6 Keys to Building an Agile Engagement Program

Yesterday PR Newswire hosted a webinar titled “Agile Engagement: 6 Steps to Building Communications Dexterity,” that featured some great case studies and a robust Q&A session that focused on what organizations need to do to make the change to the proactive agile engagement communications framework.

The panelists were:

  • Kelly LeVoyer, the Director of Marketing Editorial at SAS Software (@sassoftware)
  • Valerie Jennings, CEO of Jennings Social Media Marketing (@valeriejennings)
  • Sarah Skerik, VP social media, PR Newswire (moderator) (@sarahskerik)

The discussion was framed in the agile engagement construct developed by PR Newswire, which has key tenets and is discussed in detail in the free whitepaper titled “The Dawn of Agile Engagement.”  The six tenets are:

  • Listening & analysis
  • Content creation & curation
  • Audience targeting
  • Message distribution
  • Engage & interact
  • Measurement

Kelly started the discussion by speaking about how any company can improve by applying the agile strategy, noting that she believes many companies, including SAS, focus much too heavily on the “create” stage of this model.  She strongly encouraged that organizations begin focusing more upon the “listen”, “engage”, and “measure” stages. In speaking about the “listen” stage, Kelly stated that listening is a process that must be formalized and internalized, noting that the organization needs to be able to absorb and react to the information and data gleaned real-time from the social sphere.   The “engage” stage also received a lot of attention.  Kelly emphasized the growing importance of engagement as the term becomes more and more a part of our everyday lives.

When targeting and interacting with influencers, Kelly made it clear that engagement should not be reserved only for those with a high degree of influence (e.g. a big Klout score or rafts of Twitter followers) noting there are influencers everywhere.  Brands shouldn’t the people who are using their products on a daily basis.  It is smart to have a broad definition of what constitutes an influencer, for it can be detrimental to an organization to only engage the social media rock stars. By engaging everyone, she believes you can turn average customers into extremely credible evangelists.

Measurement was also a focus of Kelly’s presentation. She strongly believes that by monitoring all the processes involved with engagement, you are allowing the audience to create content for you.  In summary, Kelly noted that she does not have sympathy for organizations that complain about struggling to create content. She believes that if any organization can listen, engage, and measure, that content creation will come easily. However, she cautioned the audience to remember that despite how important the “listen” and “engage” stages are, they are meaningless if the “measure” stage does not take place.

Valerie Jennings, the CEO of Jennings Social Media Marketing, was our second presenter. She focused heavily on the importance of meeting business goals and achieving monetization for social media marketing programs, and noted that achieving these outcomes requires a lot of agile thinking.

Several points Valerie believes are of paramount importance when striving to reach these outcomes include:

  • Goal setting.  Mapping specific business outcomes sets a foundation for the program.  These goals should be quantifiable and attainable. Even if an organization is in the early stages of development, Valerie encourages them to set these goals. She cited social media as an example. In her opinion it is not enough to just say that your goal is “to have X amount of followers on Twitter”. She suggests that an organization extends this to something that is quantifiable in relation to the business as a whole, such as “getting X % of twitter followers to sign up for the organization’s newsletter”.
  • Take full advantage of SEO opportunities, which includes using up-to-the-minute keyword data.  When dealing with B2B and B2C social media marketing, she believes the most important aspects to take interest in when developing editorial content are keywords, search trends, and SEO goals. In focusing on keywords, she made it clear that she believes that they are not static; they are strong indicators of audience behavior. If an organization does a good job of analyzing the keyword choices of its audience, they should be able to tell exactly what type of content they need to create.
  • Understand timeframes and sales cycles, and plan accordingly.  In speaking about what sort of time frame to expect in order to achieve monetization, Valerie expressed her belief that the time frame depends on what type of organization you are working with. She used Wyndham Hotels as an example. Since Wyndham’s sales cycle tends to be a bit longer, she found the 6 to 7 months it took to achieve monetization to be relatively fast.  However, when dealing with an organization with a shorter sales cycle, it may be reasonable to expect monetization in a much shorter span of time. Valerie finished by emphasizing the importance of integrating monetization into your organization, stating that monetization can affect the overall marketing strategy, so organizations should make sure to build it in to their sales system or marketing department.

The session was incredibly robust, and this summary barely scrapes the surface.   To listen to the archive of the event – which includes good discussion by the presenter of specific case studies, follow this link:  Agile Engagement Webinar .

We believe this will be time well spent!

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