Future Directions Handbook
External Presence, Marketing, and Promotion
This section presents the manner in which the initiative is presented to the public, via the branding and logo, web portal, and social media.
The initiative should build a marketing support program to include collateral, exhibit materials, toolkit materials for promotion, including but not limited to:
- Fliers promoting Technical Community, Webinars, Publications, etc.
- Videos that can be shared on the portal or run continuously at conferences
- PowerPoints to be distributed to volunteers to use at conferences or events as talking points regarding the initiative activities
- Messaging that supports the goals and mission of the initiative that can be shared across the initiative for consistent presentation and wording.
If rebranding, consider how this affects all published materials (web, print, swag, giveaways, pull-up banners). Will effort be made to change existing materials – or will initiative focus on only “new” materials? How will the initiative roll out and communicate this change smoothly and consistently? Consider an optimal time to rebrand, such as during graduation/transition.
It is important to consider branding your conferences/workshops (e.g., NetSoft, SecDev) and products (DataPort) to strengthen their visibility and identity.
The logo and branding are present on all communications regarding the initiative, and thus need to be carefully created. Some attention should be paid to:
- The logo must make proper use of “IEEE” and preserve overall integrity of the brand.Specific guidelines for logos and brands can be found at IEEE Brand Guidelines.
- Some Initiatives have had success using crowdsourcing to generate a logo with 99designs.com.
- Provide the logo to firstname.lastname@example.org for compliance checking and branding review.
- When a logo is created, be sure to obtain all original source files including transparent variants.
- When inheriting a logo from another OU, we should find out who exactly created the logo, whether it went through proper review, compliance, etc.Again, attempt to obtain all original source files of the existing logo.
- The logo must never be edited, cropped, or modified (this includes changing color – making white or black versions. These versions should be provided by the designer.)
The initiative web portal is the primary public-facing website of the initiative. It should contain the mission statement/objectives of initiative. It acts as a central point which connects the audience with all of the initiative’s activities, communities, products, and services. The portal should provide high-quality content, news, articles, events, and resources in the technology space and solicit participation, offer volunteer opportunities, and encourage membership to the technical community and IEEE.
Web Portal Launch Best Practices:
The following procedures describe the portal launch process:
- Establishment of web portal: 1-2 months to set up portal, subdomain, populate with preliminary content.
- The portal is set up on internal staging server. It is accessible by staff only, but staff can provide screenshots and/or WebEx to show volunteers.
- Staff and the steering committee should agree on a launch date.
- Portal should always be launched well in advance of a press release or formal announcement.
- A “soft launch” is strongly recommended to allow portal to be live for a while prior to formal promotion. This will insure all parties are comfortable with the portal prior to formal promotion. This will also allow time for any technical issues to be ironed out/resolved.
Web Portal On-going Operations:
The portal can be used to share, link to, and cross-promote content from other initiatives organically as long as it is relevant. As a general rule of thumb, prioritize content in following order:
Third-party content should be vendor neutral; do not endorse products or services. Use high-quality reputable sources only. Commercialized content is not allowed.
Schedule a periodic (monthly) review by webmaster to ensure that content is relevant, and that outdated content is removed or archived, links are verified, and the responsiveness of the portal on mobile platforms is tested. A volunteer content manager can be identified to assist in this process.
The portal is not necessarily the sole website of the initiative. It is primarily used to deliver static content/information. Its interactivity is limited. Special projects may require a dedicated standalone website or application that is purchased or developed/maintained by I.T. (e.g., discussion forum, blog, wiki, etc.)
Social Media (including but not limited to Twitter, Facebook, FlipBoard, LinkedIn, and Collabratec) is an essential part of an effective and engaging digital presence. As such, it should fall into a Marketing Plan already established for each initiative.
Social Media Launch Best Practices:
Social Media usernames should be reserved early, preferably when the incubator proposal is approved and work starts on the web portal. All social media groups should be registered and owned by an IEEE staff person. IEEE Staff should be the administrators of any social media accounts, but volunteers can contribute to and moderate groups. Identify volunteer leads to fill this role and encourage a coordinated approach with the group administrators to share content across all groups.
Social Media On-going Operations:
Share and retweet relevant content from other initiatives and organizations, while prioritizing original and IEEE content. Include images in posts when possible for greater engagement, and utilize Bitly for URL shortening and clickthrough tracking.
Leverage IEEE Social Media listserv – email@example.com
- Send requests to have your content/events/calls to action cross-promoted by other IEEE OUs. Include any links, graphics, text for Facebook posts, text for Tweeting, etc. exactly as you want it to appear.
- Monitor the listserv for relevant content pertaining to your technology area/initiative.
Due to the differing natures of the various social media platforms, there are different strategies that should be followed depending on the platform:
- Posts should encourage discussion, particularly on LinkedIn and IEEE Collabratec. It is recommended to post a relevant question and have a volunteer answer it to initiate a dialog.
- Collabratec posts can be shared with the community which will make them more visible than simply posting. Asking a question in Collabratec provides more options for sharing the information than posting.
- Some initiative working groups use Collabratec Private groups functionality to work on their respective chapters or sections larger documents. Since these focus teams are volunteers who are all located in different areas, they use the platform to share documents, post comments and collaboratively edit working docs. The private groups offer many of the same features of a community, however the access is invite only. There are also several supported cloud storage integration options (OneDrive, Google Drive, Drop Box etc.) that can provide this same function.
- Posts should be spaced out in time to make content last longer and not overwhelm followers’ feeds. Schedule posts in advance on Facebook. Tweeting is typically much more frequent than posting on Facebook.
Certain metrics are required for every website maintained by staff and should be activated at portal launch. They should be recorded on a monthly basis in External Impressions spreadsheet. An example for 5G Summary report is available here.
The key metrics that are recorded for all initiatives on a monthly basis include:
- Duration of visits
- Pageviews from inception
- Facebook likes, reach
- Twitter followers
- LinkedIn members
- IEEE Collabratec members
The Resource Center is to act as a one stop shop for all sellable FD content that cannot be accommodated in IEEE Xplore or existing eCommerce platforms. It is the revenue generator for the initiative, but also serves to grow membership to Technical Communities, organizational units and IEEE.
The Resource Center can only host PDF or MP4 video. Ideally, the Resource Center should host a variety of content from some of the following content categories:
- White Papers
- Conference Presentation Slides
- And more
All original content matching these categories should be sold in the Resource Center. Content owners should provide all necessary product information including product title, description, graphics, etc. The initiative portal should promote and link to content for sale in Resource Center. It is recommended to keep free content on the portal to maintain the portal’s value.
The Resource Center is not a replacement for the initiative portal, only a supplement. All current initiatives should host their products in the FD Resource Center. Existing products will be transferred to graduating initiative; it is the decision of the graduated initiative to keep any content from the initiative and establish their own Resource Center if desired.
Roles and Responsibilities
Providing content for an IEEE Initiative Web Portal
Volunteers are needed to help actively recruit their peers to submit articles, presentations, papers, or details of industry developments they are involved in to be published on the IEEE web site, citing them/their professional affiliation and their IEEE affiliation as the source, to share with individuals around the world. This will help them gain recognition as an IEEE Technical Expert, and provide fresh, meaningful content that will drive visitor traffic to the web portal.
Managing aspects of a social media campaign for an IEEE Initiative
Social networking channels such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. require constant updates to thrive and grow. One example of social media campaign leadership or involvement is for an IEEE volunteer to become manager of a LinkedIn Group and actively post information, seek and recruit new members to join and continually promote it through their own professional network. Content curation is essential, so IEEE Volunteers who manage social media groups must update the sites with new information on a weekly basis at a minimum. Twitter should be updated with new posts on a daily basis, and numerous tweets should be posted to Twitter with observations from the conference when an IEEE member attends an IEEE event. Social media groups will not survive without daily/weekly postings of meaningful information concerning conference content and speakers (not just dates and locations), insights from the Initiative to demonstrate expertise and thought leadership, developments about the industry that the Initiative serves, e.g. smart grid, Internet of Things, Cloud Computing, etc.
Grow Technical Community
IEEE Volunteers are required to help grow an IEEE Technical Community by inviting their peers to become members of a focused interest group by visiting the respective web portal for each IEEE Initiative and clicking on the “Join Technical Community” button. Volunteers should proactively promote the IEEE Technical Community at every opportunity during presentations they make to industry groups.
Subject matter experts are needed to review the various content and products that an initiative offers on the web portal, Resource Center, etc. to determine its relevance and when it should be removed/revised to reflect latest technological developments. This especially holds true for educational products and courses that are sold in the Resource Center. Outdated content may need to be updated and/or removed to keep the initiative positioned as a current and credible source of knowledge.