Q&A on LinkedIn
One of the many excellent CSR bloggers that I have gotten to know is Caroline Kawashima. She manages the LinkedIn group Cleantech Social, which is a forum for cleantech companies and organizations to talk about the intersection of social media and cleantech. (If you want to connect with me on LinkedIn, click here).
Guest Interview: Nathan Schock, Director of PR for POET, on the Value of Social Media
Kawashima: What role, if any, do you see for social media within your marketing and communications goals?
Schock: We have integrated social media into all of our marketing and communications goals, which in turn support the company’s business goals. For every announcement our company makes, we have a role for social media. We use our primary company blog to get more in depth on the personal stories behind our news. We interview frontline workers for our YouTube channel POET TV. And we use Twitter to push out pieces of information that don’t rise to the level of importance necessitating a press release. We also try to regularly engage online communities that are discussing our company and the biofuels industry.
Kawashima: You recently used social media at a recent press event where you showcased the latest cellulosic biomass harvesting equipment. Why did you decide to use social media and was there any key learnings that you can share as to what worked and what needed improvement?
Schock: Before social media, communicators often had to target one set of stakeholders at the expense of another or hold multiple events to reach multiple audiences. With the internet, and in particular, social media, you can extend your event and reach multiple audiences.
We hosted a biomass harvest demonstration in Emmetsburg, Iowa, because that will be the location of our first commercial scale cellulosic ethanol plant and we need the farmers in the area to bring us their corn cobs. Those farmers were our most important audience – we can’t make cellulosic ethanol work without them. But holding an event in Emmetsburg made it difficult to draw national press or a broad audience.
So we turned to social media to help us reach that broader audience. We made it easy for the media who attended to capture and upload content, uploaded a lot of our own content and sponsored the attendance of a well-known alternative energy blogger. We aggregated all of that content in a YouTube playlist of 15 videos that received almost 5,000 views in the first week. On Flickr we posted 167 photos that received more than 1,000 views. All of that content and more was aggregated on a blog that we have set up for our cellulosic project. We also pushed it out through Twitter, Facebook and Friendfeed.
We learned that you have to feed the beast. The more content we uploaded, the more traffic that came to our web properties. With social media around an event like this, speed was also important. Traditional media coverage drove online searches the day of the event as well as the next when much of the print coverage hit. Most of our eyeballs came in those first two days and had we waited to get the content up, views would likely have been significantly fewer.