Being social: how to reach digital excellence without drowning!

27 April 2015, Blog

This is not another blog post about how important it is for businesses to be digitally savvy.

I’ve read a huge number of these, and they almost always touch on the same points: audiences are fragmenting, traditional media is declining and organisations are scrambling to find new ways to communicate.

There is much less consensus – or online space – given to the question of how to do this, which is surely the area that interests people most. The vast array of channels, tools and applications is quite bewildering, even to those of us who work with them.

To help make sense of how to go about a digital campaign, here are some of the important steps I’ve learned which can be applied to any sector. I hope they add some value to your work.

#1. Set clear goals: this sounds obvious, but it’s amazing how many conversations about digital jump straight into the channels (Twitter v Facebook), budgets and resources before this question is raised. Ask yourself: what do you want digital to do? Is it driving new business leads or sales, raising awareness or building support? These will lend themselves to clear objectives that bring focus to your campaign and give you a basis on which to measure success.

#2. Know your audience: a hugely useful aspect of digital campaigns is the insight and evidence it can provide into the audiences you want to target. Google’s media planning toolkit, for example, provides a wealth of data on consumer search habits that can be used to inform activity. Twitter search tools like Topsy can help identify key influencers and conversation threads on specific keywords. Answerthepublic is a great way to see what people are asking online around a topic. These are free tools, however, and many of them won’t do everything you need them to. There are other tools that can be used for organisations with budget to commit.

#3. Make time to try the tools: tools to help with every aspect of social, from research to content creation through to measurement, abound. Making time to understand them is challenging, but essential. Thankfully, people within the PR community are happy to share their insights on the best ones to use, as this fantastic research led by former CIPR president Stephen Waddington showed. Try things out, use what works and share the findings with your wider team.

#4. Make people’s day (they’ll appreciate it): armed with insight about your audiences will help to create content that answers their questions and ultimately builds relationships that help your organisation. Every tweet, status update or blog post should add value to users and make them want to share it with their friends and followers. If you share third party content, mention the creator and they’ll appreciate you for it. This effort makes a big difference over time.

#5. Measure the impact of what you’re doing: Google Analytics and other social monitoring platforms can help you to understand whether your activity is helping you to meet your campaign goals. Spend time getting to grips with this so you can build on what works and adapt or drop what doesn’t.

By Ben Lowndes, Senior Account Director at JBP

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