“Return on Interaction” Measure of Success for Newport’s Social Media Program

26 August 2010

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npdt_logoIn a press release issued earlier this week, Newport Digital Technologies, Inc. (OTC Bulletin Board: NPDT) announced the “formal launch of its Digital Strategy and Social Media program”.  The program was developed by the company’s Digital Strategy team “to leverage the ever-evolving social business networks, bringing NPDT brand awareness to shareholders, investors, potential clients, and industry partners.”

Newport is a technology solutions driven company organized to focus on serving five of the fastest-emerging businesses in the technology space – RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification), WiMax, eLearning, and LED Digital Signage and LED Lighting solutions.

Newport has embraced several social channels including Twitter, YouTube, Posterous and FlickR to broaden the company’s audience.  They also have a Facebook account which we highlighted in our recent whitepaper for their exceptional use of the channel.  For example, the information is current and up-to-date with a good balance of material including recent press releases, links to shareholder conference calls and videos that all help to provide a better context about their business.

So based on Newport’s inclusion in our whitepaper and the “formal launch” of their Social Media program, I contacted Isaac Cruz, the company’s Digital Strategy Manager, to gather some more background information about how this all came to be.

1. How long has Newport been using social media? And what tool did you begin using first and why?
The company launched its social media program in October 2009.  Initially, we saw the power of Google and the importance of SEO, so we created profiles which were verified by Google. We then signed up for Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube accounts.

2. What was the original driving force behind the company’s decision to use social media?
In the early stages of the company’s life, our focus was on Research and Development.  As our business progressed and R&D concluded, there was a natural gravitation towards ways to promote the company.  The Board of Directors saw the value of having a presence on the social networks and wanted to leverage those channels to bring the NDT brand to investors, and potential industry partners and  customers.

3. Were you originally hired on as the Digital Strategy Manager?
At a start up, employees have to wear many hats. Originally, I was hired on to manage the office i.e.  assist executives, do payroll and accounts payables for the corporate office as well as our two branch offices.  As our company was progressing, I was asked to be involved with developing the social media program, which was initiated by an external IR firm. Based on my background and passion, this area of marketing and sales is where I really felt that I could use my talents to benefit the company. Eventually, we developed a small, internal team to take over the social media efforts.

4. Were you able to draw on your own experience with social media?
Back in 2003 or 2004, my college football coaches used Facebook to announce practice and workout schedules. After the coaches would dismiss us from practice, they would yell, “Check your Facebooks!” so we all would know what the next meeting would entail.   Twitter was completely new to me. Over time, we developed an understanding of hashtags, searching and how to write effective tweets in 140 characters.  We also wanted to develop an understanding of url shortening services like bit.ly and tiny.url and how to track the clicks on these links.

We started out with a corporate Twitter account and one main Facebook account. Each Digital Strategist had their own Twitter and Facebook accounts.   As we became more familiar with friends on the company’s Facebook account and what they were interested in, we decided to break out the various segments of our business. In order to be Facebook SEO, we developed fanpages specific to technologies we specialize in, such as RFID and digital signage. Whether it is on Facebook, or Google, we want to provide quality content and be easily found by those interested in the industries we are involved with.

5. Are there any channels that are strictly dedicated to investor relations?
The original strategy was to help increase awareness of our overall business.  We wanted to broaden our message and increase awareness about our company to all key audiences which includes potential partners, investors and customers.  As stated in our release by our CEO, Don Danks “Leveraging digital media and implementing this strategic communication program provides shareholders and clients access to NPDT’s most recent developments, technology solutions, and a roadmap for revenue growth.  Digital and Social media are becoming powerful tools for branding and supporting sales efforts.  We intend to make a consistent and serious commitment to utilizing the power of the medium, benefiting our shareholders.”

Our corporate Facebook page is a great forum to connect with a Digital Strategist who is one degree away from the decision makers of the company. We are committed to providing our investors with whatever information we can release about the business.

6. Is there any interaction on any of the social networks with retail or institutional shareholders?
We have shareholder inquiries mainly on Facebook.  We also have a few who DM me on Twitter. They normally always follow up with a phone call, as it is hard to address questions in 140 characters.

7. What prompted you to formally press release your digital strategy and social media program now?
There are several reasons why we issued a press release regarding our digital strategy and social media program now:

The company has really ramped up over the course of the year. We have transitioned from a R&D company to one with tangible products and are now in full sales mode.  As we have press released our progress, we now have sufficient content to share over social channels by providing links from our website which has increased visitors.

We also wanted to make sure we understood our company’s technological capabilities, our audience and the channels we are using first. In the beginning we did a lot of listening in the social communities and wanted to balance the company voice to ensure we were conveying the right messages.

Further, since launching the program in October of last year, we have put together a Digital Strategy Team. Each team member specializes in areas of social media that best suits their backgrounds and skills. We are solely concerned with ROI which we dub “Return on Interaction” with increased awareness of the company. You never know what relationships could be cultivated in the social business networks.

Lastly, we have a unique business that is not yet two years old. For a technology company, we are progressing very fast.  As such, I posted the following YouTube video that explains the functions of the strategtically located offices around the globe: 

Newport_Facebook

Of note, we do all of our videos in-house like the one above. It takes relatively little time and is very cost-effective!

8. What other channels have you adopted over the course of the year?
We recently added a Posterous account where we post press releases and provide news about the business and background information on our products:

NPDT_posterous

We don’t have a lot of comments on there yet, but we have had 6,913 views since adding the account in May of this year.

9. Any advice for other public companies of the value of using social media?
I can’t speak for all public companies because each company is in a specific industry and has their own specific vision and goals, but I do know this. Followers of social networks really appreciate the personal connection they have with a public company when a representative personally addresses a question, or concern they have. We feel that it is important to accurately, and promptly respond to all inquiries that pertain to the business and employees of NDT. We are actively asking for NDT followers to voice their questions and ideas about the business, or technology on our networks so we provide them with what they want to see. We want our audience to know that we are working not only for NDT, but also for our shareholders.

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