When newsworthy information creates headlines within the technology industry, the voices that weigh in often come from major industry publications or online news sites. And while these voices contribute greatly to the discussion, the opportunity for engaged influencers to offer their expertise and views in a public forum other than the occasional blog comment were few and far between.
That is, until #CiscoChat.
#CiscoChat is a global, Cisco-branded, social chat program. Designed to bring together subject matter experts from around the world to discuss topics that impact the technology industry, #CiscoChat is a true, industry-first program created for an integrated web experience. Designed to unite customers, partners, influencers and employees together around technology and business trends, #CiscoChat brings together a community of voices to discuss the issues, trends, news and developments that impact the technology industry.
While many companies are experimenting with branded social chats, inconsistency and a lack of follow-through are common. Seeing this, Cisco's Social Media Marketing team seized on the opportunity to brand #CiscoChat as a unique, true industry-first program that included an integrated web experience with the potential to bring subject matter experts from around the world to discuss timely and relevant technology industry events, information, developments and news.
#CiscoChat discussions are Cisco-team led events and can be hosted by any of Cisco's internal teams. To "up-level" discussions and draw in large numbers of followers, internal #CiscoChat moderators are director level or above. For external SMEs, #CiscoChat taps analysts or reporters who are influential not only within the industry, but within their technology application speciality. For example, if a chat on the topic of technology in retail is held, the external SME would be a retail blogger or one who keenly understands the technology side of retail. Each #CiscoChat has a moderator who may be a Cisco spokesperson, analyst or reporter as well.
In the weeks or days leading up to each #CiscoChat event, Cisco heavily promotes each #CiscoChat discussion on its social media channels, reaching multiple audiences by tagging the Cisco internal team that is sponsoring the #CiscoChat, the external SME/influencer and any other "guests" including representatives from publications and Cisco directors. Social imagery is created to promote each #CiscoChat and amplification is also done on Cisco's Social Digest, which is distributed to more than 550 Cisco social media leads around the world.
#CiscoChat topics themselves are chosen by relevance in accordance with upcoming events, Cisco product launches, recent studies, or social media audience suggestions and feedback. The variety of discussions curated by the Social Media Marketing team is planned on a biweekly content calendar, helping them optimize planning for each #CiscoChat event. Ideally, #CiscoChat discussions are planned three months out, but when news breaks or a topic goes trending, the team has been able to secure external and internal SMEs with just a week of preparation.
While #CiscoChat are live events, to expand #CiscoChat messaging, the Social Media Marketing team strategically uses other platforms to deliver #CiscoChat:
•Tweet Chat: Tweet Chats involve a group of people all tweeting about the same topic using the #CiscoChat hashtag that allows the conversation to be followed on Twitter.
•Periscope: Video streams post live to Twitter to help promote the #CiscoChat conversation.
•Podcast: Current Cisco podcasts help drive #CiscoChat conversation on various social platforms as listeners are encouraged to use the #CiscoChat hashtag when discussing key insights. This increases visibility and drives participation in other #CiscoChat programs.
For #CiscoChat events, engagement is the measure of success. And from tracking results garnered from 37 chats between February 24, 2015 and Dec. 31, 2015, the results have been phenomenal.
10K mentions of #CiscoChat on Twitter
141.5 million Earned and Owned Impression
Because of the success of the #CiscoChat program, events were increased and between Q3 FY15 and Q1 FY16, engagement numbers grew tremendously.
In Q3 FY15, 5 #CiscoChat events had 832 unique participants, with 2.3K mentions and 27.2 million impressions.
Just two quarters later In Q1 FY16 (through Dec. 31, 2015), 10 #CiscoChat events had more than 1,000 unique participants (1.5K), with 3.5K mentions and 63.5 million impressions.
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