Our team at The Critical Mass is starting a newsletter where we share insights and lessons learned ranging from digital engagement for international development and capacity building professionals; tips on monitoring and evaluation in post-COVID world; and entrepreneurship in the GovCon space. Read this article and subscribe to our LinkedIn Newsletter here.
The Critical Mass, LLC uses several digital marketing methods to connect with partners and sector professionals. We’d like to share some lessons, tips, and start a conversation on how professional services contractors and implementing partners like ourselves can continue to grow in spite of the challenges we’ve faced.
In this series:
TCM’s top lessons learned
Reviews and information about tech tools we use
In this post:
Top 3 lessons about building a digitally engaging brand in government contracting
In Spring 2020, with a handful of projects stalled due to COVID uncertainties, we were in a situation that caused our entire industry to reevaluate key aspects of the critical value we provide:
Maintaining relationships with and on behalf of sponsors and foreign partners
Serving as the connection between Subject Matter Experts and those willing to fund capacity building and security assistance projects
Virtually delivering training and programming in a way that maintains the same outcomes for training recipients while respecting the important Monitoring & Evaluation requirements of sponsoring agencies like the Department of State
In spite of these challenges, TCM made a commitment to deliver the same quality of programming and service to sponsors, beneficiaries, and all stakeholders in between. We think we’ve done quite well, and even believe that because of the pivot COVID forced us to undertake, we’re delivering at an even higher level than before. Below we share some major takeaways from this experience.
Lesson 1: Close The Gap Between Marketing and Actively Engaged Ops
It’s common for larger companies to have siloed business units and dedicated teams who manage Social Media accounts. Sometimes they’re even outsourced. The benefits: Clear roles and responsibilities with experts focusing on what they do best.
At TCM, the managers of our Social Media accounts actively participate in Business Development and Project Delivery and Operations. This provides several opportunities: Messaging themes, relevant hashtags, or key account handles used on posts intended as project updates, contract wins, or strategic messaging can be crafted by experts of a project with the most visibility of the current environment reflected online.
Example: In a recent engagement, our team was following several partner nation Twitter accounts posting up-to-date information on a specific agency’s evidence collection and judicial wins - topics directly aligned with our active project. Awareness of these by the project team allowed TCM to learn about local nation partner capabilities, what they perceived to be their most valuable capabilities from a PR perspective, and seek out and post relevant and on-brand content.
Lesson 2: Empower Your Team
Some employees of government contractors do not use Social Media. That is fine, especially in security-conscious environments. But if you look into your organization, you might find a handful who not only actively use it, but are also so interested in their professional sector of focus that they follow threads from industry professionals and use it to stay current on key trends and regulatory updates.
TCM is fortunate to have a team who does this. We encourage our team to follow TCM accounts, like and share content, and act as brand ambassadors. On multiple occasions, we’ve received project ideas, built relationships with new SMES, and received news updates - all through Social Media direct messages - that have influenced our approach to a project or upcoming proposal.
Additionally, for many starting out and growing their careers, displaying a genuine interest in a specific sector by way of online activity backed by an established company can support their professional growth. It can open doors not only for the company, but more importantly for the employee who we all should support, whether it’s at our company or another. As implementing partners and stewards of US Government tax dollars, we need good people in this industry and the more engaged and knowledgeable they are, the better.
Lesson 3: Virtually Join The Conversation Where Your Community Engages
While a surprising number of larger contractors do not have a robust Social Media presence, TCM has learned that an even larger amount of US Government and partner nation policy and decision-makers do. If someone with active project knowledge is not running your accounts, you might be missing out.
One easy approach is to search for hashtags relevant to your industry or key policy events across Social Media platforms. Follow the hashtag on Twitter. Or consider following specific Twitter Lists others have already made. For example, TCM is attending the International Stability Operations Association (ISOA) Warsaw Conrerence this week, and we made a list with all the featured companies and panelists who are active on Twitter. Another approach can be to look for Slack communities in your industry of focus. We’re proud to support Arms Control Wonk on a monthly basis through their Patreon page, and TCM employees are individually members of various other Slack communities such as the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum.
In Future Articles:
Free or low-cost marketing tools like LinkTree, Bit.ly, Canva
Publishing and tracking engagement on Issuu
Engagement tips on the main Social Media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook
Tips for enhancing your Monitoring & Evaluation experience through MS Forms, QR codes, and other digital tools
Engaging in multiple languages and hasty translation via TCM’s preferred free service
Interested in learning more about TCM? Visit us here. Want to work for us? Tell us more about yourself here. Need a WOSB or SDVOSB with our skillset and interested in having your company partner or team with TCM on a proposal or active project? Submit your information here.