#SMW13 New York: 6 Tips to Social Media Success

Melissa Baratta

Last month’s Social Media Week: New York brought together experts from a variety of industries to discuss lessons learned and best practices for social media campaigns in 2013. Affect hosted two events featuring panelists who have been successful in using social media to communicate in challenging environments; the panelists shared some key tips on how to use social media successfully.

Social Media & Hurricane Sandy: Crisis Case Studies

Hurricane Sandy generated an unprecedented level of activity on social media. For thousands of residents, their mobile phones—and social channels—served as a lifeline to information about the devasating storm. Sandy demonstrated how critical it is for organizations to be prepared to communicate with customers and stakeholders via social media during a crisis.

Michael Clendenin of Con Edison, Aaron Donovan of Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Eugene Ribeiro of MTA New York City Transit and Morgan Johnston of JetBlue shared their best practices for successfully engaging on social media during a crisis, including:

1. Update often: Con Edison's Clendenin said that communicating the problem is just as important as fixing it.  If customers feel the company is being transparent and sharing information often, they will be more patient and forgiving, especially when it comes to living without power for days or weeks. Customers just want to know that the company is working hard to reemdy the situation.

2. Show, don’t tell: Sharing pictures can help illustrate the gravity of the crisis and communicate more information than a 140-character tweet. MTA found that sharing images of flooding, tunnel damage and bridge debris helped customers understand why it took so long to restore service and made them feel more engaged. If appropriate, share pictures often.

3. Respond in broad strokes: During a crisis, you may get hundreds or thousands of questions. It’s impossible to answer each one individually, but if you monitor properly, you can issue blanket answers on Twitter and Facebook to respond to a large number of people at the same time.

Open, Collaborative and Regulated: Social Media in Healthcare

In a regulatory environment that is evolving—and one in which the FDA provides only vague guidelines for social media engagement—keeping pace with consumer demand for interaction on social media is an ongoing challenge.

Panelists Deborah Radcliffe of Pfizer, Marc Monseau of Mint Collective and Allison Fitzpatrick of Davis & Gilbert LLP shared tips on how to effectively embrace social media while maintaining compliance:

1. Don’t think about the “next big thing”—focus on getting it right: Rather than reaching for every new social media tactic or platform, focus on the basics. First, update your Social Media Policy regularly, and use it. Second, think about your end goals first, and then go back and decide which platform you should use and what content you should share to reach those goals.

2. Content is king: It’s crucial to ensure the content you create resonates with your audiences based on what you learn through listening. Befriend both the legal and regulatory departments so they can help you ensure your content is appropriate.

3. Get legal involved early: Legal counsel should not be your enemy, but your partner. Your legal team can help you make the right decisions and ensure your social media campaign is compliant, so you can avoid those warning letters from the FDA.

For more tips on how to effectively manage a social media program, check out the Hurricane Sandy case studies on Slideshare or visit TechAffect.com.

Melissa Baratta is a VP at Affect, a public relations and social media agency based in New York City. She can be reached at [email protected] or @mlbaratta.