You don’t need a massive marketing budget to start seeing results on your social media platforms. All you need is a little ingenuity and a lot of patience. With the right approach, you might even start a movement.
Here’s how my team and I scaled our company’s presence and impact organically on LinkedIn, growing our audience by 300% and boosting our low engagement rate to almost 5%:
In mid-summer 2017, HM Health Solutions (HMHS), a subsidiary of Highmark Health, was three years old and the LinkedIn page had less than 2,000 followers with an engagement rate of roughly 1%. The B2B tech company offers SaaS, BPaaS, and a cloud platform built to run health insurance companies more efficiently.
Resources were scarce. There was no dedicated copywriter, graphic designer, or photog…let alone social strategy driven by goals or data, or even so much as an editorial calendar. Content was manually posted, and often included low-quality images, inconsistent or irrelevant hashtags, and uninspiring industry jargon, like “thought leadership.” And there were no clear calls-to-action. I couldn't help but make some noise.
I was challenged to formally document what I’d do differently. After completing my research and consulting with former colleagues and industry pros, I prepared a grassroots social media marketing strategy and presented to senior leadership.
Why go grassroots? HMHS had no budget. HMHS’ brand equity was very low. HMHS had a niche audience that included Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance plans, veteran IT pros familiar with our technology, and previous, current, and prospective employees. And yet our followers (who seem to have little in common) were remarkably willing to interact with us. It was the perfect opportunity for a grassroots strategy. Grassroots marketing relies exclusively on audience, intent, and organic virality to succeed. The defining idea behind this approach was to encourage engagement with a story – our story – and our LinkedIn presence was critical in making that happen.
· Focus on HMHS’ brand health and audience growth and engagement.
· Invest in building brand loyalty, social conversations, and communities.
· Share content geared to HMHS’s audience to create trust without coming across as “salesy.”
· Use conversational tone and sense of humor – a risky approach in the tech industry.
· Engage with audience instead of broadcasting by talking to our audience, not at them.
· Provide quality content; embrace content outside of health care tech industry to relate to a broader audience.
HMHS engaged the audience through storytelling with three unique intentions: attract qualified talent acquisition leads, boost employee engagement, and build relationships with current and prospective customers.
The Hard Work
Embracing the Best Work of Your Career
Fall Internship and Recruiting Campaign featuring vignettes of HMHS Summer 2019 interns
Hashtag holiday International Talk Like a Pirate Day
Highmark Health MyStory, a video featuring Chardae Jones
· The total potential size of a social network is far less relevant than the number of people actually reached.
· Grassroots strategy allows hyperlocal brands to capitalize on social trends and gives the audience a direct and impactful interaction with the brand.
· Consistency breeds credibility. And consistency pays off.
Chelsea Koontz | branding, creative direction, digital marketing, social media strategy, design, photography
Beth Geisler, Adam Rozmus | copywriting and content development
Sean Slebrich | photography
Nicole St. Clair | industry-specific content strategy