On getting the word out

Posted on July 4, 2010

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Between getting the word out for the sake of getting the word out VERSUS getting the word out to inform and to inject a concrete call to action, it obviously makes more sense to go with the latter.

Getting the word out for the sake of getting the word out merely “trumpets” what your company has to say. In effect, it’s just noise without purpose nor strategy. It demonstrates a lack of goal and objective that will take your communication efforts further. Again, it’s just publicity without strategy.

Getting the word out with a specific purpose in mind, meanwhile, gives your communication efforts more direction. You know where you are and where you want to go. Your actions mean something and are purposive, which consequently means that you expect a concrete outcome, such as a concrete call to action. It means you want your audience to do something with the information you shared. Sharing strategically leads to engagement with your audience and builds connection. That is, relationship-building.  Your audience can respond to you. There is conversation.

Think of your company’s Facebook page, for example. In this case, I will use my organization’s Facebook page, as an example. When I first started posting updates, I used to just copy-and-paste the titles of articles and the corresponding URL from the company website. My initial goal was to just let the community know what’s going on in the organization. It merely functioned like a news feed of sorts. There was no conversation whatsoever. So sometimes, there will be people “liking” the post, there will be occasional comments, but it was essentially boring–yes, even for me, the ADMIN!

Based from knowledge gained from reading public relations and internet marketing articles from the web, and based from ideas and theories I’ve picked up from graduate school, I knew that I should engage my community more or else they’ll be bored and go–far, far away. Or if they don’t go, they’ll just probably stay a “fan” of the page but lurk apathetically. Still. So. Not. Fun.

So I devised steps to make my Facebook community more engaging.

1. I began writing more conversational copy in my posts. They’re still short, easy to read, and quick scan-friendly. I adopted the tone of a Facebook friend while still maintaining a certain degree of distance and formality that fits a leading academic institution.

2. I became conscious of timing my posts. Sure, I know some people are online all day, all the time, especially on weekdays when they’re at the office or at home (for alumni and friends/supporters) or when they’re with their laptops in school (students and faculty members). But my thought back then was that more people are online in the morning, especially office workers who check their mail and personal pages before diving deep into actual work. It’s a habit most office workers I assume have. Also, I inferred that after the morning online rush, the next peak online rush is during lunch time, where office workers do some down-time web surfing. So those were the times I prioritized for posting news and updates. I still do that, but I also post breaking news to keep the community informed. It’s good to hear news straight from our organization, especially during times of crisis or emergencies. Case in point: Our organization’s FB page was instrumental in informing the community about the progress of our relief efforts during the Ondoy disaster last 2009. It was the link where the community went to know what’s happening and what’s needed.

3. I have made essential information easy to find within the post. Other details, meanwhile, were in the attached URL. If it’s news about an achievement by someone from the community (student, alumnus, faculty member, etc.), then there’s info about the who-what-when-and-where. If it’s info about a conference or a forum, then there’s info on the who-what-when-and-where PLUS info about how to register or pay or get more detailed information.

4. Two weeks ago, I began posting a weekly question (every Friday, to end the work week on a high note) in order to engage my community better. I’ve made these weekly questions relevant to the particular goings-on of certain audience segments. June, being the start of the school year, for example, is a great time to engage students. So for my first question, I asked “How’s your first week of classes, Ateneans?” For the second week, I posted, “Hello, Ateneans! Recruitment week is next week, June 28-July 2. Have you chosen your org(s) yet?”. Both posts generated “likes” and comments, and made the community talk.

On a personal note, I’m glad I implemented this because it feels good to see your community talk and interact and tell you what they really think and feel. I felt like my work is going somewhere. =)

5. Having more “likes” and comments, and increasing fans, is of course a set of important metrics for determining the success of my organization’s Facebook communication efforts. But I would also like to look at the goodwill generated (difficult to measure quantitatively, of course!), the favorable online reputation made, the increased willingness of alumni to participate in the school’s projects, and the increased willingness and excitement of students to study in our school, and of prospective students to enroll.

So there. I hope this post gave you some insight into why it’s better to get the word out with publicity AND strategy in mind.

And also, aside from FB, my organization also has Twitter and Youtube pages. Do visit!

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