My take on social media in the Commission

I was asked to write an article for our intranet about the use of social media in London. Thought I would reprint it here, as I would be grateful for comments.

There’s no doubt that social media is the latest thing in communication terms. If I had an extra 10 minutes in the day for every unsolicited email I get marketing new ways to “optimise my social media presence” or “enhance my social media ROI” I’d be able to get a lot more done. But it’s not clear to everyone what social media is and how it can be used effectively. The London rep has built up some experience in the field that Well’Comm has asked me to share with you.

 1. What makes media social?

 The predominant principle of social media is that it’s two way. If you post on your Facebook page, people will comment, and will expect a response. If you have a Twitter account, you will get the most out of it if you follow and interact with other people. If you write a blog, you will need to respond to (sensible…) comments. Your success in these media will depend on how much you do so – broadcast only is not an option. This direct contact is why we in London started working with social media in the first place – it allows people to hear our side of the story, to question us about it and to get replies to their own questions, all of which helps breakdown our remote “ivory tower” image in this country.

 2. Who uses social media?

 Effective communication relies on getting the right medium for a particular message and audience. With social media, this is not only true, it is easy to measure. Platforms such as Hootsuite have integrated analytical tools that let you see how your tweets are being viewed and from where. New Twitter analysis tools such as Tweetreach and Twitalyzer are being developed all the time. Facebook insights give a demographic breakdown and show your most popular posts. Different groups use social media in different ways and on different platforms, so it’s really worth doing your research. Know who your audience are, choose the best tools to reach them and be clear about what you trying to say or do. Calls to action (“register here for…”, “send us your…” “tell us your…”) usually work better than general information messages Check out what your target community is doing and where they are talking to each other. Use the site analytics for your existing digital work to find out where they come from and what information they consume and use this to choose the best social media channel. Find examples in your field that you would like to emulate and work out what makes them successful and how you can translate that to your activity. 31 million people in the UK have internet, 89% have a mobile phone and 42% of those are smartphones. Therefore digital communication has to be a core element of our communication here at the London rep. Our Facebook insights show that our major demographic (65% of our users) is the 18-34 age-group, so we tend to orient what we do to this group. Our most popular items tend to be those focussing on careers and specific issues for students and young people.

 3. There’s more to social media than Twitter and Facebook

 All the talk at the moment is of Twitter and Facebook, but there’s more to social media than those two platforms, important though they are. Social media is at its heart about connecting people and this can be done in many ways. Having a Flickr account for your photos (preferably with a Creative Commons license so people can actually use them!) and YouTube/DailyMotion for your videos is one thing. You can make collaborative maps using Google Maps. You can highlight your expertise on a particular issue in Quora. You can make your presentations public and invite people to comment on them. You can use LinkedIn to find professionals interested in your issue. Of course all of these feed into and off each other – you can tweet your answers to Quora questions, repost your blog entry on Facebook and so on.

 So, if you want to stick your toe in the social media pond, you could do worse than consider Jim Benson’s 10 principles of social media. I’m off to tweet the link to his blogpost…!

1 Comment

Filed under Digital/social media, EC in UK

One response to “My take on social media in the Commission

  1. Bernard Smith

    Hi, what you describe is a kind of B2B or B2C. You have some “product” to promote (that could simply be information on something) and social media are just additional channels. You can acquire feedback which can be useful in improving your message. One other use is just to follow-up family and friends spread around the world. This in many ways highlights how a media like Facebook is adopted and used differently by different generations. And the usage can range from a highly superficial almost random “conversation” through to a highly complex collection of information, photos, etc. describing in detail some aspects of a persons social-family life.
    Here we start to see some the problems. One is how to “visualize” a persons presence over time on something like Facebook. Another is how to mash together and extract factual data from a mass of Facebook-like content, e.g. creating on the fly a wiki-like knowledge base. And yet another challenge is to help emerge a collective way of using social media, as an example rather than try to stop young people using something like Facebook why don’t schools manage that process and start to set homework that requires teenagers to cooperate and work as a team using social media.
    If today’s social media is to go beyond being just another marketing-publishing tool it will need to be taken-over by something more powerful and useful than just supporting B2B or B2C communication. Sorry if this is over provocative.

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