Social media marketing tips from an expert – Kelly Farrell
Kelly Farrell has almost a decade of professional experience in social media, educating companies to see the value in social media programs and understand the conversations surrounding their brand. She is here today to share her strategic approach to social media.
Kelly, you worked as a team leader with a global team to create and deliver strategic webinars and workshops. I believe that in this fast-changing and competitive market you learned a lot about a result-oriented approach. Can you give us an example of campaign/social media activity that was beautifully linked to ROI?
Great starter question! One of my personal faves would have to be when The Daily Show did hidden videos when Jon Stewart announced his departure last year. Comedy Central created this campaign to create buzz for the new host, Trevor Noah, by utilizing Google ads and YouTube videos. What followed was a reported 38 million impressions, almost 3 million views, and even a Webby Award for Best Use of Data Driven Media. It was so fun to follow on social and uncover all the Easter eggs along the way – fantastic way to keep fans engaged and intrigued by the new host, loved it!
Can you share a proven method of retaining follower base and the way of measuring the retention rate?
That’s tough to narrow down to just one method to be honest! But if you’re particularly focused on seeing results and measuring retention, I would suggest outright asking your audience what they like. It seems so obvious, but a lot of companies want to avoid looking naïve on social, when actually, the audience will appreciate the chance to participate in the content they see and feel more connected to the brand. And most social networks make it easy to incorporate now too with the addition of polls. Asking their opinion ensures your content will hit the mark, and you can measure the results instantly through the poll answers, or in the native analytics of the network. When you start to see an increase in followers, you know you’re making an impact. If you start to see a drop off, take a deeper look at what content was posted when you see the biggest decline so you can revise your content strategy.
What is the biggest challenge in a social media manager’s job and the way to overcome it?
I would probably say resources. Depending on the role and the company, many social media managers find themselves overwhelmed if they have to take on the role of leader and executor. This is where managing your resources really comes in handy, and I would advise anyone in this position to consider the following:
- What is the current state of your social media presence? Are you stretching yourself too thin right now, focusing on a lot of social networks rather than honing in on a few key ones to do really well?
- Get organized! Nowadays there are so many ways to make your time more efficient by utilizing templates for editorial or content calendars, software to auto schedule and manage feeds, etc. It takes time to build out a process that works for you initially, but you’ll cut your time sourcing and managing content in half.
- If you’re set on getting more resources, whether its budget or people, everything you do needs to be visible and tie back to ROI. For example, if you get advertising spend, be sure to report back on how many more impressions and clicks you got as a result.
They say that failures make us stronger. Would you be so kind and give us an example of one of your failures, experienced during your career in social media. What did you learn from it?
I can recall a campaign I did back in the day when I was marketing in the music industry. One of the bands I supported was going to go on tour to support the 10 year anniversary of their most beloved album. During this tour they would play that album in its entirety live. So when it came time to put together a plan for online advertising, we made the mistake of only targeting older fans who supported the album when it was first released, trying to re-engage them and their love for the band. But when we looked at ticket sales, we saw that majority of those purchased were in fact from the newer and younger fans! It turns out they were more excited for that tour because they had missed out originally and were die-hards for the classic album. Though the tour was still successful, we couldn’t help but wonder how many fans we alienated by not broadening our reach in online advertising. All that to say, my key takeaway was to really understand the data and who your audience is on social – don’t just go by who you think the audience is. Experiment with A/B testing and pay attention to who’s clicking!
How do you define the success of a non-quantitative social media activity?
For me, this is where storytelling really comes in because qualitative metrics are all about shifting sentiment. While quantitative metrics are great, at times they lack the context needed to truly evaluate the success of your efforts. For example, if you’re just focused on the number of comments you receive on a post, you could deem it successful due to high volume. But without the sentiment, you’re overlooking if those comments were primarily positive or negative, which puts a completely different lens on it.
Any golden tip on achieving a consistent analytical approach?
I would say that no matter where you are getting your analytics from, the most important thing is to be consistent in the beginning so you can actually benchmark your success. Set targets for a quarter for example, and keep the same ones for each campaign you develop. Then once you achieve those targets, revisit your goals and define new analytical targets. Too often businesses create the content and report back on what metrics they achieved, but if you ask me, that’s putting the cart before the horse. You need to know what you want to achieve before you can establish how to get there.
What is the one social media metric you would die to measure, but no one out there came up with a solution yet?
That’s a tough one! I think the biggest challenge for any social platform currently is accuracy with the qualitative metrics, such as sentiment. They’ve come a long way, but it’s so difficult for systems to pick up on context, even outside of social media. But because it’s considered a metric in social media, there’s much more demand for systems to evolve and understand context in this field.
Are you using any social media management tools you cannot live without?
Oh gosh, the industry has come such a long way in the past 5 or 6 years and developers are really stepping up their games… competition is intense now! I think rather than name any ones in particular, I will focus on features and say that personally, my “tool” is my phone. These days it’s all about making content that is mobile-friendly, accessible on-the-go, and secure. I’m big on experimenting with apps on my devices, whether it’s for publishing, following news, or analytics, I LOVE trying out new ones that have a nice, clean interface with intuitive features.
Can you share with us your process of coming up with a social media strategy? What is the most difficult phase of a strategy?
Yes! Strategy is one of the topics I’m most passionate about, so this may be a long-winded answer! Basically, for any social strategy to be successful, you need to start by building the right framework, which should include an audit of your social properties, benchmarking and establishing KPI’s, and finally your content strategy itself. None of it is easy to be honest! But I would say the most difficult phase is probably the content strategy, simply because that’s the day to day work that involves sourcing/creating content in addition to publishing, monitoring and engagement. Audits and benchmarking really only need to be done perhaps once per quarter.
Your biggest social media inspiration and social media guru everyone should learn from is…
I couldn’t possibly narrow it down to just one! But I will say there are several blogs and influencers I personally rely on for inspiration or education, including Jay Baer, Jeff Bullas, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Mari Smith. These are experts I’ve followed since the early days in my career and they’ve really helped shape a lot of my own opinions and strategies.
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. Wow we’re already reviewing 2017 and we’re only halfway through! This one is tough… so far, for hit I’m actually going to praise Instagram. They’ve been doing frequent updates with new features that have been huge for the platform this year, while taking direct aim at what I’m going to list as a miss… Snapchat – I know, feel bad saying this! But I feel like Snapchat is currently fighting a losing battle – they’ve always catered towards a younger audience and haven’t really conquered the business arena. Instagram on the other hand reaches a broader audience and is owned by the godfather of social media (Facebook), giving them the financial and creative freedom to replicate all the features that used to make Snapchat unique. The fact that they’ve managed to do so in such a short period of time doesn’t bode well for Snapchat I’m afraid…
What is the newest social media trend you would love to explore more?
Personally, I’m going to go with live video. It might sound kind of cliché because video itself has been on the rise for a few years now, but with the advancement into live video, there’s just so much untapped potential for both businesses and individuals! It may seem daunting at first, but if you can master it before it becomes the norm, you’ll be way ahead of the curve by capitalizing on this feature. It’s great for exposure, builds transparency, and really puts you at the forefront when it comes to being creative on social.
What is your process and mentality around taking ideas, prioritizing & testing them efficiently, validating, and then implementing the learning back into the process?
Those who have worked with me know I am ridiculously organized when it comes to plotting out campaigns and strategies! Personally, I’ve always done my best work by establishing a framework before anything else. This means looking at my goals and KPI’s first so I can keep coming back to what I want to achieve for step two, which is aligning tactics to KPI’s. For example, if my goal is awareness for my campaign, I should be looking at tactics that will focus on reach and impressions, such as online advertising. And from there is step three, which of course is measurement. Now that I know what metrics align with my objectives, how often will I measure them? What quantitative metrics will define success for this campaign? And what can I improve on next time? Is it the targeting? The creative? It’s never the exact same every time but having this simple framework helps me stay on track.
One DO and one DON’T while creating meaningful growth in social media.
DON’T focus on growth if your social media properties aren’t in that stage of development yet. DO take the time to make sure your audience is aware of you and your presence before expecting to grow it online. In other words, don’t put the cart before the horse folks?
And the last but not least: what would be your 2017 social media tip?
Keep educating yourself! Social media is one of the fastest evolving industries to be in, so if you’re in it for the long haul professionally, keep on top of tips, trends and technology. There are so many resources and influencers in this industry, so take advantage of them and never stop learning.
Thank you for the interview!
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