Social Media – 20 Questions with Hannah Smith

First up – an apology for the unforgiveable delay in getting this post live!

I had an absolutely fantastic time presenting at Digital Females on 21st August – you were a fantastic crowd – thanks so much to all of you who attended!

There were absolutely loads of fantastic questions submitted before the event and I’m conscious that I didn’t manage to answer everything on the night – to this end I wanted to pull together a quick post to offer up some answers, without further ado I’ll get stuck in.

If you couldn’t make it, you can view my slide deck below:

1.       How would you get organisations that treat social media as a silo element for PR to engage in the overall digital strategy?

Silos = yuck. Happens a lot. So I’ve had some success previously by encouraging companies to build social media teams with representatives from lots of different functions – this can help break down the silos and foster collaboration. In an ideal world a social media team ought to have representatives from the following departments: Marketing, PR, Product and/or Operations, Customer Care, Sales and Finance. Each of these representatives will bring a different set of skills to the table, but they are all equally important. Check out this post on How to Build your All Star Social Media Team for more on this topic.

2.      What guidance would you give for beginners?

Go play with your own personal accounts first. Set up accounts wherever you think your business should be (NB this might be Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ – but should also include other niche forums / community sites that are applicable to your niche). See how the community interacts. What do they love? What do they hate? How could you help? Who are the key influencers there? Taking the time to understand the community before you begin to interact as a brand is a really worthwhile exercise.

3.      How can I promote my service as a graphic designer?

As I said in my presentation, social media isn’t a great space to sell directly. However it does offer great opportunities in terms of allowing you to talk to your customers, understand what things they’re having problems with and how you might be able to help. I’d probably kick off with hanging out wherever your customers are. That might be LinkedIn Groups / Quora – wherever they are. Start off by helping them answer their questions, offer free advice etc. I’d then start writing blog posts on these topics so you have a body of content that you can point people towards when they need help. I’d also encourage you to step away from your computer screen and go and meet up with people in real life – it’s much easier to build rapport face to face at a networking event.

4.      How should companies who are not naturally social use social media?

It’s a kind of chicken and egg question… They need to get social. Social media doesn’t exist for the benefit of companies; it exists for the communities already there. It’s those individuals on those social media sites who will decide whether or not to share your content, so it needs to be made with them in mind.

5.      How do you get clients to engage more with social media and see the benefits of it. They tend to ask if we can do it when we don’t know their industry/influencers etc.

I feel strongly that it shouldn’t be an agency running a company’s social media presence. The company need to be running it themselves. I guess I’m probably a little hard-nosed about this; but really if a company doesn’t think social media is important, then they probably shouldn’t be there. There are enormous benefits to social media for companies that devote time, energy, resource (and money!) into social media – but there’s very little benefit for those that don’t.

6.      What are the most effective methods of using social media within a business? How can one target thought leaders through Twitter? What are the best ways to engage with your communities through social media outlets?

As I said in my presentation I think that social media is great for –

  • Getting people talking about you
  • Shifting consumer opinion
  • Customer service

I love that you’ve mentioned engagement, as that’s what’s it’s all about J

Figure out what the community want / love / need. Create something to fill that gap. You may not hit the jackpot the first time, but continue to test different types of content and see which types yield the most positive response – test, learn, refine.

7.      What is your view on Google+ and how do you see it evolving?

Gah. I’ll almost certainly get shot for saying so, but right now (despite Google’s best efforts) I’m really not seeing anyone there right now. Given that you only have a fixed amount of time /resource – for most niches your time is almost certainly better spent elsewhere.

That said, there’s some stuff I really like about Google+  like circles – I can finally share stuff only with the people who I think will care about it – lovely! We also use it as an internal communication tool at Distilled which I like.

8.      What actions have the highest impact in this space?

Hmmmmm – I’m not sure there’s any kind of secret sauce. I guess I’d encourage you to think a little about human behaviour and what makes us want to share stuff – what’s the hook? People love sharing stuff that’s funny; because it makes them seem funny by extension. People love sharing stuff that’s useful; because it makes them feel (or seem) useful. People love sharing stuff that makes them look like ‘better’ human beings – e.g. I just gave money to charity! I just went for a run! I could go on all day long – but hopefully you get where I’m coming from J

9.      What is the best way to handle complaints directly on Facebook and Twitter? Is it ok to delete bad comments from people who are downright nasty?

Typically I’d caution against deleting comments as it can make people more angry – however I’d have no issues with deleting a comment which was totally off-topic and/or contained offensive language and/or was derogatory / racist / sexist etc.

10.  How would you recommend interacting effectively on Twitter, keeping a funny but still with a professional tone? Moreover, what should someone do if Twitter contacts only share links but do not interact? How can one get more potential clients following the company?

I think that brands with personality definitely do better on social media. Interaction ought to be the main objective, so I’d encourage you to let that guide you in terms of what you’re sharing online. Also – be a useful community member – don’t just share your own content, make sure you’re mixing it up and bit and sharing other people’s content too.

11.  How can we gain brand recognition and build a community through social media?

I’m scared I’m beginning to sound like a broken record – but you need to create content that people want to share and/or engage with.

12.  How do you bring your brand personality to life in social?

I guess it comes down to tone of voice – you may already have guidelines in place for this. Not sure what I mean? Check out this from MailChimp.

13.  How do you quantify the value of a Facebook fan?

That is hotly debated. I’m not sure I have a great answer for you unfortunately. Not all Facebook Fans are equal – engaged fans are awesome. Fans you bought? Maybe not so awesome. In my experience visitors who are ‘socially engaged’ spend 20% more than those who are not. Not too surprising – but if you can get more people to engage with you on social media you’ll likely be able to ‘win’ in all sorts of ways – perhaps more direct sales, but also more referrals etc too.

14.  Do you have any experiences or case studies on how a company starts from zero presence digitally?

Dollar Shave Club are pretty interesting :)

15.  How can you make sure that the content on social platforms are the right balance of social/engaging/shareable and brand relevant?

Track everything. Which sorts of content are most shared / engaged with on each platform? Do more of the stuff that drives the most engagement. If the balance is off you’ll likely find you start to lose followers and / or engagement goes down.

16.  What are the best approaches/strategies to increase/improve conversions?

If by conversions you mean sales, I’m still unconvinced that social is great for selling directly. However charities and not for profits have been able to use it very effectively so I guess it probably depends on what you’re selling.

17.  How do you measure social media effectiveness?

I love this post from Avinash – he gives some great ways of beginning to think about measurement. As I said I’d in my presentation I’d also encourage you to measure brand recognition / perception; traditional PR value; conversions; £££ saved in customer care call costs etc.

18.  How does social media work/differ in a b2b environment?

I don’t think it does. Social media is necessarily peer to peer – you’re not trying to engage with a big company – you’re trying to engage with individuals.

19.  Do you think there’s more of an understanding about which SM platforms work best for brands?

I think it really depends on the niche. End game is you need to be wherever your current (or potential) customers are.

20.  How to vest social media within content strategy and get more traffic and comments to blog posts?

Love this question! In my view you can’t run a social media campaign without a content strategy. I think the key is to be flexible. Test out different types of content and see which yield the best responses – both in terms of blog comments and social shares – then refine your strategy based on what your audience seems to respond most to.

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