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Jan. 24, 2013 11:00 am

BmoreTech Meetup: social media strategies should be tied to ‘measurable data’

Over the next few years, companies will start hiring social media personnel specifically to oversee digital asset management systems, said Gus Sentementes, the audience engagement manager for Johns Hopkins University (and former Baltimore Sun reporter). The reason? “I just need tons of photos every day,” he said. That’s to feed a hungry online audience that big brands are […]

Over the next few years, companies will start hiring social media personnel specifically to oversee digital asset management systems, said Gus Sentementes, the audience engagement manager for Johns Hopkins University (and former Baltimore Sun reporter).

The reason? “I just need tons of photos every day,” he said. That’s to feed a hungry online audience that big brands are fighting to grow to convert into members, viewers, students and other brand purveyors.

presenters

From left: Jen Martin of AARP, Erin Bailey of National Geographic Wild and Gus Sentementes of Johns Hopkins University.

At Wednesday’s BmoreTech Meetup, organized by Technically Baltimore, three social media professionals joined an audience of more than 50 at Federal Hill incubator space Betamore to share some of the lessons they’ve learned in managing national social media campaigns from Baltimore.

[Full disclosure: Technically Baltimore works out of Betamore.]

Admittedly, doing so doesn’t require much scheming, outside of maintaining a fast and reliable Internet connection.

But what a national social media strategy does require — be it for an organization, a publication or an academic institution — is money to burn, a team of people focused solely on social and a respect for measuring results in click-through and conversion rates.

After all, if that LOLCat photo doesn’t convince people to spend or donate their money, or click over to your website, then (DUH) it’s not working.

Here’s what they had to say:

Jen Martin, social media manager for AARP, who works with a nine-person team:

  1. At the start of 2012, AARP had 80,000 Facebook fans. By Dec. 14, it had 1 million fans. But to do that, Martin said, “costs money. Social is not free.”
  2. Posting photos to Facebook accompanied by a bit.ly link and a caption under 100 words is always preferable to posting links, a point touched on by AK Stout at October’s Baltimore Social Media Group Meetup.
  3. Hope your sponsors do well. NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon is AARP’s sponsor for its Drive to End Hunger. As Martin said, “If he wins, we see donations go through the roof.”
  4. Audience and success?: 45+ year old women to develop relationships to convert to donors and members who recognize the AARP influence

Erin Bailey, social media contributor for National Geographic Wild, who works with a four-person team:

  1. You can’t always control what your audience thinks. “Most of the time, our biggest thing is to make sure people don’t think they’re watching Animal Planet,” Bailey said.
  2. Photos for posts are sometimes hard to come by. In Nat Geo Wild’s case, the National Geographic Society owns their photographs, which means Bailey can’t post them to social media.
  3. YouTube users, remember: the first TWO LINES of your video descriptions are visible to everyone without their having to click on the “More” tab.
  4. Audience and success?: 45+ year old men interested in the outdoors to increase TV viewership, proven by comparing low engagement to lower social traction

Gus Sentementes, audience engagement manager for Johns Hopkins University, who works with a six-person team:

  1. If you’re working in academia, expect having to “satisfy stakeholders internally and externally” down to the last tweet.
  2. Don’t use social media “retroactively,” Sentementes said. Be “focused on driving conversions,” and “tie social media to measurable data.”
  3. At Hopkins’ gun policy summit, #JHUgunpolicy received 32 million impressions. “What matters,” he said, “are click-throughs to applications.”
  4. Audience and success? 14-18 year old prospective college students and their parents, which Sentementes is tracking with reports on anecdotal examples, competition benchmarking and engagement analytics, using tools like TweetReach.com.

The event was moderated by Technically Baltimore editor Christopher Wink.

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Andrew Zaleski

Andrew Zaleski is a freelance journalist in Philadelphia and the former lead reporter for Technical.ly Baltimore. Before moving to Philadelphia in June 2014, he was a contributing writer to Baltimore City Paper and a Tech Check commentator for WYPR 88.1 FM, Baltimore city’s National Public Radio affiliate. He has written for The Atlantic, Outside, Richmond magazine, Washington City Paper, Baltimore magazine, Baltimore Style magazine, Next City, Grist.org, The Atlantic Cities, and elsewhere.

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