This is the first in a series of Social Media Case Studies that the Irish Internet Association Social Media Working Group will be producing over the next few months. This is written by Eoin Kennedy, Slattery Communications. All comments, queries and case study suggestions welcomed via comments below. – RS, IIA.
Using Social Media to Drive the Recycling Message
Repak is a packaging compliance scheme that funds packaging recycling activities in Ireland. It collects levies from organizations that produce packaging and then uses these funds to pay subsidies to waste contractors and local authorities for collecting used packaging from recycling supporting Household Recycling Bins, Bring Banks and Recycling Centres.
This has helped Ireland achieve its EU Packaging Recycling targets. Its license also has an educational remit to drive awareness of recycling and improve actual recycling behavior.
The organisation runs a series of traditional campaigns but these were generally one way so in 2007 the organization looked to embrace the online community and social networks in particular to help further engage younger audiences in a more interactive and media rich way.
- To educate, motivate and engage people in recycling of used packaging
- To create online platforms to engage with a different demographic groups
- To develop compelling online content
- To position Repak as expert on packaging recycling issues
- A profile page was established in Sept 2007.
- Full editorial calendar covering relevant Repak content reformatted for Bebo style and covering key initiatives such as Bring Banks on the Street, Repak Christmas Campaigns and Easter Campaigns, Award Winner, Green Schools Calendar.
- Videos developed and uploaded including Building of ‘blinged’ Bring Banks and Interview with UK artist at launch of Repak Recycling Week in BT2.
- Photos from key launches.
- Answering of recycling queries.
- Series of competitions on the whiteboard.
- Per material a day updates/ updates recycling facts.
- Frequent blog posts.
- Posting and visiting of other profiles.
- Friends network expanded to 1076 and views over 19,700.
- Multiple entries to competitions. Some of the entries were pretty elaborate and allowed us to play back how they drew them.
- 200 Comments after 2 months– some of which were one liners, others were queries while others were supportive.
- 307 Quizzes taken.
- Over 500 Polls.
- Over 1000 view of videos.
- Expanded network and community of people interested in recycling.
Other social media channels
Repaks also deployed a number of other online platforms to spread the message to a wider group and target older age groups including:
Video coverage from different Repak initiatives and launches. Over 1,000 views of different videos.
Community creation through uploading photos to photo sharing sites (generic for reuse by others) and specific launches. Generic photos of recycling activities made available for the community to use. Others give a snap shot of colourful recycling launches and campaigns.
A blog was created and populated focusing on recycling issues in Ireland. Written, video, audio and photo material utilized from different initiatives. The blog aims to create a repository and debating point for recycling issues, topics and updates from Repak.
A group within Facebook has been established to interact with an older audience and create a platform for sharing on recycling issues from seeding discussion and sharing material from video to photography.
The wide range of online properties means that Repak can communicate with a broader range of online communities in a media rich format not possible previously.
- Wider online footprint.
- Positioning of Repak as expert in packaging recycling issues.
- 24/7 Availability of Repak and recycling issues.
- Engagement and community development with other recyclers.
- Regular and easy to update content from video to photography.
- Better search engine visibility.
- Driving higher recycling rates and acceptance of recycling message.
- Direct contact with harder to reach demographics.
- More positive public face of the organisation
Repak has now established a number of communications channels and communities through which it can interact and with which it can communicate. The organisation produces a wealth of content and through customising the messages for the different platforms and utilising video, audio and photography it can portray the recycling message in a variety of different and engaging ways. Further engagement with these new communities needs to be undertaken to create a truly interactive relationship, in conjunction with the ongoing development of content and other tools such as applications. Social media now forms part of the planning process for all Repak initaitives.
Repak are a client of Slattery Communications who helped develop and maintain their online presence.
Next Tuesday will see the start of a new series of guest posts from the IIA Social Media Working Group. This series will focus on case studies of Irish businesses using Social Media in innovative or effective ways and each week will see a different member of the group deliver a case. So a lot of variety and a day off the blogging for me – a win win situation for us all 🙂
Brendan Hughes, the chair of the IIA Social Media Working Group, shares some of his thoughts on business uses of Social Media in a recent blog post. He examines in particular how the web has developed a dichotomous existence with transactional relationships on one side and social relationships on the other. Really successful internet businesses or businesses on the internet are bringing these two relationships together.
At the beginning of December the IIA Social Media Working Group invited interested parties to join them in person or remotely in order to workshop their draft guide to business blogging. A very interesting session ensued with plenty of input from those in the room which you can hear on this three part podcast.
You can also subscribe in iTunes to the IIA podcast and receive any future podcasts from us.
We also had input from others via Twitter which caused me no end of half-brained responses. You can actually hear me saying “Ye wha?” as I try to respond to a tweet and a real live person at the same time. Nice. If we ever do this kind of workshop again I have a different plan for the live tweeting.
Much thanks for Brendan Hughes for chairing this event, Krishna De for facilitating the session and editing the podcast and to all those who participated. Input is still welcomed on the draft guide so please feel free to add your comments.
The Irish Internet Association’s Social Media Working Group chaired by Brendan Hughes, FBD.ie, are holding a workshop to discuss the first draft of their first Social Media Guidebook. This first draft publication is entitled “Blogging for Business: a Guide for Irish companies”.
In the spirit of Social Media this guide was developed collaboratively online by the members of the working group. Continuing this collaborative model the working group hope to share this draft with anyone interested in blogging for business and to discuss and develop it at a workshop. If you have never blogged before the Social Media Working Group are interested in your feedback. If you eat, sleep and work blogging, the Social Media Working Group are interested in your feedback. The draft will be circulated to all workshop attendees as soon as they register (so please register sooner rather than later).
It is hoped that remote attendance will be facilitated. Please follow www.twitter.com/iia or email firstname.lastname@example.org to express your interest in attending remotely if the facility is available on the day.]
Audience: Those interested in using Social Media for business be they expert or non-users.
Aim: To create a useful beginners guide for business people planning to get started in Social Media
Objectives: To discuss and develop the material prepared by the Blogging subgroup of the Social Media Working Group
Venue: Presentation Room, Digital Depot, Roe Lane, Thomas St., Dublin 8
Time: 3.30pm – 5.30pm
Date: Friday 5th December
Cost: Free to IIA members/ €20.00 non-members
As Brendan Hughes mentioned in the previous post, the IIA Social Media Working Group welcomed input from Neville Hobson this week at an open meeting. I live tweeted some of the meeting but unfortunately the free wifi in the Digital Depot where we held the meeting broke down – bad timing or what! One of the things I love about live tweeting on a purely selfish level is that it gives me a chronological re-cap of the event that I am attending so excuse me if the following bounces about a bit.
We had asked Neville to join us to talk to us about his experience of the business case for Social Media. Neville provided some insight into how some of the larger corporations that he is working with are embracing customer engagement by using social media and discussed that what they might lose in control they gain in new and more engaged stakeholders and customers. Neville said that it’s a given that social media is going to disrupt and businesses will have to change the way they work but that understanding this change relates more to understanding societal behavioural change in general. This point is echoed in a book I recently finished that was lent to me by John Beck, the director of one of our member companies, PillarProjects. The book was called Good to Great by Jim Collins and examined how a number of companies achieved sustained greatness. It included the concept which Collins called the Hedgehog Concept which suggested (put extremely simply!) that the great companies that his team examined had a core concept for the companies from which they did not stray. If one agrees with this one might ask why would one change one’s approach to communications and customer relations? However, I believe that a company with a strong Hedgehog Concept will easily take on the added challenges and benefit from the opportunites that social media offers because of the very strength of their core concept. A great company which is made up of great people will easily be able to engage and involve all their customers in their work.
Another great practical aspect of the afternoon that we hope to use for future open meetings of the Social Media Working Group was the addition of OnlineMeetingRooms.com. This doubled the attendees at the event and we had seven from Clonmel, two from Kildare, and one each from Dublin Southside, South Tipperary County Council, Limerick, Greystones and Munich!
I posed a question which many of the people I meet and talk to on the phone ask me: how to make time to use social media, how to know what is a good use of that resource in relation to it. And here I am breaking my own rule writing this post at 7.44pm on a Friday evening. Sad or what!? Like many who make a living out of their knowledge of social media and have the time to blog every day, Neville didn’t really have a straight up and down answer for this except that the whole discussion answered that question. He talked about CEOs who blog in their own voices and the value they place on that and indeed the value which is placed on it. He talked about social media tools allow him to use his time more effectively and (gratifyingly for me as I am writing the chapter on RSS for the SMWG’s guide to Social Media) he said, “RSS is the best thing ever invented!”
To finish he was asked what kind of goals could be set in relation to social media for a business to which he replied that businesses shouldn’t get hung up on return on investment (ROI), the goals are softer than that but you could look at things like Technorati authority which is based on linking, set realistic comparisons with the ROI on other marketing, subscriptions to RSS feed, citations or links, tools like StatCounter or Google Analytics could be used, your own comments and comments on your blog etc. could be evaluated.
Regular readers of this blog might be thinking “Good Lord, Roseanne, please get off your Social Media Hobby Horse!” and obviously I have a certain bias as I’ve been blogging since 2003. But one point that Neville made, with which I agree heartily and I noticed there was a lot of head nodding in the room, was that currently we make a distinction between the web and social media; soon we will not make that distinction. All media, even traditional media, will be social, in the new sense, in the not too distant future. Anyone who thinks it is not social already doesn’t understand how people interact with information. Your business is being discussed online AND offline, make sure you are part of the conversation.
Thanks to all in the SMWG who came along and also to Campbell Scott, IGoPeople.com, Damien Mulley, Emily Tully, Eoin Kennedy, Slattery Communications, Eoin from Bord Gáis, and the students from Tipperary Institute, our online attendees and anyone who I’ve left out!
To finish off I’ll share this slideshow I found today with you. It gives the lowdown on social media in a no nonsense way. Please excuse the title: relax it’s Friday and apart from the expletives this is very well put!
(Found on MediaThink)
Edit: Brendan Hughes, chair of the Social Media Working Group, has written a series of blog posts encapsulating his thoughts that arose from the Open Meeting. You can start with Part 1: Context.
Also Eoin Kennedy has since written a post on his thoughts on the above open meeting. As he works in Slattery Communications Eoin focusses on the public relations and communications opportunities that exist in social media. He obliquely makes a good point that PR company are content generators.
A guest post from Brendan Hughes of FBD.ie and chair of the IIA’s Social Media Working Group.The IIA’s social media working group has been up and running now for a few months. We each work in different organisations located in various parts of the country and the group was configured so that there would not only be social media experts, but also business professionals with relatively little knowledge or expertise to date. For many of us the group has provided a great opportunity to learn by doing since we decided from the outset that we would seek to use social media as much as possible to support our collaborative working. The following are some of the social media tools we have used to support our endeavours.
The online hub of our collaboration has been the online project management tool Basecamp from 37signals.com. I’ve seen companies use this to communicate their project timelines with clients but it comes into its own when you need to collaborate with a dispersed group. Each member of the working group can post messages for the entire group or to just a few. Members of the group can reply or comment, just like on a blog. There are whiteboards where ideas can be teased out. Everyone is kept up to date by email and all communications are tracked. It gives great transparency on everything we do.
We decided that we would initially write 4 white papers on particular aspects of social media that we felt would be of primary interest to the business community in Ireland. To support the task of up to 16 people working on a single document we set up a wiki. A wiki is essentially a tool that allows anyone to edit an online document and have their edits tracked. There is a complete audit trail of who does what and changes can be easily rolled back. Notifications, or “watchlists” can be set up so that whenever a change is made to a particular document you can receive an email. While we struggled with the first version of the wiki we used since it was not very intuitive to use, we have since moved onto a new version – SocialText – that meets our needs better.
Rather than dragging everyone into the Digital Hub in Dublin every time we needed to meet we agreed to hold Skype conference meetings when we needed to. As smaller groups this worked well but when I personally tried to organise a full group Skype meeting I managed to leave most of the group out of the conversation for 20 minutes or so. I had an older version of Skype installed than was necessary to host the full meeting. Thanks to Skype’s instant messaging facility I was alerted to the problem by the excluded members and was able to get someone else to host the meeting.
In between meetings we’ve all been keeping in touch and letting each other know about useful resources or activities via social network websites such as FriendFeed and Twitter. These have been really useful ways of providing information quickly. Many of us have our own blogs and we’ve been using these and the IIA blog to try and keep people outside the group up to date. The social networking tools have been great for us individually in creating links with interested people outside of the working group. It was great to go to the Podcamp event in Kilkenny and to meet most of the working group there, as well as many of the other people I’ve connected with online over the past while.
Our white papers are now coming close to publication. We intend to widen the circle of collaboration and with this in mind we plan to publish the documents (via the wiki) in draft format. We will then invite people to review and post comments directly to the wiki. We also intend to host a review session for each document, online of course, using the services offered by OnlineMeetingRooms.com. I’m personally very excited about this as it provides the opportunity to gather the expertise from practitioners and interested business professionals in a constructive and engaging manner.
We’re also planning to host an open meeting with social media expert Neville Hobson from the UK to discuss the business case for social media. Neville is coming to Ireland on November 5th and we’ve managed to secure a few hours out of his busy schedule. The meeting will be organised via the social media website upcoming.org, allowing anyone who’s interested in attending to register for free and see who else is attending. We’ll post more information on this later.
We certainly haven’t exhausted the range of online collaborative tools available out there, but what we have used to date has proved very useful for maintaining the momentum of activities of a diverse group of individuals. What’s more, we have done it all with minimal cost. Learning the new technologies is not without its sometimes humbling (and frustrating) moments, but thankfully there is never a shortage of knowledgeable people only too willing to help out.
As an footnote, I came across a interesting video-cast from BT on their BiggerThinking website talking about how companies can collaborate with customers, using social media technologies, to build better products. Well worth a few minutes of your time.
The following post is contributed by Brendan Hughes, Chair of the IIA Social Media Working Group. The IIA facilitate and support a number of working groups – information about all is available on our website. If you have a particular interest in any of them please contact me, Roseanne Smith, Membership, Marketing and Communications Manager at members at iia punc ie.
Last Wednesday night saw the first gathering in the Digital Depot of the IIA’s new Social Media Working Group. When asked by Fergal O’Byrne (CEO of the IIA) to chair the group I was happy to say yes as I see this an important development in the Internet landscape in Ireland. To my knowledge this is the first co-ordinated attempt to gather together social media experts and business people with a view to providing information and best practice advice for businesses. I am certainly not aware of any library or resource that is independent and can freely be tapped into – this is what we hope to deliver.
The meeting was attended by thirteen of the sixteen members of the working group (the other three had solid alibis and are still very much in the group). I’ll ensure that the full list of members is made available on the IIA site, but without mentioning people individually I’m very happy to say that we had a very impressive collection of people round the table. We had luminaries from the blogging community, academia, big business and small business, organisations serving big and small businesses, and people who are starting new businesses. What we had in common was a very clear belief that this “social media thing” is important for organisations, and an enthusiasm to get stuck into the detail.
Our task last night was to get to know each other and to tease out a little of our vision, scope and how we are going to work together. The vision has started out looking something like: “the group’s aim is to be the thought leader – developing and sharing insights – in the appropriate use of social media by businesses in Ireland”. We had lots of discussion, as you can imagine, around some particular words – “thought leader”, “appropriate use”, “social media”. This vision might be a little bold for a voluntary part-time group, but we’re going to stick with it for now.
Much of the discussion centred on how we would tackle our planned outputs. We intend to deliver white-paper documents on some of the key social media that are relevant to both small and large businesses in Ireland. Initially we are going to pick off blogging, social networks/online communities, audio and video podcasting, and RSS. On hold for now are collective intelligences (wikis etc), peer-to-peer networks, mash-ups, web services and instant messaging (and anything else that we haven’t thought of).
A question arose about how deep we should go on each of these and that discussion is still ongoing today. We are all agreed that the first and most obvious need in the market is for the simple guide to each of the social media mentioned. Once businesses understand what they are they will very quickly want to figure out what potential there might be for their business and what the rationale / business-case might be for engaging. We do intend to get stuck into all of this and I think we have the right people on board to make this happen.
In order to keep things manageable, I going to keep the membership of the group limited to the sixteen who are currently on board. We do however intend that the process should be outward looking and we will be inviting contributions from people outside the group. We are setting up a wiki to facilitate this. We’re going to try and use social media as much as possible in the operations of the group – in order to prove to ourselves at least how beneficial it can be. Our next meeting will be via Skype conference and we’ll be posting updates on progress over the coming months here on the IIA blog.
If you are interested in participating in the group please email email@example.com and we’ll put your name on the list if some of the existing members leave. And don’t forget to subscribe to this blog for the updates.
Bernie Goldbach of Tipperary Institute of Technology has blogged about the meeting describing us as social media plumbers who “understand the flow of conversations and how surges of information gurgle and sometimes spit in vitriolic ways.” Very nicely put, Bernie – thanks!