Anu Hautalampi is the Head of Social for UN Women. A global entity with millions of followers, UN Women’s mission is to work towards gender equality and women’s empowerment. It’s a big mission – so where on earth do you start? How can social effect actual change? And is it possible to have some smiles along the way?!
Find out first hand how the UN Women team manages its social media strategy and listen in to some Sound Advice from our social media agony aunt Stacey. You can also get in touch with your own social media dilemmas by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Connect with UN Women on Twitter and Instagram using @UNWomen.
CAT ANDERSON Welcome to Social Creatures, a podcast from Sprout Social. I’m Cat, and I’m here to explore some of my favourite success stories from the world of social media. This is a space for everyone. And, really, nearly anything goes. But what makes an account successful or popular? Honestly, it’s hard to know. But that’s what we’re here to find out.
Throughout the series, we’ll talk with the brands behind the account you know and some that you don’t to explore the weird and wonderful ways that businesses, organisation, and individuals have achieved success in social media, all the tangible insights that you can apply to your own social strategies. And we’ll be heading the advice of Stacey, our social media agony aunt, who’s here to guide you through some of your trickiest digital dilemmas.
So, this week, I’m joined by Anu Hautalampi, a social media strategist and trainer who’s currently the head of social at United Nations Women. That’s a body that’s dedicated to the gender equality and empowerment of women worldwide.
I actually first met Anu in her previous job, when she was head of social at Cambridge University. When she told me that she was moving to New York City to head up social at UN Women, I was fascinated. What an amazing position. We stayed in touch and, of course, in the only way that people stay in touch these days, on social media and sprung up a friendship. So, I’m really happy that she can join us today.
Before we get started, if anyone would like to check out the work that Anu and her team are doing, you can find it @UN_Women.
Anu, I am so glad that you could be here to speak with me. Welcome to Social Creatures.
ANU HAUTALAMPI Thank you so much, Cat. It’s lovely to be reunited virtually with you again.
CAT ANDERSON Yeah. Absolutely. Anu, so, I mentioned briefly, too briefly, in the introduction what United Nation Women does. And for those listeners who are hearing about this arm of the UN maybe for the first time, it might be kind of difficult for them to gauge what realising such a meaningful and immeasurable objective actually involves. Could you maybe paint a picture for our listeners of what the day-to-day work of the United Nations Women looks like?
ANU HAUTALAMPI Certainly. So, from a social media perspective, which is, you know, kind of my area, it’s very much about advocacy and it’s about encouraging the women around the world who are doing important work and campaigning around women’s rights and women’s empowerment. So, the agency is very much focused on advancing gender equality in line with the wider UN plans of achieving it. You know, we’re still far from it. There’s no country in the world yet that has achieved gender equality. So, there’s a lot of work to be done.
And for anyone going on our Twitter to check our work @UN_Women or going on our Instagram at @UNWomen will see that a lot of the content that we publish on a day-to-day basis is there to inform. So, either show the progress that’s being done around the world or to share some facts around what’s still, you know, the reality for women in different parts of the world, or to encourage people to keep campaigning and, you know, to keep trying to make the world more equal every day with every action that we take.
CAT ANDERSON Thank you. I love that. I love that you’ve already as well honed in on the social side of things, because this being Social Creatures, we are here to focus on social media and the part that it holds as a tool for communication, promotion, and, in your case, activism.
Can I ask more personally: What made you want to become involved in this side of the conversation rather than maybe journalism, PR, or another branch of media? How did you get to where you are today?
ANU HAUTALAMPI So, I actually have quite a long and sort of varied background in communication. So, I have done a bit of everything that you mentioned there, Cat. So, I’ve been a copywriter for an ad agency up in Lapland. You know, selling the Lapland fantasy to tourists. I’ve also done a radio show from Delhi. I lived in India for a year, and I was doing that live for the Finnish National Radio, where I was going around different parts of Delhi and sort of reporting live to people before mobile journalism was actually a thing. So, this was back before social media and before smartphones.
I did a UN volunteer position with the UN Development Programme in Tanzania about ten years ago, which was amazing. I also did an internship with UNICEF in India before then. So, I’ve kind of had that exposure to the work of – of the UN as well as to some of the challenges that women face.
I think it’s also important to mention that coming from one of the most equal countries in the world that is Finland, I just feel that as a person who’s had the privilege of having a relatively easy life, let’s say. And I often think that growing up in a remote village like I did as a girl, had it been in most other parts of the world, there is no way I would be where I am today in terms of education, career development, freedom. You know, just freedom to do my own – make my own choices and have the kind of life that I want without many restrictions at all.
CAT ANDERSON I wonder if you could tell us about how social media directly helps the work of the UN Women and why it’s such an important tool.
ANU HAUTALAMPI Wow. Obviously, the reach is incredible. I mean, I think, across all of our existing channels, we’ve got a reach of about twelve million. I mean, that’s about twelve million followers, I should say. You know, the reach is higher than that. And on key moments, there are these opportunities for us to reach additional people. So, not just sort of the converted or the people who are already following us on a regular basis, but also people who might be less familiar, you know, with the issues or with the situation in the world or people who might feel like, “Oh, there isn’t anything that can be done.” That, you know, this is just the way the world is.
I think social media is an important source for information. It’s also a place for discussion. And I think this is a challenge for small teams like us. We have a very small team for social media, which means that we don’t always have as much time as we would like to have those proper conversations and engagement. You know, a lot of the time, I feel, in many teams, goes to content creation rather than looking at what’s coming back to us in response to those content pieces that we publish. And this is certainly something that I as a social media strategist—. So, if I put my strategy hat on, I definitely think it’s really important to think about also what’s coming back.
So, not just looking at the sentiment, which always should inform, by the way, what we publish next, but also trying to get back to people when they have valid questions, valid points.
Now, the topic of gender equality is not an easy one. So, if you go on our Twitter, you will see that some of the comments we get can be quite aggressive. But, you know, that’s also part of social media as well, is freedom of expression. So, people can voice their opinions, which I think is really important. And they can have quite a wide platform.
I would also like to mention video. The reason I’m such a big advocate for video is that you can show and tell so much. Obviously, you can also give the platform to other people to tell about their realities or to share facts, to have conversations.
And I would also like to mention Twitter Spaces, which is something that we’re quite keen on at the moment. We had a very interesting conversation when we had our campaign of sixteen days against gender-based violence in November. And one of our Ending Violence Against Women experts was answering audience questions from Twitter. So, we had collated some questions that she then answered. And I think that was a great way of also building awareness and increasing people’s knowledge on the topic.
CAT ANDERSON Wow, that was a very comprehensive answer and loads to unpack, but I love it. I wonder, just dialling in a little bit more actually. So, there’s so many larger goals and activities that are going on with social, and it’s something that comes up time and time again in this podcast, that it can be used in just so many different ways to achieve so many objectives.
But in terms of perhaps the specific key performance indicators or KPIs that you yourself measure the impact of your work with, could you maybe share a little bit about what your KPIs are?
ANU HAUTALAMPI So, in terms of growing reach, and I did mention that we are always looking to reach people who don’t already know about us, I think one of the key indicators that we certainly look at is shares and retweets. You know, are we getting into people’s networks? Is our message traveling further than our existing followership or our own bubble?
Another one is clicks. We want people to click through to our website and look at the stories and the information that we have available there.
Reach and impressions is an interesting one, isn’t it? Because we often are expected to give those big, big figures. And I think they still have a place. So, for example, #reach or #impressions is very important for campaigns to give an indicator of how far our message has traveled.
However, being too fixated on that, I don’t think, is a good idea. So, what I personally look at is things like engagement rates. So, I always try to look at the number of reactions and likes, shares, and other things that people do on social posts in relation to the number of people who saw that particular post. And I think engagement rate can be quite a powerful indicator of what actually are the most popular posts. And trying to do a bit of analysis, you know. Why did they perform so well? What are some of the magic ingredients, if you like, that we could then take and use for future posts to ensure that they also are successful?
CAT ANDERSON When I was actually doing some research for this, I did notice that there are lots of accounts associated with United Nations Women, not just the core, centralised account. Are these run totally independently or is there a core strategy and approvals process in place? Or how do you manage so many different localised accounts?
ANU HAUTALAMPI I’m always interested in how different organisations approach this. So—. And particularly, you know, comparing, coming from the academic world where there’s a lot of freedom and then kind of coming on to a much more different kind of environment, you know, where I work now. So, the way the UN Women accounts are managed is they are all set up by us centrally at the headquarters. But after that, the country offices and regional offices run them freely.
Now, whenever we are setting up a new account, it’s important that there’s a content plan. This is something we would touch upon. You know, is it sustainable? Who will look off to the account? What type of content will you be posting? Do you have a content calendar? Just to make sure that all the work that goes into launching a new account will then actually carry that account and help it grow.
I know there are organisations that are very strict about setting up additional accounts. And I think it’s good to practice care and it’s good to be strategic and planned about it.
At the same time, there can also be challenges around fake accounts. So, back when I was in Cambridge, this was one of the reasons we were very keen to get set up on TikTok and get our account verified, so that people would see, “Right. This is the actual, you know, legit university account.” So, that’s another part of this piece.
CAT ANDERSON I wonder, there’s obvious risk with having multiple accounts. But perhaps, what do you see are the advantages for it? Because it’s signs like it’s something in this role and your previous role you have decided to allow and you’ve set up the structures of rind it. So, I’d like to know what you think of the advantages of having the more localised accounts.
ANU HAUTALAMPI Well, if we think about it realistically just in terms of work, trying to share every piece of information, trying to centrally monitor every conversation, I don’t think, is possible. Also just having central accounts will not be able to provide the type of service, let’s say, to other parts of the house where they can, you know, engage with their specific followers on the themes that they are experts in.
Looking at the type of content that, for example, our country offices publish, it is very specific to the work they are doing on the ground or it is very specific to the challenges and issues that they are focusing on. I don’t think it’s realistic for a centralised account to be publishing that much content.
CAT ANDERSON Mmhmm.
ANU HAUTALAMPI And that content would actually not necessarily always be of interest to a global audience. So, I think it’s important here to really come back to the strategic thinking around “Who is our audience?”, “What are the goals?”
The first question always is: What are you trying to achieve? How does this align with the organisational goals? And whilst we do have our shared mission, our shared purpose, of course, across the organisation, the programming and the actual activities will vary largely between regions and between countries.
CAT ANDERSON Now, here at Sprout Social, we know that social media is a wild and wonderful beast. It can surprise and delight, but it can also confused and perplex even the hardiest of social media users. Who better to turn to for help than our social media expert, Stacey Wright, who’s here to answer your questions over a cup of tea and some biscuits in the part of the show we like to call Sound Advice.
STACEY WRIGHT Right. I’ve got my cup of tea and I’ve got my letters, which can only mean it’s time for us to take a break and cosy down together. This is the part of the podcast where I, your social media agony aunt, Stacey, guide you, our dear listeners, to your trickiest digital dilemmas.
Right. Let me see what social media conundrums you’ve sent my way today.
“I’m seeking your advice around an upcoming campaign for my home fragrance client. They sit in the consumer-packaged goods or CPG category. So, they already struggle for high volumes of engagement. Sharing how you cover bad odours in your home is not exactly the most ‘Gram-able at the best of times.
“The campaign they’re planning centres around the fifteenth birthday of their first go-to market product and the creation of a limited edition birthday cake scented room spray.
“They are keen to make the campaign social first, focusing on social media activity without any investment or support from other channels such as out of home advertising on transport or TV spots.
“How do I tell them that their party might not be one anyone wants to go to, and how do I plan and create content that doesn’t give off wisps of desperation?
“Trying to have my cake and eat it, Ash.”
Wow. Okay. Well, I think the best place to start here is a “What’s in it for me?” approach from a user perspective. Some brands aren’t bothered about creating content just for the sake of it. You know, just to massage egos internally. When we work in agencies, the success of that content is often a reflection of our ability as specialist consultants to deliver those campaigns.
The first part of that is about branching out. Don’t just broadcast it. Work with advocates and influencers basically to show other people being excited about the project or the campaign. So, like, they’re the people at the party, right. And people are to want to come to that party. So, maybe think about creating something that YouTubers can unbox or actually have a little party pack that you can send out to influencers for them to create content for you.
For your own content, especially if you’ve got a small budget or next to no budget, get creative and – and think about what the demographics of your audience are going to enjoy. What do they consume on social that they get really excited about, and try and create content that resonates with.
Can you get an illusion cake made that looks like the spray bottle? Is it cake? Is it a spray bottle?
Can you light the candles on a birthday cake and spray them out with the spray? Blindfold the office manager and do a real cake versus the spray smell test.
Or if the audience is a demographic with kids, maybe do a baby cake smash parody. So, instead of having a baby smashing a cake all over the floor, it’s actually cleaner and neater to use the spray bottle.
Find things that you’re going to get excited about, so that, you know, if you’re not already feeling the brief, but also find things that your social followers are going to get really excited about and want to share and interact with.
So, the important question, I think, at the heart of this letter is about communicating back to the client. It seems, in this example, that this is a novelty fun product that they’ve created. So, they might be open to these kinds of wilder ideas, unless I’ve just missed a trend about making your house smell like birthday cakes.
And you might be surprised at their reaction. So, whether you’re having fun about it, they’ll see that you’re excited about it. And that will come through in your pictures to them.
However, if they do approach social media with a little bit of trepidation as a brand, I personally used to use these wild blue-sky ideas that frankly were never going to be implemented as a way to still have ideas in there that push the envelope and were creative, but seemed like more of a middle ground to them and less scary.
So, Ash, I hope I have managed to keep birthdays as a cause for celebration for you.
And, listeners, until next time. Stay strong and stay social. Now back to the interview.
CAT ANDERSON Speaking of the overall objective, the topics that you deal with do tend to be quite heavy. They are important, of course. But they are heavy. I wonder: Is this something that you consider for the feed? Are there ever any moments where you could consider adding some levity, for example?
ANU HAUTALAMPI That’s – that’s so interesting. There’s a lot to unpick there. We are trying to have a balance between sharing facts and data, sharing stories of people, giving inspiration, then encouraging the activists who are out there, you know, doing work for gender equality and women’s rights. So, we’re trying to strike that balance.
We do have some quite, I would say, clever posts—and I can say this because I didn’t create them, so this is kudos to the team—that get a lot of interaction time after time. And so, that’s another thing that I think is really important, is to, you know, allow yourself to reuse assets that you have. If you have some so-called bankers, if you’ve got assets that, you know, do get a lot of engagement time after time, don’t shy away from using them. Because often, as social media managers or social media team members, you know, we – we want to be so innovative. We want to create something new all the time. But, actually, sometimes, it’s worth just looking at, you know, your content performance and looking over the past year or two years and saying like, “Right, these assets did really well. Maybe we should just keep them on our content calendar and look for opportunities to reuse them.”
So, we actually have a completely public Trello board with all of our content. So, if you do a little Google, you’ll find it. And there, you can see the approach that the team is taking to content planning, content management, but also repurposing of assets.
CAT ANDERSON That’s brilliant, you know, because right across marketing, people are looking for opportunities to find evergreen content and to have something that you can, you know, have for a long time on your site or something that very—. Yeah. It’s not going to go out of date anytime soon. And it’s actually really refreshing to hear you say that. I’ve actually never heard anyone talk so much about evergreen content on social, but it makes so much sense.
I wonder just talking about the heaviness of the content. And I – I really appreciate the balance that you’re trying to strike sounds perfect, actually, between inspiration on the hard hitting. Because something that I know from friends who work in charity or activists, compassion fatigue is a real thing, and especially with everything that’s going on in the world, but over the past number of years, even. We all know that looking at the news for too long, it can be detrimental to mental health. So, I wonder how you protect yourself with everything that you see every day.
ANU HAUTALAMPI I think, for me, definitely as a team leader, it’s really important to keep a positive atmosphere in the team, but also, I guess, a type of a blessing, is that if one goes in, you know, with a positive mindset, with a big smile whenever one can, that is infectious. And then, once you’ve got that team energy, even sort of the more difficult things become easier. I mean, this is not to paint some sort of la-la land picture. You know, the things will not go away. But let’s just say that it’s important to have that team spirit and be in it together and have that chat.
So, for example, we use Signal. So, you can share some of the stuff, you know, just to say like, “Ugh.” You know? “It’s a bit hard going.” Or share your sentiments. And then, that makes you immediately feel better.
There is often this idea that if one works in social media, all one does is, you know, look at Twitter news or Twitter updates nonstop. Now, that’s not the reality of it, really. Of course, it’s part of it. So, I will check in and I see all the horrible things that are happening in the world. But I think, for me, personally, being in a job like this, there’s a reason I’m in this job, you know. One way for me to deal with what is going on in the world is to try and do something about it. And that has very much kind of been the guiding light in my whole career. So, I’ve always wanted to work in something that has an impact on things that are important for me. In this case, gender quality. But also environmental sustainability. Because without women and girls, you know, the world will not survive.
CAT ANDERSON Oh, my goodness. What an inspirational answer. I have a huge smile on my face, and I really hope that anyone who’s listening to this does as well. Positivity, talking and sharing problems, and staying focused on the purpose of the work that you’re doing. You really are so inspirational. But I’m going to spare everyone from me fan-girling over you.
Changing speed for just one second. I think it’s really obvious that you are a woman who gets so much joy from life. And I know that your job is a big part of that. Could you tell us what is it that you get the greatest satisfaction from in your day-to-day work?
ANU HAUTALAMPI It’s working with the team. It’s – it’s going in, seeing the team, and doing something together. You know, being a greater sum of our parts.
CAT ANDERSON Another gorgeous answer.
Well, it actually segues quite neatly into our next question, which is that, obviously, sometimes social media can be a little bit discouraging. It’s a wild and wonderful beast that can go in many different directions, but especially when it might seem that there’s infinite scope to your practical and ideological goals.
But putting that aside for a second, how do you celebrate your successes?
ANU HAUTALAMPI Well, one sort of example comes into mind. This is from when I was back in Cambridge. We were approaching one million followers on Instagram, and we wanted to celebrate it. And this was in the time of lockdowns in England. And I talked to Lloyd, who manages the Instagram account at Cambridge, about whether we might be able to do some projections on the Senate House, which is the so-called headquarters of the – of the Cambridge University. And he was able to pull a few strings. And we worked together with an AV company and projected pictures or screenshots of some of our Instagram posts onto the building, as well as the Instagram logo, our handle. So, Lloyd created this whole wonderful projection.
And because the building is white—. So anyone who has been to Cambridge will know that it’s a – it’s a beautiful white building in the centre of the city. So, we did that protection, but the projection itself was not the celebration. It was the video we did of it that we then published once we hit that one million followers.
And I think I wanted to share this just as an example of, you know, encouraging anyone working with social media, really, to try and think of ways that you could celebrate together and do something physical. You know, for us in social media, it’s everything is so immaterial. But, actually, having that projection onto a physical building and then doing like a video of it, I don’t know, there was something very meta about it.
So, that’s an example of sort of a big way to celebrate. But I think, equally importantly, the small day-to-day celebrations. So, what I try to do as a team leader is, if I see someone do something really well, I will just spontaneously, you know, applaud it or I will give them credit. Whether it’s in a Teams call, whether it’s on our Signal chat, on an email, I think it’s really important just to recognise when people are doing a good job.
And it’s so easy to forget about that or start thinking that, “Oh, this is just the way it is.” No. That’s not just the way it is. That is someone doing a great job, whether it’s, you know, someone in your team, someone in the wider organisation, even a partner, or whether it’s yourself. And I think that’s really important, the day-to-day recognition of great work.
CAT ANDERSON The day-to-day recognition of great work. I really couldn’t agree more. A friend of mine once gave me some advice that has really stuck with me. Do you know, sometimes, when you hear a little nugget and you hold onto it forever …
ANU HAUTALAMPI Mmhmm.
CAT ANDERSON … which was to celebrate any moment that comes your way that’s worth marking, a moment in time. Even if it’s small, these moments should be seized and noted and made a whole big shebang of. And it’s a good thing to do. So, it’s great to hear that you share a similar sentiment.
I wonder: What is a key piece of advice that you would give to a fledgling organisation or charity that’s hoping to better their social media presence?
ANU HAUTALAMPI Definitely focus. Don’t try to do it all at the same time. Pick your goals, define your audience, and then choose the channels. Remember that social media is just part of the mix. It won’t solve all your problems, but it will support your work. Don’t try to go on all the platforms immediately. I don’t think that’s sustainable, especially if you have a small team. And do regular measuring. You know, set up sort of—. Set up some targets. Where do you want to be? You can look at your competition or peers. See how they’re doing. Look at their content. Look at how it performs. Make a plan, evaluate, and then readjust.
CAT ANDERSON The final question is a question that we’ll be asking all of our guests on this podcast.
ANU HAUTALAMPI Mmhmm.
CAT ANDERSON If you had to delete all of the other accounts that you follow on Twitter and you only have one left, who would make the cut?
ANU HAUTALAMPI Wow. If this is for the UN Women account, we absolutely have to follow the secretary general. So, there’s no way we can cut him off. So, he would – he would be there.
If – if this is for me as Anu, I would follow Subway Creatures. So, there’s an amazing account of true, real-life clips that people have filmed in the tube, in the subway in New York, and you will see the most amazing things every day. So, I would highly recommend that. And that’s kind of your light relief, you know. That’s your comic relief of the day as well done.
CAT ANDERSON I love that. Although I’m slightly offended, ’cause you follow me on Instagram. But that’s okay.
Anu, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us today and sharing the important work that you’re doing. So, thank you.
ANU HAUTALAMPI My pleasure, Cat. And thanks to everyone listening. And don’t forget to give credit to yourself and your team. And keep smiling.
CAT ANDERSON You’ve been listening to Social Creatures with me, Cat Anderson. Many thanks to today’s guest and to Sprout Social for making this podcast possible.
Make sure you join me for the rest of the series by subscribing on your favourite podcast platform, where you can tune into a new episode every two weeks.
You can continue the conversation around today’s episode by getting in touch on our social media at @SproutSocial or by sending your social media to our agony aunt, Stacey, by emailing email@example.com.
Thanks for listening. And catch you in two weeks.
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