Because the $1.34 billion company operates in an extremely narrow marketplace with few potential customers, awareness and respect are vital, said Karen Bartleson, Synopsys' senior director of community marketing. “The personality of our brand is very important,” she said, adding that this is why social marketing—including Twitter and blogging—is so important to the company. (Its marketing executives have been blogging for two years and using Twitter for six months.)
Recently, Synopsys had the chance to integrate online social media and a physical event.
In July, Synopsys was at one of its industry's largest shows, the Design Automation Conference. This year, independent bloggers at the show—reporting on product news and conference events—were deemed so important that conference management opened a special media center separate from the press center for them. But Synopsys wanted to do more, Bartleson said.
So with help from Yvette Huygen, the company's public relations staffer, she developed a program that would increase blog and Twitter commentary about the company, as well as help its partners, customers and prospects learn about social media.
Called Conversation Central, the program was an event-within-an-event, Bartleson said. Synopsys set aside a conference room inside its large booth, where it held three days of sessions—27 in all—dedicated to social networking and such industry-specific topics as “Twitter for Newbies” and “Using Social Media to Increase Job-seekers. In between the standing-room-only sessions, bloggers, the media and other attendees were able to network and mingle.
But it was online that the real impact of the program was felt, Bartleson said. More than 120 people tweeted—using a special hash tag—about Synopsys and other conference-related subjects. Those tweets were broadcast on a “Twitter tower”: two plasma screens hung in the middle of the exhibition floor.
Just as important, there were frequent blog posts about Synopsys. “The way we measured ROI was to listen to what people were saying,” Bartleson said. “We saw dozens and dozens of posts about Conversation Central. People said the big story at the conference was our Conversation Central. This is huge because the biggest news to come out of a show like this is usually about new technology or partnerships,” she said. “There was a lot of discussion on Twitter, too, so people who couldn't come to the show could still feel like they were participating. There were people updating Twitter in real time, and one of the hosts did a live streaming of his session and posted it to his Web site.”
The company's blogs also picked up additional readers. For example Bartleson's Standards Game blog went from 2,713 readers to 3,252. While some of this increase may have been due to her nomination for EDA's Next Top Blogger contest, some of the increase definitely could be attributed to Conversation Central and the live Twittering and blogging Bartleson did from the show floor.
“If someone is just spewing rehashed press releases into the social media world, it's not going to be something people are going to want to follow,” Bartleson said. “But if you provide insight that people can't find anywhere else, you're going to be successful. Our efforts are helping us stay an order of magnitude ahead of our competition.”