We often refer to social media channels suggesting a broadcaster and an audience. I think of these as conversation spaces. You may influence or even lead a conversation, but you cannot control it.
My work in social media has been based on different objectives depending on who I was working with:
Community building – This is an important base for subsequent social media efforts. When I came to Research Canada, their social media engagement was very low. They had a Facebook page which was closed, a Twitter account with a couple thousand Followers and little activity and no youtube account. My initial objective was to increase this engagement. I grew these two existing channels into valuable spaces that could be used to offer a number of benefits to the organization and the community and began the process of using youtube to present videos of events. This was measured objectively initially in dramatic increases in likes and followers and more subjectively in the quality of engagement and its impact on membership growth.
Advocacy – Some organizations engage widely with the public but many place a priority on a target group of policy makers, supporters and members. How social media is used depends on the objectives of the organization. I have managed social media in the context of advocacy objectives as well as more general public relations.
Brand defence – For one client my job was to monitor social media and engage with anyone talking about the industry. In some cases this meant locating favourable media stories to post and link to, responding to people asking questions, responding to people posting negative posts with information they may not have considered, and posting the organization’s news.
A social media campaign
A Twitter Campaign: The 20-20 Campaign
There were many competing priorities for the 2017 federal budget. The research community was disappointed with the 2016 budget. We did not have the resources for an extensive campaign but needed to make an impact. My task was to propose something that could make a difference and did not stretch resources.
I came up with the idea of a 20-20 Twitter campaign. 20 people would each send 20 messages to a list of 20 influencers within a single week.
My 20-20 campaign
Few people see a solitary tweet.
If you tweet once directly at someone, the person managing their account may or may not notice, but if they get 20 messages, from 20 different people, on the same topic, in a short time – then the person you are trying to influence will take note.
- We began by identifying 20 members willing to participate
- I prepared sample messages others could build on (French and English)
- I prepared sample graphics others could build on (French and English)
- We created a list of the 20 top policy influencers on Twitter for the budget (these included the finance and other relevant ministers, the PM, relevant aides, agencies and other leading policy people)
- We sent our 20 people the target list, the messages, graphics and the hashtag and asked them to commit to sending each one on the target list at least one message
We did this campaign months prior to the budget. The intensity by a small number of people to a small number of people got attention. Some of our targets even retweeted our messages, other people got involved and amplified the campaign.
When Budget day came, our priority (Federal support for research) was a centerpiece. We heard from some of those we were targeting that our campaign had influenced them.
Some of the graphics for the 20-20 Twitter campaign: