By Kate Binette (@katebinette)
With more than 1,147,000 Twitter followers and about 1,410,000 Facebook fans between them, the panelists at a recent Publicity Club of New England and PRSA Boston event had much to offer in terms of social media strategies and tactics. Earlier this month, Amanda Guisbond (@agbond) and I headed downtown to hear Christi McNeill of Southwest Airlines, Peter Panagopoulos from WGBH and Elaine Driscoll of the Boston Police Department speak on all things social. They shared interesting and unique insights into their social media programs and provided great tips and tricks for PR pros executing social programs for their clients.
Mike Volpe, CMO of fellow Boston company HubSpot, moderated the panel and kicked off the night with a few surprising social media facts:
- People are now spending more time on social media than on email, with more than 100 million tweets pushed through each day and one out of every eight minutes on the Internet spent on Facebook.
- The average person views over 2,700 Web pages per month.
- 40 percent of B2B companies and 60 percent of their B2C counterparts have secured clients on Facebook.
It’s obvious that the social sphere is still continuing to grow, and with B2C and B2B companies making business connections through Facebook, a social presence is increasingly important for all of our clients. But what are the tried and true tactics that hold up across industries? Here’s the quick and dirty from the panelists:
- Use social media to set the tone for traditional media. Social media should be a supplement to traditional outreach and vice versa. Elaine explained that when news hit about Osama Bin Laden’s death, the BPD’s quick execution on Twitter helped set the tone for local media conversation. The Department also filmed a 30-second statement from the commissioner explaining that there was no threat to the city of Boston. Every news station in the city referred to the BPD’s tweet and used their video, limiting hype and keeping the public’s reaction under control. Similarly, quick action from Christi and the rest of the Southwest Airlines social team on the company blog and Facebook and Twitter pages helped alleviate calls from the media in the wake of the Company’s most recent plane crisis.
- Find a monitoring schedule that works – and keep the approval process short. Monitoring 24/7 is a challenge, but it’s important to keep track of tweets, Facebook posts and events in the news that require a response. At the BPD, a few quick internal conversations revealed that several 911 operators had a personal interest in social media. The all-day, every-day access provided by the operators, combined with a nimble approval process, ensure quick action and response. Christi’s team stays in touch and divides and conquers – communication is key!
- Stay in touch with influencers, and stick to what works to reach them. Christi found that catering to aviation bloggers and inviting them to Southwest Airlines’ media day helped broaden their reach beyond the airline’s traditional customer base and engage a niche group of aviation enthusiasts. Peter explained that WGBH strives to give the people what they want – despite efforts to promote more interactive content on the Antiques Roadshow Facebook page, tune-in messages and appraisals see the most engagement from fans and keep them coming back for more.
To sum up the night, the panel shared their top tips for a successful social media strategy – in 140 characters or less, of course:
- Have fun, and be relevant. – Christi
- Inform, and be thoughtful. – Peter
- Don’t overtweet, and always be relevant. – Elaine
What do you think are the most important parts of a relevant, successful social media campaign?