Increasingly, communications and marketing teams that we're speaking to in the public sector are being tasked with writing a digital communications strategy for their organisation.
At VerseOne's free Digital Strategy Seminars last week, Nora Harris provided some great insights and much useful information for delegates to take away to help them put together a strategy that is effective and, more importantly, aligned with their wider communications objectives. Nora began by emphasizing that VerseOne's Information Architecture Process can be applied to great effect when beginning this task.
Define your objectives
Before beginning your digital activity, you must have clearly defined objectives, so that you will have an idea of what constitutes success.
There are many benefits an integrated digital strategy can bring—driving more traffic to your website, raising brand awareness, improving SEO—and although priorities will vary for each organisation, they must be clearly laid out in order to measure the effectiveness of your activities.
Profile your audience
Decide who your target groups are, identify the digital channels where their conversations take place, listen first, make a list of what's being talked about, follow people. Then begin to share and comment. Become a source of information that is relevant to your audience, where your audience congregates.
Having defined your aims clearly, you can estimate timescales and expected achievements to provide a benchmark for eventual realised benefits.
There is also a wealth of tools to help you analyse your metrics:
- Google Analytics will let you track your website performance and help you measure ROI
- HootSuite will help you to track results and measure success in real time
- BoardReader will let you find out what's being said about you on forums and message boards
- Alexa Rankings will allow you to measure the influence of any commentator or blogger that may have commented on your organisation
Then develop and adjust your strategy and tactics accordingly, and don't be afraid to experiment.
Integrate online and offline
Nora eloquently explained the importance of getting this right, given the way internet users' perspectives have changed over the years:
"The online landscape has changed. Web users want to be able to contribute, engage and share; they want to be part of a genuine conversation, not part of a 'receive-only' audience. They also expect to have access to interesting and useful information, rather than a wall of corporate marketing material."—Nora Harris, Information Architect
This is excellent advice; however, many of the public sector organisations we have spoken to—given the service-oriented nature of their websites—have also raised the question of how to generate interactive and engaging content online. This is where it is useful to realize that as well as activity online, a well-executed event or forum offline can not only generate some useful content for your online channels, but lead to further engagement in the digital space.
Of course, this demand for interaction and useful content is not just limited to the web! And so our roving Tweeter, @VerseOneComms, was keen to find out how well the content and format of the Digital Strategy Seminars would be received. We live-tweeted the seminars with the hashtag #v1tech; as well as receiving a lot of retweets and comments during the session, we found the number of our Twitter followers increased by 357% over the course of the week—simply due to the fact that we provided people with some useful and interesting content that captured the attention of our target audience.
We would like to thank everyone who contributed, engaged, and tweeted during the sessions.
Because we've integrated digital media with our general communications strategy, we also gathered traditional feedback from delegates:
"Very useful day, good info, interesting presentations."—Katherine Gray, Leeds City Council
"The event was fantastic, thank you very much."—Carly Farley, Alder Hey Children's NHS Foundation Trust
Thus, as well as providing our delegates with some strategic tips when it comes to online engagement, hopefully the impact that the offline events had in the digital space can inspire our public sector audience to embrace online channels to extend the reach of their other PR or marketing activites, as the two can most certainly be mutually beneficial.
Feedback for our guest speakers was also extremely positive and we'd like to thank:
Digital Strategy Seminars:
Hot Topics in the NHS: Digital Communications Strategy for the NHS
...for their excellent contributions.
If you would like to find out the full details of all of the presentations, click here to register for a copy of the slides.
If you were at one of last week's digital strategy events, please feel free to leave a comment below—we'd love to hear from you.