How many PR people does it take to keep on top of your social media strategy?

How many PR people does it take to keep on top of your social media strategy?

Long-standing PR Academy tutor and course leader Maud Davis went along to the recent CorpComms Magazine social media conference. It was a fantastic line up of speakers (as we have come to expect at CorpComms!) and Maud took some time out afterwards to share what she took away from the event......

Maud told us:   "PR professionals love to be at the hub of any communications whether it’s talking, listening, collaborating or sharing.  We love nothing more than telling stories and passing them on, said Richard Coope from Radley Yeldar at CorpComms Magazine’s recent Social Media Conference.

Social media might seem the obvious platform for story sharing.  But, keeping a Facebook page fresh and relevant, a twitter feed responsive and reactive and filling a YouTube channel doesn’t come cheap.  Listening to the impressive line-up of speakers at this CorpComms conference, it became obvious to me how time consuming and resource-heavy social media can be.

Katie Doble-Birch created the social media strategy for the retail arm of Lloyds Banking Group!/lloydstsbonline

With a team of only three people (not working 24/7) to man social media output, her concerns mirrored those of Forrester research which shows that a lack of people resources is the top concern for organisations when it comes to use of external social media tools.   How did she do it?  By setting a clear strategy, clear objectives and setting key performance indicators which the board accepted.

So how does a mobile phone giant, O2 resource its social media campaigns?

Alex Pearmain heads up its social media team. “You need the right individuals and then you have to keep them motivated.”   Timing is key at O2 and social media activity is planned around the level and mood of conversations taking place across the week and during the day.  For example he says that O2 would never launch a social media initiative at the start of the week when the engagement on social media is at its lowest.


Time of day shapes Gatwick’s social media resourcing!/Gatwick_Airport Speaking at the conference, Samantha Holgate, head of airport communications emphasised that it is not a ‘9 to 5’ job, as they found out when snow closed the airport in December 2010. They were receiving 300 call outs an hour so the social media team had to quickly move into shift working patterns.

Web manager, Kevin Hoy led Greater Manchester Police’s successful ‘Twitterthon’ in October 2010.!/gmp24_1.  It involved tweeting every call that the police received over a 24 hour period, and to do it, he pulled together a small team from the corporate communications and press office.  Since then, the number of Twitter followers has continued to increase, peaking around major incidents such as the riots.  But this case shows that once an organisation starts interacting on social media, it can’t just stop when the PR campaign is over because those conversations will continue whether you are there are not.  The riots of 9 August changed how the police are having to manage social networks  -  emergency plans are being torn up and rewritten.

So, who’s doing the talking on your organisation’s social media platforms?

As Katie Doble-Birch emphasised – this fun video shows how not to do it and certainly don’t dump it on the intern. It’s your reputation and anyone talking on your behalf, whether that’s the CEO or junior communications executive, needs to be fully trained."

Maud Davis