When Tracy Steel told her employer Carewatch about Squared Online, they were more than happy to fund her place on the course and help build confidence in her role as Digital Marketing Executive.
What they perhaps didn’t expect was that just a few months later, Tracy would be driving digital and social forward for the entire organisation, travelling around the UK delivering talks and her own digital marketing training company-wide.
'I called out for local digital champions and said that I would train them, and provide ongoing support. I had a huge take up, and I've been all over the UK since, training my digital champions.'
Tracy speaking about the importance of the ZMOT at the Carewatch Annual Conference
Tracy has always been the epitome of early adopter: ‘first home computer, first mobile, Facebook, Twitter - I’ve seen everything evolve. And I’m curious; my first question is always, ‘how does this work? What does this do?'
Then came coding - which she taught herself - and her first job in digital. Very quickly Tracy revamped the staff intranet and the company built a new job role around her skillset, combining marketing communications and content management. Shortly after came a degree in Computer Science, but she quickly found she missed the creativity that came with marketing.
Luckily her next role in marketing for a health, education and social care publisher gave her more than enough scope to continue her trailblazing: 'experimentation and failure were absolutely encouraged. I asked for a small PPC budget and when the leads started rolling in, it was doubled.'
Looking back, Tracy realises she was also doing email and content marketing before they were even established strategies: ‘I was just trying to think about what I could do to get more subscribers!"
Developing a network of authors to write articles about elderly care lead to her interest in the sector, and her post at home care provider Carewatch followed. After a few years in the role - making a big impact across their website, social and content strategies - she discovered Squared Online.
A group of Tracy's recent Carewatch digital champions
'I mainly enrolled to build my confidence,’ she says. ‘Until this point I was a self-taught digital marketer and there was no one else to tell me if I was doing the right thing - and when you’re always the person who has to convince others you can begin to doubt yourself.'
Increased confidence was only the start. Midway through the course she realised that power of digital to revolutionise the care sector.
'We’re facing difficulty in many ways; lack of central funding, under-appreciated and bad reputation because of mainstream media sensationalism. So this year I pitched the importance of digital and ZMOT by doing a keynote at our annual Conference, also expressing the importance of social media in driving a change of perception for the care sector and extending the reach of our brand.’
It was here that Tracy made her rallying call for digital champions and started travelling the length and breadth of the country training other Carewatch staff in digital.
'Loads of them are tweeting now and are on Facebook, but more than that they have that deep understanding of why it's so important - and realise that they have amazing stories to share but never thought about before as it's just day to day for them! They really make a difference in people's lives every day, but the stories don't get heard. I'm giving them a voice.’
After her conference speech, Tracy was also invited to do a keynote address at the Scottish care conference. As a result she’s now embarking on a collaborative digital project with Alzheimer Scotland.
'I can do all this because through this course I've gained so much confidence in what was my intuitive and self-taught knowledge, but I’ve also gained so much more.'