Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on The Newberry Group’s blog.
Last fall, I started as an intern at the Newberry Group with objectives of assessing the impact of growing a social media presence, developing a strategy for social media use and executing on that strategy. After nine months, my team and I accomplished these objectives and learned a great deal about the cyber security digital community in the process.
In my relatively short, but deep dive into social media strategy and development over the last two and a half years, I’ve witnessed how different the digital communities can be. The cyber security digital community is particularly fascinating. My team found that cyber security professionals tend to fall into two buckets when it comes to social media. There are those who embrace social media due to their above average understanding of its utility, and there are those who avoid it at all costs due to their above average understanding of the risks associated with it.
This creates an interesting obstacle when engaging with the cyber security digital community. The space expects a sophisticated level of engagement, yet can also feel fragmented and reserved. It seems most companies have accepted that they need to be present on social media but there are huge disparities in utilization. Some online presences are merely place holders while others are hosting weekly webinars.
My team at Newberry decided the greatest value was between these two extremes. We saw opportunities for talent sourcing, service promotion, and partnership development, but we also needed to be realistic about the amount of capacity we could commit to these efforts. The value is there to be had, but only with the people and buy-in to capture it effectively.
We knew we didn’t have the capacity to be active in every space or create a large amount of unique content so we focused our efforts on building out the spaces we felt had the most value and created a content strategy that balanced quality and thought leadership with consistency and practicality.
Creating a social media policy also became a critical element of our strategy. The greatest enemy of engagement is uncertainty and, in a space as sensitive as the cyber security community, assessing the appropriateness of a 140 character tweet will likely lead to abandonment. We want to be as explicit as possible about our internal expectations for social media because we believe it will remove that uncertainty and foster greater internal engagement.
The development of a social media strategy and policy that balanced value with capacity is the product of what has become my biggest take away from my time at Newberry. I’ve learned that the benefits of social media do not appear over night. Early wins can be few and far between. But, sustainable and consistent execution of social media builds equity in a digital community that eventually translates into real company value.
This kind of sustainability requires a hard look at where a company can be most effective and then tailoring that to the company’s internal capacity. Instead of leaving social media to the intern as many companies do, my team decided early on that there was no point in me doing any of the day-to-day social media work. Instead, I focused on strategy and setting up Newberry’s internal structure – things that once set in place can be utilized with minimal maintenance.
I’m confident that as I leave Newberry my work will be appreciated, not missed. I’ve helped give Newberry the tools to continue to build value in the cyber security digital community on their own. While this was not part of the three original objectives I had going into the internship, I believe it is by far the most valuable and can serve as an example to others in the space.