Social Media Interview: Philip Macartney, Head of Digital Acquisition and Social - Saxo Bank

1. Who are you, and what does your company do?

Philip Macartney, Head of Digital Acquisition and Social for Saxo Bank. We offer a multi-asset trading platform that allows traders to trade smarter globally and react to market changes quicker. We offer B2B services as well.

2. How and why did you get started in social media?

I started in digital in 1998-99, with a startup with friends in Northern Ireland - that failed miserably. Then, in 2007, I joined Bebo - really the first social media platform - heading the Ireland division for the company. They started social, before Facebook, started the idea of social business. I got in at the start. After 2 years there, I went on to work for other global companies involved in social media.

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

The benefits only come when social is at the center of the business, and those advantages are extreme. A great early example came from an American company - American Airlines, I think. Customer service could tell a passenger whether their flight was on time through Twitter, and they could also tell the gate that passenger X had landed, so not to give away their seat. When you see it done well, you see the future of business. Some other examples haven't been as positive, when their social wasn't interconnected throughout the business.

Social media allows you to build relationships across every facet of the business. It's a philosophy as much as a tool. The entire business has to adopt social. The great benefits are only feasible if it's adopted business-wide. The main benefits are the same as with any business - sell more, lower costs, improve the product or service, pay less for media and marketing. But social has to be at the center of the business, it can't be a tacked-on tool.

4. What are some common mistakes business owners make when building brand awareness on social media?

In terms of brand - I've seen this happen - when they move on to social, they assume that they still own the brand, and they don't. You can own the brand on television or radio because there's no right of reply. I don't own the radio station or the tv station, so there's no equal footing. Whenever you move on to social, you have an account and I have an account. It's the "communisation" of media. It means that they don't own the brand anymore. They can put forward their perception of their brand, but they don't own it anymore.

Another famous example was Nestle UK, I think it was. They came on to social media and said "Hey, here's our new page. Don't do this with the logo, don't do that with the logo. No swearing or profanity, etc." That's a mistake. What they should be looking to do is to grow a personality, grow a brand organically, and concentrate on the people closest to them.

Another mistake that brand marketers tend to make, to think in terms of old marketing, which is: "how many people can I reach?" They think in terms of reach and frequency, whereas actually it's about engagement. I've been saying the word 'engagement' for about six years and it still isn't getting through. Maybe I'm saying it wrong, haha. The strength in social is not how many people you shout at, but how many people you talk with. That's the key to getting a social brand built. Concentrate on the core of people that you're speaking to, and that are speaking to you, and on growing that core. That's how you'll make a brand work on social.

5. What qualities do you think social media managers should have?

A social media manager needs to be a social native. They need to get the platforms, they need to be passionate about it, they need to enjoy it. 'Young' does not always equal a social native. To that point, they need to understand brand. They need to absolutely get the idea of brand and what brand is about, and the emotional connection to the customer that the business is trying to achieve. There's nothing worse than a family car brand sounding like a hipster. You're killing your brand by doing that. There's nothing worse than Volvo asking me "Hey guys, what did you do on Saturday night?" It doesn't fit their brand values.

So, someone who's a social native, and someone who understands brand, and everything else can be added to that. You can talk about data and figures and stuff, but in terms of getting it, and in terms of being the person to communicate on behalf of your brand on these platforms, they've got to understand the platform and they've got to understand the brand.

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

Their social media director tells them so, haha. Too often the KPI's (Key Performance Indicators) are set to how many likes we have, how many retweets we get, and stuff like that. Then after a year, the business owner goes "Yeah, but I don't really know what that means and I don't know what that does." So again, when you put social at the center of the business, and each part of the business has their own KPI's, the idea is that social, as a philosophy and as an approach, augments those KPIs.

So you look at it and you say "what are my KPIs for sales? Okay, what's social going to do for sales? Social's going to augment sales by doing LinkedIn training, by using tweets to bring people to landing pages where e-commerce can be done", or whatever. You set the KPIs for sales, for marketing, for customer service, for brand, for HR in terms of employee acquisition, or whatever your indicators are. So, social will have lots of different KPIs, but it will invariably augment all of the KPIs that are already in the business, with the possible exception of finance. I've yet to figure out how social helps finance.

7. How do you see social media evolving over the next 5 years? What do you hope to see?

It'll probably become a lot more platform agnostic. I think it will start to become more of a layer and an approach, rather than this little section within a company. The idea of social, or 'socialising' the company, is that social will become a starting point for a company rather than a tack-on at the end. Companies will evolve themselves to having a social personality, a way of communicating socially, and, like I said before, a philosophy of social bred into every facet of the company. It will be the starting point for campaigns.

In fact, I actually think the campaigns will become a lot less relevant and it'll be more like brands reacting to your personal experience, having a relationship with you. Through the use of data and mobile devices, contextual stuff, etc. It'll be the erosion of the campaign and become more relationship-based marketing, and soon a company's movements will be based on the types of relationships it has with its customers and how it utilizes those relationships in terms of products, brand, sales, marketing, everything.

8. If you could share one best practice about using social media to grow a business, what would it be?

I'm going to give you some gold here. This is absolute gold, okay? This is trademark Philip Macartney, and if I see this going up on any social media guru's blog, you can tell them they're in trouble. As with most social media experts, I've developed my own principle. We like to do this - we like to have our own bit so we can say "we've done THIS", therefore we've contributed some good to the world. Mine is about the origins of the word social, and the insight for this principle came from when I was working with large brands. Their view on their videos, and the likes on their posts - the sort of easy key indicators - were very naive. I had a real problem with it because they weren't speaking to their core, and I couldn't work out why this was.

The answer came to me from looking at the word 'social', which comes from the Latin word 'socii' . When the Roman empire started, it was a few farmers on a hill in the middle of Italy. They decided that they wanted to live in a certain way, so the democratic republic was born. As they grew, their influence grew, and the surrounding regions started to join them. They didn't join because of marriage, or war, or all the things that usually describe early man's way of growth. They joined because they advocated a way of living. They joined because they liked the way these 'Romans' did things. The Romans created a word for these regions that were joining them, they called them the 'socii'. That's where the word 'social' comes from.

If you think about it, that's what your social life is. It's you joining with someone with whom you have something in common - whether you play on the same football team, you work together, you've known each other since you were kids, you live on the same street, whatever it is. That's social, that's socialising. It's gathering around a common thread, a common interest, a common thing that you advocate. It wasn't a strong power base that allowed the Roman way, which we still see in life today. There are still Roman roads. The language of Rome spreads across Europe and beyond. That happened because of the common interest.

So the socii principle is about building a strong core around your social media strategy, and that core should be your employees and your real brand mavens, your heavy customers, the people that really believe in what you do. Your social activity should engage them first. There are great employee advocacy systems out there - we're launching one in the next couple of weeks - and these systems will help you achieve this. The idea is to activate that system and engage with that core first. Concentrate on growing that core, the brand mavens, the people that absolutely love and carry your message. Never mind about the easy 'likes', never mind about the casual observer, the casual connections. The casual connections will come by way of advocacy through your core. Too many marketers are only interested in reach.

9. What are your favourite platforms for social media marketing?

Bebo, haha. We just have to put down Bebo. I'll say something about Bebo, though. If you look at the things that Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn are doing now in terms of design, that was Bebo 2.0. That was our design exactly. It was a lot more about personalisation. If you look at what media is doing now, socialising media and bringing social into live media productions, Bebo was one of the first to do that - Bebo and MySpace. It's a bit tongue-and-cheek, but I still love Bebo and I can't wait for its return.

The other one from a marketing point of view that I like, because its still relatively organic, is Twitter. I love the community feel on Twitter. I love that, both as a client and as a user of Twitter, you can see when things are trending. It's much more conversational than Facebook. The stream is very personal, and the data is fantastic. I really hope they don't play too much with the organic nature of Twitter. That's the one that really gets me up in the morning.


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