Transcript: That Social Media Episode
Oktopost’s Director of Social Strategy, Jennifer Gutman, spoke to That Marketing Podcast about Employee Advocacy, managing social media in a crisis, and why “vanity metrics” do actually offer value if you use them properly.
There are still a significant number of companies that aren’t using social media. Do you think it’s a suitable channel for every kind and size of business? Or are there some out there that it’s not worth the investment of time and effort?
When it comes to social media, there’s a channel for everybody. So, it doesn’t matter if you’re a start-up, an independent consultant, or a giant enterprise company, I think social media is certainly suitable for any and every type of business.
What’s the best method for judging based on your business size or your market? Which channels to focus on? Or is it a case of dive into everything and see what works first?
I think it’s always taking it back to the basics as a marketer and specifically as a B2B marketer, we always need to be impacting our company’s bottom line. And with that can come a lot of pressure. So, I think that really understanding your marketing goals and then understanding how social media can be a part of that.
How does Employee Advocacy work? It’s something that Oktopost promote very heavily. What kind of benefits do you get that you can’t get from just having a company profile or company handle?
Basically, you engage all of your employees. And they can go ahead and connect to the advocacy board. And then on that board, there’s tonnes of company generated content. Employees can just share that content at their leisure. And we’ve created a platform that allows you to measure that process because when you’re doing it old school, there is no way to measure it and it does have huge benefits.
We know that people are more likely to trust another person over a brand. So, when it’s coming from my voice, Richard, you’re probably more likely to say “Oh yeah, Jen and I work together. Jen posted this really interesting thing about marketing, let me read that”, as opposed to Oktopost, which is a great company, but perhaps you’re not following Oktopost or maybe it doesn’t speak to you as much as when someone you actually know posts something.
Another benefit for your company is that your reach can actually go far greater than if your corporate channels are just sharing it. Let’s face it, if you’re not Nike, and you’re not Coca Cola, chances are as a B2B marketer, your following is maybe on the slim side, and even if it is quite large, you never know who your employees are connected to. So, you’re able to get a little bit more creative about how far you’re reaching.
It’s also about internally being a great place to work. Employees are much more likely to share content when they’re engaged with what they’re doing and so, by building an Employee Advocacy programme and helping your employees share content, you’re actually contributing to building a very strong company culture. Employees want to feel a part of something and when you give Employee Advocacy a place, they’re contributing to helping the company but at the same time, they’re bettering themselves. And you can make it fun while doing it.
Social media is one of those channels that suffers from a lot of vanity metrics, things that look good, but don’t necessarily contribute to results. What are the metrics, the numbers that marketers should actually be looking at to know how their social media platform is contributing to their bottom line?
Yeah, so this is always an interesting discussion. While we often joke as B2B marketers, that they’re “fluff metrics” or “feel–good metrics”, I do think it is important to make sure that we recognise that they do hold some value. I actually like to call “vanity metrics”, “insightful metrics”, because it does give us some glimpse into the direction we need to go into understanding our audience and what type of content encourages more brand interaction. When it comes to the true numbers marketers need to be looking at I think it’s really about the conversions, the link clicks, and what’s impacting, because just because somebody likes a post, it doesn’t mean that, that like is going to convert into a customer down the road. So, if you’re getting tonnes of likes, but you don’t know how many of those likes are turning into actual leads, it’s problematic.
So, when you share a post on social media and maybe your company was mentioned in the Wall Street Journal, and so you tweet that your company was mentioned, somebody is going to click on that link in that tweet. And they’re going to read that article. And from there, they go ahead and do a Google search. They find your company and they end up on your company page. So, when they’re on your company page, and then they fill out a form maybe for a webinar coming up or a newsletter, SEO gets really excited because they got a lead. But the only reason why that person is actually landed on your blog was because they have been engaging with your social channels.
At the stage we’re recording this at the end of April 2020 or so we’re in the middle of the Coronavirus lockdown that’s affecting everyone. How would you change your social strategy in a crisis? And is there a difference between an internal or small-scale crisis and a global one of the type that we’re currently in?
So this is a good question. When I was in college, I was a Media and Communication major and the first day of class we sat down and the professor says, “Hello, everyone, welcome to the degree of Media and Communication. In four years when you graduate, everything you’ve learned in my class will be obsolete. “
And I think that that piece of advice is the most valuable piece of advice that I could retain, and how we should be looking at this crisis. When you’re changing up your social media strategy now to match the messaging, have confidence that we do know how to do this. There are always new tools to be learning and we are probably the most equipped to be able to adapt to this crisis.
With that said, I do think that empathy plays a role in the messaging. And I think that B2B messaging is critical right now. Because of the way that you position your messaging across social media, you need to have empathy. You don’t know what type of situation is going on. For your audience, people are working from home, the workday is chaotic. Maybe people are losing loved ones, they’re not seeing family members, whatever it may be. So, I think empathy is huge.
I also think that usually with social media strategy, you’re going to be having some aggressive pitches, as you’re getting webinars and pushing product lines. But in these days, I think it’s important to take a step back from that and really understand how you can be helpful. If your strategy is adding value, if your messaging is adding value to the current situation, I think you’re in good shape. And if it’s not, I would go ahead and delete it.
So, for example, at Oktopost, a huge component for our social strategy became on–demand content. Because you just don’t know your former prospects’ and customers’ workdays, you need to be able to provide them with content that they can view at any time.
I think also focusing a lot on your corporate blog, and making sure that there are relevant and redirects linking relevant articles to be helpful, because that’s really what people are looking for. I think that people are expecting not to be sold to, but rather to find information out there that’s helpful and if your strategy can adjust to that and adapt to that, I think that you’ll be golden.
Social media is probably the fastest changing of any, any particular channel that marketing has under their belts. Is there one particular source of resources or source of training that you can point to that’s good at keeping up with this?
I guess what is it, ABL; “always be learning”? And there’s so much out there. The Marketing Professors is a publication that I follow. But I think I also just go on LinkedIn, and I will see what’s happening in my feed. I as the person on LinkedIn, will go through and see what my colleagues are sharing. I’ll see what my connections are sharing. And if it’s interesting, I’ll go ahead and click on it. I also think staying up to date on mashable.com, it always kind of give some interesting and relevant information on new technologies and new trends. Ann Hadley is definitely someone to follow.
Have you got an example in mind, of someone who’s smashing it on social, that would be a good person or a good example to pick up from if someone’s trying to really ramp up their social media?
One person is Chris Skinner. And he’s a commentator in the banking industry, he has 50,000–plus followers on Twitter, and he’s a blogger. And he just came out with a new book called The Digital Human: The Fourth Evolution of Humanity. And it’s a really interesting book.
I think just really staying up to date with digital transformation and where companies are headed where individuals are headed. Literally what in the past six weeks, we’ve been like a forced digital transformation. Chris Skinner, specifically talks about banks, and how at one point banks were not perceived as super friendly when it came to social media or engaging. And now a lot of banks are breaking that mould and they’re using social media to engage with their customers and create positive interactions or meaningful conversations. And I think we can all walk away with that, knowing that social media is really designed to do that. So that if we can measure it, which we do, we can take that and go ahead and really use that in a marketing strategy. But really, it’s there to be a way to communicate and understanding the space that we’re in today.
And what’s the biggest pitfall that you see companies make when they’re trying to be effective on social or ramp up their presence?
Everybody, especially marketers, we dream big. And the biggest pitfall, I see is that when you think of Employee Advocacy, you think, “Oh my gosh, I want to have all of my employees sharing everything, and everybody’s gonna love this.” And I think that going into launching an Employee Advocacy programme with that mindset, you’re going to be set up to fail. And the reason why is not everybody is comfortable with social media, not everybody’s going to want to share content. So when you’re first launching an Employee Advocacy programme, instead of thinking large, I would think on the smaller scale and find your social enthusiasts. Then like a ripple effect or a wave and you can grow and scale the programme as time moves forward. And that would be the biggest pickle. I’ve had companies come to me saying, “Hey, we want to roll out 10,000 advocates.” And I’m like, “Oh, wow, that’s really incredible. But that’s not where we need to start because you’re not going to see results.”
Obviously, the COVID-19 outbreak has kind of blown a lot of short term planning out of the water, but now we’ve lived with it for for a month or so, do you think there’s a quick tip for marketers in the social media realm? Or is it still very much evolving along with that empathy line that you’ve already talked about?
I think there’s always room to evolve. When you’re thinking about your social strategy, don’t just think, “Okay, there’s a crisis going on, let me revamp for the crisis, and then things will go back to normal.” Things will never be the same. For social media marketers, what we really need to focus on is, how can we evolve our stories? Don’t just think about today, think about the future. The on-demand content, I think is a huge takeaway, because on–demand content we can create now, and we’ll have it for life. So, we’re creating this on–demand content, we can always repurpose it later. If you just sit back and do nothing, and kind of ride out the storm, I don’t think you’re going to be setting up your social media strategy for success. I think you need to get down and dirty if you will, get creative.
I think that the next big thing in social is going to be podcasting, and Instagram for B2B marketers. Podcasts are definitely a way that brands can be human. Getting to interview different people in a company, different members of an organisation, it helps your audience connect better and relate in a different way than just the blog. So, I definitely think podcasts are a place that marketers are going to want to play in.
And I also think, besides podcasts, that Instagram is going to be now the perfect time to utilise a strategy. So, we know that Instagram for B2B marketers has always been challenging. What do you take pictures of? How do you promote your brand on Instagram? But right now with all of your employees working from home, a very popular hashtag has become the #EmployeeTakeover. And there’s actually interesting content to share there. Focusing it on your employees again is going to help your brand in moving forward. And it definitely will give your audience a fresh perspective of the company culture of your brand and humanise your brand.
It’s nice to know we’re ahead of the curve just by having this conversation. That’s a wonderful point to end on, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I hope there’s plenty there for people to take away. Oktopost have their own podcast, where can people find that just before we go?
Yeah, absolutely. So, our podcast that we are launching now is called The Globalisation of Social Media. We’ve had some Really awesome guests like Chris Skinner, who I mentioned. We’ve had Kyle Haggerty, who wrote the book, The Accidental Business Nomad. And we talked to Steve Lucas, who was former CEO of Marketo. And we also have an upcoming guest, Ido Aharoni, who is the General Counsel in APCO Worldwide, and he’s going to be talking about how businesses can get back to normal. Our channel is called B2B Marketing Now, and you can subscribe anywhere that you listen to podcasts.
Great. Okay, we’ll leave it there. Thank you very much.