Who are you and what does your company do?
My name is Heidi Patmore and I’m a marketing consultant at Stellaris Marketing Consulting. I consult to businesses mostly in South Africa and across other emerging markets on traditional, digital and social media marketing.
How and why did you get started in social media?
A couple of years ago, I had a great job heading up social media at Nokia Middle East and Africa.
I saw a gap in the market for my skill set and expertise and decided to set up a consultancy in order to have more flexibility in my professional and personal life.
What do you believe are the benefits of using social media for business?
I tell my clients that the benefit of using social media is the ability to have a two-way conversation with consumers. It’s a groundbreaking quality to bring to the marketing playground where, traditionally, it was a one-way broadcast.
The ability to engage with your market in real-time is a huge benefit. It opens up many opportunities for services such as customer care.
Another benefit is the ability to gain an in-depth understanding of consumers.
What do you think are common mistakes business owners make when building brand awareness on social media?
One common mistake is rushing in to social media without any thought process on strategy, or without considering the resources required. Before starting a social media channel, it is important to figure out how it will fit into the business.
Another mistake is trying to be on every platform, all the time, which is physically impossible. It’s more efficient to scale back and improve individual tasks rather than perform at a mediocre level.
It is also damaging to ignore or mishandle events that go wrong, because with social media it will be in the public eye forever.
What qualities do you think social media managers should have?
Passion for the brand you’re working on is a very important quality to have as a social media manager.
Excellent writing and communication skills and an eye for design are essential. Design skills are not something we normally hear a marketing manager should have, but when you move into social media management, a flair for imagery and design is crucial.
Last, but not least, is a natural enthusiasm for social media.
How do Business owners know if their social media campaign is working?
It’s not hard to measure growth and engagement, but it’s important to keep a close eye on your analytics to track what achieves results over time. What you think works on social media isn’t necessarily what actually works.
Social media goals must align with overall business goals. Sentiment analysis is essential. Likes and number of fans don’t necessarily increase sales or gain you a bigger market share. The idea is to monitor and track all activities that tie back to overall business growth, not just social media metric growth.
How do you see social media evolving over the next 5 years …what do you hope to see?
I would like to see social media increase its focus on mobile. I think this will happen organically. I think there will be better integration across marketing channels and social media. In the past, businesses would make the mistake of using social media as a silo without integrating across different channels, which doesn’t achieve great results.
Social media managers and marketers will be better skilled. The roles with strong social media credentials will force the industry to maintain a high standard. Educational institutions will start up scaling, resulting in better educated and skilled social media marketers emerging in the next 5 years.
Marketers will learn to use big data to make decisions and determine what works. There is great software available online for tracking and monitoring actions. As a result, marketers will use the facts and numbers.
Marketers will start using social media to better understand consumers though customization and better targeting. Historically, we’ve used traditional methods to understand consumers. We placed them in rooms for focus groups with questionnaires. One of the great things about social media is that you can directly approach your consumer to find out their views on everything, not just your brand. Marketers can get interesting viewpoints and an index on consumers’ behavior, I think that’s great.
If you could share one best practice about using social media to grow a business, what would it be?
I don’t think there is a ‘one best practice’ social media silver bullet. It’s important to decide how you want your consumers to behave and to integrate this with the rest of your marketing activities.
My recommended best practice would be to integrate your social media plan with your marketing campaign and overall business objectives. Incorporate all your communications, PR, customer care and even product research into your social media plan for great results.
What are your favourite platforms for social media marketing?
The best social media platforms to use are Twitter and Facebook, for the obvious reason that they have the biggest reach. Having said that, niche social networks such as Instagram and Pinterest can also achieve excellent results depending on the target market. Each campaign should be managed individually.
What tools do you use to monitor social media platforms? Are there any limitations when using them?
I normally advise smaller clients to start by using the tracking tools from the social networks themselves, such as Facebook Insights. I think there are many easy and cheap ways for small businesses to monitor social media. For example, using Tweetdeck to track a hashtag.
For bigger clients, I advise them to use reputable social media monitoring software like Sendible. It is definitely valuable to invest in reputable social media software to track and monitor your action plans.
There are limitations when distinguishing between consumer comments that are important and consumer comments that don’t matter. I have yet to find social media tracking software that can do this.
Sometimes the numbers can be misleading especially when the insight on how they were arrived at is missing. There is a small gap and I am yet to find a tool that can close it. Software can tell you the numbers, but is much less accurate on true sentiment. Unfortunately in the age of the Internet, trolls are a daily reality and one needs to take this into account when analyzing what people are saying online.
The tools don’t really filter well, which is a limitation. Try to get as much qualitative insight as you can, to back up what the numbers are saying, then take it from there. Use your gut feeling. Social media is a field that is continually evolving with innovations. There are certainly many uses with the tools that are already available online and it’s a good enough place to start. My advice would be to apply a little common sense when monitoring.