We recently hosted a webinar with Enterprise Social Media Manager, Tom Roberts, who kindly shared with us his experiences of managing 135 social media accounts for one of the UK’s largest Leisure Operators. In this post we provide a roundup of the key lessons and learnings from the webinar.
If you missed the live webinar you can watch the webinar recording anytime here.
Social media strategy – where did you start?
I’ve often found that people are already doing social media or would jump straight into social, thinking “We need this platform and let’s get posting ASAP” and this was certainly the case for the organisation I was working for. However, it was important for us to take a step back and evaluate why we were doing social and how we could link it to our organisation’s wider objectives, as we knew it would help us in the long run.
As one of the UK’s largest leisure providers, one of the key objectives at a strategic level was localisation, but our initial social media strategy simply involved posting through some Facebook accounts, connecting it with our marketing strategy and getting more likes. Sound familiar?! But we wanted to make our social media much more local, so we went through an exercise where we said we wanted 75% of our social media content to be locally driven. In order to achieve that we needed teams from each individual centre, who needed to be sufficiently trained, were able to use social media, and able to respond to customers appropriately. This gave us a clear starting point for developing our social media strategy.
The importance of social media pilots
In order to grow and expand our social media strategy and portfolio it was vital to carry out a series of pilots, in order to demonstrate the direction we wanted to go in. Our organisation initially started with Facebook but we wanted to expand our presence onto Twitter. However, nervousness from the Senior Management team (due to previous experience of hostile accounts) was creating a barrier and stopping us from exploring different platforms.
We gained approval to carry out a series of pilots to test the impact and organisational need for using Twitter. We started by securing buy-in from the local sites through a series of workshops, and then we began the pilot. We were able to demonstrate the benefits of locally driven social media, and what was pleasing to see was that this cascaded through the organisation with other sites asking to get involved! As a result of the pilot we were then able to secure the senior management support we needed to roll out a wider project!
Social media policy - protecting the organisation & its employees
As with most organisations, we initially had a social media policy that was written in a very formal style and didn’t reflect our organisation’s culture. It was developed and then left sat in a drawer gathering dust!
A social media policy should be there to not only protect your organisation, but also to set out the expectations of how you want your employees to deliver social media on your behalf. The policy needs to act as a guidance document for all of your employees so they feel they can use it as a practical guide. When we revisited our social media policy we made sure it included very practical advice (such as guidance on the appropriate use of memes!).
When developing a social media policy, I would strongly recommend including relevant examples (ideally from your organisation’s social media channels). For example, the tone of voice for our organisation is friendly and approachable. Example tweet: “@MrJohnSmith001 hi John, thank you for getting in touch, we love to hear stories from our customers using our products! Keep them coming in!”
Another key factor to consider when developing a social media policy is to involve your internal stakeholders (general managers, senior management team, HR, legal, etc), as when it comes to enforcing the policy you’ll find it much easier to get their support if they’ve had an input from the start.
When you experienced breaches in the social media policy was this mainly due to user error or was it because of more serious issues?
When we were initially experiencing breaches in the social media policy, it was because the policy wasn’t really being taken seriously enough. People were just skim reading through it to gain access to the accounts (we made sure people read and signed the policy before they were able to access our organisation’s social media accounts).
By integrating the policy throughout our training programme, and putting it front and centre in the organisation (by securing buy-in from stakeholders in multiple departments) it really made a difference in reducing the risks and breaches and getting people on board.
In other instances where there was a breach in the social media policy, it actually helped to highlight a range of issues we could act on, such as resourcing. For example, when one region wasn’t reaching the response rate times set out in the policy, we saw that it was because they were short staffed. This then helped to inform the management decision to train an extra team member in that region.
How did you manage training users for 135 social media accounts?
When we initially started training people we focused on the technical side of social media such as how to send a post. However we found that it was important to give the users a more in-depth understanding to ensure quality control, for example how to send a post and evaluate the response.
It was also really important to align our training programme with our social media policy, and to provide more detail into how we wanted our users to deliver social media. Rather than “We must respond to customers politely” this became “We want to create a personal experience for our customers, so you must respond to replies with a personal sign off.”
When I was developing the training programme I wanted to create a personalised training journey for our users, but in reality when you are managing hundreds of users and experiencing a high turnover of staff (which is common within the leisure industry) this quickly became unmanageable. With social media only being one part of my wider job role, it meant that I needed to explore more efficient methods to train multiple users.
The solution I found most effective was using a combination of e-learning resources, videos and pre-prepared training guides. This ensured that all of our users received a consistent level of training. To retain the personalised element of the process a call to action was included on each of the resources inviting the users to get in touch with questions and to discuss their plans. This method worked successfully, as users still got in touch but an hour-long training session was reduced to a ten-minute idea generating conversation!
The other important factor to consider in your training programme is to encourage continued learning and development as it helps to keep your users engaged. We developed a series of more intermediate resources such as content planning, and then applied a carrot and stick approach to the process. If they demonstrated progress in their learning they were able to access more areas of the software (such as the social media listening features), and then we used the social media policy to ensure that they stayed within our organisation’s guidelines.
The final point to make with regard to training is that building confidence is absolutely key for a number of users. In my experience there are primarily two types of users who you are going to train:
Type 1. “I hate social media” or “I’ve got social media accounts but I don’t tend to post”
These are great as they just need their confidence built, and you just need to show them that responding to customers on social does not have to be that different to how you would respond on the phone. In our organisation we used validation as a comfort blanket for our users - it worked a treat! They felt safe and happy in the knowledge that the content was going to be checked before it went live and they were able to receive feedback on their posts.
Type 2. “Yeah, I love social media and I have all sorts of accounts”
These are the ones who you have to watch more closely as they might respond to a post with eight crying with laughter emojis, for example, which might not be in line with your policy. These types of users just need a bit more support and guidance on organisational social media and establishing what is the business objective for social media and the part they play in achieving that.
How did you fill the gaps of knowledge in senior management and improve their understanding of social media?
This is a really big challenge, as you don’t want to come across as patronising! If you’ve done the first step of developing a strategy that focuses on the organisation’s wider objectives, you are already talking in a language they will understand and appreciate. Also by delving deeper than presenting the number of Likes and focusing more on the trends, you are able to more practically inform management decisions (such as resourcing issues). This process really helps in de-mystifying social media!
How did you share social media best practice?
We were fortunate to have some really great star users who we were then able to use to support some of the team who needed a little bit of extra support. We buddied competent users up with those who needed a little more extra support. We also looked at things like internal newsletters to share ‘post of the week’, campaign ideas and examples of best practice. I was amazed at the creativity of some of the users!
How did you know if it was working?
The key thing for us was to move beyond tracking Likes and to report on KPIs that were more closely aligned with our organisation’s objectives. Building on localisation, we wanted to look at reach and so we set an objective to reach 4 million people each month. This involved having to get approval to update the KPIs that were included as part of the board pack. By tracking reach figures every month we were able to identify some key trends, and as a result of this the senior management team became more engaged.
It can get challenging as a Social Media Manager when you are so close to a project and seeing everything in detail, but by reporting month-on-month it really helped me to spot the trends and see the bigger picture!
By reporting the reach each month, for example, we were able to see that we were actually achieving the 4 million fairly consistently. By delving deeper into it we saw that the reach was actually being driven by our 5-6 Twitter accounts. Further analysis then revealed that this was coming from celebrity and influencer endorsements. As marketeers we know the power of celebrity can help spread the word, but seeing it happen in your own business was fantastic to see! This knowledge gave us the tools we needed to roll Twitter out across the organisation, and enabled us to sharpen our strategy and explore how we could apply this tactic across other platforms. So it really helped in informing our management decisions.