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Clermont County Social Media Bootcamp

August 1, 2009 2 comments

42-15732322This week, I had the pleasure of helping a diverse group of 50 people learn how to tap the power of social media. Participants ranged from a county commissioner to an attorney to an admissions coordinator for an elderly care facility.

At the invitation of James R. Sutter of DVP Multimedia Ltd., I participated in the Clermont County Social Media Bootcamp at Live Oaks Career Campus. I shared my experience with creating and implementing a social media strategy at the Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services, my employer for more than 15 years.

Other presenters were: 

  • Michelle Beckham Corbin of 3C,  who gave an excellent overview about developing a strategic social media plan and described the basics of platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook;
  • Tim Root of WebEchoes, who showed how you can measure, evaluate and fine-tune your social media efforts using sophisticated analytics and search engine optimization; and
  • Nathan Penny from CTTS,who gave helpful information to people looking to set up Facebook business pages.

Here is a link to my PowerPoint presentation

And a look at  video of 15 minute Q/A session

I hope you find this information helpful as we blaze the social media trail together.

Chatting with a social media explorer

July 8, 2009 2 comments

Had a nice little chat late this afternoon with Jason Falls, a Louisville-based “social media explorer” for a brand-building agency. Some of my Twitter friends gave him my name when he sent out a tweet seeking city and county government entities who are using social media. He was doing research for a talk at a National League of Cities conference.

We both agreed that social media is not a replacement for traditional public relations — and some of the rules of the growing legions of social media experts were meant to be broken.

For example, at the Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services, we primarily use Twitter to broadcast updates. It’s not a two-way communication vehicle for us. However, it does allow us to get the word out about our other social media offerings — such as live online chats and programs on BlogTalkRadio. It allows us to quickly tell key influencers in straegic audiences about upcoming events, such as open houses for those interested in becoming foster parents or workshops for attorneys about child support.

We spoke for a few minutes about Facebook, and the hard work it takes to build and keep a group of fans or followers.  We briefly touched on the blog that our director started earlier this year.

We talked about the need to promote social media offerings with traditional press releases, advertising and mentions during community presentations.

Near the end, Jason asked me to sum up what social media does for us. A bunch of thoughts came to mind.

But, basically, I think social media allows us to connect with our key audiences. It puts us in touch with key influencers and activists in those audiences. It complements our other communication tools and enriches our PR strategy.

I’m sure glad Kendra Ramirez and Daniel Johnson Jr. mentioned me to Jason. It was really cool visiting with a social media explorer.

Segmenting audiences

MPj04393430000[1]Please excuse me if this post is too elementary for you PR veterans, but — based on the comments of a media-turned-PR person the other day — I thought I’d briefly touch on one of the basics: Audience segmentation.

Here’s an example of how we segmented the internal audience at the Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services a few years back:

1. Executive Team

2. Middle managers

3. Supervisors

4. Frontline staff

Then, we developed research, planning, implementation and evaluation methods for each audience.For example, research with the Executive Team consisted of one-on-one interviews about communication, asking for their views on what worked and what didn’t. We surveyed middle managers. And we did separate focus groups with supervisors and frontline staff.

As time went on, we developed strategies for communicating within each segment. In one of three major programs areas, for instance, we identified “opinion leaders” and worked directly with them. In another, we pulled together a list of unit meetings and supplied talking points for supervisors to use in those meetings.

We continued to evaluate through surveys, focus groups and informal observation. We reported our findings and made adjustments  over time.

The same practice can be used to make your social media strategy more effective. The more you break down your audience into subgroups, the more effective you’ll be in achieving your goals and objectives. You’ll create strategies that deliver results as you implement them. And you’ll make adjustments based on what you learn as you evaluate. It’s a continuous improvement loop.

Hope this was helpful to you newbies. It was a good refresher for me as I continue to write a social media strategy for my employer.

Building a social media strategy

42-15358637Woke this morning to a brainstorm about my social media strategy. (Knocked me so much out of my routine that I had to make a couple of extra trips downstairs while getting ready.) Here are some key elements:

(1) To expand and nurture my professional and personal networks

(2) To build a community of supporters for my employer by providing valuable information and engaging in constructive dialogue

(3) To share helpful information with PR pros and social media enthusiasts in return for the great info they share with me

(4) To gain hands-on experience with “new” communication tools such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, BlogTalkRadio, WordPress…

(5) To regularly connect face-to-face with social media contacts — both informally at lunch and/or coffee and formally at meetings of Social Media Cincinnati, New Media Cincinnati, the Public Relations Society of America and others that may present opportunities.

(6) To support the launch of my wife’s upcoming book about “miracle” cancer survivors like her by employing lessons learned in my social media experimentation strategy.

(7) To continually solicit feedback and make adjustments.

As to that last point, I’m trying to be more targeted with my Facebook and Twitter posts. Yesterday, I stopped having all of my Twitter tweets go automatically to my Facebook stream. I’m using Selective Twitter, a Facebook application that allows me to only post the tweets I choose to Facebook.  I’ll report later how this works out.

Also coming: A report on great initial success we’re having with a Facebook ad promoting the Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services fan page.

Stay tuned. And, as always, any comments are welcome!

Live chats: One-year report

Social media is all about two-way communication and relationship building. The live online chat can contribute toward that objective.

At the Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services, we’ve been offering live chats with program experts for a year. Our main goal is to relieve pressure on our overburdened phone lines and crowded waiting rooms. We’re seeing increased numbers of customers at a time of staff layoffs, so any relief is much appreciated by our customers and staff.

Every week or two, people with questions, concerns or ideas can chat with a JFS expert about a topic such as child support, Medicaid, food stamps, cash assistance, services for job seekers and employers, adoption and foster care, child care or child abuse.

We average about 12 individuals per chat and 20 questions in each hour-long chat. Some draw as many as 28 participants; some none. It depends mostly on the topic.

All of the chats end up getting more than 100 views within a week or so. And that number contines to climb because we offer an archive of previous chats, which ends up becoming a Frequently Asked Questions section.

Clients who participate in the chats really like the direct access and quick response. We have had great success helping people better understand how to access our services. Many are in need of public assistance for the first time due to the economic downturn. They’re not familiar with the basics.

We publicize the chats with traditional media releases, online newsletter articles, mentions during community presentions and social media, mainly Twitter and Facebook. Our director mentions them on her blog.

Overall, we’ve been pleased with the chats. They’re a worthwhile component in our external communication strategy.

now is gone

May 30, 2009 1 comment

I’m reading another interesting PR/social media book. This one is called now is gone: A Primer on New Media for Executives and Entrepreneurs, by Geoff Livingston, with Brian Solis. Here are a few tidbits:

  • “PR 2.0 embraces transparency and enables stakeholders in the company, its team, and place in the market and in the future. It encourages participation in online networks and communities in order to spark conversations to help people solve problems and discover new solutions.”
  • “This is our chance to not only work with traditional journalists, but engege directly with a new set of accidental influencers, also known as enthusiasts or citizen journalists. We can talk with customers, now also content producers, directly.”
  • “With the injection of social media tools into the mix, people now have the ability to impact and influence the decisions of their peers and other newsmakers. The wisdom of the crowds is creating diverse markets that drive microeconomies and dedicated ecosystems that are defining the social economy.”
  • “It’s incumbent upon communicators to learn new media, not just on a theoretical level, but as practitioners.”
  • “Blogs and other media offer more raw and authentic information, which readers increasingly prefer over what they perceive as the older, more detached quality of traditional news sources.”

Great stuff! These are the types of thoughts that go through my mind as I expand my communications toolkit with blogging, live-chatting, podcasting, video and the like — supplemented by an increased amount of time devoted to public speaking, attendance at networking events, and one-on-one meetings with PR pros and social media enthusiasts.

These are exciting times. I welcome your thoughts.

Categories: Books, Social medai Tags:

You’re on the air!

A couple of  Cincinnati PR pros that I highly admire stress the importance of hands-on work with the latest communications technology. It helps a lot to have the knowledge and experience of getting your hands dirty and doing a project yourself.

With that in mind, I’ve started experimenting more with video and audio.

It’s been quite a learning curve for someone with a background in writing and strategic PR. (I had worked with a professional video company on projects and did a weekly 60-second report on a radio station years ago, but nothing as direct as this.)

On the video end, I’ve been shooting clips with a Sony camcorder, doing basic editing with Adobe Premiere Elements, and posting on YouTube. We’ve also ordered a flip camera at work.

With audio, I’ve been using a digital tape recorder to post a simple 90-second “weekly headlines and how-to’s” podcast on an RSS feed. It also posts on iTunes. And I’ve started testing Blogtalkradio. Here is a link to two test programs about the power of social media.

I see tremendous power in audio and video–and plan to incorporate these tools into my communication strategies.

Any thoughts about video and audio, especially about self-production and publishing?

Mike, the social media farmer

Being an active participant in the world of social media reminds me of gardening. First, you prepare the soil and plant some seeds. Then, you nurture the plants, giving them tender care and pulling any weeds that inhibit growth.

Some of your plants thrive. Others wilt away.

With help from some excellent teammates, I got my social media soil ready by (in this order) doing an RSS feed, audio podcast, blog, live online chats, YouTube channel, Twitter feed, Facebook profile, group and page, and Blogtalkradio program. I also tried several other social media practices. Some at work; some personal.

I planted seeds by following and friending people in areas of importance to me — public relations, marketing, social media, cancer research and the like. I nurtured them by doing posts and status updates — a mix of personal and professional information. I tried to provide info that would be of use to followers and help them get to know me better. I commented on their posts and updates, and tried to offer encouragement and helpful information.

I continue to weed by unfollowing or hiding those who distract me from good use of my increasingly limited time. Sometimes, I find I made a mistake and replant them in my social media garden.

The harvest started almost from the beginning. I’ve made literally dozens of good friends and business contacts. I’ve learned a great deal from some generous and highly intelligent people.

The process never ends. Just call me Mike, the social media farmer.

The New Rules of Marketing and PR

May 13, 2009 1 comment

Listened to a really interesting program on www.blogtalkradio.com today — an interview with David Meerman Scott, author of  The New Rules of Marketing and PR. Here are a few highlights that I tweeted during the hour-long program hosted by Zane Safrit:

  • Many social media initiatives take time. May not cost $, but you have to invest time. Blog posts
  • @dmscottgot great exposure for his Wold Wide Rave book with a tweetup opening the stock market
  • Hundreds of universities using The New Rules of Marketing & PR by @dmscott as a text. Huge increase in adoption of its ideas since written.
  • Nobody cares about your products except for you, says @dmscott. Lose control (give stuff for free, lose control of messages). Put down roots
  • Create triggers–and encourage people to share. Point people to your virtual doorstep
  • Don’t be afraid to fail. Do it. Create something that’s incredibly valuable (for your target audience). Text. Video. Photo. Audio.

I thought this was great stuff. What do you think?

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