On Wednesday 25th March, two generations, with two different sets of perspectives and life experiences, joined Dixon Jones to discuss the best approaches to Social Media Marketing in 2020.
The Old Guard:
Dixon Jones, Brand Ambassador of Majestic and previously founder of one of the UK’s earliest SEO Consultancies, Receptional, back in 1999.
The New Blood:
Thank you ever so much for coming back to yet another Old Guard versus New Blood webinar series, sponsored by Majestic.
Thank you ever so much for Majestic for sponsoring these, they just wouldn’t get on if I didn’t have somebody giving me a kick to try and put these things up.
I’m really pleased with the with the crowd we’ve got today.
We’ve got four people here, well if you include myself.
Shari has decided to go incognito, so Shari why don’t you introduce yourself first to the crew?
Hello everybody! I prefer to be called ‘Classic Hat’ instead of ‘Old Hat’ you don’t mind!
I knew that I’d get in trouble with that one!
My name is Shari Thurow.
I have been in the SEO world since 1995 believe it or not, and I specialize in search engine friendly design and architecture.
You’ve written two books as well.
I have and I was also included in Eric Ward and Garrett French’s most recent book on link building so that was pretty cool.
I’ve known Shari for a long, long time.
In fact I was even mentioned in one of your books in the in the introduction after something involving a swimming pool in Iceland.
Okay, so you know Shari… 1995… I’m sorry but you have to be on the ‘Old Guard’ side of this argument.
Anybody that started before the turn of the millennium, we are the Old Guard.
We have to say that especially, since these guys are really young and inexperienced!
David – do you want to introduce yourself?
I’m David Mackenzie-Kong I’ve been doing Social Media Marketing for over eight years and I focus on small business and work with major corporate companies as well.
My goal here now is to get people going, you know, get rolling with it.
I focus on health in the health industry as well as the triathlon industry right now and it was going well up to a week ago, and now we’re just running, but yeah that’s kind of a little bit of my background.
You’re big into triathlons aren’t you?
Yeah I just got into ultra-marathon running as well and unfortunately all the races are cancelled this year.
That’s not so great, so we’re all trying to figure out how it’s going to play out you know.
You’re going to have to wear virtual cameras or something to like that!
Okay so we got over 20 years in the industry, we got an ultra-marathon runner.
Ned what you’re going to come up with?
Yeah I’m gutted about the marathons being cancelled as well – so close with my training.
I have run a marathon though, but I’m certainly not going to run an ultra-marathon – they are crazy.
I know in France, just to go on a complete tangent, you drink wine while you run around! So yes that sounds like my kind of marathon!
Anyway my name’s Ned Poulter, I’m CEO and Founder of Pole Star Digital. We started out kind of in SEO. I’ve been in the industry for over 10 years now. I very much specialize now in Social Media and Paid Social Media. That’s a large part what we, do helping people to drive leads through sales from Paid Social Media channels.
Okay fantastic and you play the guitar and do Ed Sheeran look-alikes.
[LAUGHTER] I’m not as popular as him.
I’m sure that’s not true Ned!
So I have spent many a nice evening in bars, in Brighton mostly, with Ned.
And David you’re involved in Beanstalk weren’t you for a while I think?
That’s right. I got my Jedi Knight training with Dave Davies back in the day.
It was great time, good working with the guy, just a blast.
So there’s a huge amount of experience in the group and I think it’s going be great to do a session on you know.
Obviously with a whole event sponsored by Majestic, this backdrop of links kind of keeps on coming back.
I’m not asking anybody to talk about Majestic and anybody doesn’t necessary need to talk about links but we’re going to talk about social and social engagement.
I’ve got a bunch of questions from people that signed up, and there is a whole load that signed up and thank you very much.
We got the newsletter out fairly late but there was you a huge response, so it does seem that everybody’s still willing to get on and get into business in this these hard times.
So I don’t want to spend the whole 45 minutes talking about Coronavirus, but clearly that has an impact on what we’re doing moving forward, so maybe just start out (even though we didn’t set the question up) “is there anything special that we should be doing in social now that we shouldn’t have been doing two weeks ago or anything that comes out of this that changes the way in which we move forward now with social?“
I think consistency.
I think this gives opportunity to a lot of small businesses to start playing with social media like they never had before.
Like I was saying earlier in our pre-talk, for example there is a place, a coffee house in Grand Forks, that used to just take pictures of their cinnamon buns and stuff like that.
But I’ve been seeing over this last week they’re actually talking into the camera and engaging with their customers.
The customers are seriously interested in that and so they’re starting to talk and engage with their clientele and I think that’s needed more now than ever before.
Keep your clients engaged, keep that conversation going, talk about your products in a new light instead of just that plain old picture on Instagram or whatnot, talk about how you make your favorite recipes or stuff like that.
We’re starting to see that and I think this is a good thing in a way of showing how important it is now and has always been.
It’s just like, let’s take this and move with it now, so building a community – it’s a good time to build that now while we’re at home.
Shari do you want to jump in with anything?
I do, because both of us specialize in medical sites and medical social media and one of the things that was my first thought, and I mean no offense by saying this, is start engaging with your customers.
It’s been that way all along.
Well if you’re not engaging with your customers, now is the time.
It’s always been that way.
It’s always been that way and the software that’s available now is certainly different than it was years ago, but you need to know your customers.
One of the things that I noticed about a few of my clients is that they’re farmers, so think flax seeds and stuff like that – things that are healthy for you.
Now this is something that people would like to know now, you know what are some of the healthy recipes that are good for me and that are good for my family?
This is social media right now; it was a perfect way to outreach.
It’s more important in some industries than others.
What I don’t want to hear from and what people don’t want to hear from is: “I’m in you the television installation market” – what do you group of people know about the Coronavirus?
Not a whole heck of a lot – so please refer people to the proper medical places.
Definitely tell your audience what you’re doing, and your customers and your prospects what you’re doing and what you can do to support them, but I’m not going to look for a television or cable installation company to give me information about medical.
One note on the farmer side, I found out one of the farmers’ wives is a nurse so she is just perfect right now for the social media outreach.
I think the big thing from my perspective is social media is very human, it’s very social.
So strike genuine conversation to engage.
Certainly don’t adopt an authentic role, which is what we were just getting to there.
If there’s an authenticity, I think that will go an awful long way.
My big point about that is just have a bit of tact.
There’s a lot of people who have been calling for marketing to just not happen during these times.
I don’t agree with that, but I do agree that, particularly with bigger companies or some smaller companies, they may be taking these causes to set up their funnels and flows.
It might not be the best time to have your automated solutions running for you.
Just have a bit of tact and have a bit of soul I think that’s probably the best thing.
I’m going to go on to my first question in just a second – which is Charlie’s question by the way – but Shari you mentioned that there’s new tools and stuff now out there.
Ned I know you’ve used buffer a fair amount in the past, I’ve used Sendible and I’m currently using Zoho, and there’s loads and loads of other ones out there.
People like the Twitter’s and the Facebook’s, they kind of pulled back on their API functionalities for these tools a while back and it seems to me that it’s not as easy to get traction using the tools as it used to be and diving in there and being actually on LinkedIn or actually on Facebook or actually on Twitter, for me just seems to be amplifying than better when I try and send posts out through the tools.
“Now I don’t know if that’s just me or whether the Facebook’s and the Twitter’s know it’s coming in from these tools and they want to suppress it or whether it’s just my imagination… anyone got any thoughts on that?“
Right I was just going to say I think you’re being a bit skeptical.
Honestly I do I think it could be a valid conspiracy theory I don’t think it would make sense.
I think what’s probably happening in correlation with that, as we’ve all been witnessing, is that organic reach is just really declining, so if it is just a very unengaging post from the outset then it’s not doing anywhere near what it used to do.
I think one of the big things that might be the discrepancy there is that when it comes to the actual media that you’re attaching, if you are attaching media, which is where all the platforms have gone it’s it would be dependent on that.
In particular video, because I know basically all the platforms put video front and center and by not including that or maybe by posting that from a third-party tool you’re probably being in detriment to yourself.
Personally I’m old-school, I use lots of different solutions, but I actually have gone back to just using the platforms themselves.
Here in the US there’s been a lot of Government pressure on different types of social media, some more than others and it’s unfair because I’ve watched these via various channels and it’s so clear that their interns haven’t done their research.
That doesn’t change that these platforms have a lot of pressure on them, so I’m sure some of the reaction you might be seeing is how they’re reacting to the privacy concerns and fake news so no I don’t think it’s your imagination
I work with a lot of small businesses and they have their own communities, they have their own following or sometimes they have a hard time getting traction and always when I work with them I always talk about building their community.
I always relate it to that old tale “Stone Soup” where an old beggar comes into a village and he puts a rock on a fire, and he starts stirring it. And people are interested… like what’s going on? what’s happening?
He says “I’m building a beautiful balumptuous’ soup it’s the old soup”, it’s about getting that story, and so the lady comes over and he says “it would do better with an onion” and so she’s like “oh I got an onion, one second” and she go grabs an onion, brings it and chops in and throws it in. So now you have that onion-y smell, and then another guy passes by and so on.
I really try and use these visuals to really strike that interest of you really need to start with a story. You really need to understand, like we’ve been saying, your community and you really need to have that point, and soon enough you’ve got like 10, 15, 20 people from the village bringing in all these different vegetables and at the end of the day you have something to feed from and they all have something to feed from, but they all contributed to this one piece of content.
I just like using those kind of ideas to really strike that and it’s so important and when you get those when you start bringing in the community and start bringing in its timeless. And yeah if it’s a mom down the road, yeah she’s going to tell her friends and you know what? What’s interesting is we’re all human and we like to say “oh I contributed to this this amazing soup you should try this out it’s amazing” and it’s all old-school it’s like it’s never changed like it’s timeless.
Okay, let me get onto the first audience question because I thought this was a good one to start off with…
Charlie asked “What’s the best way to market yourself? We all do marketing for the company we work for, we work with or for clients. So how would you go about marketing a person or create a personal brand for yourself in social media”?
This is something that I’m constantly battling with a little bit.
I think I’m going say to a quite controversial thing – do it in person!
It’s very un-social media, but social media is “social” and I think it can go a long way by being yourself and not trying to be something ‘from social media’ – I know that’s not massively achievable.
I think in terms of tactics: video can work really well. I’ve mentioned it already, it gets a huge amount of visibility, and it will outweigh any other single tweets or retweeting or any sort of engagement strategies you’ll do if it fits your objective.
And you’ve got to figure out what the objective is, otherwise you’re just going to be kind of fruitlessly doing lots of things just a little busy.
But if your objective is to kind of get your name out there; video will go a long way.
You can do it quickly too, shoot it off mobile, a couple of minutes/90 seconds opinion on something that that’s prevalent and just use that – post that across profiles.
Also just register your profile have a presence when it comes to search or whatever it may be.
I’m going to echo that – a lot of people on social that’s the first thing I tell them to do.
Even if you eventually don’t use that social media outlet – protect yourself, protect your brand.
So put your name out there and if you have a company name or if you have a trademark, put that out there just to protect yourself.
You will have to decide eventually on which one you want to use for the formal brand, but you know first and foremost protect yourself on all the outlets.
Ironically this is how the search engine optimization industry for the web started. A community of people who had never met each other in person. But we talked to each other via email, by discussion groups and things like that and we eventually met each other in 1999.
The whole thing about being genuine is absolutely true.
Don’t be afraid of making a lower quality video, because people would rather have a low quality video of a genuine person than a high quality video of a snake oil salesman
I think you have to get to know your story.
You’ve got to know people, work with people in the industry – you got to know the people that you’re going to be working with I say I agree with you guys all a hundred percent is that you have to protect your brand.
Know your story.
Also collaborate. You know when it comes time that you feel confident and you feel good about using videos – it’s a great way, like we’re doing right now collaborating with people within the industry that you have a trust with that you work well with I think works really well.
So finding neat ways picking interesting topics and work with those people choose wisely who you play with but yes definitely wisely
I think I’d add one thing: when you’re trying to build up a personal brand don’t spread yourself too thin.
Bill Gates was really good at running a software company and has become incredibly good at being a philanthropist and being an ambassador for the for the Melinda Gates Foundation.
But he is rubbish when it comes to being an expert on the best pop songs, or for that matter anything that isn’t in those genres.
I think it’s really important not to try and be an expert on everything – especially right now. I mean you know Shari you say you know if you’re going to go and get information from you about coronavirus for God’s sake get it from an authoritative source don’t listen to all of us we’re not doctors you know and you know you just you just you just muddy the waters and sooner or later we’re all going to be known for something and you can’t be known for everything.
That’s sometimes difficult though, so you know on Facebook what I do is… it’s quite hard to find them but lists still work in Facebook. So when I Tweet or talk on Facebook I have set lists so that when I’m talking about SEO, I’m only talking to all the people that I know or believe to be in connecting with me because they’re in my SEO group, so that my friends don’t have to listen to that.
I think half the problem, personally, is not letting your friends hear about you when you’re talking in their different with a different story with a different hat on.
Next question. DT asks: “How do we keep up when you’ve let social media pass you by?”
I think that’s actually quite a valid question for a huge number of people that were perhaps running their businesses from their shops or were face to face and they actually knew how to run their business face to face and now we’re in a world where face to face ain’t that easy and social suddenly becomes much more important.
“So if you’re a long way behind the curve what kind of things should we be looking at doing, how can you keep up with social media if you’ve let social media pass you by to this point?“
I think you’re never behind in social media.
Social media and a lot of internet marketing, a lot of the stuff that we’re doing that Dixon and I are seeing now, we’ve seen twenty years ago, it’s just in a different form.
If you’re new to it, a lot of people don’t realize that what goes into social media is a lot of planning and a lot of observing.
If you’re new to it, definitely preserve your brand but also look at your competition.
I’m not saying to jump off the bridge with them, but just look at your competition, what’s working for them, what’s not working for them, what are topics that they’re covering and they missed the boat on something.
Latch onto that but every social media plan we’ve ever worked on there’s tremendous amount, probably more work done into planning than execution.
So find the social media groups your target audience uses. Your competition might be spinning the boat on one social media outlet and it’s another social media outlet where your target audience is really using.
I think the algorithm at Facebook and Google is always changing, it’s always moving forward.
But yeah like Shari said: it’s going to look at your data, look at your competition, understand who they are.
Make a plan, create a story, be creative.
But don’t just jump in there. Start looking at it in a prospective way. Just kind of see where the numbers are at and just where your clients are truly at.
I think what’s is to really know who you are. It’s never too late.
Even with how fast algorithms change, how things are moved so quickly, you’ve always just got to get in there at some point and move forward.
But be planned and be prepared.
I totally support that. I mean you’ve got to have, well you will have a story, but I think in terms of just not chasing the algorithm don’t worry about the geeky stuff. If you feel like you’re behind the curve, let us worry about that. I don’t even worry about a lot of it to be honest because it’s like it’s happening – so you just kind of ride with it.
I think two things that I’d specify though is use and application.
So if you’re wanting to use it, if you feel like you’re behind it, if you want to apply it to your business just use it. Use the actual social networks.
I would heavily lean towards Facebook, even Facebook over Instagram, although it depends on your business – but I think that’s going to have that’s kind of your ‘Swiss Army knife’ that you can apply to most instances.
Going back to Dixon’s point before: focus. Don’t try and learn them all, for example, TikTok. I don’t know and I’m totally out of the demographic and I’m sure I’ll have clients ask me about it.
But then in terms of where you can actually find good resources – I would actually probably not advise you to go to the obvious places like Social Media Examiner or Jon Loomer or those kind of websites because they are the geekier end of things/
I would look at the more general spaces, and actually you can do a lot worse than working through Facebook Blueprint or just seeing some of the resources they make available in their learning centers, because they’d have very mom-and-pop style guides.
So if you’re just running a small shop and you want to utilize Facebook for that, they have stuff that’s more that end of the spectrum than for super large multinational corporation and a global presence on social media.
I think I’d just add that and I think that the most important thing to remember, for me anyways, is if you’re heading out there on social you haven’t been there for a while the one thing I would say is that you can’t really connect with.
You’ve got two ways of connecting with people: one you can pay for pay for it. So there’s lots of the paid products and stuff in which place go and talk to Ned or probably David and they’ll happily help you out with that.
But if you’re trying to do it organically then the first thing you have to do is get them to connect to you, because otherwise you’re just talking to an empty place and the number of people that I see still Tweeting with only four followers, you know their mother and their partner and the only other ones are bot people.
You have to first get a connection with those people and yeah it is much definitely best done with a one to one conversation. So a one to one conversation on LinkedIn that was there anyway will end up with a connection with that person, or Twitter where they’re in a message or Facebook all of them really.
If you don’t get those connections, then when you do have something to say no one’s going to listen.
You can only rely on one of the people that did see what you’re saying that was connected to then retweet to a larger audience or re-Facebook to a larger audience, which is absolutely important, but unless you’ve got those first seed connections in there, then that’s what you need to concentrate on first.
Make sure they’re proper genuine connections too.
Exactly! We’re circling back to genuine, but you have to be genuine and you have to contribute.
Ned actually brought up video as something and I think that’s interesting, because in in my day and Shari’s day when we started out, that is something that’s a real differentiator between what we had back when we started and what’s there now.
So why don’t you guys teach us [Classic Guard] a few things and tell us: “how do you go about a video strategy in social? where do you start, what tools you start with and how do you get a message out?”
Tools? Your mobile phone. It’s got a camera on it, you can record video on it.
Don’t worry about the quality of video or production value.
Don’t get too hung up on getting started – just pick up your phone and create content.
We’ve talked already about authenticity, which is massive, and then also about effectively being there and doing it and having a story. If you’ve got those things, which I should hope that you do and especially if you’re a small business and you’ve got a story to tell – then tell it!
Don’t get too hung up on the rest of it. I just really wouldn’t worry about it.
But tools, tips and tricks? Use your phone, get it uploaded and test so you see what works.
I know so many businesses that are like “I’ve got to get the latest Canon, I’ve got to get the all the lighting, I have to spend all this money, I have to get a studio, I have to get you know all this stuff before I get going” but I think that’s just a stall.
I think you really need to just get going, feel comfortable, even if it takes practice videos.
It’s like Ned was saying, you’ve got your phone. Start playing around with it. You’ve got a story, and if you’re unsure about your story, then start working on that.
This has been true also in terms of usability and user experience.
People want to know there are human beings at the other end of that website, and they want to see you being human.
Yes, they want to see you being the expert, but first and foremost they want to see that you are human and not a “ninja turtle”.
People really want to know that there’s a human being at the other end and building that trust is so critical in building a community and in doing outreach.
If you want to take your videoing to a slightly different level you can get a stabilizer for your iPhone which makes it look really pro and you can walk around with it and it keeps it fixed in one place – they’re like a $100 or something, so they’re really not that expensive.
There’s also a site called iOgrapher (iographer.com) which effectively lets you build an iPhone into pretty much a full-on camera setup with detachable modular microphones and grips and stuff.
When we’re going to a Content perspective there’s a site called Rev (rev.com/caption) which Craig Campbell (@craigcampbell03) recommended it to me. You can take video content, if you’re better off producing content by just speaking, you can take that content get it transcribed. It’s super useful and good for visibility because you can add it as closed captions so people can watch your video without sound, which is like 90% of people who watch videos with sound off on social media.
It’s like $1 per minutes’ worth of transcription or something, so you could also then take that and apply it onto your website, onto your social posts and other things if you want to, which should help benefit things there.
I’m going to just throw a couple of quickfire questions out there, so we don’t have to all answer each one of them, but I’ll start with this one: “Are there any effective ways to engage using LinkedIn and what are the most popular social media sites”?
For me it’s working really well. I think LinkedIn is getting better and better. I think I’m communicating better. When I post a story a few more people are listening than before but they’re targeted and they seem to be the right kind of people and so I kind of like.
Well they just released that, the video I mean, so they’re really giving props to video. And I hate to bring it up again but you see a lot that through your feed and whatnot.
But yeah I’m impressed with LinkedIn, how organic it’s working in a lot of different ways
Pilot test LinkedIn, because LinkedIn doesn’t work for every industry.
There are some industries LinkedIn works outstandingly well for and there are industries it doesn’t. So if you pilot test, you know give yourself X amount of time to do X amount of work and then if you’re not getting the return on an investment? Move on.
Don’t be afraid to say that this isn’t the right social media outlet for my target audience.
From a paid perspective as well, just from my experience is that LinkedIn is about 10x the cost of Facebook. It’s really expensive, so approach with caution.
If you’ve got the same budget for Facebook and LinkedIn, just be aware that that is going to be significantly more expensive with videos – you are better off with an organic strategy, in my opinion.
Okay so this this one isn’t a isn’t particularly a social question but it’s in here and it’s a good one: “Can you use better UX to improve the authority of your website or web pages”?
Absolutely – but it’s not in the way you would expect it to.
It’s having a better archiving plan because over time your website and your social media presence should get stronger and social media link development could also be a great byproduct of social media.
I have seen the worst archiving on the best websites and so one of the easiest ways you can “beat your competition” is, especially if you’re new, have a good archiving plan from the outset and then over time your authority will build actually it’ll build more quickly and the quality will be top-notch.
I want to bring in some kind of good closing question, and this one kind of came in in a couple of different ways: “Given the current state of play and the world that we’re in how do you think we might want to pivot our businesses our strategies, our approaches in the current state of the world and how are we going to stand out”?
I’d be concerned because I don’t actually think a lot of businesses need pivot unless they should if that makes sense? But I think don’t pivot for the sake of it.
However, I do think what it is imposing on us is a far more flexible and possibly remote way of working and being enabled to do that.
It’s quite shocking some of the stories I’ve heard from massive companies over here in the UK that fallen on their knees just because their employees don’t even have laptops, for example, so they physically cannot work anywhere else.
So I think adapting more towards that and from a marketing perspective, I think just as I said before kind of tact and honesty will probably carry you a long way.
Yeah 100% – I think authentic communication with your clientele.
Keep them involved, keep that communication up, keep that conversation going, keep rolling and be honest.
I think it’s hard right now, but I think we’re learning how to use technology in a way that’s going to benefit us in the long run and in the future – especially for small business.
What I’m noticing is that around the world we’re in different layers of panic and lockdown.
So it’s a good opportunity to start segmenting what you’re doing around the world.
For example, Wuhan is about to lift their travel restrictions, they haven’t had death in fair few days, and they’re lifting the restrictions on April the 8th and I’m hearing that the Chinese are getting back to business as normal and moving on with life.
So if you’ve got a worldwide market, start to target the right countries at the right times when they’re in the mood to do business, not in the mood to lock down and panic.
The Italians are getting on with business now that they’ve kind of got into that routine, so I think that you have to bear in mind the different moods of the different nations in the world right now and react accordingly.
The other thing I’d say, is long term of course, but your client base is likely to change. If you’re in the travel industry, I think international travel is going to take a long, long time before it’s even legal really. We’re not all going to go to foreign countries quite as often.
I probably won’t get to PubCon for the first time in my life this year, because I suspect that that that is going to be the final barrier to stop the disease from spreading until the vaccine is out there.
So there are markets you’re going to have to change, but then there’s other markets that are going to build up, other things are going to become important to people and once we’re out of the emotional start of it all I think that that those business markets will become more obvious and will present themselves – from videoconferencing to online learning.
We circle back to the beginning, but one of the things I wish everybody would do is find your niche and find what you’re passionate about.
Try to be right, but nobody can be right a hundred percent of the time, so if you’re passionate about something it’ll come off as more genuine because you are passionate about it.
That’s how I got started in SEO, that’s how I got started in usability and it’s how I got started in all the things that I’m interested in.
And be flexible, because you’ll find some things are more profitable than others and there are things that you’re going to want to do just because you love doing them.
We’re going to wrap up now and give you guys a chance to say where people can follow up if they want to.
And just finally, a big thank you to Majestic who sponsored the event.
A couple of things that they’ve been working on recently:
– they’ve got a thing on their blog of how they accidentally made a discovery tool for lost backlinks
– they’ve also dramatically increased the Historic Index update time
– and if you haven’t got the hang of Link Context yet then have a look at that
So I just want to finish up by saying to each of you, thank you very much to you and thank you very much to the audience.
So how can people find you if they want to follow up with any questions online?
Find me on LinkedIn: David McKenzie-Kong or Facebook or Instagram, DavidJKong on Instagram
Just Google – I’m the only Ned Poulter – Twitter, LinkedIn just type it in there or the company is Pole Star Digital as well if you want to check out our new website.
The best way to get a hold of me is by email. Just Google my name, Bing my name, Facebook my name you’ll find me – that’s Shari Thurow.
Follow our Twitter account @Majestic to hear about upcoming webinars!
Or if you enjoyed this one, you can find our previous webinars over on YouTube: “Old Guard vs New Blood” webinars.