A short description of how and why you got started in social media

My first introduction to social media was when Friendster was founded back in 2003. It was only possible to become a member if you were invited by someone. Back then, I was on the Internet pretty much every day – I was mesmerized by it. The idea that you, from the comfort of your own home, could communicate (‘chatting’, as it was called back then) with anyone and share knowledge, meet new friends – amazing! When Hyves was launched in the Netherlands in September of the following year, it became clear to me: I wanted a career in social media marketing. I saw huge opportunities, especially for businesses. Even then!

It took until 2008 before I started working professionally with social media marketing. I founded my own company and offered a comprehensive solution for SMEs in the field of communication. Internet, telephony, website and thus social media marketing. Amongst others, we assisted in creating and managing Facebook business accounts and made sure ads were placed. In the mean time, Twitter had been introduced. The entrepreneur had no idea what to do with it! From that moment, it became clear to me that social media and business were inseparable.

Who are you and what does your company do?

My name is Maarten Bierman, Pinterest Marketer. I am the owner and founder of Boribedi. I help businesses in the Netherlands and Spain to successfully apply Pinterest to their social media strategy. I do this by means of consultancy, providing training, as well as setting up and managing their account. My clients are companies that do online business in the clothing, beauty and luxery goods industries.These are the most popular categories on Pinterest.

What do you believe are the benefits of using social media for business?

Social media has become an integral part of today’s communication. The biggest advantage of this is that you can reach any target audience or prospect, given you choose the right platform. As I always say: the right content, at the right place, at the right time. If you can do this as a business owner, social media can be very effective communication and sales channels for your business.

What do you think are common mistakes business owners make when building brand awareness on social media?

Not being consistent in communication, both textually and graphically. First of all, make sure that you are using the same photo/logo on every social media platform, the same slogan, use the same font and preferably a distinctive structure or something that sets you apart from the competition. However, be aware of the power and the uniqueness, as well as the limitations and rules of each social media platform! Each platform has its own rules, so inform yourself or hire and expert if this knowledge is not available to you.

What qualities do you think social media managers should have?

Being able to translate and formulate content to data and vice versa. Unfortunately, I see that many colleagues in this industry are not capable of presenting the results of social media in a clear, measurable and understandable way to colleagues who do not have specific knowledge in this area. This is just one side. You must also be able to analyze and understand data in such a way that you can adjust a marketing campaign on time, or more on macro-level, to be able to adjust the social media marketing strategy.

How do Business owners know if their social media campaign is working?

Following up on the reply above: when targets are met. These could be soft conversions such as extending the email database with 1000 email addresses or achieving 500 likes on the company’s fan page, or hard conversions such as getting 300 new subscribers for an online course or the actual sale of 100 bookings at your traveling agency. However, the big problem that I see a lot, is that entrepreneurs are not making their targets SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time based). Even worse, sometimes no target is linked to social media, which is obviously a waste of both time and money.

How do you see social media evolving over the next 5 years …what do you hope to see?

With the increasing penetration of broadband internet across the world, we will start communicating more with images, or visual content. An image simply says more than a thousand words. The static smilies that we are using right now in WhatsApp and text messages will be animated f.e., Twitter will no longer have a 140 character limit but instead will change its limit to the maximum of rich media, such as images of up to 10 mb or a video of 100 mb. And yet, with the introduction and use of IoT technology (Internet of Things) we will be tweeting by talking to our smartwatch and posting new recipes on Pinterest that we just filmed using our wearable while making the dish. Social media stands for sharing is caring. That is why I really- hope social media can contribute to reducing poverty and mortality in developing countries through sharing knowledge and information.

If you could share one best practice about using social media to grow a business, what would it be?

Unless you have your own marketing department consisting of all types of specialists for each social media platform, you should determine on which social media platform your targeted audience is and focus on that one! As a business, it is impossible to run and manage accounts on all social media platforms. Important tip: frequency and consistency! It is better to make one pin, tweet or post per day than to be idle for a week and suddenly spread a stream of content. People are literally and figuratively drowning and all it does is damage corporate image.

What are your favorite platforms for social media marketing?

As a Pinterest Marketer, I am of course obligated to answer this question with “Pinterest”, however even if I was not a Pinterest Marketer, my answer would have been the same. This platform has an unprecedented social commerce power which makes it unique. The power of, and the application possibilities of this platform are still unknown to many businesses and that is exactly what I strive to change. Apart from Pinterest, I use LinkedIn as B2B social media network.

What tools do you use to manage these platforms? – What are the limitations for these tools?

In order to get the most out of Pinterest for my clients, I use Tailwind. It is for me the perfect tool for professional management and detailed reports of Pinterest business accounts. LinkedIn does not really have a specific tool, it all comes down to manual posting. Anyway, I am not in favor of automation marketing tools, because it does not make your business come across as “genuine”, and your target audience will think the same.

Name 5 tools that you can’t live without.

Very simple, that would be: SnagIt, PicMonkey, Canva, Ritetag and of course Tailwind, as I have just mentioned.

Manal Bouchacra

Manal is interested in social media and is working on her creative writing skills. Outside of work she enjoys the gym and hanging out with friends and family.

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