Our Social Media Ambassadors: Goals and Training

As part of our newly approved digital strategy, Ford’s Theatre Society has launched a Social Media Ambassadors Pilot, training staff throughout the organization on/about how to use Twitter to promote their personal professional brand. You can find out more about our ambassadors and their handles in a previous post. Today, we want to talk about the development of the pilot, our goals and our initial training series.

What are our goals?

Our digital strategic plan includes an initiative to empower staff across the institution to use social media to reach new audiences and engage them in new ways. Our goals are to:

  • Provide more behind-the-scenes access to our work
  • Cultivate diverse voices throughout our institution Increase engagement with Ford’s institutional digital channels
  • Reach new audiences
  • Strengthen the image of Ford’s as an active institution that contributes to our field’s public dialogue

Over the summer, we gathered together a cross-departmental social media strategy committee to discuss how we might best achieve these goals. This committee:

  • Reviewed peer best practices
  • Discussed personal brands vs. institutional brands—and what would best serve Ford’s in the short-term and long-term Identified potential staff voices for a pilot project

Why Twitter?

When looking at our peers in the museum/theatre landscape, we saw consistent engagement with those using Twitter as a place to discuss their work and important topics in the field. The discussions felt timely and vital—and on topic for Ford’s. At Ford’s, we have had previous success with Twitter via our institutional handle. We felt like we could provide useful guidance not only on how to set up and manage an account but also on how to contribute to the conversation. We also felt the barriers to entry were low: our staff could quickly and easily learn to navigate the intricacies of Twitter while also finding and connecting with their peers.

What training did we provide?

Session #1: Cultivating Your Personal Brand and Twitter Best Practices

During this session, we introduced our ambassadors to why this project could be mutually beneficial to both them and the institution. We gave an overview of how to set up their account and discussed how a professional account might differ from one that was purely personal. We reviewed hashtags, live-tweeting, Twitter chats, ways to reply and retweet, and how to use TweetDeck and HootSuite. We also gave the ambassadors goals for their first week: a minimum number of times to check in and engage (i.e. retweet and reply).

Session #2: Avoiding Twit-sasters

This was probably the least fun of the training sessions but covered necessities: how to respond to criticism, how to handle hot button topics, what rules our HR handbook provides regarding professional conduct on social media, and what constitutes public vs. private business information. We also provided a response chart for any complaints that might need to be relayed to our customer service staff.

Session #3: Taking Better Smartphone Photos

Definitely our most fun session! Our art director Gary Erskine discussed what a smartphone camera does well (and not so well), provided subject matter suggestions, reviewed pre-shoot tips, and talked about lighting and composition. He also suggested apps for editing photos on your phone. Finally, we reviewed rules and requirements regarding taking/crediting photos of actors, artifacts, set/costume designs and visitors (especially kids).

What’s next?

We have a meeting scheduled with our ambassadors this month to review some of the best content they’ve posted, discuss what analytics they might want to focus on, and give them new goals for the next few months. We also recently launched an institutional Twitter handle from our Education Department, providing resources and learning opportunities for teachers and students.

Liza Lorenz is Director of Communications and Digital Strategy for Ford’s Theatre. Follow her on Twitter @Liza_Lorenz.