Hill & Knowlton Social Media Round-Table July 2009

Last night I was invited to the stunning Soho Square offices of Hill & Knowlton, to talk social media with a bunch of non-profit types. This was quite different from the ‘usual’ gatherings in a number of interesting ways.

1. The attendees were far more senior than usual– heads of digital, working with CEOs, in one case charity founder. This was really positive, as internal buy-in is a relentless struggle for many a community manager. These are the people that need to sit around a table with the likes of me, who actually do the day-to-day job and be convinced that it has value and that the risks can be addressed.

2. It was, therefore, not the usual suspects. All of us knew H&K a different way; we started developing a relationship with them through @CandaceKuss who’s a dog lover and former breeder of guide dog pups and who admires what we do online given our limited size and resources. We’re used to seeing some familiar names and faces on the discussion circuit now, and these weren’t them.

It was the first time, for example, I’ve come across a member of the Stonewall team, and there was also someone from the Royal Albert Hall. Fascinating, because of course we have different issues – it’s easy to say ‘let go of the product/message’ when it’s yours, but in the case of the RAH, of course, it’s not THEIR product.

3. It seems to have spawned something even more useful. While there was a certain unavoidable lack of focus in such a broad discussion, steps were taken by the lovely Sara Price and Gaylene Ravenscroft to plan where to go next – they were prepared to throw the format out if it didn’t work. Instead, preliminary decisions were made to have more structured workshops in the future, beginning with a focus on metric – hallelujah!

Metric really is the key to everything social media – and so it should be. It should be an integrated part of communications and we wouldn’t dream of trying any other comms strategy without it. It is the key to knowing if you’ve achieved your objectives, it is the tool with which you persuade the reluctant, it is the essence of communication. And despite the plethora of free goodies out there, most conversation-tracking tools are swingeingly expensive for a charity our size. A workshop that helps us get the very best out of what we can get our hands on – and turn that into fundraising, volunteering, rehoming and other engagement stats – would be very helpful indeed.

In fact, my only disappointment with the session was with the ‘listening guide’, which was designed for pure novices (“go to Twitter.com and click Get Started”); apart from Blogpulse I heavily used all of the tools mentioned – in fact, if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have been involved in the discussion in the first place. It would be good to see this taken further – perhaps an Advanced Guide? – moving forward.

Learning something new is what I live for – I look forward to doing that in the next session.

One Comment

  1. Hi Alex

    Really glad you enjoyed the session yesterday. Thanks so much for coming – great to see you again. Next time you have to hang out afterwards and have a drink in our Bar!

    We have been fizzing with ideas since then and I am really looking forward to running a series of these workshops.

    I think we’re going to go for three sessions over a comparatively short space of time (6 weeks?) focussing on – identifying audience / objectives; usng social media for fundraising / campaigning and, of course, metrics and evaluation.

    Hopefully this should mean that people can mix and match or come to all three and end up with the tools they need to pull together a full social media strategy.

    Hope to see you again at one or all of these!



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