Development Magazine Winter 2010

First Look: Navigating the Seas of Social Media

Want to use more of the social media tools out there and don’t know where to start? In a September Solution Series program entitled "Implementing a Social Media Policy and Plan in the Real World," Dana Galvin, marketing manager, Barton Malow Company, outlined the program’s evolution and what strategies were used to reach their social media goals.

In late 2008, five Barton Malow employees were assigned specific social media topics, conducted online research and tracked what other companies in the industry were doing. The team then put together a report in terms of what social media platforms should be utilized and developed a policy in conjunction with the platform. The report was presented to the Human Resources and IT departments and the company’s executive team for approval. Galvin credits the social media team’s detailed research, goals and high level of preparedness for getting buy-in from senior management.

Barton Malow’s plan includes company bloggers who are allowed to participate on all social media platforms on behalf of the company without approval from an executive. Selection of the employee bloggers was based on their location, market and company and industry knowledge. Bloggers are the same types of people that would be sent in the field to talk to clients.

The work plan covered one year of activities to guide the effort. Once the plan was launched, tracking of metrics and training of employees on the general use of platforms began.

Barton Malow’s social media goals included:

  • Create a public relations and branding opportunity to communicate weekly team messages, media releases and company news with continuously updated information.
  • Generate speaking engagements and project activities.
  • Improve Google statistics and referring site traffic to increase overall Web presence.
  • Increase internship applications by 10 percent -- the result was 65 percent with a noted increase in the number of articles and speaking engagements, media outreach from tweets and social media postings.
  • Metrics tracked quarterly include the number of applications for the internship program; Facebook fans and Twitter followers; media inquiries; and speaker engagement requests. All Facebook pages directly link to the Twitter account so it automatically updates information posted.
  • LinkedIn is used as an individual type of platform where a company profile is set up and employees are encouraged to use it for their personal use. The company ran a series of training sessions where employees were shown how to build their professional networks online. Other social media tools used are Flicker for photo streaming and YouTube for video uploads, storage, testimonials, case studies, commercial discussions and presentations. Galvin commented, "You can’t just build the platform and automatically expect to get traffic. You have to build the connection and use other mediums to drive traffic to the social media platforms. We placed logos on our newsletters and Web site; wrote articles about our engagement in social media; asked employees to include our social media addresses on their e-mail signature; included social media information on postcard programs; and mentioned our social media addresses following speaking engagements."

Regardless of whether you decide to implement a social media platform or not, Galvin recommends developing a social media policy to cover intended use for platforms, personal use of social media (what an individual may and may not say about the company), how to work with the media and legal liabilities.

In creating a social media policy, you don’t have to start from scratch as there are plenty of examples online. Two such examples from Intel and IMB are:

www.intel.com/sites/sitewide/en_US/ social-media.html
https://www-304.ibm.com/communities/service/html/guidelines

For an archive of the Solution Series program, visit the E-Library.

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