“What do you know about social media?”
I still remember sitting in the Bethune Room of Cannon Design’s Buffalo office and hearing those words during my second interview with the firm. The position I was applying for made no reference to social media, tweeting or posting YouTube videos as it was focused much more on traditional public relations and marketing efforts. Still, it was mentioned to me in that first interview, that if I had an interest in helping kick-off and grow Cannon Design’s social media efforts – the opportunity was there.
Fast forward 28 months through the Richmond Olympic Oval, past a number of stories about firm events, softball teams and mentoring adventures, look through dozens of posts and hundreds of tweets about our projects and even up to the launch of our social video series @cannondesign and I can tell you that social media has been more than just a small piece of my time with the firm. We’ve built a strategy that stretches across multiple platforms and focuses on sharing our stories and ideas. We’re aggressive, determined to be innovative and eager to learn every day. I’m beyond grateful for the support of our leadership team and the help of a number of colleagues who’ve joined the effort more recently and truly pushed Cannon Design’s social efforts to new heights.
Today, we’ll share the stories of what we’ve learned, achieved and tried to deliver over the past two years with our entire firm. It’s a discussion we probably should have had months ago. But, it’s happening today and that’s exciting. Since launching these efforts we’ve created new business opportunities for the firm, secured strong media placement, increased awareness about Cannon Design, inspired others to seek employment with the firm and gained respect in the profession. We’ve done all of this with no real budget and without making any costly mistakes. We have tried some things that haven’t worked they way we envisioned, but those are important and necessary lessons we’ve learned.
People still come to me from time to time and say they don’t understand all the “tweeting” and “facebooking” or “blogging.” I understand such comments and am happy to work with anyone to help them understand these social tools. I can tell you that social communication is no different from any other communication. The knowledge and tools you need to extract value from it were all learned in kindergarten. Listen. Search. Be Creative. Write. Contribute Your Opinions. Share.
In my mind, sharing is the true differentiator in the social communities. Those who lock down information and refuse to share it lose respect. Those who share ideas become respected as individuals and organizations who are trying to drive us forward. Those who share knowledge are often seen as thought leaders. Those who share their stories, passion and creativity allow others outside the firm to be invested in their successes. In essence, they become loved. Social media and technology have changed the ways in which we market ourselves – the new currencies are transparency, honesty and quality.
Today is about sharing. We’re going to share out stories with the firm and then we’re eager to have others share their ideas with us. That’s how we evolve our efforts and drive them forward. Already, we’ve received e-mails with new ideas on how we might better leverage these tools. We’re already planning teaching sessions and other presentation related to the topic. I truly believe that today will launch a new era of Cannon Design’s social media use. It’s time to maximize the value we get from these efforts on new levels each and every day.
When I think back to hearing that question during my second interview, I’m reminded of the fact that there was a time when I didn’t even believe deeply in the power of social media. I was skeptical in the beginning, as well. But, 28 months later I can tell you we’ve had too many successes, built too many connections and created too many opportunities to ignore its power. It’s been a creative journey and I’m hopeful today is just the beginning.
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