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Real-World Success with Social Media:Company blogs are an important tool for reaching and connecting to a new audience

by Shashi Bellamkonda on January 28, 2011

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NVTC : Real-World Success with Social Media

Evan Weisel of W2comm , Ali Allage of Boostlabs and Deborah Hayward of STUDIO39

The Northern Virginia Tech Council hosted a panel discussion on Real-World Success with Social Media on Tuesday 25th January at Northrop Grumman in McLean, Virginia.  The panel was moderated by Evan Weisel,  Co-owner of Welz and Weisel Communications

Wendy Harmon, Social Media Director, American Red Cross
Jennifer K. Smith, Director of Web and Video Communications, Arlington County
Justin Thorp, Director of Publisher Happiness for AddThis, Clearspring Technologies

Check out Justin’s cool title above “Director of Publisher Happiness” it is even better than mine (Social Media Swami). Wendy Harman of the American Red Cross started off the panel with the Red Cross experience in engaging with their audience, harnessing the power of passionate fans, and in their core goal of helping with disaster relief. Over the holidays I had the time to read Open Leadership by Charlene Li where Charlene quotes the work done by Wendy at the Red Cross. Here is a link to Social Media Handbook  for Local Red Cross Units. Wendy had many takeaways and advice from the Red Cross’ use of Social Media. Welz & Weisel Communications tweeted these  takeaways from her talk:

  • The power that social media tools give to the people to help and to be helped
  • “We continue to train immediate responders on how to use #socialmedia on the ground”

My slides are embedded in this post and please comment if you have any thoughts or suggestions.  Again two takeaways from my talk from Welz & Weisel Communications Twitter feed @w2comm:

  • Training people internally is important so that everyone is ready to respond to a crisis
  • Company blogs are an important tool for reaching and connecting to a new audience

Jennifer Smith from the Arlington County government started off on a very humorous note when she found “a roomful of techies in this region who never worked for AOL” ;) . She made some great points including the need to integrate the new social media tools with the other channels. Jennifer shared the case study of the Arlington County outreach efforts along with how they sent their team to take video of the snow ploughing efforts during #snowmaggeddon. Another attendee, Colby Cox of Marketwire, tweeted these takeaways:

  • Sometimes taking an angry SM talk offline & onto a phone can calm the situation down
  • SM is just another tool to deepen your relationship w/your customer/client

My friend and longtime social media buddy Justin Thorp of Clearspring was very forthright in his comments. I liked the way he advised taking the feedback from the channels and forcing change to benefit the customers. More than a form on a website, have a way for your customers to contact a real person. When you are making changes that affect your customers be transparent and open. Some takeaways from tweets during Justin’s talk:

I was happy to see Crt-tanaka, who is our social media agency, listed as the Gold Sponsor for the event which was organized by the NVTC Social Media Committee.  The Platinum Sponsors were General Dynamics Information Technology and Welz and Weisel Communications. My thanks go to a few other  folks who posted on Twitter during the panel – David Farmer, Sage Communications and Mike King among others.


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