The Journey of a Social Media Marketer: Q&A with SMT Influencer Lilach Bullock
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 sixth in our series of interviews with our Social Media Today influencers.
Lilach Bullock recently became an influencer for SMT, but she's been a contributor, and a force within the social media marketing sphere, for a long time. Listed by Forbes as one of the top 20 women social media power influencers, and likewise as one of the top social media power influencers, Lilach is one of the most dynamic personalities in the social media industry, and was crowned the 'Social Influencer of Europe' by Oracle.
Lilach, who launched her first business just after becoming a mother, is regularly consulted and quoted by a range of publications including Forbes, The Telegraph, Wired, Prima Magazine, The Sunday Times, The Guardian, Social Media Today and BBC Radio 5 Live. Her books have also seen significant success, achieving the top sales rank on Amazon in the 'Sales and Marketing and Small Business and Entrepreneurship' category.
Social Media Today: How (and when) did you get started in the social media marketing world?
Lilach Bullock: It happened very soon after I signed up and tried Twitter for the first time, about 12 years ago or so. I started my first business in 2006 - a virtual PA company - and as I started using Twitter more and more during that time, I could see its huge potential for marketing, and it didn’t hurt that I really loved using it too.
Eventually, we started transitioning the business towards more social media marketing, and less PA stuff, then in 2009, I sold that business and focused solely on social media marketing and built my very own social media marketing agency. In those days a lot of business owners, and even marketers, didn’t truly see the potential value of social as a marketing platform. There was very little understanding of how you could get a return on investment from social media marketing. Now, it feels like every business has at least one social account, but many of them have several - a good social media presence has become an absolute must.
SMT: What major impacts has social media had on your career, and the marketing industry in general?
LB: Social media has undoubtedly changed my life and my career. It’s had a huge impact on my success - and I’m very much aware that without Twitter, I’d be in a completely different place in my life right now.
Social media in general - and Twitter in particular - gave me a platform where I could make my voice heard by thousands, even tens of thousands. It helped me reach an incredibly wide audience, build up my traffic and helped me find clients. It also helped me get to the all-elusive 'influencer' status, which then enabled me to build my business and my name faster than I ever thought possible.
As for the marketing industry in general, it’s difficult to know where to even start, as its impact is simply enormous. Social media has had such a huge impact on our society more broadly, and has influenced how we consume content, how we buy, how we get our information - and it’s completely changed how we interact with businesses:
Social media gives consumers a platform to reach out to businesses directly and in a very public way. It gives customers a means to be in constant contact with the businesses they've purchased from, it changes the way we do customer service, it changes consumer expectations.
I could literally go on and on - social media’s impact was that big on the marketing industry.
SMT: What do you believe is the most challenging part of working in social media?
LB: One of the most challenging aspects of social media marketing is actually something that hasn’t changed since the dawn of this new marketing practice - proving ROI.
Although we’ve definitely gotten better at tying business goals with social media results, many businesses still expect to see sales, sales, and more sales. But social media marketing is not just about making sales. Sure, some brands can do that successfully and consistently, but in most cases, social media marketing is not just about boosting sales. It’s about boosting your brand awareness, and reaching a wider audience - it’s driving traffic to your business website, interacting with your customer base to keep them loyal, and so much more.
SMT: What are the best parts of working in social media?
LB: Quite simply… it’s fun. And it’s a lot of creative work.
But the best part, in my opinion, is that not only do you get to be creative, but you have a lot of room to do so. It’s very much a learning process, where you get to experiment time and time again. Sure, maybe the video you created today didn’t get the traction you wanted, but you can learn from it and create a better video tomorrow.
SMT: How do you expect social media to evolve in the business world over the next 10 to 20 years?
LB: In the coming years, we’ll probably struggle to find any successful business that doesn’t have a social media presence. But honestly, I truly believe it’s impossible to tell where social media and social media marketing will be in 10 to 20 years.
Artificial Intelligence will surely a significant impact on social media. New and exciting social networks will appear, and some might even take over from the old ones. New forms of content will certainly appear. Augmented reality, virtual reality and other new technologies will make their impact known.
I think that in order to discuss where social media will be in 10 to 20 years, it’s also important to discuss how consumer technology will evolve in that time. After all, we just have to look at the first iPhones, and where smartphones have evolved to now, to realize just how drastically things can change in only a few short years.
Who knows what foldable, paper-thin, transparent, etc. phones we’ll have in 2030 or 2040 - but they will certainly change the way we use the existing social platforms and options, along with all other related technology, such as AR and VR.
SMT: What’s your favorite social media platform today and how do you expect that platform to evolve over time?
LB: For me, it’s always been about Twitter. I know many claim that it'll die out, and plenty of people don’t like it at all. But personally, I’ve loved it since 2008, when I first started using it, and I still continue to do so.
To be honest, I don’t think Twitter itself will change that much over time, but rather the way people use it. That’s not to say there won’t be updates and changes regularly - they’ll try to make sure that they’re staying on top of new trends. But what I think will happen - well, it’s kind of already happening, to be honest - is that people will use it as their news feed, and as their direct link to businesses and all kinds of organizations, but not in the same way they use Facebook.
Sure, all social media is pretty much real-time, but there’s something different about Twitter, whether it’s getting updates from a state organization, alerts of a natural disaster happening in your area, or reaching out to complain about a problem you had with a business.
SMT: What’s the best advice you would share with someone new to the field?
LB: That it’s not just about likes, comments, new followers and other shiny metrics to dazzle your clients; rather, it’s about focusing on your clients’ business objectives.
When you start working on a new project, take the time to truly understand what that brand wants to achieve, and use social media marketing to get them those results. Oh, and make sure you really understand the brand too. Read their content so you can get their “voice,” study their products or services in detail, and study their brand guidelines religiously.
The better you know a brand, the better you'll be able to market them.
SMT: Follow up: What’s your favorite article that you’ve written for SMT and why?
LB: There are so many of them that it’s almost impossible to name one. But if pressed, I’d probably say it’s my post on “Useful Tips and Tools for Measuring and Learning from Your Social Media Analytics.”
As I mentioned earlier, proving ROI is one of the biggest challenges social media marketers face, and this article highlights some practical ways of not only measuring your social media ROI effectively, but also boosting it.