Jed Singer is co-founder of TheMarketingHelp.co, the #1 career resource for modern marketers and a thought leader in the social media marketing space. He is an instructor in UVM’s new short course Advance Social Media and facilitates the social media marketing program in the Digital Marketing Fundamentals Certificate. We talked to him about the dos and don’ts of social media in 2019.
Generally speaking, which social media channel do you think businesses tend to overlook and not spend enough time on?
In the B2B space, that would be Quora and Glassdoor. Buyers have questions early in the buying process, and they often will go to Quora before they have a specific solution in mind, which makes it a great opportunity to jump upstream earlier in their buyer journey. For this platform to be effective, though, you really need to know your buyer inside and out. You’re trying to find out what questions they’re asking, sometimes even before they know what they’re looking for.
Glassdoor is the opposite and is very useful for the later stages of that same buyer journey. Once I have a short list of two or three companies that I am considering to solve my problem, I want to see what it’s like working with those companies. Glassdoor is mostly comprised of ratings and reviews from former employees, so it’s a very transparent way of finding out how a company is run and what people like or dislike about working with them. This can make or break the decision to go with a firm at the very end of the buying process.
And in 2019, LinkedIn really has blossomed into a content marketing and inbound lead generation machine for social media marketers. Since the Microsoft acquisition, LinkedIn has been investing and reinvesting, with a set of differentiated advertising solutions and releasing new features like live streaming. If you’re a B2B marketer, you’d better have LinkedIn at the heart of your social marketing strategy.
For B2C marketers, Facebook has made several big announcements and a major media push for Facebook Groups. As they invest more in privacy, encryption and creating smaller networks within the behemoth platform, Facebook Groups will be the place that both B2C and B2B marketers start investing significant time and resources in to gain that first-mover advantage.
Of course it depends on the industry, but after Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, which channel would you recommend to a business? Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube?
At this point, Instagram and YouTube are unavoidable and in-ignorable for marketers in most industries. Both platforms, owned by Facebook and Google respectively, have rolled out shopping functionality, which is set to revolutionize social media marketing and deliver on the promise of true ‘social commerce’ from a decade ago.
And yes, while it certainly depends on the industry, as a rule of thumb, B2C businesses need to take a look at Pinterest, simply due to the sheer traffic that can be driven through that community to your website. Pinterest may not be where your customers are spending large chunks of time, though, so you always need to do your research up front before investing time and energy in growing a community on these generally secondary social platforms.
What are some of the most important elements of creating a social media strategy?
More than anything, a good social marketing strategy, like any marketing strategy, is reliant on you knowing your buyer. If you know what their pains are, what questions they have, what solutions they’ve explored in the past, who influences them, and in what social communities they conduct their research, then you have a foundation from which to build your marketing strategy.
How many social media channels is too many for a business? Should they be doing more with less?
This is totally dependent on a company’s resources, bandwidth and results. I always recommend having an “innovation budget”—which can be made up of time, not necessarily money—and use that ‘budget’ to test new channels and communities. If they can efficiently and effectively translate into qualified traffic, then they justify a deeper look.
The bottom line, though, is that everything needs to be measurable. If you’re not measuring your return against your investment, then you have no way of knowing which community may not be worth your time and energy, or which community might be a rising star that requires more attention.
If a company isn’t gaining much traction in terms of engagement, what do they need to do improve their social media presence?
Traction is a good word for it—how a firm measures traction will vary based on their goal. If they have a finely tuned content marketing machine, then qualified traffic and leads will be the traction indicator. If the machine is not finely tuned, then fuzzier metrics, like site traffic and engagement, may be justified.
The numbers that represent traction, therefore, need to be analyzed with that lens. If you’re only looking at engagement metrics, such as likes, shares and comments, then you can optimize the creative, copy, messaging, timing, targeting, etc., to try and improve those numbers.
If you’re looking at leads as a function of traffic, then you might need to optimize the method of qualifying the lead, the information that you’re capturing about the lead, timing of follow up, and so on.
What are 3 of the biggest social media mistakes you see companies make?
- Not knowing what makes their audiences tick. If the message is off, then nobody will get far enough to understand the value of your product or service.
- Focusing on the how, rather than the why. If you understand why you’re building a community of customers, users, buyers, employees, advocates, then the how will naturally come to the surface. If you start with how—tactics—then you can easily get caught in a futile optimization loop that’s like moving the deck chairs around on the Titantic, or waste endless time chasing the next platform, app or social community.
- Trying to make something viral. Don’t do it. Don’t ask someone to do it for you. Create amazing content, and you will create earned media and social spread. There is no magic formula for virality, and anyone who tells you there is trying to sell you something.
Do you have advice for a company that is hiring a social media/community manager? What should they be looking for in a candidate?
At TheMarketingHelp, we’ve mentored thousands of marketers and career climbers on how to choose a path in the field of marketing. Some want to manage paid search, others love analytics or email or SEO, and many find social media to be their passion. We always recommend that for new marketers who feel that social media is their calling, use yourself as the laboratory. Set up a personal brand website and a social presence; develop a content strategy for yourself; create a social strategy and measure your subscribership growth and engagement rates. This is a wonderful way to cut your teeth and see what the day-to-day process looks like.
If you’re hiring an in-house community manager, you should look for extreme proficiency in writing and communication, willingness to work cross-functionally (i.e. as they’ll have to work closely with Sales and Customer Support), a sense of humor, zero ego, a high degree of empathy, and a natural curiosity that feeds their desire to create the best content, provide the best answer, or find just the right resource for the community.