This is our story of how we operate in social media. We strive to be open and transparent in our communications. We aim to serve our customers and inspire new ones. Social media helps us do that and more. And we are learning and adjusting along the way. We hope you enjoy this playbook and can use it to help your company leverage social media to help transform your business.
Cisco Social Media Playbook
This is our story of how we operate in social media. We strive to be open
and transparent in our communications. We aim to serve our customers
and inspire new ones. Social media helps us do that and more. And
we are learning and adjusting along the way. We hope you enjoy this
playbook and can use it to help your company leverage social media to
help transform your business.
Social media has changed dramatically since 2005, when we first
became active in the social space. How customers interact online has
evolved as well. Today’s social web is critical to how customers engage
with brands, and it has also transformed the purchasing process. Savvy
buyers now use social media to gather information, connect with their
peers and share their experiences — on their own and in their own words.
This evolution gives us new opportunities to build and nurture online
relationships with our customers, partners, influencers and supporters so
that we can uncover and build loyalty and advocacy.
Change Is the Only Constant
suggest that social
channels are strong
influencers during the
will use support forums
and technical discussion
groups to inform the
Customer Decision Journey
The Loyalty Loop
This playbook describes how we
approach social media. Our philosophy
is to be S.O.C.I.A.L.: Scalable, Open,
Consistent, Intuitive, Active and
Our Digital and Social Framework
helps us to be S.O.C.I.A.L. This
framework centers around 5 pillars:
Enablement, Intelligence, Engagement,
Measurement and Advocacy.
Our Social Approach:
Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts
Enablement: The Foundation
We believe in enabling and encouraging our employees to participate
in social media as Cisco social media business account managers or
as themselves. Our Social Media Training and Certification program
introduces individual contributors and Cisco leaders to our social media
policy. It also highlights best practices to help them get started with
Our social media policy is a foundational component of the first level
of our training program. We’ve integrated this policy into our Code of
Business Conduct (COBC) and New Hire processes. We expect all
employees to be familiar with our policy before engaging in social media.
Our multitrack, multilevel program advances social capabilities in a fun
way that uses gamification, management and peer recognition, and
educational credits. Short on-demand courses, online chats and a
closed community round out our employee-facing program. Executive
courseware and reverse mentoring make up our executive track. Our
Did you know…?
of customer tweets to companies
are being ignored.2
of brands ignore complaints on Twitter.3
of people who complained on Twitter loved the
response from those companies that did make the
of companies do not track their social media
responses at all, and 55% ignore all customer
feedback on Twitter and Facebook, largely because
they have no process in place to respond.4
We are big fans of listening. Listening can deliver great value during the
strategic planning process as well as in tactical operations. It can help us:
Capture industry trends
Identify emerging trends
Gain competitive insights
Discover product issues
Receive product feedback
Intelligence: Social Listening ABCs and 123s
Manage crisis and mitigate risk
Listen for sales leads
Uncover fans, influencers and advocates
Increase message penetration
reverse mentoring program connects senior leaders with qualified,
socially savvy employees who provide one-on-one social media coaching
sessions to executives.
We also offer a modified version of our training program for Cisco
customers and partners. This program is available on demand or in
one-on-one session format at cs.co/SocialMediaTraining.
We implemented a Social Media Listening Center (SMLC) to visualize
conversations that are relevant to us. Our listening center started out
as a single-screen display outside of our CMO’s office. Now, it is a
multiscreen experience that enables customized visualizations in real
time. The primary location of SMLC is the home of our Digital and Social
Media Marketing team in San Jose. Customers visiting our San Jose
campus can also tour a modified version in Cisco’s Executive
Briefing Center (EBC).
But listening alone is not enough. We have a process in place to turn
listening into business value:
ABCs — We separate the social media noise from Action-
Based Conversations. We classify these action-based
conversations into different categories, such as support,
question, lead, idea, ambush, criticism and buzz.
123s — We prioritize our ABCs into 3 levels. Priority 1
conversations typically have a 24-hour response time, and
priority 2 conversations have a 72-hour response time.
Priority 3 conversations fall in the discretionary response
To successfully convert listening into business value, we need a large
network of people who can listen to, route and engage in conversations
at the right time and in the right place. This network includes people
from a variety of functions, e.g., social media listening managers, social
media engagement managers, subject matter experts (SMEs), product
managers, customer support engineers, crisis team members, and so on.
ACTION-BASED CONVERSATIONSSOCIAL MEDIA NOISE
Many of us put time and effort into acquiring new followers and building
our social media audience. Now it’s time to look at the quality of our
We outline the process of engagement on the following levels:
Why - The Objectives:
Our objectives reflect our business goals. We break down long-term
business goals into short-term milestones. Then we decide which
aspect(s) of the customer journey we want to address at each milestone.
This helps us stay on track, show progress and quickly adjust our tactics
Who - The People:
Social media managers, of course. But did you know…?
Engagement: The 5 W’s
of people believe company employees are
the most credible specialist sources of information.5
of buyers say they are more likely to buy from a
company whose CEO uses social media. 94% said
C-suite social media participation enhances a brand
image. And 82% of employees say they trust a
company more when the CEO and leadership team
communicate via social media.6
These statistics support our philosophy to engage our subject matter
experts (SMEs) and other passionate people in the company whose main
job may not be related to social media. To encourage company–wide
participation in social media, we have created the Cisco Social Ambassador
program to identify, activate, nurture and celebrate employees for their
participation. The benefits of this program include, but are not limited to:
Scaling social media
Gathering and acting upon
Contributing to the sales process
Identifying a potential crisis
Here are some examples of what can happen when a team of people
partners for success:
Accelerated Action Time
Cisco’s Contact Center reduces routing time for leads from 5 days to 1
with social tagging while reaching over 1.7 million contacts.
Giving our brand an authentic voice
Providing employees with the
opportunity to learn new skills
Building relationships with executives
in an unconventional way
(e.g., executive reverse mentoring)
The reasons they interact
with companies via social sites
(53%) Reviews and product rankings
(53%) General information
(52%) Exclusive information
(51%) Learn about new products
(49%) Submit opinion on current products/services
(37%) Customer service
(34%) Event participation
(33%) Feel connected
(30%) Submit ideas for new products/services
(22%) Be part of a community
Learn about new product (73%)
General information (71%)
Submit opinion on current products/services (69%)
Exclusive information (68%)
Reviews and product rankings (67%)
Feel connected (64%)
Customer service (63%)
Submit ideas for new products/services (63%)
Be part of a community (61%)
Event participation (61%)
Why they think consumers
follow them via social sites
Note: Consumer: N=1056; Business: Learn N=333, General info N=336, Submit opinion N=334, Exclusive info N=333, Reviews/rankings N=333, Feel connected N=331,
Customer service N=331, Submit ideas N=332, Community N=329, Event N=332, Purchase N=334, Discounts N=331.
Source: IBM Institute for Business Value analysis. CRM Study 2011
Increased Word of Mouth
(#CiscoEmp) drive 33% of 88
million total brand campaign
First-Degree Employee Reach Total Reach
About 1 Month
Months about 3.5
Cisco architects and
build community through
blogging and sharing
perspectives on what’s
ahead. In less than a year,
numbers of bloggers and
page views more than
quadrupled, with increased
engagement from readers.
What - The Content and Conversations
Great Storytelling is key to effective social media content. The billion-
dollar question: What’s the story to tell? According to Discovery
Education, there are 5 parts to a story: setting, characters, sequence,
climax and resolution.7
What makes a story great?
In a nutshell, great stories make people want to comment, share, retell or
take the next step in their journey.
A story can come to life through its content and related conversations.
Content can be simple (e.g., tweets, status updates, images, infograms,
polls) or complex (e.g., blogs, videos, infographics). It can stand alone or
be embedded into another piece. It can be real time or planned.
Real-time content is becoming popular due to its freshness, relevance
and, thus, its ability to quickly provoke action.
These are some content best practices — whether we do it in real time or
It is relevant
It is original
It is simple to understand and
It is easy to share
It builds on feelings and values
It often ties into a bigger story
It gives your audience an
opportunity to create or add to
It is accessible through different
vehicles (e.g., social, mobile,
It is appropriate for your
distribution channel and
Keep it simple
Create once; repurpose for
Reuse older popular content
Connect multiple content
pieces to drive additional
Use images — an image can
convey a thousand words
Use video — Web pages with
video are twice as likely to
appear on the first page of
Google search results as pages
that use text only
Make it easy to share
Make it mobile friendly (or at
least have a mobile-friendly
Use active words
Make it easy to respond
Use clear, simple language (e.g., “retweet”) and limit jargon (e.g., “RT”)
Be ready to respond
CTAs are awesome for videos, too. We love using CTAs as clickable
overlays as early as 30 seconds into a video to entice our viewers to
learn more. We use CTAs again later and at the end of the video as well
to enable our audience to take the next step in their journey.
Content can generate conversations by itself
or through a call to action (CTA). CTAs help
our users continue their journey. Research
shows that tweets that include the “please
retweet” CTA get 4 times more retweets.9
Facebook also noted increased engagement
on posts using CTAs. Here are some tips for
social CTAs that many people have found
From Content to Conversations
Conversations can flow between the brand and the community as well as
between community members. The latter is super important. We want to
enable and encourage conversations within the community. It’s not about
us; it’s about THEM. It’s all about the audience. It’s THEIR community.
We’re just enabling it. Members of healthy communities feel inspired to
tell their own story, one another’s stories and even our story. This helps
foster relationships, build loyalty and encourage advocacy.
Some tips to get started:
Use the “Would I want my mother to see this?” test: Do online what you
would do offline; do not do online what you would not do offline.
Be an artist: Balance conversations among brand, industry/other
business and fun/casual topics.
Be relevant: Put yourself in your audience’s shoes; discuss topics THEY
Be a student: Experiment, ask questions, learn when community
members are most active online, and get to know them outside of their
Be a facilitator: Include community members in the solution and make
it easy for them to spread the word, participate with you, and ultimately
participate on your behalf.
While what we say is important, how we say it is just as important. We
should be human, honest and authentic.
See some examples that have followed these principles and yielded
Say It with Images
and businesses help
to keep your brand
increase word of
into our blog posts
on average 5 times
and entices the
reader to discover
Break It Down
complex topics using
a whiteboard in
a weekly <10-minute
Is amplification the same as conversation? No, amplification is one-way
communication. It is effective in spreading the word. But amplification
doesn’t have to be boring. Take a look at some fun amplification examples
from our employees on the Internet of Everything (#IoE) and #Womensday:
When we engage regularly, we can build trust and online relationships.
We can also uncover and nurture loyalty and advocacy.
campaign press release launch
ongoing social activity
When - The Frequency and Time
Always. Social media gives us a way to engage in “always on”
communication. When we limit social media to individual programs, we
create transactional conversations that may prevent us from creating
true relationships for the brand.
Since we should always be “on,” are there optimal days or times to post
content? It depends. The best way to determine the day(s) or time(s) to
post is to experiment, monitor and analyze the results. There are many
things that will influence when people read our messages. For example,
public sector employees may not be able to check social media at work,
so our messages may not reach them until they are at home. We must
also consider channel-specific user behaviors. On a high level, here are
some observations about Facebook and Twitter:
Where - The Destination
Social media participation can take place on channels that:
To determine how many channels to participate in and where to participate, we
must consider time and resources with a long-term view — not just for a month
of Facebook users that will interact with our content will do
so within the first hour after we post it.11
of Facebook users that will interact with our content
will do so within the first 9 hours after posting.11
of Twitter engagement for brands is higher on weekends
than on weekdays.12
(e.g., Cisco blogs)
That’s a mouthful. Go SO-cial, MO-bile, GLO-bal and LO-cal.
Mobile: Social media nicely lends itself to mobile experiences,
whether via mobile applications or mobile sites. “By 2017, global
mobile data traffic will reach 11.2 exabytes per month, growing
13-fold from 2012 to 2017,” and mobile video will make up 66%
of all mobile data traffic.13
The more people can share from their
mobile devices and apps, the further we can spread the word and
the more engagement we can create.
Global: Social media transcends nations, cultures and
Local: With the ability to keep a local view through geo-targeting
and local social networking sites and tools.
We have found great value in integrating social media channels with
other social channels, mobile experiences and other digital and
traditional channels. An integrated experience can help our audience
discover new content and easily progress in their journey. It also enables
us to get to know them on a deeper, more holistic level.
Since we participate on multiple channels, we can benefit from tailoring
our content and conversations not only to a particular audience, but also
to specific distribution vehicles. Check out some examples on the
Integrating Social Media
The brand campaign integrates social media into its landing page via social
sharing, social content and assets, and social calls to action, driving users to
different parts of the Internet of Everything (#IoE) story.
Promote Insights in Channel-Appropriate Packaging
The Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) serves as the foundational content
for many engagement opportunities — from interactive mobile experiences,
online events, humorous video and Twitter chats to channel-specific
content — with results far exceeding expectations.
Measurement: 6 “Starter” Metrics
Ongoing listening and measurement are integral to a successful social
business strategy. We identify measurable goals and metrics based on
our business goals, and then we measure frequently and consistently to
understand our strategy and execution effectiveness.
Here are 6 “starter” social media metrics that we measure:
Volume: Conversation volume offers an
indicator of interest
Reach: Measures the spread and impressions from our
posts to various social media channels
Engagement: Helps determine how people are
participating in conversations and what actions they may be
taking to help spread our message
Influence: Measures not only total number of followers, but
also the quality of their posts
Share of Voice: The percentage of total conversations
about us or our products
Sentiment: The tone or emotion that underlines what
customers are saying about us or a topic. Sentiment
analysis also measures conversations to help us
understand the overall feeling about our brand
These starter metrics can help inform our strategy and execution. Over
time, they give us the ability to craft a good story of our progress and
accomplishments, and highlight areas we can improve on. These are
also metrics that we can build on to tie our social efforts back to revenue
and/or cost saving.
These are passionate people with no agenda who have made the leap
from having an opinion about our brand (“Do I like this brand? Does it
represent me?”) to actively advocating our brand in the social sphere
(“Should I make this brand a part of my identity?”). Social media can help
uncover, build and nurture relationships with these individuals.
Knowing our detractors can be just as powerful as knowing our
advocates. Monitoring and engaging with our detractors, as appropriate,
can help turn negative sentiment into neutral and maybe even into
positive sentiment over time.
A Few Words of Caution
We never know what will happen next, so it’s important to
be prepared. Managing social reputation on an ongoing
basis and having an up-to-date crisis plan
Advocates are people who proactively defend, promote
or participate in the public conversation about our brand,
product, service or cause. Some advocates may even tattoo
their favorite brand’s logo on their arm (We’re not kidding!).
Advocacy: A Special Bond
Perception = Reality?
It depends. It is in our best interest to always monitor what people say
about us and know when and how to respond. Social media gives us
access to instant feedback. This feedback — whether it comes to us via
blog post replies, comments elsewhere in forums, or updates through social
platforms — constitutes engagement. We can use it to affect change in
public perception. If we do this right, then our customers will likely see us as
caring and more service oriented.
Real-time marketing occurs when a brand gives an appropriate response
to a particular customer, at a particular time. This type of marketing is
becoming increasingly influential in reputation management. A well-
executed real-time content campaign can increase our social share of voice
and reputation. On the flipside, engaging in real-time content marketing
without the benefit of proper social listening can have a negative effect on
Turning “Oh no!” into “It’s OK!”
We have a well-established crisis management process — composed
of a cross-functional team of employees from Human Resources,
Workplace Resources, Information Technology, Legal, Corporate
Communications, Marketing and other functions — to assess and
respond to events at a local, regional or global level.
Our Crisis Communication team provides consistent and timely
information to key stakeholders and audiences. This team addresses
any crisis that affects our employees, business, customers and
partners, community or shareholders.
Representatives from each region help ensure that we use consistent
language globally to protect Cisco’s reputation. Our regular listening
practice also helps this team identify and manage potential issues.
When a crisis situation emerges, it is best to use a response tree
to determine if we should respond and whether we should respond
publicly or privately. We also decide if we can or should respond
immediately or later, when we understand the source, nature and
possible implications of the situation at hand. We find responses that
work best are objective, use facts and educate with compassion. In
any situation, we must remember not to panic, take it personally or
This is how we play.
Thanks for reading the Cisco Social Media Playbook.