Welcome back to TakeFive with TweetReach, our ongoing interview series with influential members of the Twitter measurement universe. This week, we’re excited to speak with Brian Conway, Account Supervisor for Weber Shandwick, about his experiences with social media and how his initial personal use of the medium lead to a deeper understanding for the impact and potential use it had for brands. He takes this insight with him into projects with current clients, such as American Airlines.
TweetReach: Let’s start with talking about how you got started using social media. Can you describe your first “ah-ha” moment?
Brian Conway: My initial experience with social media was in the mid-2000s for personal use when platforms like Facebook and Twitter had really only made a name for themselves as being unique to the individual experience. It wasn’t until 2008 or 2009 that I started paying much closer attention to how those same individual messages aggregate over time to form a larger brand picture that can be pretty — or pretty ugly. The fact that individuals suddenly had so much influence over a company’s brand reputation and strategic direction was a huge eye-opener for me— that was my “ah-ha” moment. This understanding has since influenced how I’ve approached some of the community management and crisis roles I’ve held for a variety of clients.
TweetReach:How have you seen your clients approach Twitter as part of their digital strategy?
Brain Conway: Broadly speaking about Weber Shandwick, the number of clientele using Twitter and other social media platforms has exploded tremendously in the last three or four years. Nearly all use Twitter for some kind of public engagement, and that ranges from corporate news to marketing announcements to social customer service. Others still use it for listening only. Message reach and response is always important, but what we encourage companies to look for are individual conversations, sentiment, and reach of positive messages. Brand-building or brand regress happens over time, so any corporate Twitter strategy needs to take ongoing listening into big consideration. From my personal experience, I’ve been very closely tied to American Airlines’ social media program since 2009, and Twitter has become a hugely invaluable engagement resource, as well as a strong component of its award-winning social customer service program.
TweetReach: How important is measurement of engagement on Twitter to your strategy with clients? Do you have specific goals and campaign metrics that you use to measure performance and success?
Brian Conway: Measurement of social engagement, be it Twitter or any other platform, is as crucial as your digital strategy. After all, a company doesn’t devote budget and time to a platform simply for the sake of grins, right? I often advocate for a well-balanced approach to quantitative and qualitative measurement for clients, and it all starts with goals. If your campaign goals focus squarely on follower growth or message reach as a measure of success, it’s very easy to track those KPIs quantitatively. But, we believe our clients need to know not just how many conversations there were, but what was actually said and what it means for the company’s business objectives.
TweetReach: Along those lines, let’s talk about the measurement of reach. How do you weigh the importance of the quantity of a campaign’s reach (the overall size of the potential audience) vs. the quality of that reach?
Brian Conway: As I mentioned, it’s very important to have a well-balanced mix of quantitative and qualitative analysis for any social media campaign, proactive or reactive. Again, it all comes back to goals and what kind of success you want to achieve for your organization. Some social campaigns may lend themselves more toward KPIs like audience reach, impressions, sales growth, volume of submissions, awareness-generation, volume of tweets using your hashtag, and the like. Other campaigns may focus more on engagement. Some important qualitative questions to ask: What message points resonated best with our followers? Did our posts trigger any unexpected conversations? How does this Twitter campaign help us prepare for the next one?
TweetReach: Do you have any examples of how analytics have helped you adjust or improve your social media activities? Has this ever happened in the middle of a campaign?
Brian Conway: In one instance for a former client, we had pre-determined the entire course of proactive messaging for the client’s social media campaign. Almost halfway into the campaign, our tracking and reporting revealed significant conversations around a storyline we hadn’t even considered, and it gave us cause to revise our messaging strategy to make sure we spoke more about this other storyline people obviously wanted to discuss. When we reported our findings to the client, we were met with some understandable skepticism about changing our strategy, but in the end, we showed that adaptability and commitment to listening can contribute to campaign success— which is exactly what we saw.
Brian assists with the coordination and management of digital/social media programs at varying levels of strategic corporate engagement, including brand reputation management, outreach strategy, new business development, and crisis monitoring and program implementation. Currently, Brian supports a number of Weber Shandwick clients’ social media programs, including American Airlines and Essilor of America. Among Brian’s primary expertise are community management and message engagement, proactive social campaign strategy, social media crisis comnunications, and blogger relations strategy.