By the nature of the speed in which the tech industry operates… it can be difficult to reach and engage with the right people – even when they want to engage with us. Interestingly enough, it’s typically our pithy graphics that do the best on our social handles.

Mary Bradburne, Corporate Global Social Media Lead at Cisco, spoke to us about how to stay on track with broader communications objectives amidst the digital distractions of social spaces, and how Yoda can help!

Q1

What do you see as the purpose of social media communications for your sustainability or CSR efforts, and has this changed since the channels have evolved?

A

Initially, social media was all about reaching the maximum number of customers, partners and influencers. Although there is still value in a large following, our communications strategy now focuses on engaging with our influencer audience which in Cisco’s Global Corporate Communications (GCC) include business and trade press, industry analysts, Wall Street and social media influencers (SMIs). By directly targeting these groups, we’re able to influence the conversation in the news and continue to sustain and reinforce our brand reputation.

Q2

What benefits have you seen from these channels for your sustainability or CSR efforts?

A

We’ve definitely seen an increase in influencer engagement and curiosity, which has partially come from targeting specific subject matter experts in the tech industry with content we think they will (1) care about, (2) comment on, (3) share on their own social handles. By engaging these influencers we’re able to add third party validation into the conversation that Cisco is driving in the industry.

Q3

What do you think is key to your success and influence in using social media to communicate on sustainability?

A

The real-time nature of social media can be distracting and pull teams away from the overall communications objectives. This can happen without anyone realizing it until it’s too late. To stay on course, we have a strategic communications plan that aligns to our Global Marketing and Corporate Communications’ (GMCC) strategy. Additionally, every team member in Cisco’s Global Corporate Communications (GCC) organization is accountable to the GCC Communications Agenda – communications imperatives as defined by our CEO, CMO and SVP of Sales. Whether it’s a news article, video or tweet, we align every piece of content to one of the four Communications Agenda “buckets” or topics.

Each quarter, we review our volume and impact on the Comms Agenda and adjust accordingly.

Q4

What are some of the challenges you’ve found from using social media to communicate on sustainability?

A

By the nature of the speed in which the tech industry operates and the 24x7 culture that we live in today, our influencers are extremely distracted so it can be difficult to reach and engage with the right people – even when they want to engage with us. Interestingly enough, it’s typically our pithy graphics that do the best on our social handles.

For example, on May 4th for Star Wars Day, we tweeted out a graphic of network cables that created an outline of Yoda. The caption read, “May the Fourth be with You”.

Q5

Can you share some background on the social media channels that you use to communicate on sustainability?

A

We usually communicate the same pieces of content across all of our corporate social handles, but may tweak the copy or how we leverage it based upon the unique audience of the respective channel. We first started our social media presences on Twitter in 2006, and expanded from there. We have a lean team of two focused on content strategy, and an agency to help with execution.

Q6

Who do you see as your primary audiences – and how do they differ across different channels?

A

Our primary audiences are business and tech press, industry analysts, Wall Street and social media influencers in the tech space, particularly CXO’s.

Q7

How does your social media approach to sustainability communications differ from your corporate, brand or product communications?

A

While we are aligned with corporate and brand communications, social is often the front line. As a whole, we remain at the thought leadership level while our social media marketing verticals specifically target customers and partners with product information. We partner very closely with them to ensure alignment. We manage The Network, an award winning brand journalism site that both aligns to the Comms Agenda and provides industry thought leadership.

Q8

Finally, what are the top practical considerations you’d advise for other organisations to put in place in order to build an effective social media presence for sustainability?

A

  • Build your strategic communications plan first.
  • Determine your brand voice. For example, consider whether you are witty, funny, goofy or irreverent. Your brand voice should reflect the company’s values and brand.
  • Always consider your audience and whether or not they care about your content. Otherwise, you are just talking to yourself and wasting precious resources.
  • Stay on top of trends.
  • Don’t try to cover every channel – figure out where the majority of your audience is and focus your efforts there.
  • Stick to a few key goals.