Success in a Mature Social World: A Q&A With Sandy Pell

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Social media has grown up, and marketers and PR pros have to employ a mature approach to reach an increasingly scattered audience.

Social Media Mature

Sandy Pell, the External Communications Manager for HootSuite, leads the company’s global PR program and will speak at Demand Success.

Below Sandy answers our questions about successfully using social media for communications:

(1) What trends have emerged as social media has begun to mature? How do you expect these trends to change in the next few years?

1. Barriers between customers and companies will continue to crumble. Conversations have always been human to human, not human to business. New digital tools, like social media, have in recent years helped remove many of the barriers that have developed in time between the person and the brands they choose. I expect we’ll continue to see a rise in human to human conversations like in the next few years as we watch the barriers crumble.

2. Real-time marketing will continue to embed itself into the daily news cycle. Social media allows brands to watch the conversations that are already underway in real-time. As brands listen to their fans, marketing teams can now react in real time. When appropriate, brands can consider ways of jumping into an already active, organic trend or news cycle. Marketing teams can then react with thought leadership, social engagement, or marketing strategies. I expect the success of these real-time marketing tactics will continue evolve as a baseline for brands.

Social Media Maturing

Social media has matured and brands need to find a way to leverage it.

Want more social media marketing insights? Register for the June 5-6 Demand Success conference in Washington DC now!

(2) What can marketers do to reach people on different social networks and build loyal fan bases which drive results?

A segment of your brand’s fans may use Twitter to express their concerns about your product, while they may use Instagram to post your product in real-life situations. Maybe they recommend your product to their friends on Facebook, while shooting a product review on YouTube. As a marketer, you need to find an efficient way to capture and react to different conversations underway in different places. Marketers can reach people on social networks by:

1. Building a loyal fan base: Consider ways you can listen to your audience and understand their wants, needs and concerns. Which social networks are they most active on? What types of conversations are they having there?

2. Always being there: As your fan base grows, build ongoing presence within their communities. Are you joining into their social conversations? Are you using tools that help you schedule or geo-target tweets?

3. Tracking and refining results: When launching new content to your fans, carefully track your social campaigns in real time. Can you refine your social strategy on the fly? What will you do differently next time?

(3) How can companies engage with diverse parts of their target audience simultaneously?

Marketers can consider empowering their staff to act as an expanded PR team. Consider the effective reach and social networks of each member of the company’s workforce. Each staff member likely has access to connections of various ages, demographics and regions. Empower your staff by giving them the right tools to help amplify your company’s brand on social. Invite them to share small pieces of your brand everywhere they go. Whether they’re online, or offline, your staff represent your brand. Encourage them to wear the top quality company swag, and be transparent with the company’s work/life culture.

(4) What is the biggest social media mistake that companies make and how can they avoid it?

  • Attempting to automate the listening process. Consider that sentiment tools are not always as accurate. De-contextualized data, stripped bare of human emotion, motive, and intention, may cause fearful spikes or trends on social.
  • Thinking that social media is a one-way communication tool. They try to talk “at” people, rather than “with” people.
  • Trying to control the message. With social media, the message is what users choose to shape and send.
  • Expecting “viral” success. What often looks like a viral win often has a carefully planned strategy behind it, whether that be through leveraging owned, earned and paid media to gain the momentum.
  • Staying off social because you don’t think it’s “for” your customers. Social organizes information and connects people to people that share similar thoughts and views, regardless of how niche.

(5) As social media becomes more and more a part of everyday lives of consumers and brands, how can marketers stand out?

  • Start by building a rock-solid Content Marketing team. Consider hiring experienced ex-journalists, streamlining approvals of branded content, including a dedicated social team. This is the recipe for a team who rocks at social. Everyone moves quickly; everyone is empowered.
  • Craft and produce irresistible, timely content. This content should inspire, help, or entertain your brand fans and leave them feeling emotionally connected to your brand. For example, at HootSuite we knew Game of Thrones fans were also active on social media. So our content team built the #GameOfSocial video which went viral in only a few short days to align with the show’s season premiere.
  • Track and amplify your rock-solid Content team’s content. Watch which pieces are the highest-performing, and amplify them a second time to ensure you’ve engaged with the second wave of your customers. Track shares, RTs, sentiment and engagement. This is how HootSuite engages in real-time marketing. We test our metrics to find the perfect marriage of social and content every day.

Want to hear more from Sandy and other thought leaders? Register for Demand Success now!

Image: Jason Howie, mkhmarketing (Creative Commons)

About Brian Conlin

Brian Conlin is a content marketing manager for Cision. A former journalist, he enjoys researching and developing accessible content. When not writing, you will find him watching baseball and college basketball, sampling craft beer and enjoying Baltimore. Find him on Twitter @BrianConlin13.

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