My names Gareth John Sutcliffe and I'm the Director of #BlueSocial, a bespoke Social Media Management agency in Central London. We specialise in short and long term cost effective management of Social Media accounts for businesses across the UK. We’re battling away to convince people that Social Media is not a cost but an investment and we're getting there very quickly!
2.) A short description of how and why you got started in social media…
Like most people in my age group of 20-25 years of age, I spent most of my time on some sort of Social Media platform, especially while I was at University anyway! I used to put on nightclub events and music festivals from 2008 when the "Social Boom" really kicked it. It really changed how events and festivals were promoted and how people perceived events. I really invested heavily in making sure my events looked better than anyone else's online and that translated into business success. I picked up a few clients (I say clients, I meant doing it for free for friends to begin with!) and I got a real buzz from managing their accounts. I got some really great results for them and I wanted to start helping other businesses with their activity too! I decided to sell my shares in the event business and launch #BlueSocial up here in London.
3.) What do you believe the benefits of using social media for business?
I'd definitely say the number #1 benefit for businesses using Social Media is customer interaction. I'd even go as far as saying that Social Media accounts outstrips a Website when it comes to importance these days! As a potential or returning customer, the first thing people look at is reviews and what you and people are saying about your business. Managing this is key to your success on Social Media. If you’re perceived as a market leader online, people grow trust in your brand and we find are more likely to buy from you in the future. It sounds simple in principle but businesses can get it very wrong.
If you have a potential customer that searchers 2 pages that are selling the same product, one of which has 94 likes / followers, rarely gets updated and has no customer engagement or one that has 3000 likes / followers that has a wealth of interesting content and activity seeks to help its customers online, which one would be seen as the better company to go with? And that's where #BlueSocial comes into help.
4.) What do you think are common mistakes business owners make when building brand awareness on social media?
"Customers like to buy but don't like to be sold" - this saying can't ring any truer when it comes to Social Media marketing. So many times I've seen businesses treat their Social Media accounts like classified ads. Yes we agree it's important to inform customers of what's for sale and any new upcoming offers but anyone can do that. Doing Social right can increase your customer base and keep your existing coming back for more, but that won't happen if your business is force feeding adverts that the customer doesn't want to see or read.
5.) What qualities do you think social media managers should have?
FUN! That's what we encourage here. If people are positive and fun, being Social for our clients is so much easier! Also taking the time really understand the business and what the customers want is also just as important. There isn't a "one size fits all" when it comes to managing Social Media accounts and having someone that can understand every account on an individual basis is essential.
We split up our Social Media managers into divisions that manage certain sectors, so we have managers than already have a wealth of knowledge in that area. For example, we have one manager that looks after our "Nightlife" sector which includes nightclubs, cocktail bars etc, and we have another that looks after our "Motoring" sector.
We also encourage them to really think about what they are doing and the effect of their work. Some posts or adverts are seen by ten's of thousands of people and it’s important that we share interesting, intriguing, amazing and beautiful content.
6.) How do Business owners know if their social media campaign is working?
In an ideal world as Social Media managers or even sales people, we would love to say to a client "We guarantee to increase your revenue by 20%" or "We guarantee to hit 100 sales leads per month". But the reality is if someone can promise you hat, they're lying! And if they're not, give me their number and I'll employ them!
Setting realistic goals is very important with Social Media marketing. There are many ways to track success of your businesses Social Media campaign. One of the most popular with our clients is competitions or giving away a "Social Media" discount. This way you can track its popularity via the discount code or feet through the door. But it completely depends on what sort of management the client wants. Some want sales leads, some want to create a community online and some just simply want the page to look good, so it completely depends on your goals before knowing if the campaign is working.
"Fail to plan, you plan to fail" as a famous leader once said!
7.) How do you see social media evolving over the next 5 years …what do you hope to see?
I think we're already in the middle of a colossal shift in the way people see and interact with businesses. For years businesses hid behind their Website or Yellowpages ads. Now they have to come out and really fight for people’s custom, which is a win win situation for consumers.
Social Media is still such a big unknown for the future, so it would be really hard to predict on what the next steps would be. I think there will be more focus on paid advertising across all platforms but more specific audience targeting will become able, giving the ability to managers to target more of the right people. I also think that Social Media accounts will become more important than a Website in the very near future. We're already seeing with a number of clients that they're getting more traffic through a Facebook and Twitter accounts than their Website.
8.) What are your favourite platforms for social media marketing?
My favourite platforms are whatever gets the best results for our customers! Our clients vary from advertising, B2B sales leads, B2C marketing, community management and everything in between and seeing results and their businesses flourish with our work is our favourite!