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 other interactive social accounts (Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram) 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 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.
First up at Q&A bat is Lucy Rendler-Kaplan. She’s the founder of Arkay Marketing & PR, a boutique public relations agency. Her SMT bio reads as follows, “Lucy Rendler-Kaplan grew up in Skokie, receiving her bachelor's degree at Northeastern Illinois University. A marketing manager by trade she has spent over 15 years growing brands, delving most recently into public relations as well. Hazard of the profession, all her conversations IRL are conducted within 150 characters.”
Now that we’ve gotten to know each other a little bit, let’s get started.
Social Media Today: How (and when) did you get started in the social media marketing world?
Lucy Rendler-Kaplan: I totally fell into social media! When Twitter first came out, I was working as the marketing director for ONE Coconut Water, and had no clue what I was doing in social. The profile I set up for that brand was actually my own personal profile! In a way, that was perfect, in that right from the start I was totally transparent, and everyone really got to know the “face behind the brand.” I think this was something that set not only my brand apart, but ME! I was able to quickly build trust with people and begin and grow relationships very naturally.
SMT: What major impacts has social media had on your career and the marketing industry in general?
LRK: I get most of my business for my company, Arkay Marketing & PR, from referrals from people I’ve met on social media. I am now paid to write articles on social media tips for a variety of sites. What I love is that social media truly levels the playing field. While I started my career in marketing working for large companies, my clients now tend to be startups and small businesses, and social media allows me to have the same reach as I did when working with the larger brands. Both in my own career and in the marketing industry in general, social media has made the world a lot smaller and more accessible. You can meet and work with people from virtually anywhere in the world! Before social, we would place ads or purchase tv or radio spots and it was expensive and not terribly effective. Today, you can send out targeted content or simply have conversations with people and, done well, your reach is almost infinite. Social media usage now far outweighs traffic, circulation and audience reach for all traditional media channels.
SMT: What do you believe is the most challenging part of working in social media?
LRK: I’m not one of those people that finds social media “noisy.” I even wrote about it for you! The challenge comes in time. People now have come to expect immediate access to anyone and anything, anytime they want it. Working in a variety of time zones, people can then become frustrated when you might be sleeping, and then will voice that frustration on social, where more people will see it and there’s the chance that people will be turned off of your brand. The longer the lag time between a customer reaching out and your responding, the lower your chances of forging a true connection.
SMT: What are the best parts of working in social media?
LRK: Hands down, the relationships. Some of the friends I consider my closest and most trusted, I have met through social media and some of them, I have never even met in person! Like I mentioned, I love how the world feels smaller due to social media, and I know that wherever I travel, I already have built in friends to hang out with wherever I am. I love that I am able to be creative daily and be a storyteller. I get really involved with the communities I build for the brand clients I work with and LOVE engaging with fans and truly getting to know them. I love that at any time, you can jump into conversations and interact with people in real time and exchange ideas and thoughts. I also love seeing how a brand can grow with pretty much every interaction. Social media is also so great because people tend to REALLY share what they think and you can get candid answers from people that you otherwise never would have been able to reach. Then, there’s everything you can learn!
SMT: How do you expect social media to evolve in the business world over the next 10 to 20 years?
LRK: While we may not know what the New Year will bring, one thing is certain – content marketing is here to stay. It isn’t, however, staying the same–new tools emerge, thought leaders put new spins on old marketing tactics and individuals and businesses find new ways to cut through the online “noise” to make an impact. Content marketing connects your brand to your customer. Your work is either going to touch people’s hearts and minds and connect with them in an emotional way or it will miss the mark. Here are 5 content marketing trends in 2019 that will keep your brand on target:
1. Distribution Is as Key as Your Content
You might have the best content ever written in the history of content. But who cares, if no one can see it? Content distribution needs to be a vital part of your content marketing strategy. This is something most companies ignore, or don’t even think about, so if YOU do, you’re already a step ahead. When your content hits the right channels at the right time, more people have the opportunity to learn about your services and get to know you.
2. Focus on Micro-Influencers
#SorryNotSorry Kendall and Kylie. The trend in influencer marketing is moving away from the days of simply paying a celebrity to hold your product in every paparazzi photo. Were those days simpler? Yes. But they also were EARLY. In the early days, we didn’t have to think about putting together a budget to have a socialite walk out of the gym with your branded water bottle peeking out of their bag, let alone even entertain the idea of paying upwards of $10,000 for a tweet.
These days? You don’t have to do that. Identify influencers by looking to your own community – find who people are retweeting, or commenting that they took an action because of something a particular person said. Work with THOSE people. They will be more valuable to your business due to their ability to reach niche demographics and the trust they engender with their audiences.
3. Streaming Video
It’s live. It’s now. It’s imperfect. And that’s what makes it perfect for your business. According to research by explainer video company Wyzowl, 97 percent of marketers say that video has helped increase user understanding of their product or service, and 76 percent indicated that it has helped increase web traffic and sales.
Live video allows viewers to feel a sense of closeness to the people recording it. That makes you (read: your business) more real. It allows you to humanize your brand faster than ever before, leading to that emotional connection all brands strive for. Live videos increase the perceived trustworthiness and relevance of a brand. There’s also the fun, unexpected happenstances that often occurs, which creates more viewer engagement. Cisco predicts that by 2021, video will take up as much as 80 percent of all internet traffic. That’s way too high a percentage to ignore—so don’t.
We’re still waiting for the 1960s Smell-O-Vision technology to take off, but artificial intelligence HAS arrived and social media marketers are employing it with successful results. Marketing is an art, but it’s also a science, and AI offers brands the ability to tailor campaigns and deliver content and experiences based on consumer intent at any moment.
Is it a bit creepy? Well, yes, but it doesn’t have to be. AI, coupled with real-time location data, allows marketers to better understand the consumer’s mindset and where, when and how to reach them most effectively. They can pull data instantaneously based on key strokes, page views and more – and then can design AND deliver in-the-moment content.
The future of AI may be uncertain, but one thing isn’t – brands and marketers that don’t begin to delve into artificial intelligence are already losing out on strategic advantages to their AI enabled competition.
5. Engagement, Engagement, Engagement
This should be the top goal in any content strategy, no matter the year. Algorithms favor content that start conversations, but more importantly? People favor conversations! For those of us who focus on content marketing as we check our phones while laying in bed each morning, it’s uber surprising that the majority of brands are not taking the time to engage with their consumers and their audience. There’s no shortcut to building relationships. It takes what it takes, but the time spent will undoubtedly be worth it. And “engagement” isn’t simply liking or sharing a post. It’s taking the time to get to know the people you are creating content for, and allowing them to truly get to know you. Marketers must aim to create interesting and engaging content, then take the time to chat with those people who spend theirs engaging with you.
Hieroglyphics. Cave drawings. Fireside chats. Ghost stories around a campfire – telling stories has been one of the most basic ways we communicate with each other for thousands of years. Something happens in our heads, in our brains, when we hear stories. Think about it – how much do you retain when someone reads from a PowerPoint presentation? Now think about how much you retain if that presentation starts with a story.
Stories put our brains to work! How can we use this to our advantage for our brands? If you can give your products and services a story that people can relate to, you are then able to take your target audience on a journey with you. In order for people to form a personal connection with your brand and recognize all the ways it seamlessly fits into their everyday lives, your stories must be honest, inspirational and REAL.
As you are looking to begin telling your brand’s story, you need to first establish your brand voice in an inviting way. You can then begin to show people who you are, what you stand for as a brand, and how your stories relate to those of your audience.
Of course, there are many more trends we could have included here. Remember – not every trend is for everybody. Remember in the 90s when teens wore their jeans backwards? HUGE trend, but it didn’t work for most people. Pay attention to social media trends, but carefully evaluate each one before blindly incorporating them into your marketing strategy.
SMT: What’s your favorite social media platform today and how do you expect that platform to evolve over time?
LRK: Easily my favorite social platform is Twitter. I often say it was built for us insomniacs! Also, IMO, it’s the least apt to be used as a “highlight reel.” I feel that on Twitter, people are much more raw, open and honest and I really am drawn to those types of people. I get most of my news there as well. I’d like to see them do better with the bullies however. And that’s a poor word to use, as people are truly being victimized on that platform, perhaps more than others.
SMT: What’s the best advice you would share with someone new to the field?
LRK: Engage. Talk with people as much as you can. Truly let people in and get to know others. Don’t be afraid to try new things and never be afraid of failure.
SMT: Follow up: What’s your favorite article that you’ve written for SMT and why?
LRK: Gah! That’s like asking which kid is your favorite! Here’s one. I truly believe that the word “influencer” is a lot simpler than people make it. Someone with two followers can be an influencer if what they say or do TRULY gets people to make a change, or a purchase.