Explore some of our past podcasts hosted by WriterAccess founder Byron White.
Byron: Welcome back, everyone. I’m here with Keith. Keith, welcome.
Keith: Thanks for having me.
Byron: Right on. Social Media Strategy, we need a little bit of help there I can assure you. Thanks for writing a book on the topic.
Keith: Yeah, yeah. It’s ironically every day there’s probably hundreds if not thousands of social media tips, articles, and blog posts published out there. But we still seem to have a struggle in figuring out the overall strategy in social media.
Byron: Indeed. What is your background with social media strategy and some of the success with some of your own practices?
Keith: Yeah. My background is I was an advertising copywriter and creative director. And kind of lived through the transition from traditional media and the digital media and we just kind of jumped in head first and started trying this stuff out and have some relative successes with some campaigns built around social media and now I teach, I teach social media marketing and digital marketing classes. What I wanted to do is I needed… Day to day, you’re just writing and your meeting deadlines, you kind of get lost in the actions and I wanted to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.
Byron: Where did we go wrong, Keith, with our social media strategy and the people running it, which is a big hit?
Keith: Well, there’s a couple big things that I think happened. Number one, we try to treat it like our traditional media. So we think that we have our headline and our tagline and our advertising campaign and we’re just going to pick up a Facebook and a Twitter and we’re just going to carry that line over, it’s just another advertising challenge, which it isn’t, it’s very different. The other mistake is we kind of jump in and open an account and we just start posting. Number one thing you need to do before you do anything is you need to listen. You need to go in there, listen to what your customers are saying. Where they’re saying it. Listen to your competitors, what they’re saying and where they’re saying it and just get a lay of the land before you just jump in.
Byron: What listening tools are you using or you just plain try to follow people around, figure out who your big customers are, maybe follow them for a while, or are you searching for your brand name? And how much research time… How much listening time do you think a company needs to do before they dive in? Before they even dive into forging through social media strategy?
Keith: Yeah. There’s kind of two aspects to it. One is listening to set up a strategy. And you can do that. You can spend a solid week just collecting information to get a sense of what’s going on out there. And then beyond that, there’s barely weekly monitoring to six-phase in the lives, occurrences out there. But I actually developed a social media audit template to help companies with that first aspect. Let’s just go out, listen to the landscape and look for challenges and opportunities. And the way I developed it is I divided it into the five W’s. And I kind of have a background in journalism from college and you always wrote a news story, you answered the who, the where, the what, the when, and the why. And the who would be identified who’s talking. And sometimes you could go in and listen and monitor your current social media channels and monitor them from the outside perspective. Where are we, what are we saying? So you identified the where channels. Are we on Twitter? We’re on Flicker, we’re on Instagram. And then describe the what, the type of content and in any sentiment. So, are we just providing links to our blogs? Are we getting any engagement? Are we getting “likes”? Are we getting comments? Are we getting retweets? And then the frequency just to identify how are we doing two Tweets a day, five Tweets a day? One blog post a week and then you go and you do the same thing for your competitor. What channels are they on? And are they sharing? How often are they sharing? And then you go and you look at your customers and you say, “Well, here’s our customers. Where are they talking? What are they saying? Are they interacting with us?” And then you identify everything, the why, the purpose is the most important thing. Why are we on Twitter? Are we trying are we trying to drive traffic to a website? Are we trying to drive to direct downloads or direct purchases to a physical location? And then we get a big picture of where we are.
Byron: How important is voice, style, tone of the actual content you’re creating through your social media channels?
Keith: Oh, yeah, that’s very important. What I’ve discovered is in working with clients, a lot of clients have a wealth of information. They’ve created these guides and they have websites where there’s… I worked on a bank account and they had a small business guide and they were trying to get small business accounts. But it was locked away on this website that no one ever accessed. So a great opportunity is taking that information you already have and changing the tone into a social media tone and breaking it up into smaller bits of content that you can share on Twitter and LinkedIn and the various social media channels and smaller blog posts. But you have to change a perspective. It’s not just a dry… It’s not a dry manual and it’s overly sales, like driving to direct sale, you’re only trying to help your customer and if you deliver the value when they need a new account or their current bank gets them upset, they’re going to come looking for you.
Byron: Social media is often something we might develop a plan or a strategy around, but for some reason, we’re kind of tossing social media often at young people coming right out of school.
Byron: And it’s not just old guys like me that are thinking that way, there’s some strategy behind it. I mean the folks that are a generation or so behind 50-year-old guys like me are kind of hip. They’ve got a different style, they get it, they can talk the lingo, and they’re good listeners. They’re used to collaboration and communication. Do you agree with that philosophy or do you think that it can be done a different way and it should be?
Keith: I think that’s kind of a mistake. Because I teach college students social media marketing and yes, they grew up on social media, but that doesn’t mean they know how to apply it in a strategic way for a business to reach real business results. So, I think it’s okay to hire them but you have to train them and you have to make sure they understand first, your company culture and the whole business strategy. And then you really need to train them within certain guidelines. You definitely have to have a social media guidelines and training in place. So I think it can be done if the right training’s there.
Byron: What’s the best use of social media or is there a single best use? We have pushed announcements, we have polling in kind of poll marketing or inbound efforts, where your maybe customer service is using social media as a way to have questions answered almost like a help desk support. There are polls you can use. There are events coming up that you might want to push out. Is it all of the above or do you think that certain social media challenges are better for other things and does the book help us divide and conquer?
Keith: Yeah. Actually, that’s one of the biggest trends I uncovered in right in the book and the research I’ve done since then is social media, it could live in marketing. But it really requires to be done well across discipline involvement. So, if you’re the marketer and you’re on social media and your objective is to drive people to your website that will lead to a qualified lead, that’s one aspect. But the consumer doesn’t distinguish, “I’m on Twitter to get information from the marketing person so I can purchase the product from. I’m a current customer and I have an issue.” But the marketer’s not qualified to update on a certain product issue. So customer service has to be involved. And then you have to look at recruiting like HR, where someone’s recruiting now is happening to a social media. Or research and development, you said, “Let’s get good ideas for the next product release. What do people really want?” You can conduct research through social media. So now, the big thing is if you’re going to use a social media monitoring service like a Hootsuite, and then get people from different departments, the sales department, HR, marketing, customer service all engaged and when different needs or opportunities come in, the people best qualified can activate through social media and you can meet all those objectives at once.
Byron: Lay out plans to help that process. Because that is complicated having moving parts, different people answering certain questions, trying to figure out who did what, “Was that Tweet answered? Oh, boy, it wasn’t. Wow, we missed an opportunity there.” This is hard stuff. How do you map it out? How do you map it out, Keith, in the book?
Keith: It is, it is hard. It is hard. On Hootsuite Pro Certified, I know you can set up teams. So when certain comments come in and you can assign it to people and flag it. So I have a great case study in the book for Hertz Rental Car. Hertz Rental Car, their marketing department was running social media and they’re using it to just push out promotional messages and marketing messages. But then they would get customer services issues and they would literally take the Tweet and email it to the customer service department. A couple days later, customer service would email it back to them and they would respond. Now they got them for…
Byron: That’s not effective. That’s not going to do it.
Keith: No, no. Now they got onboard on a… There’s multiple ones out there, Salesforce or any kind of social media monitoring service where you can get in employees from different departments who all have access and can be assigned tasks. But now I think they got their response time down to ten minutes. Think about the business results from that.
Byron: Who’s the book designed for? You have an interesting background yourself. SMBs, Fortune 1000 companies. Because I mean scaling social media really varies with resources, with access to great quality content to the development of tone and style and voice to… Yeah, you can have a one-person hacker that’s amazing that’s got this build-a-personality and answering customer questions and really running social media, or you could be faced with a nightmare where there’s a social media department that doesn’t have a strategy and so everyone’s trying to guess and figure it out.
Byron: Who’s the book designed for?
Keith: I actually, I stripped it down into a pretty simple process that could work for a small business, a startup, or it could work for a Fortune 500 that’s still trying to figure this out. Basically, what I thought was a need for someone to take a big step back and set up a systematic step-by-step process to developing a social strategy. So many of us, whether you’re a small business or even in the corporate world just jumped on Facebook and jumped on Twitter and now, we’re jumping on Snapchat just because it’s the latest greatest thing and we’re just doing stuff. But we didn’t go back to what’s our business objective, who’s our target audience, where’s our target audience, what are our competitors doing? And then go through what’s a big content idea, and tone of voice has to do with that. What’s our company about? How do we represent ourselves? And then go and systematically select the social channels that make the most sense and then develop metrics and KPIs for each social channel. We’re not just going to have the successes in terms of the number of followers on Facebook, we’re going to have a real business metric, we want to drive them back to a certain pace to sign up for a free consultation. So it just literally lays out this big step-by-step process to have a big strategy document that you can work from. And I think it literally works from a start-up to like a Hertz.
Byron: Do you think you need a focus-to-business topic to really go after your business?
Keith: What do you mean by that?
Byron: Well, I’ve heard a lot of great speakers and authors over the years talk about the importance of focusing on your… What do you want to be famous for? What do you want to be known for? Like, let’s take Chutzpah for example like they’re the king of inbound marketing, a two-phase thought leadership position. Do you think that that’s good practice with regards to social media and overall content strategy that makes it way down to this social media channel?
Keith: I think it is, I think it is. And part of the process I drew up is identifying what’s your business objective, who’s your target audience, and then what is that big idea. I call it a “big idea.” What’s the “big idea” that we want to stand for? And then you identify the social channels where your customers are that make the most sense for that big idea, and then you plan how do you express consistently that same, whatever thing you want to be known for, is going to be stressed differently on Pinterest versus LinkedIn versus Twitter or Snapchat. And then I even wrote in traditional advertising because if they see an ad on TV or a print ad or pay-per-click ad, a PR event, it all should be integrated. You just can’t do social alone.
Byron: What about testing and experimentation even on the big idea? Do you believe in that?
Keith: Oh, yeah, definitely. That’s one of the main benefits of social is I can Tweet something out today, go to Twitter analytics to see how it’s doing and then tweak it and adjust it and try something else tomorrow. So, I think, yeah, even big ideas with your messaging, if we want to stand for the Environmental Bike Company. And everything is about the environment, you can test that and if it’s not working, there are aspects that aren’t understood, you can tweak it and see what gets the most attention.
Byron: One of the biggest failures that frustrate the hell out of me that you see people doing perpetually that is just like, “Ah,” it just makes you cringe.
Keith: Well, I have an example of someone that, yes, here. I’ll explain it. So there was this chocolate company called Lacta in Greece. And they’re like Hershey’s in the US and they open a Facebook page, and this is what drives me crazy is, usually what happens is the marketers will take their advertising slogan and Facebook’s just another advertising channel and they’ll just throw the slogan up there. Or they’ll take their press releases and they’ll trip them out through Facebook. That’s not treating social media the way social media should be treated. What they did instead, is first they listened. And when they listened, they found that people were already talking about the product, they’re saying about their loved ones, “You’re as sweet as Lacta chocolate.” If you’re a marketing, you’re like, “This is a dream come true.” And then they created an app that just simply leveraged that activity the consumer was already doing, where people could send messages to their loved ones and say, “You’re the sweetest part of my life like Lacta chocolate.” And then suddenly, they just grew like crazy on Facebook, it was the most, largest brand Facebook page and in Greece, within weeks. And then people were actually changing their profile picture to Lacta chocolate bars. But if they would have just taken their regular advertising tagline and just thrown it up on Facebook, it wouldn’t be that effective.
Byron: So your biggest frustration is people not doing things like that? Not seizing the moment of listening, not listening to what people really want. How do you listen? I asked you that before. Seriously, let’s take a brand like… Well, I don’t know. Someone selling lobster in Maine.
Byron: Right. Shipping overnight deliveries. Even like a Legal Sea Foods you may have heard of in New England here.
Keith: Sure, yes.
Byron: Shipping lobster overnight. So how do you go listen to what consumers might be saying about lobster being shipped to your home or lobster love?
Keith: Yeah, it takes some work of fun. And you can use tools or you can just do it the old-fashioned way and go to each social channel and start searching. But like I said, you want to search your brand name, your competitor’s brand names, you want to search the word, “lobster.” I have my students do this. They work on projects and they’ll search a brand name. And they’ll just go through the Twitter stream and it doesn’t take too many. When you get through 30, 40, 50 posts, you see a pattern. And it doesn’t take long to say, “Oh, we keep sending out these promotional messages about our lobster, but the people talking about us keep complaining about the delivery’s getting there late or the lobsters spoiled and we’re not responding to them. Or your competitor is actually sharing this great video. They created a YouTube channel and they have all these great recipes on ways to cook lobster. And that’s getting a lot of engagement. If you just go through and do this audit, it doesn’t take long to see problems and opportunities and then you address them and start changing things. You may find… The biggest thing I see is, eight years ago, we opened a Flicker account. We still have the Flicker account and it’s either dormant or we’re posting to it and we’re getting nothing out of it. We’re getting no traffic, no feeds, it is dead. So a lot of times you do this and you say, “We just need to close some accounts down.”
Byron: Do you recommend that by the way? If there’s something that’s really dead and static and is just not working or do you think you can rekindle things?
Keith: No. I think if it… And that’s the important part of if you get to the “why” in the template, what’s the purpose? If the purpose is to drive to your website and it’s not doing that. Or if your customers are just not there anymore. If you’re targeting a younger demographic, they’ve moved on to Instagram and now they’ve moved onto Snapchat. So, maybe you don’t need that other channel anymore. And it takes a lot of time and resources to keep a bunch of channels open. And companies usually don’t have the resources, so I would close them and focus on the ones that work the best.
Byron: Got it. Your book covers a lot of case studies. How many case studies and examples do you think you cover through the book by the way?
Keith: Oh, I probably, I have 14 chapters, and I have probably three or four cases and examples per chapter.
Byron: Wow. Who do you think’s doing social media remarkably well, that has a strategy that’s thought through, that really sings the way you think it should be singing?
Keith: Whole Foods is doing a very good job. If you look at their social media channels, what’s very interesting is they have the corporate account, but then they empower their local store managers or people that the store managers that identify someone that works in the store that’s interested in social media and they have local social media accounts for every local Whole Foods store. And I think that’s really smart because, again, social media is about being social and you have a community around your local Whole Foods store that people that live in that area and they know what’s going on in the area. It’s not just corporate sitting out there canned advertising messages. And the great thing is corporate works with them, they train them, sometimes corporate will feed them content that they can use. Sometimes a local content will be very popular and then the corporate account will pick it up and share it across all the other stores and channels.
Byron: Got it.
Keith: The only way social media works is you create frequent quality content. And that takes time, resources, and people. So that’s the expensive part. And if you can share across departments, like I was saying earlier, or share it across locations to local locations to people that know their regions, which helps out.
Byron: Keith, I have two final questions for you. Who’d you like to get ahold of you and how can they get ahold of you.
Keith: Anyone that wants to figure the social media thing out, but every time they Google social media marketing tips, they get 800 million results and each blog says, “The Top Ten Tips to Succeed in Social Media Marketing,” and they’re all different. That was the problem I noticed. So I wrote the book to take a big step back and let’s develop a simple systematic process for getting the big picture strategy. Because you can pick up any book and get very specific on how to create a page and all the analytic behind it. This is the big picture. And if you go to my blog, my website: postcontrolmaketing.com, I have blog posts there, I have a free PDF of the “Social Media Audit” template that I was talking about. And I have a tools and tips section that I’m constantly updating with the latest tools and resources you can use to put the strategies together.
Byron: Great job with the book Keith. And the presentation today, I really appreciate it.
Keith: Thank you.
Byron: Best of luck with what you’re doing. Until next week, everybody, I hope you’re all smarter, better, faster, and wiser, and more tuned in with social media strategy. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next week.