Social Media Beginner Kit With Jonathan Pollinger

The Social Media Marvels is in conversation with Cardiff’s favorite social media trainer, Jonathan Pollinger. In this episode we discuss the basics of social media marketing. Where should one start from, which social media platforms to focus on, and much more. Don’t forget to read the bonus hacks he has shared with us in the end.

What Do I Expect from the Video :

  • What to do when you are just starting out with social media.
  • Leveraging your brand across various platforms.
  • Tips to start off your social media strategy today.
  • What’s next in the realm of Social Media.

Q – Could you tell us a little bit about your association with social media marketing?

A – I’m very much focused on social media and the training aspect of it. I don’t do any of the social media management or anything like that. Purely training, so in the sense of running workshops which is maybe going to the clients and showing them how to make the best use of social media. Or perhaps sitting down next to a client, helping them set up a Facebook ad campaign as an example. I work with a few training organisations, so run sort of a classroom style workshops through them. But in summary I’m a social media trainer and I’ve been around for a while.

Q – So you train people to manage their social media rather than do it for them?

A – I think the difference there is that I’m all about putting people in the right place so that they can do the social media themselves. And I think that that’s preferable. I think that’s the best solution. I think social media management has its place for certain businesses, under certain circumstances. But as you would probably expect me to say – being a trainer I think really it’s best if the business or the social media or probably the marketing department does it themselves rather than outsource that.

Q – So how do clients get in touch with you?

A – I get business mainly through referrals and I like to practice what I preach so quite a few clients come in via social media. And in terms of providing the right training its really a question of what they’re discovering what their business objectives are. And then helping them achieve those using social media.

So it could be anything from typically it’s going to be increasing sales, perhaps it might be for recruitment perhaps, it might be for improving customer service. So as you are well aware, increasingly social media is being used throughout an organisation and a lot of functions that it can help now. It can provide advanced help in terms of efficiency, effectiveness, and achieving their departmental, business objectives.

Q – Facebook and Instagram are the largest platforms to attract audiences, but which are some of the underdog platforms?

A – I specialize in the top five as in Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest. Pinterest would be the smallest of those. And I think that it’s definitely got it’s place and a few particularly interested in web traffic because it’s quite a straightforward strategy to post images, photos, and videos relating to your business. Infographics that sorta things on to Pinterest. And it only takes a couple of clicks to have people back to your website. And it’s a fairly low maintenance platform.

So I think in terms of that effort to reward ratio – it works out quite well. So even though it’s the smallest one, I wouldn’t ignore Pinterest by all means. So like i said it’s web traffic, so it’s basically, you say, you’re an ecommerce site. You’re promoting events on website or whatever it maybe. Website is important and for most businesses it is then Pinterest is definitely worth a look at in terms of helping you drive traffic.

Q – Are there certain platforms that work better paired with a certain objective? For example, Facebook works to gain higher reach?

A – That’s a tough one because I think it’s very sort of horses to courses when it comes to different clients, different objectives, different business sectors, different audiences. I think probably you know its the audience that’s the starting point. So where are their audience spending their time. So that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re gonna end up focusing on. But its definitely the starting point. But there are other factors as well. So it would really depend on a whole bunch of reasons, the business objectives, the audience, what it is that they’re actually selling.

So are they B2B, are they B2C. All those kind of questions really. And then coming up with the most appropriate platform there. I mean broadly speaking, again you would sorta need a starting point and generally the starting point is gonna be Facebook for B2C simply because the number of people on there, the number of potential customers on there and the amount of time that they are spending on there.

So Facebook is not really a bad starting point there for whatever the objective might be. Some are probably clearer than others. So I recently did a bit of a recruitment campaign for a particular role that a client in the leisure industry was looking for. So LinkedIn is kind of a natural fit there if you’re looking to fill a senior position. You know generally on the jobs and recruitment side LinkedIn would probably be your first goal. But that said depending on the vacancy it might well be Facebook. It depends on what sorta position you’re looking to fill.

Q – Could you shed some light on some of the basic social media strategies for some of our audiences who are just starting out with social media marketing?

A – Taking Facebook as a starting point. But I think a lot of people, they might think that they’ve not got an understanding of their audience but they probably have. So its basically just sorta looking at what data that they hold on their customers. And try to learn from that. And at a more practical level, there are tools available out there.

So for example Facebook’s got a feature called audience insights. So that’s pretty handy. You can go on there and you can see not only the make-up and demographics of your Facebook page or audience. But also Facebook as a whole and Facebook in certain countries as well. So that can be pretty useful. So even if you haven’t got a Facebook page, you’ve still got access to that material to learn about your audience.

And even if you’ve got a Facebook page, using that data doesn’t necessarily force you into using Facebook to achieve your objective. It might send you off in a different direction, once you’ve established the demographics around your audience. But I think being mindful of your audience is really really important because its them that you’re having a conversation with at the end of the day. Its them who are existing and your potential audience, potential customers.

The next step after identifying who they are, is trying to find out what they actually want. What problems can you solve perhaps, what value can you add to them. And you sorta start to work towards the content strategy after you’ve figured that out. And to figure that out again, you’ve probably got a bit of sense of it.

But i think often the best way there is to actually ask them. You know write a couple of polls perhaps, or for more detail go into a survey, a mini survey and find out. Of course the other way is to look at your existing content and see how it’s worked out. Some posts are inevitably going to work better than others and some tweets are inevitably going to work better than others, perhaps grouping those and seeing which are the most successful and repeating that strategy.

Q – The way your audience can discover you on social media is through the content you share. It redirects them to your blog/website. So if you are a beginner how do you balance the efforts spent on social media promotion and also your SEO strategy?

A – Ya i think all those definitely have a part to play. SEO i think there are lots of technical things that you can do when it comes to SEO on your website, of which I’ve got a vague understanding but am no expert of. But i think over the years there are some things around SEO that have held true. Like they are valid in terms of content and social media as well.

For example, updating your content regularly and providing valuable content. You know specifically in the context of SEO you’d be talking about keywords, but if you’re providing value for your clients on a regular basis then naturally the keywords are gonna take care of themselves. You know i think it’s wrong kinda to lead with an SEO strategy because then you’re just gonna sort of stuff everything with keywords. You’re putting that first before the value. Really what audience first, what value can you deliver and then keywords will follow naturally but best to review, just to make sure you are including those keywords there.

You know there’s other SEO things as well. I’ve always applied backlinks and so on. Social media can help to a degree with that if you’re looking at the blogging side of things. But its just about getting that balance right between the SEO and the social media and the content. But back to the point of putting your audience first, I think thats really the key to getting those pieces of jigsaw to fitting the right way.

Q – Is the audience moving more towards personal messaging like the ones on social media?

A – I think that that’s very hard to achieve but ya personalization is definitely the future when it comes to marketing in general and social media. We have got Facebook groups, we’ve got LinkedIn groups, we’ve got messaging. So you know the technology is there to move towards that but that’s quite a big ask for a brand to have individual conversations with hundreds, possibly thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands of customers. But i think it is kind of like moving towards that.

Certainly if you’re a small business then this is where you can sort of jump ahead of the bigger players because you can be niche. You can produce niche products and service. And you can produce niche, focused value-added content for a very specific audience. Whereas a larger company is gonna find that much much harder to do even with all their resources. So its not all bad news for the small companies in this new world i think of personalized marketing if we can call it that. Has anyone ever used that term yet? Probably. You know they’ve almost got a bit of a head start.

Its quite exciting that things are moving in that direction. Because ultimately you’re more likely to give the recipient of the message, what they want than broadcasting you mentioned TV and newspapers you know. Ya you can write an absolute cracking article, you can produce a really good TV program, you can create an amazing TV ad. But at the end of the day, its never gonna entertain, inform everybody is it. It’s only going to hit a percentage. So if you can provide tailored-content that totally hits the mark, that can really serve you well in a business sense.

Q – Any other tips on how to create a more engaged audience using social media? 

A – I think what’s most often missed, despite the fact that for the ten years I’ve been doing social media other well myself included, all our social media people have kinda talked about the importance of conversation. But its still a case that businesses are often just sorta pumping content out there. Or definitely almost always the case.

Even with most businesses now it goes as far as saying that they’re publishing more than they’re listening. And listening is just so important if you’re having a conversation. So i think if there’s one thing that the people can do to improve their general best practice use of social media is to listen more.

What questions are your existing and potential customers asking? You know use tools and find out those questions and answer them. They’d be really helpful. As a general point, go out there, you know this is time consuming stuff but if it works, go out there and look for Instagram posts, and comment on people’s instagram posts, with helpful stuff not with spammy stuff. Go onto quora, perhaps not a pure social networking site, but if you’re looking to demonstrate thought leadership, raise awareness, then you can go on there and answer a whole bunch of questions.

So i think listening is pretty important. And definitely if somebody asks you a direct question or posts something onto your page or tweets you, speed of response is also important. SO make sure you do reply. You know i often come across fairly big brands’ Facebook pages and they’re taking a day or two to actually reply to people which is not good. And again I think that’s where, coz its not meeting customers expectations.

And I think that that’s another area where people can, small businesses can be one step ahead. Its because they can be more responsive in replying, and being helpful and answering questions. Tough but worth the effort. I think it pays dividends.

Q – That’s true, small companies can build more conversations with its audiences. Something the bigger companies cannot do due to scale.

A – That’s a very good point Q. I think authenticity there it’s hard for a multinational conglomerate to have a personality, whereas if you’re a freelancer well you kinda got a personality as long as you just act as yourself then that’s going to come across. So ya there are advantages in that sense too. And I think also in terms of sort of processes, and procedures and rules and steps to follow and host chains of command that also makes it quite difficult for larger companies and brands to respond.

I wouldn’t mention the name of the conference because it was kinda like an industry thing. But i was sorta like shocked at the rate per, there was some stats around the rate of response for fairly large brands in the UK responding to Facebook posts. And I will tell you that it wasn’t much over 50%. But all the big brands in the room, they were actually, I had to smile to myself, they were actually very happy with that which is like dreadful you know. They should really only be happy, you know, in my opinion, only when it’s like 90% or plus. So their expectations are a bit different than their customers’ expectations in that scenario I think.

Q – Any future predictions or trends we should be aware of?

A – Initially no sort of dramatic revelations to me or predictions. Because I just think that video photography and quality of those two will continue to move forward and I think the stories are going to continue to be a big thing and become more popular. I’ll probably see less of the newsfeed and more sort of stories kind of left to right sort of formats.

I can see sort of that happening. And that is something you know small businesses and solopeneurs can tell stories quite easily, so I think that’s going to be good for that sort of business sector. And big brands have the budgets to do some sort of clever curative stuff in those formats as well. So there’s sort of something for everybody there.

I think perhaps more predictions sort of would be around sound stuff as in voice assistant kind of thing. So we’re seeing Alexa, and Google home, Samsung are about launch a device and these are quite popular. But there hasn’t really been a cross-over to marketing and social media with those yet. But I think we’re gonna see that. I’m not quite sure what sort of shape or form that’ll take.

But perhaps we could be asking, and I think you can probably actually set this up, would be asking Google and Alexa to read our tweets and stuff like that. I did for a sort of fun set up Google home to tweet for me but I dont use it so I’m not quite sure why there is a cultural thing or whether its just not necessary. I don’t know.

There’s no point of technology for technology’s sake but I think we are gonna more around voice. Perhaps when we start, Google searches so prevalent, perhaps when we start to rather than type something into Google, when we’re all more accustomed to asking Google for information, perhaps that’ll be the point where there’s a sort of crossover to social media as well. And so who knows we might be asking facebook to do something in the fairly near future. Would you like another wild prediction?

I’ve had this idea for a while. I did actually predict that, in 2017, I had predicted that Facebook would come out with hardware. I did kind of nail that one because they’ve come out with that portal device since then. They weren’t producing any hardware so I’ve got that one right. And this one might sound a bit crazy, I think might come out with some sort of a venue kind of thing maybe coffee shop. Some sort of space where people can do their co-working and their social media and that kinda thing. Some sort of venture in property and bricks and mortar. There you go, Facebook will be doing that in sometime in future lets see.

The #SocialMediaMarvels is a podcast series that invites digital marketing influencers from across the world to celebrate their journey and get a glimpse of their contributions to the field. Get actionable tips, learn directly from the practitioners, and imbibe it to help your business.

About the Author

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Athirupa Geetha Manichandar

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