivered cost effectively. I'd love to be proved wrong – but no-one has corrected me so far. Facebook is a shifting platform and you could lose your app when they change their functionality.It all worked and now the natural growth is higher than it was before. There is a natural snowball effect – the bigger your fan base the more natural growth you get.
There isn't a dark art to keeping momentum. The key things are to respond to what your budding community are doing and asking for. Don't change what you're doing for the sake of it – if its still pleasing your existing fans and you change or stop without asking them – it could alienate them.Returning to the new job metaphor. This is the stage of your career where people already know what you're about and you need to be seen as a loyal, reliable and trusted colleague. But don't be afraid to try new things – once you're built up a level of trust with your fans they won't mind as long as the new thing isn't completely at odds with your previous behaviour. A key thing to keep in mind is that there will be people on different levels of the journey engaging with you – some of your fans may have been with you from the start while other are very new. So repetition isn't always a bad thing.For those of you who are looking for some more tactical tips. Here's a few ideas:create a regular reason to update – our heart news digest did this for usjust ask every so often – how are you? and what do you want to see here?people use social networks to express themselves – try posting something that people will have differing views on and encourage debateposting pictures from your events will engage those people from the events themselves and give people a chance to connectcelebrity culture is rife – posting a story and image about your latest celeb usually inspires some chatter (but be conscious some celebs may get upset by the resulting comments)A big thing you can consider is setting up a champions network and I'm going to talk to you a bit more about this.
Soc Media GumballMM teamDevolvedconsider setting up a champions network and using your champions to start conversations – there's nothing wrong with having an inner circle as long as its transparentCentral digital team enabling others to 'do' day to day digital directly and driving forward the 'cutting edge'.
Naturally we couldn't talk about social networks without talking about the risks. There are lots of examples where some of the biggest companies have waded in with their size 13s and quickly been ignored, or worse, humiliated.But I don't want to talk to you about these in any depth – google can signpost lots of examples which have been analysed to the nth degree. I'd like to spend a bit of time talking about the more likely 'spilt milk' and 'minor storm' examples.Spilt milk examples – don't be afraid to hold your hands up publicly.
The million dollar question.Its not about quantity – its about quality – electronic word of mouthConstant changeKey tip – gather your stats at the time – as facebook and twitter may decide to change/ remove them at any timeTools are still evolving
Laila Takeh Digital ManagerBritish Heart Foundation