Feature: RSA gets social to build event engagement

RSA turns to social media to help boost event engagement

October 10, 2013

RSA currently ranks 8th big company in the Sunday Times Best Companies To Work For. Its Platinum recognition awards celebrate the best of the best, and have been running since 2005 and allow anyone to nominate a colleague.

The glittering, invitation-only awards night has always been a hot-ticket affair, but this year the internal communications team decided to exploit technology to build excitement and engagement across the entire business.

Jenny Burns, RSA’s Director of Internal Comms and Engagement, said: “From the outset we had a clear vision – to create a buzz so everyone feels touched by Platinum, and to raise the quality of nominations.

“It’s always been a great night, but this year we wanted to really harness the power of social media and other online tools to let all our people get involved in shaping the event – from crowd sourcing award name categories, through to building excitement in the run-up and on the night.”

Yammer posting about RSA event.
Yammer posting about RSA event.

The Platinum team opened up Spotlight, RSA’s award-winning social media tool that enables people to recognise people in real time, to receive nominations. This helped increase submissions from 600 last year to 2097 higher-quality ones in 2013.

These then went through two rounds of intense judging by 60 subject matter experts also via Spotlight, and the Executive Team.

The main online conversation was driven through Yammer – which has had an explosion of interest across RSA in five months, with 4,500 out of 8,000 UK employees already signed up.

A Platinum Yammer group was set up and manned by the internal communications team as the backstage pass to behind-the-scenes gossip and photos, as well as finalists sharing their excitement and receiving good luck messages from colleagues.

The awards night itself was webstreamed live so that people could log on from their own devices at home – or even the pub – to watch their colleagues at the event. They could also vote for the ‘community’ section winner via a mobile-optimised Platinum app.

A roving Yammer reporter at the event continually updated the Yammer feed and event attendees and colleagues at home shared good luck messages, event commentary and photos, which were all displayed on a Yammer wall on the event stage.

The result exceeded all expectations, as Jenny explains: “The feedback has been amazing and people have actually quoted the objectives that we set out, including “I joined RSA three weeks ago, and everyone was talking about Platinum”, and ‘Thank you for making it the night of my year!’.

“People watching from home even wrote in to tell us that they’d switched off the Apprentice, as the Platinum TV show was much better!

Tweet about RSA event
Tweet about RSA event

“We are a company with high engagement levels and people feel very loyal to their leaders and teams around them. Adding social media along with more established methods of getting stakeholder buy-in has created fantastic excitement and buy-in across RSA that we can build on for next year’s programme.

“What made the event even better is all the local activity that our people took upon themselves to make our finalists feel really special.

“For example, we delivered Platinum tickets and flags in a surprise desk drop across all sites and to homeworkers. Leaders had a heads-up the week before, and arranged Platinum parties when the tickets landed to create even more excitement.

Photos of the happy finalists were uploaded to Yammer with balloons all along banks of desks, and party food!”

The Platinum facts:

* The Platinum event for 180 guests took a multi-channel approach.
* It was inspired by external shows like the BAFTAs, X-Factor and Got To Dance.
* It was held in a custom-built dome in the picturesque grounds of Harewood House in Leeds.
* Strictly Come Dancing presenter Claudia Winkleman and RSA CEO Adrian Brown hosted the awards ceremony, supported by the RSA leadership team.