How Marketers Are Tackling Social Media in 2016: An Interview With Ted Rubin

August 8, 2016 Ted Rubin

How are marketers adapting to changes and challenges in social media in 2016? Why are some teams succeeding in responding to customer needs on social media while others fail? Last week, Marcus Varner and Scott Duehlmeier from the Workfront Corporate Marketing team sat down with social marketing strategist Ted Rubin in Salt Lake City to get his perspective. Below are the highlights, but you can take in the entire interview with this video. Enjoy!

On how marketers are shaping up in 2016

We’re halfway through the year. It’s already August and most of 2016 is past, and what’s happening? What’s changing? Are people, are companies building relationships? Are they looking people in the eye digitally? Are they understanding and wrapping their arms around the way the world is changing? And my answer to that is I think they are.

I think we have a long way to go. And that’s good news for me because I can keep talking about return on relationship and how to look people in the eye digitally.

But being a little bit more serious, I see a lot of companies jumping into the new technology, the new apps, and new platforms that are available. Snapchat really took off this year. I think it was March or April when Gary Vaynerchuk jumped in with both feet. Around SXSW, Gary Vaynerchuk started telling everybody, “Drop everything; Snapchat is the future. Get in there.” And people are doing that.

And what that has done is it’s made people begin to understand the importance of engaging, communicating, and storytelling.

On Snapchat’s emergence as a rising star in social media

I’ve been talking about this now almost close to a year, but what I love about Snapchat is that it’s the only pure social media platform that’s out there right now, meaning that on other platforms—whether it’s Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter—you can fool yourself as a brand into thinking you’re getting the most out of them by simply broadcasting, by simply advertising.

Don’t get me wrong: there’s value in that. But you’re not nearly leveraging the ability and the opportunities on those platforms.

But on Snapchat, if you’re not engaging, communicating, or storytelling, you might as well not be there. And now all of a sudden, Instagram recently announced that they are now providing Snapchat-like functionality. And to me, that’s an amazing opportunity, because what it’s doing is it’s opening up those storytelling capabilities to so many more people.

A lot of people have resisted Snapchat. And like any new platform, whether it’s the best or not, it takes time for people to get accustomed to it, start using it, and being comfortable with it. On the other hand, Instagram has this huge audience, and all those people will now have this ability to tell their stories, for brands to tell their stories, for people to tell their stories related to brands and interact and engage with each other.

On old marketing trying to catch up with new opportunities

A lot of companies are still not getting it. They’re still trying to use the new technologies or the new platforms in the old ways. I try to understand those reasons. And a lot of people just say, “Oh, you know, they’re just doing it wrong.”

But what it is, is it’s getting used to new things. It’s understanding how best to use them. And this is a gradual process.

On how companies are succeeding with these new opportunities

There are a lot of different companies out there doing a lot of interesting things. One of the things I love best is letting people behind the scenes. A lot of companies show what’s happening in their offices, how they’re manufacturing the product. If they’re entertaining, companies’ behind-the-scenes can be remarkable, just like in sporting events.

And there’s been so much great stuff done with live streaming. I love the way Facebook has made this available to everybody. There was Meerkat, there was Periscope, but now with Facebook not only providing live streaming but making it easy, making it accessible to everybody and providing that huge audience, it’s really incredible.

I love the way these tools are starting to be used in that way, and how people are jumping in to use them.

On how companies can improve at reacting to opportunities on social media

A perfect example happened with JetBlue. 

A woman was on a plane, ending a vacation, and she wished it wasn’t over, and she was tweeting about it when she was on this JetBlue flight and how it would be great if there was a parade waiting to greet her when she got there. And JetBlue was listening. They were reactive. They empowered their employees to do things. And they jumped in and they did it.

Now, there are three important things that we really need to understand about this: one, you’ve got to be listening. And if you’re not listening, then you’re never going to know when these opportunities arise. But even in some major corporations, a social media team or a listening team can be very small. Even with software, it’s gonna be hard to hear everything, because most of these softwares just pick up hashtags or pick up keywords. They don’t necessarily pick up the conversation.

So, more importantly than just simply listening, you have to start empowering your employees, all your employees—at the very least, in your marketing department—to be listening, to be paying attention to what’s happening in social around their brand, so that you know these things are happening.

The second step is making it so that your team can actually do something about it. There can’t be five levels of approval. There can’t be budgetary constraints to such a degree that you can’t just have a few people meet someone at a plane, or send them a note, or leave a note in their hotel room welcoming them there. These are really simple things you can do if you listen.

Then the third step is wrapping your arms around the fact that it does make a major difference to your brand. What I hear a lot is, “Well, we have millions of customers,” and “How often can we do something like this?” and “Even if we did it once a week for 52 weeks, we’re going to affect only 52 people or 52 families?”

What they don’t understand is how that information spreads. I like to say that a brand is what a business does; a reputation is what people remember and share. The keyword here is ‘share’. All of these people share. Even if they’re not on social media, they have friends, they have families, they have colleagues, they belong to the PTA. They are going to tell people. Everybody loves to share great experiences.

And by the way, this is not your Oreo moment. This isn’t spending $2 million listening at the Super Bowl for that specific time. These are daily events that happen every day and opportunities that are in front of you all the time. Brands need to learn how to wrap their arms around it.

On the fallacy of the angry customer

There’s a fallacy going around that, when people are angry, they talk more. It’s really not true. Because most of their friends don’t want to hear their anger. They don’t want to hear the angst. Everybody wants to hear a good story. Everybody wants to share a good story. Everybody wants to say, “Hey, they took care of me.” And those little things can make a difference.

And what happens is people share it. You ever see the old Doublemint commercial back from the day? I know I’m showing my age, but she had two friends, and she had two friends, and next thing you know, it’s covering the whole screen. This happens with everybody.

I like to say that everybody influences somebody. Get your brand into a position where they’re able to take advantage of these moments, whether they’re on a very small scale with individuals, or your customers, or they’re a larger scale with influencers who happen to be using your product.

This is the kind of thing that brands need to do. They need to understand the impact that those little events can have that you could only do a certain amount of times on a much bigger scale.

On translating social listening to B2B marketing

Everyone always says to me, “Well, Ted, B2C is easy. You’re dealing with consumers. Here we’re dealing with high-level people, and this is business to business, and… ”

First of all, I want to make something clear. I am a huge believer that social media is way easier in B2B. I hear, “Oh, my God, it’s so hard.” No, it’s not. Because you have a limited universe of potential customers. In the B2C world, it’s everywhere. There are all different age demographics. There are all different products. Everybody’s your potential customer.

But in B2B, you know where your customers are. I’ve never worked with a B2B company that couldn’t either pull out a list or make me a list of all the customers they were looking to attract.

Now, here’s what beautiful about that: you know who to listen to. Instead of listening to the world, you know specific companies—what they’re posting; what employees to follow; what they do; which companies are upset with their current vendors and saying things about it; and which companies wish they had different applications or different features in the applications they have.

Because let’s face it: most of our products are commoditized. I don’t care what you’re doing, who you’re selling to. The odds are, there are five to 10 to 20 other companies selling basically the same thing. You might know that yours is much better, but very often, even if it really is, it’s hard to even express that directly through to the customer, unless you start building relationships with them.


Want more insights from Ted? Watch our entire interview in the video player above!

To learn how Workfront helps marketers react faster to opportunities, watch our demo!

 

 

About the Author

Ted Rubin

Ted is a leading Social Marketing Strategist, Keynote Speaker, Brand Evangelist and Acting CMO of Brand Innovators and in March 2009 started publicly using and evangelizing the term ROR: Return on Relationship™... a concept he believes is the cornerstone for building an engaged multi-million member database.

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