Here at SMT, we're always thinking about how to put the 'social' in Social Media Today. From our #SMTLive Twitter chats, social media groups, and our social accounts, we get that social media is at its best when it brings people together.
Being that our influencers are one of our very favorite parts of our community, we decided that sharing their stories, tips of the trade, and advice with you would be a fun (and very social) task. They’re the leaders of our SMT contributors, and they’re excited to share their perspectives with you.
This is the seventh in our series of interviews with our Social Media Today influencers.
Bob Carver has been an SMT Influencer for a long time - or at least long enough to pen a whopping 71 articles for the site. Bob is the founder and principal consultant at Carver Technology Consulting LLC (CTC). Carver Technology Consulting is a full-service social media marketing services consultancy, which focuses on practical social media adoption to support business goals.
Here's what Bob had to say about his social media marketing journey, and the lessons he's learned along the way.
Social Media Today: How (and when) did you get started in the social media marketing world?
Bob Carver: I’ve been running my own firms since 2000. We were “techies who could talk”, and we did all flavors of that: IT consulting, IT training, and technology marketing. We built a lot of launch materials for Microsoft and others, [such as] presentations, whitepapers, and demos. Large and long batteries of content. In 2010, we started to see a shift - people were increasingly engaging on social media. You could get people to follow your fan page on Facebook and have an instant conduit to reach them. More of our clients asked for help setting up social profiles and other social media consulting. We obliged.
SMT: When and why did you decide to build your own social media marketing consulting firm, Carver Technology Consulting?
BC: In 2012 we saw content was changing. What we now call content marketing and inbound marketing processes were taking off. Content was becoming more bite-sized, and there needed to be a better mix. Along with big-picture, strategic stuff, there needed to be more tactical content [and] answers to common questions, [such as] how-tos, use cases, [and] best practices. Those whitepapers we’d written needed to be broken up and distributed over social media to the correct audience, followed up by real-time engagement. At the end of 2012 we refocused the company as a social media marketing agency.
SMT: What are the first steps you take when training a new client on their social strategy?
BC: The first thing we do is perform a full web, content, and competitor audit. We’re strong believers in analytic-driven marketing and decision making. This gives our clients so many insights - it tells them what’s working, what’s not, and what their competitors are doing. It also helps them define their messaging and value proposition, based on their clients, their products, and services, so that they can [start] positioning their products and services correctly. It also helps illuminate new opportunities.
SMT: Can you share with us a recent successful campaign you consulted a client on at Carver Technology Consulting? What was the strategy and what do you think made it successful?
BC: We recently created a content strategy for a client in the IT training sector. We used market analysis to identify trends in their audience that challenged one of their key product assumptions - that a server-based solution was still desirable. We found that their prospect audience actually preferred a cloud-based solution, and they adjusted their product focus to cloud-based solutions.
SMT: Which metrics do you focus on when determining the success of a social media campaign?
BC: It depends on the client. Sometimes it’s increased web traffic. Often it's sales qualified leads from the client side. We always measure and report on engagement metrics, both online and with email, because if your audience is highly engaged, that’s a great conduit for getting your message out.
SMT: What defines success for you and your team when coaching a new client? When do you know your hard work is paying off?
BC: Often times [it's] when the client stops worrying about what we’re in charge of and starts focusing on the other business things they need to do. That’s often why we’re brought in. They don’t have the internal resources, bandwidth, or knowledge to do the marketing piece well, and other tasks are on hold. Once we get our plan in place, our tools set up, and are in a good cadence, the client sees results. Once they trust us as their marketing staff, and start to focus on the other things they need to do to grow their business, that’s when we feel really good.
SMT: Are there specific skills or traits you believe to be necessary for a person in the role of a social media manager?
BC: Fundamentally, someone who's calm and patient, and not prone to react - because the internet can be a harsh place. Beyond that, to really rock the position, someone with strong knowledge of the products and services your brand sells, a strong knowledge of the mission and goals of your brand, and strong understanding of the customers who buy and use your products and services. People who use products and services want to engage with brands online, and they want to engage with people like themselves, who understand their problems. I always tell social media managers that, in the best of all worlds, a person would buy something because of a recommendation of a friend who had solved the same problem. They’d then ask that friend for help getting the product or solution in place. Be that friend.
SMT: You’ve been a long-time contributor and loyal Social Media Today influencer for years. Of the 71 articles that you’ve written to date, which one are you most proud of and believe offers the best single piece of advice?
BC: There are a lot of them I’m proud of. One that jumps out is "6 Digital Marketing Analytics Questions Answered". I love the deeper, more technical posts. And this one of those posts that got great reception the first time, and when it was revised.
SMT: Finally, how do you predict careers in social media to evolve over the next 10 years?
BC: Social media marketers will have to be masters of many tools - from video to animation creation, to data analysis and AI. The tools will become better, [and] the expected job skills will become broader.