“Consumers are now in control. You now have to go where they are. The big positive of this is that you can go out and you can find them in their natural habitat. It’s almost like going on safari.”
From today’s episode you’ll learn:
Hello dear listeners, here’s Justyna, LiveChat content writer. You’re listening to the one and only Business Sidekick, a podcast dedicated to growing your online business!
My today’s guest is Mick Griffin, Chief Revenue Officer at Brand24, a social media monitoring and analyzing tool.
Mick will tell you about when businesses should start to think about creating social media accounts, what are pros and cons of being present on social media and what are examples of social media strategies.
Hi Mick, how are you?
I’m good, how are you doing today?
I’m great, thanks for coming. Can you quickly reveal what’s your experience with social media?
Yes, certainly. So, right now, I’m Chief Revenue Officer for Brand24, so I look at social media from our clients’ point of view and how they can use it effectively. My experience was, I started Facebook and Twitter profiles for my previous company, Get Response, 6, 7 years ago and I’ve kind of been attached to them ever since. They sucked me in from the very beginning and I’ve really liked working on social media since then.
Awesome, so you’re the right person to respond to all my difficult questions. So here comes the first one. Let’s say I have a small startup. I’m a solopreneur and I don’t hire any people and I have my well prospering website. I have my first customers but I want to gain more of them. Is it a good moment for me to create social media channels?
Okay, well, yes. I think it is. There’s a couple of sides to this question. The first thing is that you definitely have to open your mainstream social channels, so your Facebook and your Twitter and Google+ and possibly a Linkedin company profile.
This is really, at that point, from a lead generation or from a marketing point of view, but this is from a trust building perspective. I think that even the smallest businesses have to know now that their potential new customers are going to look online and see what they can find out about them first.
So, it’s really good to show them that even if you’ve got a hundred followers, or you’ve got ten tweets from Twitter, it’s really good to show them– they take this as a sign that you are in it for the long term, that they can trust you a little bit longer. So, on mainstream social media, I think it’s a necessity now, yes.
And how should I choose the right channel for my company?
Sure, it’s a great question– we ask this question internally at Brand24 as well a lot, is– actually, apart from, I would say, Facebook and Twitter which I feel now are completely mainstream and every business will have some kind of client presence there. Actually, the good answer is that you should go wherever your clients tell you to go.
So for example, you need to do a little bit of research into your customers or your potential customers. If your potential customer is 16 to 21, you may really want to have a Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat presence. If your potential customer is 45 and over then, of course, you probably want to put more focus back into Facebook right now.
So what I try to advise customers and what we do at Brand24, don’t open every single channel. Try to really think about the channels that you want to invest your time in the most because that’s where you’re going to get the most return in terms of engagement and interaction. So, not every channel is right for every business.
Does it take much time to take care of one account?
It does, and I think that you have to have a little bit of a worst case scenario mentality. If you do start a channel, you have to remember that you are then given a responsibility to be there. If you do start an Instagram channel and your customers start to post comments asking questions about your brand or what you’re doing, you have to have a responsibility to react in a timely manner as well.
Actually, some channels, obviously, can take a small amount of time, again, our mainstream accounts such as Facebook and Twitter, we tend to put a lot of time into them at the beginning, building a little bit of strategy, a little bit of plan.
We would look to post three times a week, or two times a week, so we put that structure in place but then the day to day stuff becomes quite straightforward. It’s not hugely time-consuming.
Moreso is making sure that you engage people who talk to you in a human aspect, that you answer questions, so yeah, from an outbound point of view, I think it’s very straightforward to manage social profiles, but you really have to be prepared to reply.
So if your system suddenly goes offline or your product has problems with delivery, you have to be ready to answer everybody’s questions.
Okay, so maybe it’s a good time to talk about the pros and cons of having social media accounts. Let’s start with pros. Why should a brand have a social media account?
One of the big things that I always talk about is that consumers are now in control. So, the days of spending big budgets on newspaper advertisements, radio and TV are limited. This is because your buyers, whichever product that you’re selling, your service is selling, they now have control. You now have to go where they are. The big positive of this is that you can go out and you can find them in their natural habitat, almost. It’s almost like talking about going on safari.
In the past, the only option to market, or try to target our audience was to guess. To spend money on a TV show that had good ratings at 8 p.m. and hoping that a certain demographic watched that type of TV show.
Now, with social media we’ve got so much more data, we can be so much more targeted. We can give people even advertisements that they want to get. So Facebook, for example, or Twitter, we can really say, please give me 38-42-year-olds that earn this amount of income that live in this geographic location and that like this page. This is great because we can stop drowning consumers in messaging and give it just to the people that really should want to have it.
Yeah. That’s also a very important question: how to give them what they want. Many companies are creating their business accounts and they have like, one hundred followers and they post with one like, or two. I think that’s a huge problem, that companies don’t understand what kind of content they should post, right?
Yeah, and I think the other problem that we’ve got in this respect is that this buzzword of going viral, is now what everybody strives for. And what happens is– I have a very basic technique.
Whenever I do anything on social media, either individually or representing Brand24, I still try to keep in mind that I’m posting it to one individual person. My goal is to post it to our super target client and think that that would be valuable to them if I was sending it as a private message.
Because a lot of companies start to make campaigns with thousands of people in their mind, and you dilute that value, in my opinion, when you try to make a message that is valuable for millions or thousands of people, you end up actually not making it valuable for anybody, because you really, you’re spreading your message really thin, hoping it will have a big attachment area.
So, my advice for any social media campaign, or any business with social media is really try to stay authentic and don’t chase that viral situation, because, actually, consumers, people like me and you, we have a really good radar for when companies are trying to trick us, or trying to manipulate us.
The campaigns, in my opinion that can go most viral are the ones that seem most authentic. The campaigns that seem really honest, and they seem to be exactly how that company functions. You can’t be a big oil company and try to do a funny comedy about oil, because people don’t find oil as a topic that is comedic, let’s say.
But that’s okay and they need to realize that as a brand, that that is not our role, down the road to being viral. Where an oil company might go viral is that they do a really strong campaign about how they’re trying to fund renewable energy or a project where they’ve actually had success being cleaner environments and so on. You’ve got to really understand your audience and not try to force it, not try to be something that you’re not.
And all that sounds really great, but what are the cons? what are the greatest social media traps or mistakes we can make?
Sure. First of all, I think that with a lot of companies, even with the best laid plans, a lot of brands fall down that trip of wanting to be viral. Even if they start very direct, one to one connection, they can lose track of their core values and they start to preach, almost, rather than communicate. That’s one, but the second one obviously is that it can be very time consuming in a fact that the most successful you are, the more you will need to invest in social media.
And a lot of businesses are afraid of that. What they have to understand is that that actually comes with a pro at the end, and you actually end up with a larger audience and so on.
One interesting thing about social media that is a con or is a threat is that you become very vulnerable. You become vulnerable again in the opposite way, that the consumers still have control. So they can post, they can tag you, they can also make their brand experience with you very visible.
So if a consumer has a bad experience with your brand or your company, they can also make that very aware, they can post it on your pages, they can tag you, your existing customers can see that. And of course, that’s very concerning for social media companies.
In the past, I always say about this, in the past, the worst thing that could happen was some word of mouth. That was when companies had control, but now consumers are very much in control. Even the smallest consumer spending the smallest amount of money with your company can have a very big voice and can have very big awareness.
Yeah. That sounds like quite a big threat, you know?
The Economist reported that 88% of people now check online before they make a purchase. So that means, if someone is walking down the street and they pass a restaurant, and they think, oh that looks nice, before they go in the door, they will pull out their smartphones, 88% of them will pull out their smart phones and they will google that restaurant, or they will check that restaurant’s Twitter, or Facebook profile.
So, first of all, what we’ve got to be aware of now is that even if you have ten mentions online, you have to be aware of what they are because even if you’re not, your consumers will find them. Your potential customers will find them.
The other thing that we’ve really got to get over as an industry is that we shouldn’t be afraid of our negative responses. So if a consumer, a customer, someone has a negative experience with your brand online, don’t be afraid of it anymore. In fact, it’s even better to know those.
Because this is how it looks, I’ll really use a good example of a company, Ryanair, the airline here in Europe. Their social media policy up to around 12 months ago was not to respond to any kind of negative activity.
They knew that they were a budget airline, they knew that they offered very cheap solutions, and they didn’t have huge competition in the market, so they didn’t want to spend the resources, and they had around 80% of all mentions of their brand were negative.
Now, what happened was, 12 months ago, they decided to start responding to these scenarios. And their process went from 80% negative to 50-50. So now, all mentions of Ryanair are 50% positive, 50% are negative.
How’s that possible?
What happened was, the number of complaints didn’t decrease. They didn’t change their service, they didn’t change their product, but this is how you have to remember it. That what happens now with consumers is, they post online, Ryanair had an awful experience with you, what are you going to do about it?
Now, 12 months ago, they wouldn’t respond, so what would happen is that consumer would continue that conversation without them, so they would be like, oh my god, I can’t believe you don’t even respond to my tweets, and then the consumer’s friend or the consumer’s network would then engage and say, oh my god, John, this is awful, I’m also not going to use Ryanair.
So what happened was, the same amount of bad experiences take place, but because Ryanair were engaging and showing that they have a– that they care at least, those bad situations would condense and kind of snowball.
Even now, today, if you look at Ryanair and how they do social media, they’re not simply solving every problem on social media, they’re not offering refunds to everybody. They’re literally just saying things like, I’m sorry you had that experience. Here is the best channel to try to solve it.
So they’re literally stopping those conversations. They’re literally stopping them from continuing and literally, consumers are happy that they’ve been acknowledged. They’re at least happy that they were noticed.
So, they dramatically changed their online opinion. I am also less afraid of using Ryanair because I feel that if I have a problem, at least I can see I can talk to them about it.
That’s a very good example of why brand monitoring is so important, right? So the last question: can you give me an example of social media strategy that a startup can start with and how to measure it?
What we have to think about as a startup for a small business or a medium business, we all want to build our own audience on social media. So we want to go from ten followers to a hundred to a thousand. And there is no better way than to do this organically.
So, you post content that you believe in, that you create and the fact of the matter is that slowly, your brand will grow. There are not too many ways to growth hack that or to cheat it, because consumers know what is going on.
So, I recommend that of course, you build that and you do it as organically as you can, but what I try to explain to consumers and customers and businesses all the time is this: that there are also pre existing communities that are already out there.
So, I can use LiveChat as a really good example. As a company, you’re growing your social media network, you’re getting more customers, more users and more and more people are listening to what LiveChat’s saying.
But we also know that there is already, on Linkedin, on Facebook, there will be groups of literally hundreds or thousands of people who talk about LiveChat solutions, of customer service solutions, or customer engagement solutions, and they already are neutral, no product owns those channels.
But that doesn’t mean that you can’t go into those pre existing channels and add value. So you can go into that customer service group on Linkedin with a thousand customer service managers and say, hey everybody, really nice to meet you, I’m just joining. I’m from LiveChat or from Brand24. I looked at the discussions, I’ll try to add some value.
And you wait, and then a conversation or a discussion starts, that is about, I have a problem I cannot respond to my customers fast enough. Well, let me send you a case study about how our customers do that or how we do that. So, you actually start to generate traffic and generate a following from a group of people you already know are interested or could be interested in your area of expertise.
This works really well, we do this– we practice what we preach. We do this at Brand24 all the time. We’re constantly trying to answer questions on Quora We’re trying to engage conversations on Reddit, but we’re not hard selling, we’re only offering value, knowing that the impression is enough for our brand.
So, I recommend to every small and medium business that has a small budget or time constraints, don’t only wait– don’t go out there and buy a hundred likes on eBay for your next post, it’s not going to be organic and it’s not going to last.
Go and find the communities that are already existing. I honestly say that there will be communities about literally every single topic. Just go and put yourself in there. Try to be a thought leader, try to generate value, and people will appreciate you and they will come back to you directly in return. You’ve just got to give before you get.
Awesome. Thank you very much for this interview!
I’m really happy to help and if anyone’s got any questions, I love doing this so I’ll be happy to answer them as well.
Many people think that having a business social media account is nothing more than hanging on Facebook every day and posting funny pictures. I guess that those of you who thought that have changed their minds, because it’s a serious, full time job.
But at the same time, social media give us an opportunity to find our potential customers in their natural habitat, make relationships with them, build trust and gain valuable leads. That’s why if you’ve ever asked yourself if social media account is a must-have for a business, the answer is one: it is.
That’s all folks, thanks a lot for listening!
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All the best, it was your Business Sidekick speaking!Cover picture credits go to Andreas Eldh.
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