After having dabbled in the social media space for some time now, it seems that the World Bank Group has finally jumped in with both feet. No matter where you turn these days, a host of social media initiatives are springing up around the World Bank Group. Internally and externally, words like "Web 2.0", "beta", "pilot", "open source" and "demo" grace the banners of many online knowledge management / collaboration platforms and virtually every unit seems to have a video channel, blog, podcast or "fan" page, underscoring World Bank President Robert Zoellick's recent note to staff to "Make no mistake about it: this is no longer your grandfather’s World Bank. But we need to continue to change."
Here at MIGA — the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency — we've recently made our foray into the social media space as well. MIGA's mission is to promote foreign direct investment (FDI) into developing countries to help support economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve people's lives. We do so by providing political risk insurance in the form of investment guarantees against noncommercial risks like war and civil disturbance, breach of contract, expropriation and more. As one of the smaller members of the World Bank Group, social media works to our advantage in many ways.
Leveraging social media tools like YouTube, Flickr and blogs helps us "get the word out" to a larger audience of investors about what we do and how we can facilitate FDI. It levels the playing field between small organizations like MIGA and gives us the same global marketing and communications platforms as other, larger institutions enabling us to reach a truly global audience.
One of the ways we’re using social media at MIGA is to help investors first find us and then help them understand how we can facilitate the investment process into some countries that could really benefit from it. Sierra Leone is one of those countries. Not long ago MIGA's business development team noticed an uptick in applications for projects in Sierra Leone. We decided to augment those efforts through a focused, coordinated use of social media tools to help generate business inquiries. Not long after combining the collective reach of a) blogs, b) Twitter, c) YouTube and d) Google keyword search ads to find and drive investors to e) a customized MIGA.org landing page about political risk coverage in Sierra Leone, we received an inquiry from an investment intermediary (referring to the customized landing page) asking about MIGA can help them with projects in Sierra Leone.
Online marketing techniques like the above have been used in the private sector for well over a decade so the results are not very surprising. What is interesting however is that they still work - even for a complex, niche product like political risk insurance.
Our recent experience underscores a few points we try to keep in mind:
Have a focused, coordinated approach: use of all the social media tools at your disposal to produce a specific outcome or behavior. In MIGA's case, the desired outcome was to use social media to inform investors about our products and services and drive them to a relevant page on MIGA.org for more information and/ or make a business inquiry.
Avoid "bait and switch": if you're using online advertising (keyword search, banners, links etc.) promoting "Private Equity in Africa", for example, make sure the link in those ads go to a specific page on Private Equity, not a generic welcome or your home page.
Customized landing pages: related to the point above, the "landing page" you drive users to should have sufficient compelling information to continue to lead potential clients to the next step in the customer acquisition process — calling you about your products and services.
Data analysis: before you launch your social media initiatives, make sure you have the ability to capture the impact of the effort on customer care, web analytics software etc. in place to evaluate the impact and measure the results of your efforts. As they say, "If it's worth doing, it's worth measuring" and one of the greatest advantages of social media is that it can be measured.