Digital Insights: 3 Lessons from PARN’s Social Media Conference


I joined over 100 delegates for a day of listening to some great social media case studies from professional bodies at PARN’s ‘Social Media: Finding Your Voice’ conference. The event was also the launch of PARN’s research report ‘Under Control: Social Media at Professional Bodies’, which I played a small part in as a contributor. You can buy the report  from PARN.

I wanted to reflect on a few of the stand-out things that were discussed during the day:

1. Social media as an extension of service


The conference kicked off with Georgina Goode, Head of Social Media from the Government Digital Service (GDS). She talked passionately about the revolution in the government’s digital transformation programme. The portal has become the destination for 180,000 pages of government content from 350 government departments.

As is now the place for users to find the information they need, the social channels run by the GDS have now become an extension of the services offered on the website. Their social channels signpost information about services and deal with queries from users, which in turn helps users navigate to the right information.

The GDS uses analytics to help understand how users are arriving at (including through social channels) and then using The GDS then make changes if web pages aren’t working as well as they could. Social has become an integral part of the government’s digital services.


2. Slowing down social output


Charlotte Garfield, Social Media Manager from the Association of Chartered Certified Accounts (ACCA) delivered a great presentation on how the ACCA has reduced the amount of social media content they were outputting in order to improve the quality and thus drive up engagement.

They underwent a review of what they were doing and have developed a new strategy, which means they have three content pillars to guide the production of content:


A big shift for the ACCA was the editorial process: it was now longer and more considered, ensuring that content fits within the concept above.

Charlotte concluded by saying the new approach is working and engagement is increasing across their platforms. Interestingly, they also analyse their social media engagement performance under their three pillars.

It was a great case study of taking a more considered and strategic approach to a social, a medium that often encourages more and more output  – could this be the start of a trend?


3. Social can be internal


James Murphy, Director, Global Communications, at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) delivered an insightful presentation about how RICS has used Yammer (an internal social network) to improve internal communications amongst their c800 staff.

They kept the ‘rules’ and control fairly light with some common-sense guidelines. They rolled it out gradually over the year, the CEO signing up early on to help increase interest from staff.

One year on, nearly all staff are using it. James reflected that prior to using Yammer, internal communications was the remit of a single staff member. Now he feels there are 774 staff members involved in internal communications: improving knowledge sharing, building a sense of belonging and being able to interact in a way that they simply couldn’t do before it was introduced.

It was a fascinating insight into how social can transform organisations internally.

 Did you attend the PARN winter conference? Please do comment and let us know what you found most interesting about the day!


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