Building a Social Media Marketing Strategy with Alex Lee
Content Matters
Content Matters

Season 4, Episode 7 · 2 months ago

Building a Social Media Marketing Strategy with Alex Lee


Alex Lee is the Partner Success Manager at Diginomica and an experienced communications consultant. They refer to themself as a “Comms consultant who loves data analysis.” Alex joined us on the Content Matters Podcast to share their insights and expertise on building and implementing a social media strategy. The conversation focused on organic social media marketing but also included their view on social media advertising. Some of the topics discussed:

  • What brands should and should not be doing on social networks today.
  • The role employees play in building the brand voice on social media
  • The newest social media tactics, including Twitter threads, LinkedIn Posts, the 3-2-1 method of engagement.
  • How brands should deal with negative feedback on their posts.
  • The difference between social media marketing for a media brand vs a product/services brand.
  • Analytics and the importance of measuring performance.
  • Her take on social media advertising and how to make it work. 

About Alex

Alex started her comms career managing communications and leading strategic planning and policy development, using data and analytics for c-suite dashboards and change programs after a project with JISC Data Labs. As diginomica’s Partner Success Manager, Alex works closely with diginomica's industry content and thought-leadership partners planning and creating targeted and thoughtful social media campaigns in line with diginomica's partner and community goals as well as reporting on partner content performance using analytics tools including Google Analytics,, and social media management platforms.

Meet Alex:

Welcome back everyone. See the content matters podcast. I am happy to have with me today Alex Lee. She's a communications consultant and the Partner Success Manager for G Genomica, which is an online magazine catering to the enterprise on all topics right technology, probably get skipping on that one, but Um, it's a great I will say it's a great magazine to work for because I am a columnist. So, but Alex is here to talk to us about Social Media Marketing, organic marketing, Social Media Marketing, and we'll talk a little bit about the advertising side, but I'm more interested in kind of talking about the ways that companies can do organic social media marketing and all the stuff that goes along with that. So thank you, Alex, for joining me. I appreciate it. Thank you, thank you for inviting me. I have a question. Were you that I didn't that you, you wouldn't have known about just like I wanted to know what you wanted to be when you were a little girl. What did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be an architect. Wow, that's a cool job, isn't it? Yeah, and and things went completely in a in a totally different direction and that was that was me at a very young age. I was I was just absolutely determined. So my art teacher would let me go and sit outside during class and draw buildings and make floor plans, you name it. Every single projects and every single piece of homework, from maths to anything, I was absolutely devoted to the idea until I was about fourteen and then suddenly, you know, life changes and things get in the way and all of a sudden you you're still wondering what you're going to do when you grow up and most people never figure it out so they're well after they're grown up. So I had do come to get into communications and social media marketing. Um, like most things in my life, it was pretty much by an accident. Um. So I started off, I think most of my career has been in administration, Um, and I was a personal as system for quite a long time and then I started to move into a sort of project involvement to keep things organized. And after that I started to get involved because I was working in a library, Um, in a university. Um, I started to think about different ways that that could start to become its own kind of project, because we were reviewing the communications as part of as the library communicated with its stakeholders, with staff, with students Um and started to look at its twitter account, basically, and and I just kind of stumbled into it from there. Probably how a lot of people get into it,...

...right. I mean it's kind of inn or something that just kind of people get interested in and kind of some people have decided that that's something interesting I want to actually get involved with. So yeah, yeah, the library used to have one of its main followers was was called was an account that was claiming to be a pigeon, because the was always full of pigeons, that there was always one that we've managed to get in. No matter how many nets she set up, how many when does she kept closed, they would find a way. And so there was just this little twitter account called the adsets pigeon and it was it would just tweet from random points at the day and then it would say that it just kind of one and flown down and swooped over one of the security guards. It hovered over the library desk. It was just watching some students hanging out and and yeah, that was the first thing that I started looking at when we got the twitter account. I was like this is so cool. It is cool, but a lot of people don't do social be and marketing that way like probably maybe when it first started out actually, but I think there are people who still kind of do some fun stuff like that. But from your perspective, a lot, I'm sure a lot has changed since then. You've learned a lot, seen a lot. What are the things that that, from from your point of view, companies should be doing now and some things that maybe they're doing that they should stop doing? I think there's no hard and fast rules on this Um and I'm I'm sort of very cautious about being too prescriptive, but I think one of the things that companies really need to give strong consideration too is making sure that their social media messaging actually aligns up with their organization. One of the one of the things on I think it was International Women's Day, on the last one, Um people were Um, well, organizations were tweeting about recognition of their female employees and which they valued them Um and what they had achieved. Sometimes they'd focus on a particular individual or a senior manager of the team and somebody had set up a kind of an automated twitter feed that would respond to it or share it and would share the any discrepancies between men's pay and women's pay within that organization, according to publicly available records, and it soon became apparent that a lot of these companies were had clearly planned this way in advance and decided, yeah, this is a message and it's international women's Day coming up, we need to make sure that we're on this and celebrating women, whereas actually a lot of the details that was being publicized by another twitter account was showing that there was a great deal of disparity. It's many...

...of these organizations from, you know, between a five difference between men and women's pay, two ridiculous amounts of percentages. And I think the amount of information that is so publicly available now, people are able to question things and find out more for themselves and I think because because of that, it's so important for companies to be authentics or rather than jumping on, you know, well, this international days coming up, what people are talking about, this, this is the latest trend. We need to get involved in it. I think it's just really important to stop and think about whether actually this is something that you should be talking about, if it does really reflect your organization. Yeah, I agree that a lot of people will jump on kind of the latest news and they want to kind of binge after that or get some recognition after that, and and then they kind of get caught because they say things that and then other people go, await a minute, that's not what it's really like at Your Company and why? How can you say stuff like that? And then it kind of backfires on them. Yeah, so what do you think are some things that they should be doing? Then? I think they should be listening more, I really do. Um I think there's so much noise on social media now. I think there's been quite a lot of dialogue, especially around trends on Linkedin with brands and individuals wanting to raise their own profile in their own personal brand. Um and again, it's because of the nature of the algorithms that keep changing within social media. I think people are very focused on wanting to make sure that they're visible, but not necessarily looking at the right reasons. So I think one of the things that it's really important to do is to have a content plan that is flexible enough to be able to change and respond and develop, but set some actual goals rather than going right well, we need to have an account for this. We need to have an account on this platform. We need to be visible. Think about why you need to be visible. What really matters to you, what do you want to have a voice on, and then listen to other people that are talking about that topic to make sure that you're not completely out of touch with the rest of the world. Yeah, no, that makes sense. You you mentioned kind of employees there. Um, it's important for employees to have a social media presence. I kind of I see that. I think as long as well, if, if they're going to do it, you want some kind of alignment. You don't want them to be totally just talking the brand. But but do you think maybe maybe it's more important to have your employees out there than your brand, unless, for example, if you have a company page on Linkedin, you're probably not going to have near as many people following that account as the people that might be following some of your employees. So maybe they're more important to have on social media...

...and and instead of the brand. Or maybe it's a combination. How do you look at that? I think it's probably a combination of both. Um, I think people will, if they're interested in a particular organization, they will go and look for their brands social presence on various platforms. But when I'm thinking about my own personal interests, there may be um sort of news media coverage websites where I have a preference for either the tone or the personality or the topics covered by one particular person, even like with radio stations. So I have a radio station that I have on all the time. It's always on there in the background, but there's only a couple of people that I think I really want to see their their face popping up on on social media. I want to be able to respond to them and say, I really loved what you did with your playlist today or I really appreciate that, and I want to hear their kind of thoughts and their angle on what they're thinking and the kind of things that they're talking about right Um, and it's it's it's quite strongly reflected in the GENOMICA as well. So people can be very invested in one particular member of the team, either because they like the writing style, they love their sense of humor, they like their tone or they're just interested in the things that they cover. So individual I think presence is really important when you've got people who are willing to get involved with that. Yeah, and that's a good, great topic to talk about. DIGENOMICA for for a second. It's a media company has a very strong online presence. Um. Is it different the way you do your social media strategy if you're a media company versus kind of like a more software brand or a retail brand or something like that? I think it is. There are there are differences. Um. I think there are some topics that you have to be because, because the GENOMICA works with individual partners as well as its own voice, I think it's it's important to kind of strike a balance between the voice of our company and making sure that we're also kind of reflecting the voice and the tone of the vendors that were also amplifying. Um. Having said that, I think it's still important to bring it back to authenticity at the same time. So again, thinking about sharing what your values are and making sure that that's genuinely reflected, because again, there's so much noise out there that people are very quickly able to identify with that and they will just scroll away and you know, they can disappear within a click and and not want to touch you again. But again, they will also talk to their other colleagues,...

...they'll talk to their acquaintances, so things spread both positively and negatively by word of mouth. Yeah, you told me earlier about an experience that you had with posting one of your one of an article from one of your partners and some negative comments that came up with that. Can you share that with us, because I thought that was really interesting. Yeah, one of them, one of I think it was one of the newer partners, had Um posted an article about why, see, I always need to get off their little e RP island. They need to integrate with the rest of the organization so that they're not just working in isolation, but they're kind of making sure that they're all migned with the rest of the other departments rather than being an Asylo. And the way that they had kind of put forward their angle. It was a little provocative maybe, but we did get a tweet back from somebody following the account after I'd amplified it, saying I a relutely don't agree with this. And you know, they came forward in a not aggressive way, but they did challenge it. Um So, because it's one of those situations where it's really important to be as active in listening as you are in kind of putting messages out there. Um. I sent it to the team and sent it to the CEO and a couple of other colleagues from the partner organization and said what do we think to this? Is there anything that we can say in response? Um, and the CEO jumped on pretty quickly, within about an hour, and said, Um, completely understand why you feel this way, this is where I'm coming from, and just talked it through and they must have had a back and forth of about five or six tweets, Um, and then, Um, the CEO said, Oh, by the way, we're doing a Webinar in a couple of weeks. It would be really it would be really valuable to get your insights if you'd feel as though you'd like to join us on that and we can talk it through there. Um. And it was so refreshing to see that that conversation going on. You know, there wasn't a great deal of sort of external micro management going on to try and manage that conversation. It was it just happened organically. But I think it can be so easy to shy away from negative or perception of negative feedback, whereas actually it's I think it's it's if you're going to put something out there, I think it's really important that you're able to talk it through in a constructive and critical way, as you would do with any any other subject that matters to you. Yeah, I agree. I think I think it's great that that CEO chose to come into the conversation instead of just, you know whatever, just let it go. It's just one person's opinion and I don't care. But but having I think that had so...

...much value to the brand if you're actually discussing it and being open and honest and back and forth if someone doesn't agree with you, and you do not see that a whole lot. You see it a little bit, but sometimes people get kind of snarky and and rude about the whole thing, which is kind of what you really don't want to happen. But so I think that's cool. Yeah, it can be. I think it can be a little intimidating sometimes, wondering if it's going to have a knock on negative impact Um and it's easy to, I think, imagine the worst case scenario is to how these things can escalate. But I think it also helps when you've got somebody getting involved that or is already pretty confident with social media. They've got their own presence, UM, and they're able to talk to somebody about the subject that they're clearly in control of, being no other stuff, Um, and they're also open minded enough to be able to handle that conversation in a, you know, I can civilized and not shut somebody down. I think it's about having talking to somebody as you would do face to face, Um, and even though your character limit is is a wee bit smaller. Um, it's again it comes back to diable. Yeah. So how do you decide which social channels or what networks of a company should be on? Like? What is the thought process of thinking buying that? I think the main starting point is thinking about where your audience is and what is most appropriate to you. So, Um, for example, when we were looking at the library, Um, you've got a probably a much younger demographic that you're looking at, without ruling mature students right there. So Um and twitter. So a lot of students aren't necessarily hanging around on LNKEDIN that they're probably not likely to be on twitter. Um, the library did have a facebook account for a while but then quickly realized that a lot of younger people weren't that interested in facebook, you know, because the parents have joined and you know the horror. So it was kind of finding something that was easy and responsive. But again it's where your audience is, Um, and where you can have the most impact. Coming at it from a more sort of corporate point of view, Um, a lot of linkedin has your your kind of already made professional audience and while it can be a challenge to reach quite a broad demographic of professional individuals, at least you know that they you know they're wanting to make sure that they have a level of visibility, that they're wanting to keep up with current topics and interests. Um, they're already in that particular sector. Um. So again it's it's looking at where your audiences and where you can have the most impact without being too in your face. Yeah, okay,...

...if we figure out the channels we want to be Hounder, the social networks we want to be on, then we have to decide or figure out what's our process for posting, and you kind of talked about this. Three to one process. How does that work? Um, the idea behind the three to one process is that you, for instance, like or engage or react to three posts. You may share two Um, whether that's to retweet or to repost with a comment or and then you post one thing. So it's about that finding that ratio of actively listening to other other voices rather than just post, post, post, because again, it's one of those where it doesn't have to be a hard and fast rule, but it's current encourages you to get into the mindset of getting to know your audience, Um and understanding that you're in you're part of a conversation. Are you involved in the right conversations? What are other people saying? What are their pain points? What are they talking about? And again, it can be quite a mix of promotion and other people wanting to amplify their random voice. But you quickly see, you know the strategic level conversations that are going on. They may be happening in smaller groups, but it's part of making sure that you're part of a wider network and also building trust with other people so that they also know that you're there to appreciate where they're coming from, that you can relate to them rather than just going well, this is our message and we're here to share that with you. It's not about evangelism, it's about having starting a way of finding a dialogue, and you can't do that if you're not listening to what other people are saying. Yeah, and I think you think I would have brand and some brands use social networking. They just post. You don't see very many out there liking or commenting as a brand on other people's. Their employees might be but you don't see the brand too much and I think that's a missed opportunity. Like you said, I think it shows that you're listening and wanting to be part of the conversation instead of wanting to always drive the conversation exactly. And you know it can still be an opportunity to share insights as and when that's appropriate, but it's it's also a really good way of kind of finding new ideas on the things that you want to communicate, because if you're only looking at your own messaging, you're not seeing examples of what's working well and that can be quite Sir undipitous. Um, one of the highlights for me with the pandemic was a couple of I think it was either Um supermarkets or team manufacturers that were just having some back and...

...forth with each other quite playfully. Um, and it just kind of it just gave you an insight into just a little bit of personality. So it's not just you know, this is our product and we're really passionate about this. They were kind of you know, it was that way of displaying some humor and it brought so much attention to their profiles without actually selling a damn thing. It was just brilliant and and I like that insight into the people that are working behind those accounts as well. Yeah, so, but that that's a good point. You want to see the personality and the brands. There's a lot of new ways to be on social media today, lots of new tactics like the zero click posts that is partly gaining huge popularity. The twitter threads like do brands want to take advantage of those kind of tactics too? Like or those would you? Do you see any brands doing that kind of stuff? See some brands doing that kind of thing. Um. There's also, I think, in increasing trend towards people jumping on various means and using that for, you know, for their own messaging, and sometimes that can be, you know, well thought out and can come across with humor. Other Times it can look like they're getting on a bandwagon and it's there, you know, it's it's really irrelevant as the the actual topic, Um, and it feels sometimes as though they're just kind of forcing their way into the conversation. So I think it's it's it's a situation where you've got to again strike a balance and things actually, is this our company or does this seem absolutely lydicrous? But again, I think that takes some self reflection. Do you do? You what's the funniest thing that you've ever done? When for for an account and with the funnest account you've ever were? The funniest account I've ever done. It was for a twitter account for a rescue dog. He had he had been rescued from a meat market truck in China and, Um, the women that had rescued him and then she was she kind of she would act as a rescue and then find homes for dogs, but because he had such particular special needs, he had so many needs with his health and she absolutely fell in love with him. So she ended up adopting him Um and he'd got a profile on instagram. But she was also looking for opportunities to try and, you know, tell his story in other ways and reach new audiences about dog rescue and why, you know, dog adoption really matters. And and so when I was tweeting some of his profile,... many people would be asking what reed he was, because he was, you know, this little dog called Mork skywalker. He's got completely flat face and these long legs and widdly ears. He's such an interesting mixture. But people wanted to know what breedy was. But the owner was just like, I don't want to do a DNA test because I thowise people will start to recreate that and he's got so many health issues because of that genetic open reading Um. So I used to kind of tweet photos and videos of him. You know, he'd be fliffing around in a little pink feather boar, he has some silly socks on, or he'd just be playing with a toy and people will be going on what breeds he I love more and it was like, well, he's cosmic Awesomeness, and it was, you know, it was it was lovely to be able to just kind of have fun and tell that story. The other thing that I did that was slightly more serious was sharing from the library account that students, you know, felt so at home in the library that they just the kick off the trainers move into the library for a few hours and, you know, they were happily learning in their socks. It was like their second home by the time they've done Um. So tweeting a photo of students just lining up at the help desk in in trackees and socks was it was a nice way to do that. That's I think a lot of students definitely could sympathizer know what that feels like, especially when you're starting university or any kind of school really, that you have to go to a library. Yeah, so, Um, there's a part of social media that a lot of people don't talk about, and that's kind of the analysis and the analytics of you know, what is working and what's not, like, what are the things that you recommend or you do to help you understand how the how it's performing for the companies that you work for? I think, yeah, it can be, um, it can be hard to look at that that kind of element of social media, because nobody wants to feel as though something isn't working. But I think there's there's a lot of rich data available in both the native apps and some of the platform tools that can be used to manage it. Um. So I set as out time at least every month, Um, if not weakly, to be able to download some data about who your visitors are, whether people are clicking on things, so that you're going beyond the kind of what you could call vanity metrics. Just because people have seen and retweeted something a thousand times doesn't necessarily mean it's it's actually being successful. What you want to know is is what that user journey looks like. So how did they find it? Is One particular the channel working more for you than another? What are the topics and... you're phrasing the different posts that you've been putting so you know, is it something where you've run a pole? Is it something where you've asked a question? Is it something you know really simple, like how can finance and hr work better together, Um, and looking at the kind of the engagement with that. So have people just seen it and are you shirting into the ether or are they clicking through to know what exactly is is attracting them and then looking for trends and patterns within that. It's it's one of those where again it's it's part of that constant improvement process, because if you don't know what your audience likes and you don't know what's working, are you really paying attention to your audience and do you have a content strategy that is actually going to work for you in the long term? So it's another way of listening in a way Um and and it's also an opportunity to test new things and then go back and say, well, maybe that didn't quite work out the way that we planned. Maybe the old some of the old things that we were doing we're pointless. So, for example, when when we were doing the library account we'd always start the day with a good morning here, the library help desks are open. Come see us, and nobody cared because they already new. You know, we could talk about the fact that there were fifty two books in the library, but quickly realized it was like, well, so what? People want to know what's going on in the library. They want to see people like themselves, they want to be able to ask questions and know that they're going to be responded to Um. So again it's it's less about just saying look, here's some information that we think you'll be interested in and actually making sure that you are sharing information that people are going to be interested in and then get people to talk back to you. It's probably a good way, if you're following the analytics and looking at stuff, to find new audiences as well. Like that, you don't even realize that this group of people are this you know segment of people are actually looking at your stuff and engaging with you and you never would have thought of them as a perspective customer or something like that. Exactly. It's Um. It can. It can be really interesting when you look at the way that social media can be data can be integrated with other sources of data analytics, so things like you google analytics, Um and other sort of native platforms where you're able to start to be able to put together some of your customer journey. So you know if you're if you're sharing information that also includes a linkum and a call to action, are your call to actions working or people clicking through that, and who are they and then where are they going? From that. So again I can fold down a rabbit hole. And when it comes to data, Um, and that can sometimes be the most rewarding aspect of that... finding out exactly what is attracting people and where they go from there. Um, and again it's it's it helps you to think about the stories that you want to tell and exactly how you want to do that in a in a more successful way that reaches the right people rather than a number of people. Yeah, no, I love it. Just you can create a great content strategy and you think you know how you want to talk to people and who's looking, looking or listening back and engaging with you, but until you actually get into the analytics and look at it, you don't know if you hit your mark at all. So such an important part that I think a lot of companies could do a better job at. Yeah, it takes Um. It's one of those where it takes time and resources that can be possibly underestimated if you want to get the most value out of it. Um, because you know, it's really important to be able to have um quite a a you know, a Swiss army knife of all skills to be able to do that, because you've got to create something that is visually interesting and it's going to engage people and stand out from a lot of other noise that is kind of going on out there. And of course there's new things that people are trying. The Algorithms might change, but it's it's again, it's it's a journey. So you know, you're thinking about the visual element and attracting people, but then you're looking at measuring and looking at what works, because otherwise you can be spending all of this time doing so much creation, but if it's not working for you, then is that resource really being put to vest us? What about Social Media Advertising? Do you think that that works or brands doing that the right way? I think it's a mixed bag. Um, when I've worked with some clients, they so. For example, one client was wanting to increase their linked in presents and they had already got a very strong following in the US and quite a global audience, but they hadn't broken into the UK market quite the way that they would hope. So they wanted to put more resource and effort into that. Um so they started posting, they had their content strategy and because they really wanted to start seeing lead generation and impact quite quickly. They would put on, you know, add five dollars to give a poster boost and while it would increase the number of impressions, it didn't get them a return on investment because there wasn't a corresponding strategy to be able to go with that. There's only so much money you can throw at something where it's going to have an impact and an actual return on that investment. Do you have to have something that under and it... make sure that that money is going into the right place and doing the right things that you wanted to because you can get all of the eyeballs on it, but if you're not reaching the right people. Again, and I feel like I'm repeating myself, it's true. It's you know, it's, it's it's not going to have that impact. So, you know, ten people might see it coming up in their feed, but if they don't click on it, it's not really it's kind of probably ways to do five again. It's it's about really putting your money into the resource that matters and getting to know your audience, building up that trust and that reliability and then think about boosting it um but you know, it's it's it's always going to be a marathon of sprint. Yeah, okay, last question for you. What what excite you most about this future of social media marketing? Oh, so, any things? I think that this is actually a hard question. The thing that excites me most about the future of social media marketing is the potential to be able to really start to build stronger networks an experiment with trying new things. I think there's still an awful lot of conversations that go completely missed Um, and I think collaboration is the biggest part that sits at the heart of that. So one of the things that I talked to our aner vendors about is getting our social team to be able to work with their social team so that we can collaborate before a campaign goes out, whether that is kind of making sure that we're aligned on the timing of a post or different ways that we can introduce things like being slightly more playful. So, for example, those those on posts that we ran crumbs. It must have been years ago and a couple of years ago now, where they had they published an article about making sure that your your technology was the right fit for your organization. So we came up with the idea of using a gift where it was a male model walking down a cat walk in this gigantic oversized suit and, you know, kind of flapping around, and that got the biggest positive reaction just from a silly image. But then we were able to get the dialogue going. So, you know, we've got a CEO and we got ahead of a department and the Post author getting involved in it. And and again it starts to widen the net of the people that are seeing it because they might get a notification. It starts to boost the SEO. But I think that I'm so excited about the opportunity to collaborate with other people because, again, it is it comes back to WHO's in your network, who you who...'re missing out on, and the more that you can engage with other people and genuinely get them to engage back with you, that's your biggest opportunity. I think it's less about the technology and more about the way that we use that and having a strategy behind it. Very well said, Um. Thank you, Alex. this has been a really great conversation. I appreciate it. I learned some new things too, so that's great. It always helps when you've got somebody that's so easy to talk to. So appret thanks and thanks everyone for listening.

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