At the Summit Monday Afternoon: Social Media, Ultramarathons, and Crowdsourcing

The magic of social media, said Rahul Prabhakar in the first Monday afternoon session, Social Media Can Be Part of Your Set of Tech Comm Skills, is that you might never know just how many people you’re touching. That ability to touch untold numbers is part of what’s made social media the biggest and best way of acquiring customers today. And one way anyone can be a part of that is through influencer marketing.

Influencer marketing, he said, focuses on using key leaders to drive your brand’s message to the larger market. Celebrity endorsers are passe because they’re not authentic; an influencer with reach and engagement within a specific niche is very much authentic. Rahul explained that brands working with influencers receive brand exposure, direct sales, and potential future collaborations as well. And the influencer can grow their reach while making money for doing something they love, potentially enough to make a career out of it!.

According to Rahul, 33 percent of consumers trust ads, while 90 percent trust peer recommendations. And 71 percent of consumers say they’re more likely to buy something when referred by a blog or social media. So find a niche, build your audience, and see who and what you can influence!

Next up on Monday was an interesting comparison between setting up a content strategy for your company and running in an ultra-marathon of 100 miles. The presenter, Gavin Austin, has experience in both and shared his wisdom, focusing on three main areas: pain, relationships, and working on your strengths over weaknesses.

Gavin asked questions that applied to both efforts, such as: Can you make it less painful? Are you celebrating victories? And Did you verify with a proof of concept? “You’re going to go through obstacles,” he said. “Things aren’t going to go as you planned. Your strengths might backfire.” But you’ll get to the end if you keep at it. “Embrace the struggle,” he reminded attendees. “There is a sense of professional accomplishment I’d never felt before.” He closed by urging people, if there was something they wanted to do or start on: “Volunteer. Volunteer now. You’ll be surprised what you can do.”

Finally on Monday was Engineering Content Champions, a discussion of crowdsourcing content by Becky Todd. Becky explained that “editing involves creative skills, human relations, and a precise set of methods,” and pointed out that human relations is an oft-unspoken aspect that becomes even more important in crowdsourcing.

Becky discussed what she calls “content in the wild,” content that technical writers didn’t write but is still worth sharing. This content in the wild is both valuable and hidden, so the trick becomes collecting it. That includes setting up a content management system, providing a workflow and training, and planning for how to return feedback. She pointed out the need to set clear goals to the content providers, outline expectations (e.g., instructions, style guides, and best practices), and provide oversight. She gave attendees a case study of an organization creating a knowledge base and the special steps along the way. “Plan, train, build,” she said.

In closing, she told attendees “Empower the people who come to you with content and reward their successes.” Doing so makes a culture of crowdsourced documentation much more viable in an organization.

At the Summit highlights specially selected sessions from the 2017 STC Summit, presenting one attendee’s point of view and takeaways to help share the Summit experience with those who could not attend.

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