A social media enlightenment for FreeAgent

If you don’t already know, the FreeAgent team was recently down in London for Social Media Week 2012, where we sponsored the Making Social a Part of Your DNA conference.

Despite a chilly 4.30am start in Edinburgh (and some unusual looks from airport security when they discovered 300 bags of promotional FreeAgent jellybeans in my hand luggage!) we were delighted to make the trip to the heart of London’s West End and find out how companies are successfully using social media to grow their businesses.

Amid a frantic backdrop of live tweeting, we heard how the collaborative nature of social media is allowing businesses to listen to their customers’ feedback and reach out to new people - as well as how it brings useful content to key audiences and can increase a company's influence within its sector.

However, for me, the most important part of Making Social a Part of Your DNA was learning how companies are able to put social media at the heart of their business, rather than just treating it as something that their marketing divisions should be concerned with.

There were some fascinating insights from speakers including SalesforceVirgin AtlanticDell and Cisco, and it was interesting to see how many of these companies no longer see their social media as just a sales or marketing tool. Instead, they view it as an opportunity to actually see the conversations that people are having about specific products and services they use - and to identify areas where they can improve.

Two presentations in particular stood out for me: one from Virgin Atlantic and the other from the mental health charity Mind. In Virgin’s case, they described how they use social media to keep their brand in the public conscience and highlight the consumer-focused aspects of their business, such as flight prices, special offers, new routes and the passenger experience they offer. They added that as their customers are becoming fluent in digital technology, they believe that receiving feedback through social media is vital for the future growth of the business - and they have a huge team in place to manage their channels.

Mind, on the other hand, explained how social media offered them the opportunity to make a real difference to people’s lives. Not only does it successfully promote the charity’s work to potential sponsors and fundraisers, but it also allows the organisation to directly connect and actually reach out to people who have mental health issues and who need the kind of support that they offer.

I was personally delighted to get the chance to hear these stories; some of which helped confirm the things that FreeAgent is doing right with our own social media management, as well as giving us the impetus to review any areas where we’re not doing so well. As a bonus, our Partner Manager David Gauld also got to take to the stage to share our own experiences and even managed to sneak in a mention for our favourite local restaurant Illegal Jacks as an example of a “social” company we admire.

It was also great news that the conference helped to raise thousands of pounds for two very deserving charities - Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) and Mind - so many thanks to everyone who made a donation.

If you didn’t manage to attend the event, don’t worry - you can still get a lot of very useful information on the official website. There’s a full write-up from the event, as well as some insightful videos featuring the keynote speakers, which are a great resource for anyone interested in reviewing or improving their social media use.

We think it’s well worth a look.

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