Thursday, April 17, 2014

Make Social Media Part of a Strategy, Not the Only Strategy: A Case Study

"Can you post this on social media?"

This is a question I get asked a lot (and sometimes it's more of a statement than a question). A lot of people ask me to do this because they are trying to accomplish something and have people take some kind of action like attend an an event or read an article. It's in these moments that I enjoy my job most because I now have the chance to educate someone else on how social media and content work (read: not alone) and how they can work for them.

Posting to social media isn't the answer to achieving goals; social content needs to work in tandem with every other piece of communication as part of an overall strategy.  That's why I was excited when our research office reached out and wanted to use social media to connect with the Class of 2008 to complete an outcomes survey.

We met and developed a three-week content calendar that included various components that weren't limited to social media including an email campaign and utilizing individual members of the class to further our reach. The results from spending just 25 minutes crafting a strategy surprised all of us.

What We Did
  • We sent 4-5 emails to the class over the course of the three-week period.
  • Twitter: We focused on Twitter because we have a younger audience there and we have interacted with several members of this class in this space. I posted the link on Twitter three times, on different days and at different times compared to our email campaign.
  • We established three waves of 'digital ambassadors.' We only had about 80 percent of the class' email addresses and needed to find a way to reach the other 20 percent. The first week, "we" (the university) did our social media push; the second week we enlisted the help of our Class of 2008 Committee, who volunteer to contact classmates about giving and volunteer opportunities, and finally we reached out to other class leaders not in the previous group to connect with their friends.
The Outcomes
  • A 50 percent overall response rate (252 responses). Average response rates for this type of survey in years' past has ranged between 15% and 32% of only valid email addresses. This year's equivalent of just valid email addresses alone would have been 68%.
  • Email campaign: In case you need an example that email isn't dead, we had a 40 percent response rate after the first week alone, which only included our emails and Twitter posts.
  • According to our analytics, the three Twitter posts garnered just over 80 click-throughs. That's not very high, but it was such a small portion of our audience so we felt that was appropriate.
  • Our ambassadors came through big for us, too. I saw a couple post the link on their Facebook pages and others said they personally emailed the link to their friends. 
What Else You Need to Know
  • The survey format changed this year from a much longer one that required an individual personalized password to a shorter version without the need for a password. I imagine this helped get many more completed.
  • Our director recalled an alumni survey from three years ago with a very different topic but that they had a 35% response rate - that was the highest she could recall for a survey before this one.
  • Of course, there was something enticing alumni to complete the survey - a $100 Amazon gift card. But to be fair, that was also an incentive last year.
It might be a very small success story, but a powerful one that I have already used a few times to illustrate to others the power social media can have when it isn't viewed as a silted communications method. 

How have you educated people about integrating social media into their plans in order to accomplish goals?

No comments:

Post a Comment