Social Media Interview: Jim Tobin, President - Ignite Social Media

Who are you and what does your company do?

My name is Jim Tobin, we have two companies; Ignite Social Media is a social media marketing agency operating since 2007 and Carusele, the second company, was launched this year. It is an influencer and content marketing program for larger consumer brands.

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

The social media world first caught my attention in 2006. I had a blog with one post that did particularly well with 20 times more visitors than usual. I didn’t understand why it was so popular until I saw on Google Analytics, that there were key search terms bringing in the traffic. I typed in the search term and found I was ranked second. It was the first time I had realised that social media and blogging can play a key role in brand marketing. I did some research and found there was almost no one practising social media marketing at the time, in 2006-7. So I decided to build a team and focus on social media marketing; Ignite Social Media was launched in July 2007.

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

Social media is a giant amplifier, people sometimes make the mistake of being either too confident or too fearful of it. Social media can elevate a good product with a good message in a decent marketing campaign. It can also escalate bad marketing with deceitful practices and poor customer service.

I used to work in public relations and believed the best plan was to do the right thing in the first place, it can save you a lot of trouble. It’s a similar practice in social media, if you have something genuinely interesting to say or sell then people can get excited about it.

Another interesting fact is that social media is the best targeting system ever created. Marketers used to base their targets on age, gender and ethnicity. Social media is better because people are engaging with content and brands based on their interests and not the colour of their skin, gender or the country they come from. It’s a great way to gather people who are interested in a particular area and engage with them.

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

Many companies, especially smaller ones, worry about social media tools when they are actually not that complicated. It’s more important for companies to think about the overall message and how it can contribute to existing conversations. Before creating a social media strategy, it’s crucial to answer essential questions about who your audience is and how they will find out about your brand.

Your strategy will depend on the brand awareness you need for your product or service. For example, selling gum would require a different approach to selling a car, where interested buyers will be doing a lot of research online.

A great example is when Red Bull filmed a man jumping from space, which was a good strategy that intrigued people and it aligned with the brand slogan ‘Red Bull gives you wings’. They used social media and got a tremendous amount of attention.

What qualities do you think a social media manager should have?

Ideally social media managers should have a wide range of skills that involves creating great content in the form of writing, videos and photos. They will need to have a focus on strategy and analytics as well, to understand what they’re trying to achieve and whether their plan has worked.

It’s difficult to find one person who is a good writer, photographer, videographer, strategist and data analyst, all at the same time. For this reason I prefer to have an agency model. If I had to, I would prioritize good content creation and storytelling because that will get you halfway to your goal, as long as you produce content in the context of trying to achieve sales.

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

In most marketing, there are only so many important statistics to follow and they can be consistent across the brand.

With social media, I may be trying to improve my search engine optimization, you may be trying to drive hundreds of millions of impressions more cheaply than digital advertising, while other people, are trying to gain third party credibility through testimonials and reviews. My point is there is no single answer to how business owners can know if their campaign is working, it really depends on the objective.

One thing worth mentioning is that businesses need to understand their overall marketing goals and plug that into social. For example, a restaurant can have a goal to draw more attention to their daily specials, as a result they plan to remind people every day at 5pm to head over, or to entice them with coupons.

The bottom line is it’s crucial to understand how you will be successful before taking any action.

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

I observe correlations between SEO and social media marketing businesses. Users try to adopt shortcuts when focusing on SEO. Google has become better at sniffing out the tricks and punishing those responsible. As a result Google continues to elevate the best content.

Facebook is trying to follow the same path and Twitter already has its own algorithm. All channels are focusing on pushing out the right content to the right people at the right time.

I would give the same answer a wise SEO would have given 10 years ago and that is social media algorithms will favour quality content that is engaging and contributing to the community. Focus on producing that instead of the latest trick, and you’ll do well over the long term.

Manal Bouchacra

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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