Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Looking at social media? Then start with an internal media conference

By guest blogger Michelle Ryan

Recently my colleague, Carden Calder - BlueChip Communication founder and social media aficionado - posted a blog about social learning. It looked at the benefits of sharing knowledge and experiences in and out of social media, with a special focus on financial services firms.

Rather than give you the complete low-down on the post, you can read it for yourself here, but I did want to expand on one of the points it contained.

Top ways to kick off social learning...

In her blog, Carden listed three key suggestions to help financial service firms, that want to give social learning a try, get started. 

One of those suggestions was to hold an internal social media conference.

What is that, you ask? Allow me to explain ... in 140 characters or less. No, kidding, I will need a few more words than that, but here is a brief outline.

Get started on social learning by running your own internal social media conference...

An internal social media conference involves presenting relevant information about social media, stimulating ideas and inspiration among staff members. It's a safe, fun, social media training ground, that ideally should work as a springboard for lively discussion. It's also a great opportunity for staff to get their hands dirty and have a 'play' with various social media platforms before they launch into the 'real' virtual world on your company's behalf.

Five steps to hosting an internal social media conference

  1. Decide on the topic and develop some guidelines for content
    • Be very specific about topics you want covered. Choose, say, a social media channel, concept or service.
    • Choose a topic that is directly relevant to your staff and your social media goals - if you're not going to use Facebook, don't go there, but if you are launching a Twitter handle at a conference, you need to get your staff across the who, what, when, why and how of this before you launch it.
    • Invite staff to send questions ahead of time so speakers can tailor their presentations or run Q&A sessions if appropriate.
  2. Find an external speaker and brief them
    • A quick search online for social media buzz words will show you a number of people who purport to be, or in fact are, experts in social and digital communication. Ask around, check references and other bona fides to be sure you get the real deal.
    • Use your conference topics as starting points in your search and look for an external speaker with direct capabilities or experience in this area.
  3. Get staff involved and have them present
    • Yes, engage the speaker, but don't overlook the capabilities of your own staff.
    • Do you have someone already on staff who can share their knowledge and experience? If so, do what you can to encourage peer-to-peer, or social learning - for example, appoint that person as a champion or ambassador of your social media campaign. This is a great way to fast track results and keep the all-important conversation alive in the office once the internal conference has finished!
  4. Review
    • Ask your staff and any external speakers to rate the conference so you can improve or build on its lessons. A quick Survey Monkey questionnaire (incentivised if you are serious about getting a response) will allow you to get this information quickly and easily.
  5. And rebook
    • Once you have the feedback - use it! Book in another session (perhaps aim for one a quarter) to discuss a different topic and to hear from different 'experts'. With social and digital media changing constantly, you'd be unwise to believe you have heard or learnt it all before.
Michelle Ryan is an Account Manager for BlueChip Communication

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