The benefits of getting out of the office for a day to listen to, and learn from, colleagues has always been loaded with benefits. Here are five good examples of social media learning which flowed from a new series of workshops.
by Darren Caveney
Social media. It’s been around for over a decade but we’re still refining how and where it fits into our communications mix, planning and approaches. But when you put 30 comms professionals into a room the learning take-outs multiply for everyone.
After delivering two sell-out supercharged social media workshops in Birmingham and Glasgow, five interesting lessons and observations emerged so ever keen to share the learning here goes….
1. Crowd-source your plan
In each workshop attendees chose a live or forthcoming campaign or initiative to generate a plan for it and with the help of colleagues and peers on each table.
There are a number of benefits in doing this:
- People without the knowledge of your work, organisation and issues can legitimately ask the daft questions (there are no daft questions, by the way, only daft decisions)
- Spot the obvious opportunities and threats – think social wood for trees
- Bring fresh thinking and wider experiences to the table
- Bouncing ideas off your peers can be a brilliant way to unlock new ideas. For some this is difficult to do back in the office
So far the workshops have kick-started new campaigns for a homeless charity, for an industry regulator, for a national park, for a local authority and for a housing association. I really look forward to seeing these campaigns launch this year having seen them born and built in the workshops.
2. Trust is still in issue. In 2018
This has cropped up at both workshops where several comms professionals have said that their organisations are still gripped by the fear of saying the wrong thing on social media and things going bad for them. This fear can create very risk-adverse cultures where opportunities are missed.
For every MyDoncaster and London Fire Brigade there are a dozen comms teams stifled in case things go wrong. Many of us will have some personal experience of this. It has to be challenged because we know it’s a duff and unenjoyable approach.
I remember 10 years ago asking my then chief exec if we could try Twitter. What if it goes wrong, he said? I pointed out - only semi-jokingly - that “things went wrong in this organisation - Every. Single. Day.” And that we were the ones usually called in to help in these situations. “Give us the chance to get things wrong”, I pleaded.
10 years on this is still a challenge for some teams.
3. Want to be creative? Have a plan. Manage your time
Giving a table of creative comms people 25 minutes to crowdsource a headline comms plan is a joy to witness in motion.
Without exception each table generated ideas, interesting angles, key messages, target audiences and objectives with related evaluation measures.
Of course the resultant plans then need to be taken away for further refining and more detailed research.
But have a good planning template to follow - see here for a free download - and beautiful things can happen.
We just have to give ourselves space and time to allow creativity to flourish. To enable this, careful management of work demand and diaries is a must. Blocking out time – either alone or with colleagues – is key. I know I go on about this a lot, sorry/not sorry, but this is the magic 10%. The time when amazing things can be created. These are the things you’ll be remembered for, the things which can win an award, the things which can get you a new job or a promotion.
The truth is no one will create this time and space for us. We have to take charge.
When I was running in-house comms teams I often used to say "oh we'll do that when things calm down..."
Things never calm down. Ever.
And so we have to proactively manage our time effectively so that we can give ourselves the chance to deliver the work we are capable of and can be proud of. This absolutely applies to social media.
4. Stuff the moaners
If we only ever tried to communicate and engage to ‘contain’ what a minority of our followers, customers or communities 'may' moan about then much of the great work we see across the industry wouldn't exist.
So at the recent Glasgow workshop “stuff the moaners” emerged as an approach to shaping your social media activity and offer:
- Have a plan
- Do your research
- Be creative
- Be brave
- Listen and engage
- Change where change is needed
- Respond whenever you can
- Review and refine
- And stuff the moaners
Because some people will complain whatever you do or don't do. Let’s not let it shape us.
5. Enjoying social media
A comms person recently said to me:
“After spending a day online dealing with criticism, complaint - and sometimes abuse - the last thing I want to do is look at Facebook when I get home.”
I could completely see her point. This could have an impact on any of us.
But for sure enjoying social media and having real enthusiasm for it is a definite characteristic which runs through all of the best accounts I have looked at.
Part of my role then is to showcase inspirational work and best practice from elsewhere and to dissect why a campaign became an award-winner.
And sometimes my role is to encourage a bit of extra confidence in a team or an individual, who has had a rough time on social media, and rekindle that little bit of love and passion for it.
Three more SUPERCHARGED SOCIAL MEDIA workshops are taking place in London, Birmingham and Bristol – you can sign up here.
Darren Caveney is creator of comms2point0 and owner of creative communicators ltd
image by Nigel Bishop