Amanda Neylon – The Importance of Focusing on Social Strategy

My thoughts on Amanda Neylon's talk at the Chief Digital Officer Forum

Recently I was fortunate to catch Amanda Neylon give a talk during the Chief Digital Officer Forum which was held in London.

Quick disclaimer, the reason I was at the event was I worked for the company which was hosting it and wanted to get a feel for the type of events we put on. Whilst it is in my best interests to paint my company’s events in a positive light I hope you will believe me that I would not lie on my personal blog (or anywhere).

Amanda Neylon

Amanda is the Head of Digital at Macmillan Cancer Support, her talk was titled The Importance of Focusing on Social Strategy.

Getting everyone on Social

Her talk focused around wanting to make social a part of everyone’s job. It was really inspiring to hear how they empowered a huge amount of their organisation to use social, growing their team from 3 to around 1000!

They did this in several different ways;

  • Gave everyone in the company an awareness of social
  • Set a clear vision and got senior level buy in
  • Had formal training sessions on basic social skills
  • Had informal role specific training
  • Made lots of supporting information like how-to guides
  • Made sure this wasn’t just an extra thing to do, but part of the job spec for people

Unique Support

With such a large team telling the company story in their own unique way it means that Macmillan have been able to provide unprecedented levels of support to people. Two examples Amanda gave were;

  • Answering specific questions directly on Twitter without resorting to “please contact support on” or “read our FAQ at”
  • Getting a small Twitter campaign set up to send jokes to a person who was nervous about their first day of chemo.

I’ve written about owning the conversation about your site before and I think this fits in nicely. You want to be the person reaching out and you want to be of real use to people talking to you.

Tips for Social

Amanda ended her talk by sharing four tips for people wanting to improve their social content;

  • Start small
  • You can’t have too much communication internally
  • Think about culture, not just process
  • Keep testing, keep learning

Wrapping Up

I really enjoyed Amanda’s talk, it was inspiring to see how a charity like Macmillan can use social media to really help people not just score some “engagement metrics”.

Recent posts View all


The best way to test model scopes in Rails

Learn about Rails scopes and how to best test them with both Rspec and Minitest


Finding out what called a Ruby method

A quick way to understand what is calling your code using the caller method