“If we don't play in the same ballpark these people are in, we're going to get forgotten about.”
[Our online community] was very successful because it was something our customer base was looking for and needed.
David Shephard says that realization was what sparked NetIQ's first foray into social media. In 2008, David was the company's Channel Marketing Manager of North America, and he recognized there were already communities of their customers on LinkedIn and other social channels mentioning the company and talking about their products.
To engage those active audiences, David helped set up a social community for their partner base.
But no one expected the overwhelming response NetIQ would get to their new social community.
David says they initially set some modest goals for themselves: In three months, they'd try to get 1,500 members in the community. But they surprised themselves by earning 15,000. They took elements of the community and rolled them out across their web infrastructure. Their forum traffic increased by four fold.
“It was very successful because it was something our customer base was looking for and needed,” he says.
Now, David's one of two full-time employees on Micro Focus' core social team.
We are constantly in a state of integration from a social media perspective, and we're getting good at managing that process.
As the Social Media Marketing Manager, David leads the company's social media strategy, tools, and agency implementation. His counterpart is based in Europe. They manage a team of ten “authorized contributors” who create and curate social media content and answer community questions.
Many of the authorized contributors were chosen because they were already active on their own in social media and were naturally advocating for the organization.
“It's about identifying individuals on the team who have broad but also deep understanding of the products,” David says. “But it's also about finding people who can be comfortable responding through social media via a corporate brand handle or managing their contributions through one of our tools.”
They regularly meet to go over the agenda from corporate communications, general marketing themes, changes to platforms, and the tools they're using.
“You have to be flexible,” says David.
Since 2008, the organization has had five acquisitions. In fact, David first joined Micro Focus when they bought his employer, NetIQ, in 2015. And with their recent announcement of plans to merge with Hewlett Packard Enterprise's software business segment, David is preparing his program.
“As an organization that's growing rapidly through acquisition, we are constantly in a state of integration from a social media perspective, and we're getting good at managing that process.”
He says, “Over the coming months, we'll be looking at the infrastructure we have in place to make sure we have a firm foundation.”
When the purchase closes, he expects they'll be in a better place to accommodate new accounts and teams that may be coming over and quickly integrate them into the Micro Focus strategy and brand messaging.
David's been a member of SocialMedia.org since 2016. Follow him on Twitter here.