Our social media experience – the facts so far.

What's the value in publishing content on social media? Is there a pay off? Dave Allen shares his experiences.

Back in April I started publishing articles on LinkedIn (after a lot of personal soul searching), BrandPie hired a social media manager and we started to look more deeply at how to build our profile online in an intelligent way. The key word for us was 'intelligent'. We wanted to understand and explore how to build the profiles of our people in a positive way and not switch readers off by over communicating and sharing.

The decision to do it was triggered by data I saw in the US which showed clients were increasingly viewing the individual profiles of Consultants and Partners of Consulting Firms before they appointed a Firm for an assignment. How active the lead consultant was in posting 'think pieces' seemed to be influencing that Firm's ability to win work. There was a small but emerging correlation between intelligent partner activity on line and the client appointment of a Firm.

I said in that original article I would come back to you with some of the early data. This would hopefully help others work out if publishing and spending time on line is actually worthwhile and maybe give you some pointers.

Initially, we decided to focus on LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter and thinking through how our activity could support relationship building and add value to the company? We knew people went from our web site, to view individual LinkedIn profiles or vice versa and they also browsed our company LinkedIn page and twitter feed. Instagram was less viewed so we decide to use that to show our personality and some of the more fun things we do.

So here is what has happened so far. I have written 14 articles (including this one). Each takes around 1-2 hours to write. I have tried 'Top tip' lists, stories of real life experiences, humour, serious evaluation (these take a lot lot longer) and thought leadership.

The differences in views, likes and shares is quite startling.

Humorous articles about real life situations with a serious point seem to be the most successful, closely followed by Top 10 tips. The more analytical pieces get a higher percentage of likes but fewer shares and thus fewer views. Sharing of a good think piece is appreciated, but they die fast. There seems to be no correlation between length of article and views - which surprised me as I thought in this soundbite world longer pieces wouldn't get read. The great news is the better written, humorous and more intelligent articles get the most views and circulate longer. The soundbites die faster.

My most viewed articles to date are 'I don't want my dishwasher to beep' (mildly funny) and the 'Top 10 habits of great leaders' (serious). My first article (about this plan) got 175 views  and 6 months later I am now getting around 350-400 views per article.

My followers have gone up by 28% in the same period to around 1200 - having remained reasonably static for the previous year or so.

My profile views have also increased by around 400% and I am now in the top 10% of people like me (whatever that means).

A clear learning is make sure you really mobilise your team to share. I know it is obvious for experienced users but the multiplier effect is way more important than I had realised. It is all in the maths!

Now all the above is pretty meaningless if it doesn't translate into opportunities and benefits.

It has certainly benefitted BrandPie.

Firstly, more BrandPie folks are now publishing and sharing ideas - we have established permission for everyone that they can write and publish on line (which is not easy at all easy to do) and as a result we have a much better content feed on our company LinkedIn page and our BrandPie followers have gone through the roof. Our Twitter followers have also doubled.

Secondly, it has connected us in the right way with a lot of existing and prospective clients. They are responding and commenting on posts. We are active.

Finally, it has definitely helped us in recruitment - we have managed to switch all our recruitment to be on line and saved a considerable sum in recruitment fees (this alone would justify the time spent). One post for a vacancy received 157 applications and we wrote back to them all. Didn't see that one coming!

We now accept that one day someone at BrandPie will publish something that isn't quite right and it may bite us. We have done everything we can to avoid this but if you want to be out there you have to let people flow - for someone who was brought up in the corporate and legal controls of Kodak this was not easy to accept - but I have got there.

In summary the early efforts we have put in seem to be paying off. I have got over my fear of sending stuff into the unknown, been offended and flattered by the comments some of my articles have received and on balance been pleased with the results. It has saved us money on recruitment and it has triggered some great discussions and debate inside BrandPie. It is forcing us to think, to invent and to comment intelligently.

But for me I am most delighted to find that in what I thought was increasingly a 'soundbite world'  people respond best to intelligent, funny and well written pieces. So far quality is definitely more important that quantity.