Social media marketing tips from an expert – Fletcher Helle
Fletcher Helle is a Social Media Specialist with over 5 years of experience. He dipped his toes in Community Management, Customer Service, Social Media Policy Creation, Video Production, Facebook and YouTube Analytics, and Process Improvement. He is here to share few secrets of the ever-changing social media marketing space. Without further ado, let’s dive into his world and see where he is going to take us.
Fletcher, you worked closely with the marketing teams to create brand approved content to drive sales and increase conversions. Sales and conversions are all about hard numbers and the numbers are often times a true Achilles heel for social media managers. Can you inspire them by giving an example of a campaign that was linked to ROI (Return on Investment) and did well?
The gap between a social media strategy and strong ROI isn’t as wide as it once was. The rise of high-quality tracking tools means I can follow someone from social channel to eCommerce solution to confirmed order. I’ve run a ton of ads that I reported with basically that same formula. We spent X, which generated Y traffic, and the average conversion rate was Z, but I don’t think that’s the most beautifully linked campaign I’ve run. I recently finished up a longer-term cosmetics campaign using really focused Facebook targeting on building an email list. The success of the resulting list has been staggering, we’re talking twice as many conversions as any list they ever bought. The way I see it all the revenue that email list is generating is the result of social media.
Can you share a proven method of retaining follower base and the way of measuring the retention rate?
You want the recipe for the secret sauce?! The best I can do is some of the ingredients. On all my communities I closely monitor attrition, how many people are unliking/unfollowing every day. I like to establish a baseline using historical data, and measure my success off that. If my attrition goes up, I know I’m not communicating well with the audience (unless the brand wants a big shake up in voice, you can expect attrition to go up then). It’s all about offering value to your fans. Their timeline/feed is a personal space for them, you don’t go to someone’s house and talk only about yourself. That’s a great way not to be invited back. Engage and offer value and you’ll get invited back all the time.
What is the biggest challenge in a social media manager’s job and the way to overcome it?
“We want you to make a viral video.” I get that, or a variation of it, quite a bit. All brands really want to be the next thing people are talking about but very few of them are willing to take the risks required to make it happen. I use the squatty potty video to help stakeholders understand. That video went viral because it’s a unicorn pooping ice cream. No one expects that. People know how seriously brands take themselves if you want something to go viral you can improve your chances by loosening the reigns a bit and getting weird.
They say that failures make us stronger. Could you give us an example of one of your failures, experienced during your career in social media? What did you learn from it?
I had just started managing social media for a major snack brand and the results were pretty great. Engagement had tripled, reach was through the roof, sentiment was overwhelmingly positive, and I think I got into this mindset where I thought I was invincible so I said, “Hey, everything is going so great we should take this to Reddit!” Which is the social media equivalent of starting a land war with Russia in the middle of winter. I pitched engaging with the international snack exchange subreddit, a place where people can post regional snacks and trade them with other people for snacks around the world. I think two people signed up and the whole thing just cratered. I learned that if you’re taking something to Reddit you need to be really buttoned up and offering a significant incentive. “We’re making our product available for exchange.” Isn’t going to cut it.
How do you define the success of a non-quantitative social media activity?
By how good the story is. I know that’s a pretty wishy-washy thing to say but I don’t think there’s anything quite like a good story. Early on with my aforementioned snack food client I had an amazing community interaction with a video game streamer. A guy with over 200,000 followers. It ended with him changing his profile picture to an image of our product. The next time I was in the office the screenshot of that profile was hanging on the Senior Manager’s wall. Pretty good story.
Any golden tip on achieving a consistent analytical approach?
This is a great question and something often overlooked by social media managers. The best advice I have here is, “Listen to your stakeholders.” We have a depth of analytics available at our fingertips that’s overwhelming and most of the time our stakeholders are not going to have time to dive deep into how many impressions we generated in Bodø Norway. I give them Reach, Engagements, and Link Clicks right up front. Then provide the bulk of the data below that they can dig into if they want.
What is the one social media metric you would die to measure, but no one out there came up with a solution yet?
Trust. It would be great to know how trustworthy my community finds me. People are so used to be sold to on social that everything is taken with a huge grain of salt. To know how confident people are in my messaging would be pretty cool.
Are you using any social media management tools you cannot live without?
I forgot my phone at home the other day and drove an hour to get it. I don’t need it to do my job, but come on. Other than that, I am a big big fan of Grammarly. I don’t make many mistakes but Grammarly is a super cool tool to catch the ones that I do and even improve my use of the language.
Can you share with us your process of coming up with a social media strategy? What is the most difficult phase of a strategy?
I start by asking them what they think their brand voice is like, that gives me a good idea who they think they are. Then I look at what they’ve posted and see what’s worked and what hasn’t. That tells me who their audience thinks they are. From that, I can recommend who we can be, what we can accomplish and how we can get there. The hardest part is that sometimes there’s a serious disconnect between who they think they are, and who their audience thinks they are. Resolving that discrepancy can be a painful process.
Your biggest social media inspiration and social media guru everyone should learn from is…
Gary Vaynerchuk and I literally don’t think there’s any other answer. I got to see him speak at Twitter with Dick Costolo a couple years ago and it was just this brilliant conversation about the state of the industry and where it’s heading. He was amazing. If you want to be a social media professional in any capacity and haven’t consumed everything Gary V has written you’re doing yourself a disservice.
Testing and innovation are an important part of every social manager’s job. Can you share your hit and miss of 2017? This could be a software, a product or anything else that comes to your mind and it is related to social media management.
I did a brief stint on Sprout this year that I didn’t enjoy. That’s not a knock on the Sprout platform, I just didn’t care for it, so that was a miss. As for hit, it is undoubtedly Instagram allowing the management of multiple accounts. I’m surprised there weren’t parades.
What is the newest social media trend you would love to explore more?
If I have to pick only one I’d say it’s probably bots. On its surface, I should hate it because I’m always talking about the human element of social and how important that is from a strategy standpoint, but when I think about it more the argument can be made that at some point bots will be a better user experience for the person using them. I’m definitely keeping an eye on bots.
What is your process of taking ideas, prioritizing & testing them, validating, and then introducing the learning back into the process?
I like to work in groups. Whether it’s creative for editorial content or strategic for campaign approaches I love getting a lot of different mindsets together to build something incredible. I also make sure the people that I bring together have different personalities and interests. If everyone was a goofy comic book nerd like me all our stuff would start looking pretty similar. With input from sports fans, fashionistas, foodies, and outdoors people I can put together a well -rounded plan more likely to make a connection.
One DO and one DON’T for creating a meaningful growth in social media.
Don’t script your responses. Everything should feel authentic because audience members can sniff out a copied and pasted response a mile away. So, I suppose the “Do” is draft your responses on the spot as often as you can.
And the last but not least: what would be your 2017 social media tip?
Remember to put down your phone every now and then. It’s important to get your head out of the constant flow of content and go watch a bird eat a piece of bread or something. Go to the zoo and don’t bring your phone with you, just live in the moment for a few hours and you’ll thank yourself for it. Also, if you have a significant other they will thank you for it too.
Thank you for the interview!
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