If Theodor Geisel were alive today, he might have amended his quote to say, “The more that you tweet, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
Situated between Occupy Harrisburg and The Wall Street Journal’s “Harrisburg Files for Bankruptcy Protection” was Harrisburg Social Media Club’s Social Media for Work conference, October 19 at The Hilton Harrisburg. For 117 business people in PR, marketing, health care, media, government, energy, land development, and infrastructure, it was a day of learning and investing in social media that works.
Designed around leveraging the power of social media for business, panelists and facilitators were chosen for their influence and activity on social media channels. The lead sponsors–The Patriot-News, Smith Land & Improvement Corporation, Correctnicity, WITF, and Harrisburg International Airport MDT–represented a blend of enterprise, media, and tech startup.
Using the hashtag #SMatWork on Twitter, the day’s insights shone a positive Google light on Harrisburg. Much like looking at the electric grid in Las Vegas at night, monitoring Twitter on October 19 hinted that something significant was going on in Harrisburg—even the Chiquita Banana CEO (@FdoAguirreCEO), Ford’s global digital communications director (@ScottMonty), and AT&T’s digital director (@CBaccus) were listening and responded to tweets.
In the 24-hour period, #SMatWork had 185 contributors on Twitter who generated more than 1,500 tweets with an aggregate 5 million impressions. The 16 panelists, five facilitators, and two keynotes came from as far as San Francisco, Knoxville, Toronto, and Atlanta. The purpose was to share the power and case studies of social media and learn how to drive tangible business results.
Keynotes Kristie Wells, co-founder of Social Media Club, and Mark W. Schaefer, teacher, author, and business owner, delivered a stream of takeaways—all captured on Twitter. Be helpful, be honest, be real. Monitor and measure, but focus on quality not quantity.
In a 2010 Global Listening Platforms Survey, Forrester Research found that 82.2% of companies surveyed use social media for competitor tracking, 80.9% brand tracking, 60.5% crisis identification, and 46.1% customer support.
“There’s no magic pixie dust,” said Keynote Kristie Wells who recommended The US Army Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual for strategic reading.
Representing the most challenging audience to sell on social media, four local executives shared first-person insight on why business should engage. “Where there is no margin, there is no mission,” stated Kathleen Pavelko, WITF president. “Be where your constituents are.”
Dan Kerr, VP of Energy Services for McClure Company, told of the free reign he has to be the brand on social channels and the incredible responsibility that accompanies that delegation. “Blogging is time consuming, but we have seen unexpected results—it has strengthened our company from within and it has become a recruiting tool. However, we can never let social media get in the way of managing a profit and loss statement or doing our jobs.”
Dr. Kim Phipps builds community on Facebook and Twitter for Messiah College. She realizes that Messiah, and she as its leader, must be the chief storyteller and brand builder.
Does it matter if Neato Burrito posted that they like their new sign at the West Shore Plaza? It does if you’re the property owner, we learned.
“Many people think social media is primarily for business to consumer,” said Richard E. Jordan II, CEO of Smith Land & Improvement Corporation, who has a company YouTube channel, a blog, and is active on Facebook and Twitter. “We want to be a partner with our tenants. And the greatest interaction potential is on social media. We don’t outsource our eyes or ears.”
“PR is no longer a nice to have, it’s a need to have,” shared Deb Weinstein, owner of Strategic Objectives, Toronto’s Agency of the Year. News anchors Megan Healey, WHTM TV 27, and Sherry Christian, WHP TV 21 find stories and “first knowledge” on Twitter and Facebook prompting fellow reporters to say, “How did you know that?”
The Hershey Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau is a veteran social media adopter. Susan Ewing, digital director, highlighted the bureau’s QR code (quick response) campaign and its reader engagement results. Auntie Anne’s Pretzels and Phillips Seafood Restaurants use Twitter and Facebook for product testing, coupons, and to discover consumer irritation. In our backyard, Harrisburg International Airport has achieved significant brand awareness and customer interaction with its tweets and posts.
What matters to your customers, who’s influencing the brands, how can papers evolve, how are engineers adapting, how is public radio defining its audience, how is Hershey using consumer insights to create win-wins in the world? The answers are found on Twitter.
At a time when national and international news reports focused on Harrisburg’s municipal bankruptcy, Social Media at Work shifted that focus to a different “b” word: Business. Taking business and media from spectator to participator is good for the region and great for Harrisburg.
As Dan Christ, Director of Audience Engagement for The Patriot-News, tweeted, “How many glasses of Google juice does 5 million impressions yield?” Enough to change the game on Twitter and Google, at least for one day.
Anne Deeter Gallaher, owner/CEO of the Deeter Gallaher Group LLC in Mechanicsburg, is founder of the Harrisburg Social Media Club. She can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @AnneDGallaher..