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Jo Brown
May 3, 2018

WTF is Digital Series: Part 4. Engagement through Digital Channels

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As an early adopter of social media personally I found this blog easier to write than some others in this series! I am a huge fan of social media, as with most things, there are definitely good and bad elements, but the connectedness really appeals to me.

The days of handing out business cards are pretty much long gone, I do still remember getting my first ones when I worked at Britannic Telecom years ago, I really thought I had arrived! To be fair, I loved them for years and probably still have a collection of them somewhere. These days you are much more likely to connect via a platform of sorts and most digital events you hear people being referred to by their Twitter handle as much as their name! Thank god I moved on from @thebike0404 :))

Digital channels offer such ample opportunities for taking stuff to market, engaging with customers, receiving feedback (good and bad!). Using Difrent as an example; our social media presence was minimal 6 months ago when I joined, at best we had a basic website and used LinkedIn and Twitter sparingly.

Fast forward 6 months we have created a platform with 25,000 followers using different channels for two way traffic. We now have a team who regularly blog for us and, we are very open at interview that we will want our staff to be transparent about the client work they are doing. I’m pretty relaxed about the subject’s the team share on, it’s rare anything rattles my cage so much I intervene (although it has happened once), we’ve found this gives people a platform to get their voice heard and most importantly get feedback and learn! We’ve recently added Instagram and Facebook as platforms where we engage, interestingly in slightly different ways and with slightly different types of people each time.

In a previous role at The Nursing & Midwifery Council, we unlocked the potential around digital channels in moving a previously paper-based engagement with 800,000 nurses and midwives to digital services with the launch of Revalidation. Not only was this a huge cost saving exercise (£500k per engagement on today’s postage costs) but we could also validate personal information and start to create a two-way dialogue.

The National Archives were always progressive in digital channels to market and were huge advocates of crowdsourcing (the public) to help out with various initiatives, one of the best examples of this was Operation War Diary. Thousands of people gave up their time to help identify people and places in the diaries before they were digitised

NHS Digital openly embraced the GDS recommendations around openly blogging, being transparent about the work they were doing, (covering health apps, open data initiatives widening digital participation pathfinder projects etc.). They often ran recruitment campaigns using social media and supported the #pinksocks initiative, a group of doers and makers, a collection of people from all walks of life and from every point on the healthcare delivery chain.

Channels for any business in any sector reaching customers incl;

Blogging platforms like Medium
Federated Collaboration tools like Slack
Social/Local — services predicated on Geo Location, eg walking past a restaurant and having an offer pop up
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

The ease of which Analytic tools can now be deployed across digital sites provides real-time insight into who is using what and why. Your website is no longer just a shop window but more a real-time view of who is looking at what, where people drop off, bounce rates, conversion rates the language of which has very much become all of ours today, not just the marketing department of years gone by.

Have a play, see what works. The great thing about Digital is that it’s easy to switch on and off, just remember one size does not fit all, customer segmentation and personalising your approach will yield much better results. The number of times I arrived in hotels (in India) to be called Mr Murphy, not quite the personal touch I was hoping for!

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