I’m not a Social Media Expert

Am I a Social Media Expert?

I have tried to write this blog post about five times now. One I canned because it sounded too judgy. One I lost to a website glitch…actually make that two. If I can’t communicate what I’m trying to say this time I’m going to give it a rest because it’s obviously not worth saying.

But I am NOT a Social Media Expert.

So I guess that sounds a bit stupid, since helping people with their Social Media’s what I do for a living! But let me explain. A rose by another name might not smell like a rose, since so much of how our brain interprets data is based on our perception. Take Vanilla – yum! We all know it smells and tastes like sweet bliss; ice cream, custard, cakes – but if you eat an actual vanilla pod – YUK! It tastes like bark. Gross bark even. There’s probably better bark out there for eating.

I wanted to address the plethora of self-proclaimed Social Media Experts, and that includes; Ninjas, Evangelists, Gurus and all the other buzzword-laden things people refer to themselves as. After much internal debate, I’ve settled on “Social Media Specialist” and I want to tell you why. I specialise in Social Media. I can do other types of digital and traditional marketing – and sometimes I do depending on the needs of the business I am working with, but my speciality is Social Media Marketing.

But what’s wrong with Expert?

In my opinion, I don’t think you can ever truly know enough about Social Media and all that encapsulates to call yourself an expert. There’s a few reasons. The first is that there’s SUCH a vast array of platforms, theory, experience and knowledge that is needed to cover the breadth of what we refer to as Social Media. I mean, there might be a handful of these people. In the world. Not tens of thousands as their Twitter bios would have you believe.

Social Media Expert - Ninja

Not only would it take so much Social Media knowledge that even if you got to Expert status (if that indeed is a thing) you would then have to STAY there! The landscape changes daily and you would certainly have your work cut out for you to stay current!

Break it down

Evangelist/Guru – too “god-like” for my liking. Whatever god/s may or may not be out there, they certainly won’t be selling subscriptions to Social Media training videos. I would like to think they would have more pressing issues to deal with.

Ninja – Unless you are in fact a Ninja. In which case go ahead and call yourself one! I don’t know much about Ninjutsu, but I would bet that the training it takes to become a ninja includes no mention of Instagram filters, comment moderation or keyword listening. If you are a ninja and I’m wrong set me straight in the comments ūüėČ

Snake-oil Salesman

In all industries there are reputable and not-so-reputable practitioners. Marketing is no exception! But the difference from specifically Social Media Marketing is that it’s still pretty new and there’s no standardised role descriptions or qualifications.

Take the example I have used in trying to explain this in real life of a chef. Chefs complete an apprenticeship to become qualified. During this apprenticeship they have to master certain skills to progress and are watched and evaluated both in the kitchen and the classroom.

At the end of their apprenticeship you can hire a chef assuming they possess certain skills, knowledge and experience. But this isn’t the case for Social Media. There’s no standardised course. There’s no prerequisites. Literally ANYONE can call themselves a Social Media Expert. Literally. Anyone.

This is as much a problem for me as anyone trying to hire someone to help them with their Social Media Marketing! How to I compete with a self-professed Social Media Expert? How do you know you’re hiring the right person for the job? It can get pretty confusing.

And this is part of the problem. Social Media can be confusing. The jargon is unfamiliar to the average business owner, and they can easily be lead down the garden path by people who talk a big game but actually know very little about Social Media.

So what can you do about it?

If you are unsure about someone you’ve met, just take it slowly. If they’re rushing you, you might be getting a sales pitch with no substance. Anyone who’s great at Social Media Marketing will likely be in demand, and rushing you won’t be on their agenda. They are patient, as Social Media returns on investment can take time, so can attracting the right clients. If someone has a sales target to meet, you don’t want them. You’re just a number. Remember that you’re entering into a long term relationship, where this person will be responsible for the way your brand is perceived. Your business deserves individual attention from the person who will actually be carrying out the work. More like your local friendly shopkeeper, than the checkout chick at Aldi.

Ask questions! If you don’t know how engagement is measured – ask. If they can’t explain it to you the don’t understand it well enough (thanks Einstein!) If they make claims like “I’ll increase your sales by 15% in 3 days,” ask them what will happen if they can’t. Do you get your money back? Will they keep trying until they do?

You can always get a recommendation from someone you trust, suggest a trial period before signing on to a longer contract or ask to see examples of their work (provided you know what you’re looking for) Do the accounts they manage have integrity? Good engagement? Or a bunch of paid likes and fake followers? Or tumbleweeds.

Make sure the person you hire to guide your Social Media Marketing efforts understands your business. The hierarchy, the products, your locations, the tone, your main target demographic and the segments you’re hoping to branch out into. If they can’t see the wood for the trees your relationship is doomed for the get go.

There are generally warning signs if you look. And I suggest you do. Often the outsourced Social Media Professional is the first person from outside the business who’s ever spoken for the brand! Don’t risk being swindled by someone who seems really cool, many of us aren’t cool at all! But we’re Chameleons. We know how to pretend, change tone, mimic our audiences – because you have to.

There’s no point getting caught out Dad dancing…

 


 

Now, before I get “called out” I’m not saying everyone¬†who uses the terms Expert, Ninja and Guru in their titles are bad people, or not great at their jobs! It just doesn’t ring true for me and I wanted to explain why. Obviously the world is a very diverse place and I fully support people’s right to call themselves whatever they want. I just long for a scale to measure against so people won’t be getting ripped off by those¬†who talk a fast game and don’t deliver on their outlandish promises. It’s sad for the business owner, and not only that – it makes my job harder when I come along since the trust takes time to build back up.

 


 

Thanks for reading my blog! I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments, or you can stalk my Social Media channels on the links below. If you really loved it sign up – I don’t send email updates very often, but when I do I make sure they’re packed with useful tips, tricks and tools to make your Social Media efforts better and easier, so you can get back to what it is you do best – run your business!

Unwrapping the 2016 Sensis Social Media Report

Unwrapping the 2016 Sensis Social Media Report [TL;DR]

Sensis release a Social Media report annually, and the reason Aussie Social Media stat nerds like me care is because there’s not a lot of social media reports that analyse purely Australian data. We can be a bit different down here on our island, and real data is real valuable to all Social Media players, the businesses who use it, the people employed by those businesses and the outsourced agency and freelancer folk.

Ultimately, the more you know about the audience demographics, their use, expectations…the things they care about and respond to AND the things that piss them off – the better job you will do at trying to gain attention in an increasingly crowded market.

So here’s the stuff I pulled from their 71 page report that I think will be of value so you don’t have to read the whole thing yourself!

Facebook is not dead!

sensis social media report

Australians are now spending more than half a day per week (12.5 hours) on Facebook alone, up four hours from last year.

Facebook has maintained its almost ubiquitous appeal Р95% of users. The average number of times people access Facebook has remained relatively steady at 32 times a week, but the amount of time spent on each occasion has increased from 17 to 24 minutes.

My takeaway from this: Anyone who tells you their customers “aren’t on Facebook” could be misinformed. Facebook is by no means dead, and continues its dominance of the Social Media platforms.

Social Media use is increasing!

Instagram (31%) is on a growth trend, almost doubling its reach since 2013. This platform has really captured the younger demographic, used by 58% of 18-29 year olds.

sensis social media report

Business Social Media Presence is increasing!

There’s been an upsurge¬†in the number with a social media presence for all business sizes

31% to 48% for small to medium businesses and 56% to 79% for large businesses.

Forty eight percent of small and medium businesses have a social media presence compared with 31% last year, while 79% of large businesses do, which compares with 56% last year.

social media business graphic

Over four in 10 medium sized businesses use Twitter (43%), while this figure increases to 61% for large businesses.

Instagram is also reasonably popular among medium (28%) and large (42%) sized businesses.

YouTube (41%) has a similar penetration in large businesses.

Instagram is also now used by over a quarter of medium sized businesses (28%) but its penetration in the small business segment remains much lower (12%).

More businesses now have a social media presence than has previously been recorded. Forty eight percent of small businesses, 54% of medium businesses and 79% of large businesses are now on social media.

sensis

Why is this significant?

The businesses that were dragging their feet are realising they are being left behind and launching their Social Media channels.

Social isn’t going away. There are many businesses doing a good job of their Social and brands want this competitive edge for themselves.

sensis social media report

The other aspect of this is the longer you wait to get your business on Social Media the harder it’s going to be to find your place in the newsfeed. It’s already a much tougher environment for organic growth than it was when I started using Social Media to drive business 5+ years ago.

You use Social Media differently according to your age group!

No big surprise here.

Visual platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are more popular for 18 to 29 year olds, and LinkedIn and Google+ for 40 to 49 year olds.

sensis 4

What does this mean for your business? It’s incredibly important to know who your customers are. You won’t get your messages out to them if you’re not using the right channels. Snapchat might be a huge growth platform right now – but if you sell to people 40+ it’s probably not for you (at least at the moment, doesn’t hurt to reserve your business name though…)

Mobile phones are king!

Smartphones are now the most popular device, overtaking laptops which have lost some appeal.

Why does this matter? Due to the varying functionality and display sizes across desktop and mobile Social Media, make sure your content and Call To Action (CTA) are “mobile-first” meaning, optimised for viewing and use on a phone. It’s important to make your images look appealing on mobile, as this will determine whether people will consume your content.

laptops

Australians own an average of three Internet-enabled devices, which underlines our strong appetite for online activity.

People are still researching businesses on Social Media!

Online blogs and reviews remain a fairly widespread influence on purchasing decisions with 60% of social media users claiming to read them before making a purchase.

sensis2

Fifty eight percent will look at up to five reviews before making a decision.

social

Social Media advertising is increasing!

Over eight in 10 of all businesses who advertise on social media have placed an ad on Facebook.

advertising

Here’s some WA stats for my local folks!

We don’t take ourselves too seriously!

wa

And we’re a bit gross…

wa toilet

 

If you want to view the full report here’s a link for you!

Social Media: What Does it all MEAN?

So you have decided to “do” social media for your business. Great! Why? What are you hoping it will help you achieve? It’s knowing the answer to this question that will determine whether your efforts will bear fruit, and the reason so many businesses fail, or simply give up on their social media (or indeed any online or offline) marketing.

The Chameleons hear all the time about how “Facebook doesn’t work” and “Facebook advertising is a waste of money” and “Social Media can’t help my business sell our products” These statements are mostly wrong, but it all depends on what you want out of it as to how you need to go about executing your strategy.

[bctt tweet=”It can be as simple as merely knowing what you want to achieve and taking the steps to do it.”]

It’s pretty simple when you think about it, but because we all use social media profiles we are often blinded to the realities of using it from a business perspective. Let’s take something that’s been around for a bit longer as an example of what we mean, like Television for instance.

Old TV

 

If you were a brand that sold kids toys – would you make a TV ad with lots of dark, gloomy colours? Would you use formal language? Would you show those ads late at night? Of course not! Why? Because it’s not going to [marketing clich√© alert] speak to the desired demographic.

It’s the same with social media. You need to understand who your target market is, how they interact online, which platforms they use and try to [another clich√© alert] speak their language.

Ok, we get it – but how?

Well, we don’t think there’s one magical recipe for working this out. In the old days there were focus groups, surveys and buyer personas – and yeah, they’re still around, but what it all boils down to is finding out what your customers and potential customers want and need.

[bctt tweet=”You need to understand who your target market is, how they interact online, which platforms they use and try to speak their language.”]

Big brands spend loads of money doing this, often tracking your spending habits with fancy reward programs to give them insight into your spending behaviour. But what can you do as a small business or a brand just starting out?

Ask your customers. Network with other people in your industry who understand your specific industry challenges. Ask people who use your competitors why they chose them and not you. Use what it is that makes your business different and work this into your strategy. And when we say strategy we don’t mean write a 60 page university-style marketing document.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97vPNAUYJsc]

It can be as simple as merely knowing what you want to achieve and taking the steps to do it. Your social media success will not just happen. It needs to be built, crafted, nurtured…do we sound a bit crazy? Maybe. But we’re crazy about doing a great job at social media marketing, and that’s what you become when you promote your brand on social media, social media marketers! It’s probably one of the many hats you wear as someone with a small business!

So back to your goals; here are a couple of quick examples of social media goals your business may have and how you might go about achieving them:

Say you are a new brand, at first you may just want some likes on your Facebook page to give you a little credibility. As social media marketers we can tell you likes don’t matter – but we know that there’s a certain gravity to a page that has fans – the same way you don’t trust eating at an empty restaurant. If this is a short-term goal for your brand you will need to harness the power of your networks.

  • Ask you friends and family to help by liking and sharing your page.
  • Set up your email signature and your website with social buttons so people know that you’re a social brand.
  • Always use the social media icons utilised by your brand on all your printed materials like flyers and menus.

Facebook keyboard

 

But mostly, and you’re probably not going to like this – you’re going to have to run some like ads. Remember,¬†just like with the TV ad example – make sure they will resonate with your desired audience. Use imagery and language they relate to at the times they are watching and you’ll receive the best return.

Say your social media goal is to use it to get more people to your website – you could:

  • Run some web click ads!
  • Post relevant content from your website as links on your social platforms
  • Start a blog to share your original content
  • Have your developer embed some tracking pixels on your website to help you measure your social traffic
  • Set up Google analytics and monitor your social media refferals

Before you do this we suggest you make sure that your site is truly reflective of your brand and has strong messaging. We all know we skim read and make very quick decisions as to whether we stay on a website for more than a few seconds. You need to make sure those seconds count or all the advertising in the world won’t help.

There’s too many different goals you may have as a business to go through them all here – but we did want to touch on one more just quickly.

[bctt tweet=”Social Media is a conversation, and a huge part of conversation is listening!”]

Social Customer Service

Whatever your short terms goals for social media are – always bear in mind the customer service opportunities social media will present you. If you haven’t yet you will at some point have a customer reach out to you on your social media platforms for help with your brands product/s (or service/s) and you need to LISTEN to them.

Social is a conversation.

And a huge part of conversation is listening – and not just to the words but also the tone. If someone reaches out to you about your brand, positive or negative they want to be heard. Obviously positive feedback is much easier to handle, but negative comments are just as important, if not more so.

Someone has taken the time to tell you that something was wrong. Whether it was with the service, the product, the expectation wasn’t met, the delivery, the colour, size, fit – could be anything, but you have the advantage because they came to you so you can fix it. You know why someone is unhappy. That’s infinitely more helpful to your business than your product just not selling, right? Because odds are if one person says it, there are others thinking it too that weren’t “brave” enough to speak out.

conversation bubbles

 

Acknowledge!

This is why you must always take the time to acknowledge their concerns and not pass them of as an isolated incident, even if you’re sure they are. Other users can be waiting to see how you respond, judging whether they too should speak out based on how you handle the situation.

Flip it!

Anyone who has run a business knows that an unhappy client can often be won over into your most loyal fan if they are listened to, acknowledged and have their issues resolved to the best of your ability. And with social media you have the opportunity to do this publicly where you can turn around the opinions of more than the one upset customer, but the others following the progress of the interaction.

Seems a bit scary. Obviously we are referring to regular types of grievances, not major meltdowns or crises, which need to be dealt with in a more cautious way we may cover in a future post.

The last type of interaction with your social media following we want to cover is the neutral post. They aren’t happy clients or disgruntled (love that word – so fun to say) customers, they just have a need for further information about your brand. Embrace them, love them, be excited about the potential of doing business with them in the future! If someone wants to know more about your offerings they want you to talk them into using your business, so don’t leave them waiting and try to share as much friendly detail as you can. They’ll appreciate the effort and you’ll at least get some social media brownie points – and at most a nice fat sale.

So to finish here’s our top tips for what it’s all about:

  • Work out what you want out of your social media presence and plan for that outcome step by step (it won’t happen overnight)
  • Use your target demographics preferences to present your brands¬†images, profile pictures, tone etc that appeal to THEM
  • Always answer ALL your comments as quickly and helpfully as you can
  • Don’t forget it’s SOCIAL – so listen to what your market is telling you

We hope this helps you to make a plan for your social media marketing and set you up for success! As always we’d love your feedback either as comments here or on our social platforms ūüôā