In 2015, one of our enterprise clients created a mega-user conference. The event debuted at Chicago’s McCormick place. It brought together 20,000 IT professionals, software developers, and super users from around the world. After a successful first year, the event organizers selected Atlanta, GA to host the conference in 2016.
As you can imagine, planning an event of this magnitude is no small task. The challenge of feeding, housing, transporting and providing a meaningful experience for that many people is not for the faint of heart. Luckily, we work with the best planners in the world. We are always in awe of the incredible events they pull off. This conference was no exception.
We knew Atlanta’s infamous traffic situation would present the most significant transportation hurdle. In addition, we knew these attendees were avid Twitter users who would not be shy about providing real-time feedback.
A few days before the conference began, we approached the event’s social media team to discuss whether they would be comfortable with us handling transportation-related tweets.
Disclaimer: this is not always the best fit for every conference. Most organizers prefer social media engagement to flow through one dedicated on-site team. But with 14 shuttle routes, 61 hotels, 20,000 attendees and a city with an infamous traffic situation, this was no ordinary show. With the green light from their team, we devised a unique social media strategy for this event.
Our social media team was tasked with monitoring Twitter and responding to attendee transportation issues, which allowed them to resolve problems at a much faster rate. They were familiar with the shuttle schedule and service expectations, as well as knew the on-site transportation team and where they were located throughout the city. Quick check-in meetings were additionally scheduled between marketing and on-site team leads. They went over relevant changes, traffic concerns, and any other potential service disruptions – all prior to making major shuttle moves.
Armed with this information, we handled most tweets quickly. However, if an attendee identified a problem requiring onsite input, we were immediately able to connect with the appropriate route supervisor, program lead, or staff person best equipped to rectify the situation. We also made sure to share real-time transportation information with the social media team as needed.
PROVIDING A SOLUTION
We learned a lot about people and social media that week – most importantly that great customer service means quickly acknowledging criticism while making sure attendees knew we heard them regardless of who or what caused the issue (hello, Beyoncé concert traffic!).
A study conducted by Twitter in 2016 discovered data proving the following:
In one case, we were able to turn a Twitter user into our biggest brand advocate. After he posted a tweet about his transportation experience, we started a Direct Message dialogue. We quickly arranged for him to meet with our CEO and President after one of his sessions. They were able to hear his concerns and explain our position. He was so surprised we cared about his experience that he took to Twitter to thank us several times.
In general, platforms like Twitter can help to bridge the gap between client and attendees. It gives an insider view on real time attendee experience and allowing for faster access and communication between attendees. It gives us the opportunity to provide a solution sooner than later.
Our social media approach that week in Atlanta was just one aspect of delivering a successful transportation program for our client and the attendees. And transportation is just one piece of the event puzzle! Ultimately, planners, staff and vendors like us are all part of the same team. When transportation is successful, we’re doing our part to contribute to the overall event success, and technology is helping us do this better!
In my previous post, I touched on the social media dilemma I experienced as a time-strapped employee of a small business. I’ve come up with some advice that I hope you will find helpful as you embark on your own social media journey.
Let’s start off with a brief and simplified summary of what I think the experts would say a proper B2B social media strategy should include.
Develop Social Media Strategy – should include goals, platforms, audience, messaging, metrics, ROI, campaigns and content development.
Unique Content Curation– can be in the form of blog posts, giveaways, freebies, contests, videos, etc.
Create and/or Update all Platforms – for all platforms, update header graphics, descriptions, contact information, links, etc.
Create Publishing Schedule – create calendar based on unique content and known company milestones, product releases, developments.
If you think you can do all of this, then you most certainly should. The experts will tell you that you should do all of the above and then some. However, my reality was a bit different and I think many of you might find yours to be a bit different as well.
I was finding it hard to understand where our company fit in with all of the guidelines. Our target audience isn’t huge – meeting planners don’t make up a huge portion of the population – and we provide a pretty niche service for the industry (a service that doesn’t get a lot of attention!). That being said, pursuing a strategy that encompassed all of the “right” things to do seemed pretty irrational.
Here are a few things I’ve learned about small business social media.
Get Staff on Board
This can be a doozy. Many businesses are blessed with a tech-savvy staff who are fully engaged with social media. They understand the different platforms, how they work and the languages of each. Then there are the businesses made up of folks who do not view social media as a priority. And of course, there are the businesses who are mix of both.
Regardless of where your company falls on this spectrum, it is important for your entire staff to have a basic understanding of social media as it relates to them professionally. We had a meeting at the beginning of this social endeavor and explained how social media can benefit our company and our bottom line. We connected the dots for everyone and made sure they were comfortable with our direction. The more they understand, the more likely they are to get excited and provide valuable, share-worthy information with you.
This was incredibly important for our team because I am pretty dependent on them to provide me with content. They are on the front line of what we do. They have the stories, the pictures and they are the essence of what we do and who we are as a company.
Know Your Voice
Figure out what your social media voice is going to be and stick with it. Is it informative? Playful? Funny? Direct? Serious? A mix? Regardless of what your voice sounds like, try to keep it consistent. Think about it, would you want to befriend a person whose personality changed from one day to the next? Nope. Not up for that roller coaster ride.
It’s About YOUR Brand
That’s right, when it comes to social media, your business is sort of a big deal. That means that while it’s important to connect with your audience, success is directly linked to how you (the individual tasked with the company’s social media) connect with social media. Do you know the brand? If you don’t understand the heart and soul of what the company stands for, what your coworkers do on a daily basis and what your industry is like, then this just won’t work.
I have found it incredibly helpful to get on the ground with our program managers. I have worked the curb with them, stood in the rain with them, put in 15 hour days with them, worked with clients and bus companies, and seen just how hard they work to make our company successful. Because of this, I have a much better understanding of our company and our brand.
Don’t beat yourself up when you can’t do it all. The most important piece of advice I can give to anyone starting out in social media is to figure out what works best for you. Spend some time deciding which social media platforms you want to focus on and determine exactly how much time you can dedicate to each. You should probably know going into it that you will experience some guilt and feel like you could be doing more, if there were only more hours in the day! You’ve got a lot on your plate and spreading yourself too thin won’t help anyone.
Social media is important but it can be overwhelming. Remember, you are a human being who is doing your best with the resources at hand. Pay attention to the trends and what’s going on but don’t let what someone else says define your social media strategy. Be original and try not to be too afraid to take the plunge. Social media should be FUN!
https://stewarttransportation.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/STS_Logo_Web-01.png00Liz DeJesushttps://stewarttransportation.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/STS_Logo_Web-01.pngLiz DeJesus2015-01-06 15:49:522016-09-06 15:50:09Small Business Social Media Reality Check Part 2
My name is Liz. I have been working for Stewart Transportation for almost a year and I am the company’s social media/marketing/digital/everything-in-between manager.
That being said, I have a confession to make – I knew little to nothing about B2B social media when I started this job. There. It’s out there.
Of course no one wants to publicly admit they have no idea what they’re doing, but sometimes we just have to get real! The truth is, I don’t think I’m alone in my ignorance, but I have found the social mediasphere to be a pretty intimidating landscape and the enlightened experts don’t exactly go out of their way to welcome newcomers. This perception, which is entirely my own, leads me to believe that there may very well be a large swath of folks out there who don’t feel comfortable asking the really rudimentary questions – the questions whose answers should serve as the foundation for anyone’s social media strategy. I believe that for every small business out there rocking their social media, there are just as many considering how to enter the fray and come out on the other side…alive.
I feel your pain! I know your resources are limited, you don’t have enough staff or time. You may not know the difference between a Facebook Page and a Facebook Profile. You’re probably intimidated by Twitter lingo and you may not even know what a hashtag is. Heck, you probably don’t even have a marketing plan, and if you do, it hasn’t been updated since 2003. Truth.
You may not know a lot about social media, but you do know it’s important. It’s the future! Everyone is doing it and you feel like you should too. I get it.
When you finally make the decision to take on the social media monster and begin researching, your brain starts to shut down. HOLY OVERLOAD. The very idea of deciding where to start is terrifying. There is an endless amount of information on the subject and it can often be conflicting. One website says one thing, one website says another, only post during certain times, certain days, don’t do this, do that, have a publishing schedule, make sure you have a strategy, don’t retweet without a quote, have your own hashtag, measure your ROI, create your own content, engage your audience… The list goes on. And what’s most baffling is that it all seems to be geared towards a mythical group of small businesses with a full-time social media staff.
Let me assure you that I went through this same roller coaster of emotions. I knew we needed it but I also knew that to do it the “right” way would dominate my time. On top of that, I personally only used Facebook and Instagram. I was TERRIFIED of Twitter and LinkedIn bored me to tears (still does if truth be told). But I was the company’s available resource so I did my best to dive into the abyss.
I started my research at the mecca of all things social media: Hubspot. If you don’t know Hubspot, you really should. They have an endless catalog of helpful templates, articles and so much more available for FREE! (With the exception of a few sales calls here and there.) It’s a great resource for establishing a current understanding of social media basics. Again, it’s still a lot to take in.
Using what I learned, my initial strategy was to play exactly by the rules set forth by the social media gods. It was probably around the middle of May 2014 when I decided to wave the white flag of surrender. I was exhausted. In between redesigning our website, finalizing ads, developing a new budget, designing new templates and marketing collateral, I did NOT have time to meticulously plan, execute and monitor our social media the way the experts said I should.
I decided that if this was going to work at all, it would have to be done my way, based on my resources and our company’s unique needs. I had to abandon the experts and embark on a journey all my own.
If this dilemma sounds all too familiar, you’ll definitely want to tune in for part 2 and I’ll share exactly what I’ve learned, how to get started and my tips for defining your own social media success.
https://stewarttransportation.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/STS_Logo_Web-01.png00Liz DeJesushttps://stewarttransportation.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/STS_Logo_Web-01.pngLiz DeJesus2014-12-18 15:48:132016-09-06 15:48:33Small Business Social Media Reality Check: Part 1
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