Posted by: jennagalbreath | May 14, 2017

Using Real-Time Data to Direct Strategic Communications on Social Media

Last week, I missed class to pilot a real-time social listening and strategy for a Microsoft event. What follows is a brief overview and quick learnings from that experience.

Situation: Microsoft launching several new products and capabilities at their Bespin event in early May.

Challenge: As Microsoft’s PR team, we know the easy wins are with the tech and developer audiences. Businesses and consumers are a tougher sell, though our PR teams had already made key contacts with influencers in those groups with hope they might tweet during their attendance at the event. The key (and new) area of focus, was the educational audience, with a focus on students, teachers, and administrators. How do we reach those audiences on Twitter and Facebook?

Approach: We proposed to use Netbase (social media monitoring platform) to track success in real time, with a specific focus on Twitter and Facebook, as they were the platforms we were putting paid boosts into, and had quick client access to post with. The views we built out were specifically designed to measure against progress toward those new audiences:

  • Identify content that stimulated the most conversation
  • New feature product associate attributes and emotions on Twitter
  • Tracking and engagement of pre-seeded stories/pre-briefed influencers (ROI)

Wins: What worked for us was in the moment real-time updates on the success of our pre-seeded stories to our business influencers. For example, we were able to provide real time updates of how our Bloomberg story was trending and with what audiences (segmenting consumer vs. business readers). We could prove with data that consumers were engaging through amplification (like retweets and replies) in a way that they had not before.

Another win was leveraging a new outlet/influencer for social content. Refinery29 has a large female millennial base, and a good amount of teachers in their regular readership. They do not regularly write about Microsoft. However, they released a story (with careful seeding through our team) that compared Microsoft’s new laptop with a designer handbag – sleek, useful, and top of the line. This beautiful framing in a headline was perfect social media soundbite content, which our team leveraged by having key executives retweet, and later putting paid Facebook boosts toward.

Learnings: Even with the Refinery29 win, we saw that the educator segment in total had the lowest amount of engagement throughout the event. While this was our smallest segment, the volume was disproportionately lower than the other segments. We had assumed teachers must be on Facebook, since we assumed this was an older audience whose demographic aligned more with Facebook use. However, this was not the case. Teachers did have a Facebook presence, but we found they do not leverage Facebook for professional discourse and maintained a distinct firewall between their professional and personal engagement. This was confirmed when we saw that the Surface Book laptop mentions were higher than Microsoft’s suite of education products that were being announced. The themes around the Surface Book laptop reflected personal interest rather than professional applications.

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