Andrew Jenkins is the author of Social Media Marketing for Business: Scaling an integrated social media strategy across your organization, this month’s Bigeye Book Club selection. Reflecting case studies from his time client-side and agency-side, Andrew shares practical tips, social tools, and content strategies applicable to organizations of any size. IN CLEAR FOCUS listeners can claim a 20 percent discount at KoganPage.com by using the promo code BIGEYE20 at checkout.
Adrian Tennant: Coming up in this episode of IN CLEAR FOCUS:
Andrew Jenkins: What channels are they on? Are there some channels we should divest? Are there some channels or platforms that we should consider adding to the mix as the market landscape changes? All of this can be incorporated to inform a recalibration of the strategy.
Adrian Tennant: You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, fresh perspectives on the business of advertising produced weekly by Bigeye: a strategy-led, full-service creative agency, growing brands for clients globally. Hello. I’m your host, Adrian Tennant, Chief Strategy Officer. Thank you for joining us. Over half of the world’s population uses social media: currently, around 58% or 4.6 billion people. Their average daily usage is two hours and 27 minutes. And every year, around the world, billions of dollars are being spent on social media advertising. By the end of this year, US advertisers are expected to spend over 56 billion dollars. Of the top four social media platforms worldwide, three are owned by Meta. Facebook remains the most used platform in total, but marketers must consider usage trends among different demographic cohorts. The rapid growth that social entertainment platform TikTok underwent, an impressive 142% increase year over year, saw it ranked the fifth most used platform by January. A new book, entitled Social Media Marketing for Business: Scaling an integrated social media strategy across your organization provides a step-by-step roadmap to setting up effective workflows, team configurations, governance models, and social media policies, as well as creating and measuring content and social media campaigns. The book’s author is Andrew Jenkins, Principal of Volterra, a professional services firm, specializing in social media and social selling strategies. And today, Andrew is joining us from his office in Toronto, Canada, to discuss some of the ideas in his book. Andrew, welcome to IN CLEAR FOCUS!
Andrew Jenkins: Great to be here. Thanks for having me.
Adrian Tennant: Andrew, could you tell us a bit about your career and what led you to specialize in social media??
Andrew Jenkins: Well, I’ve had a bit of an eclectic career. I have a degree in economics, a degree in film production, and an MBA. I graduated with an economics degree, worked in retail. Wasn’t enjoying myself, always had an interest in film, went back to film school, finished film school, worked in the industry for a bit. But one of my friends from film school was dabbling in the internet as it was emerging and was building websites. And I went, “that looks kind of interesting to me.” And so I actually started my own eCommerce company selling menswear on the internet in 1995, and that led to working in technology for the last soon-to-be 30 years. And as my work in tech and software and the internet and so on evolved, I was commissioned 14 years ago – when I started my now company Volterra, doing strategy, and strategic planning – was asked to do strategic research on social media and social networks. And what was emerging at the time in 2008. And that has just continued to evolve into the focus on outsourced social media management and social media strategy that we’re doing now. So it wasn’t a path I planned, but it’s nonetheless a path that I followed.
Adrian Tennant: What prompted you to write Social Media Marketing for Business?
Andrew Jenkins: I teach social media strategy for enterprises at the University of Toronto, and we have been using a textbook for the last decade by Chris Barger called The Social Media Strategist. And where that book differed from so many other social media books that were out there, it was that it was prescriptive. It was a bit of a roadmap, a bit of a resource or workbook on if you find yourself in a social media role, what to do within mid to larger enterprises when it came to working with HR and legal and compliance, when it came to social media policy, internal resources, and things like that. So I wanted to revisit that part of it, especially because it was so often overlooked, and frankly, in that decade, there had been no other books that had been introduced to fill that void. Many of my students are working professionals in marketing communications, but many of the challenges they face are not the marketing part. It’s dealing with HR and compliance, building a social media policy, dealing with internal culture that is not necessarily supportive of adopting social media, employee advocacy, and all the nuances that go with that and things like that. So I wanted to revisit what Barger had focused on 10 years previous, and bring it into current day – because one, when Barger wrote his book, there was no Snapchat. I’m trying to think if even Instagram was around then. But certainly no TikTok or Be Real and some of the new entrants as well. And all the implications that those new platforms, new technologies, and associated behavior mean to social media organizations and social media teams.
Adrian Tennant: Andrew, what can readers expect to learn from Social Media Marketing for Business?
Andrew Jenkins: They’re going to learn more about social media marketing. There’s case examples, both organic and paid, both from our own work at Volterra as well as examples from other sources. And, as well, an approach to deciding what tools you should have in terms of your kit bag. An approach to working with HR and compliance and building a social media policy. And how to roll out a social media strategy or social media operations and scale it. And whether you’re gonna do so internally or externally, or with a hybrid where you have some internal resources, and you have external resources as well.
Adrian Tennant: Your book’s subtitle is Scaling an integrated social media strategy across your organization. So in your experience, what are the most common challenges faced by a manager when they’re placed in charge of an organization’s social media?
Andrew Jenkins: There’s always this talk about social media strategy and content, and there should be emphasis on that, but it should not be the sole focus of it. Two of the most overlooked, infrequently mentioned topics that have an impact on rolling out a social media strategy or scaling social media operations are culture and change. And as the organization grows and matures, you’re going to have different stakeholders who have different opinions about social media. You’re gonna have some digital natives who have only ever known a world with the internet, that are all over it, and it’s quite natural for them to use some of these digital platforms. And then you’re gonna have some people that, even if they might be digital natives, have no interest. The way I describe it is that you can lay your entire group of employees across the spectrum or a bell curve. You’ve got the digital natives on the far right that are highly adaptable or already exhibiting the target behavior that you want, highly supportive of what you’re trying to do from a social media perspective. You can have the larger group in the middle that are indifferent, but will follow the momentum of the organization. If others are saying, “We should do this, okay, we’ll go along with it.” And then you’re gonna have the far left that are resistant and saying, “We’re not gonna Tweet and you can’t make us! And you can’t spend too much time and energy on the people that are totally opposed. Focus on the people in the middle, because that will be the majority that gets the momentum going and then helps to maintain it. Look for the bright shiny examples where there’s people within the organization already exhibiting the target behavior. Oftentimes we’re going in as an external organization, and we’re saying, “You should do this.” Well, we have to back it up with proof, and it’s even better if we can back it up by saying to people, “Here are your colleagues doing what we suggested, and here’s the outcome of their efforts, and it’s proof that it’s working or it’s proof that it does work, and it can do so consistently,” et cetera. And that social proof, especially internal social proof, is a catalyst for change.
Adrian Tennant: In the book, you recommend that the first step for anyone newly responsible for managing their organization’s social media is undertaking an audit. Andrew, could you give us an overview of what that process typically looks like?
Andrew Jenkins: Sure. Working your way up, first you start with what channels are they on, and are they active? Are they dormant? For example, I’m the former head of social media strategy for the Royal Bank of Canada. And they had created a Twitter account, for the torch relay when RBC, as it’s known, was the sponsor of the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, and the torch relay across Canada, to light the Olympic flame. They had set up a Twitter account specific to the torch relay. Once the Olympics were over, the account was allowed to go dormant. And so, in our audit, we were made aware of this account. We rebranded it as RBC Olympic. It was no longer tied to those one specific Olympic games. And now it was associated with their sponsorship of the Olympics, no matter whether they were hosting or part of the host country or not. And it was the audit that brought this to our attention. And then we were able to take action to reactivate, rejuvenate, and repurpose the account. And that’s just an example of taking a look, what channels are they on? Are there any channels that, from a rationalization, are there some channels we should divest? Are there some channels or platforms that we should consider adding to the mix as the market landscape changes? And then, in addition to that, one of the biggest things is what content do you have that may not have been used, or that can be used again? What content has been performing well in what formats, what channels, podcasts, video, blogs, infographics? What’s worked and what hasn’t? So that all of this can be incorporated, to inform a recalibration of the strategy. The goal is not to overburden yourself with work. The goal is to just get a sense of the lay of the land: what’s working, what’s not. And what are your immediate action items?
Adrian Tennant: Chapter nine of your book is entitled, Beware Bright Shiny Syndrome. You provide a list of social networks that were once considered hot, but have since disappeared. So, Andrew, how do you recommend that clients or their agencies determine which emerging social platforms warrant our attention?
Andrew Jenkins: We were commissioned to do a research project on social networks – all the predominant ones of the day – in 2008. And it’ll surprise many that Facebook was not number one then. In fact, it was MySpace. And MySpace isn’t around anymore. Well, it came, it went, came back again, and is now essentially defunct. There was Orkut, there was Bebo, you know, Friendster, the list goes on. And what we often tell organizations is if a platform’s emerging, we highly recommend that you set up an account, you can leave it dormant, but the goal or the reason you wanna squat on an account is that so others don’t go in and take it and you end up having to be held ransom for it. So as an example, the social media platform, Truth Social, whatever you may feel about its focus – Walmart did not go in and set up an account, and someone went into Truth Social, set up a Walmart account, and can use it as a bit of a parody account. And there’s nothing that Walmart can do. And so these new emerging platforms like Be Real and Supernova, et cetera. You look at Be Real. It’s really intended to be, you know, capturing a moment in the day amongst your circle of friends. It’s not just setting up an account there. You have to evaluate. Is there a place for our organization, our brand? is it suitable? Is it brand aligned? And maybe it isn’t. There’s also: would your brand be welcome? And I don’t know about Be Real yet for B2B brands or even some B2C. I don’t care what happened to your brand at four o’clock today. But I do care about what happened at four o’clock today amongst my friends. And it’s again, it’s the rationalization process, but from a brand reputation, brand protection, if you think the platform might become relevant to you, set up an account it’s usually free, squat on it, and then wait til you need to act.
Adrian Tennant: In Social Media Marketing for Business, you observe that one of the most daunting things about social media is that it’s always on, creating a sometimes insatiable demand for content. Can you talk us through some ways that folks newly responsible for social media can avoid becoming overwhelmed?
Andrew Jenkins: Well, it goes back to what we were talking about a moment ago, about auditing. What existing content do you have that can be used, can be reused, repurposed, to work smarter rather than harder? So for instance, at the bank, you have a report come out from an economist. Now, some people will want to download that PDF report or read it online, whatever, and it could be a rather lengthy and rather dense report. There will be people that want to read it, let them have at it. Can you interview said economist for a minute or two, to have them explain the highlights or the key takeaways or whatever’s noteworthy about that report? And that can become a short video, maybe even cut it up into subsequent clips for each of the highlights. Can you transcribe the interview to turn that into a blog? Can you rip the audio and turn it into a short podcast? So, what I’m saying here is that the underlying asset, which was the report, has sparked a multitude of different pieces of content in different formats. But I haven’t had to create anything new, I’m not writing 10 different articles. One of our technology partners has shared a report that has shown over the last five years that organic engagement rates on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have declined. And that organizations have been able to offset that by posting more frequently. So that means more content. That doesn’t necessarily mean every single piece of content has to be net new. You can have some content in rotation. In differing formats, it’s conveying the same idea. Again, you have to think about as part of your planning, how many different forms can this content take from this, whatever baseline asset might be, whether it’s a report, if it’s an hour-long interview? So when we do a podcast, we record it on video as well as audio. So I have two forms of content that can be cut up. You get the full episode if you want, and then you also get these little nice, uh, bites, that can be shared. And then I can pull quotes that are graphically designed, etcetera.
Adrian Tennant: Let’s take a short break. We’ll be right back after these messages.
Dana Cassell: I’m Dana Cassell, Bigeye’s Senior Strategist. Every week, IN CLEAR FOCUS addresses topics that impact our work as marketing professionals, often inspired by data points reported in consumer research studies. At Bigeye, we put audiences first. For every engagement, through our own research, we develop a deep understanding of our client’s prospects and customers – analyzing their attitudes, behaviors, and motivations. We distill this data into actionable insights to inspire creative brand-building and persuasive activation campaigns – with strategic, cost-efficient media placements. If you’d like to know more about how to put Bigeye’s audience-focused insights to work for your brand, please contact us. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adrian Tennant: Each month, in partnership with our friends at Kogan Page, the Bigeye Book Club features interviews with authors who are experts in marketing, consumer research, and customer experience. Our featured book for August is Social Media Marketing for Business: Scaling an integrated social media strategy across your organization by Andrew Jenkins. IN CLEAR FOCUS listeners can save 20% on a print or electronic version of the book with the exclusive promo code, BIGEYE 20. This code is valid for all products and pre-orders and applies to Kogan Page’s free e-book offer. To order your copy of Social Media Marketing for Business, go to KoganPage.com.
Adrian Tennant: Welcome back. I’m talking with Andrew Jenkins, an expert in social media and social selling strategies and the author of Social Media Marketing for Business, published by Kogan Page. In the book, you devote a chapter to the topic of hashtags. Could you share your thoughts on how brands can use them most effectively?
Andrew Jenkins: I tend to categorize them into long tail, popular (for discoverability), and then branded. So maybe you’re not looking for a large audience, but you’re trying to reach a niche audience. Then look at some longer tail or more niche hashtags that subsets or smaller communities are using, or are being used, in relation to more niche topics. You might have some more, I’ll call them more generic or more popular hashtags that are broad reaching, but they run the risk of you getting in front of potentially the wrong audience. But nonetheless, you need to use some of them for discoverability. And then when I’m referring to branded hashtags, like Nike’s “Just Do It” or IBM, I think really quite a while ago started seeding “The Future of Work.” And things like that. So if you want to have a branded hashtag related to a catchphrase, or a brand statement associated with a category of your content, or maybe it’s a content campaign or a contest, those take a while to seed, and have some momentum around, but you have to do so consistently. And also then you have to rationalize some platforms. You know, big on let’s have 50 hashtags. Let’s have more hashtags than we have copy, like some platforms! So you have to start thinking about it strategically. So you really are thinking about each piece of content that’s going out. What is the hashtag mix and the hashtag strategy related to it? Is this related to our own content? I’ll call it a content campaign that might be lasting 90 days. We’re doing a blog series about topic X. Maybe you want to see it as a branded hashtag so that anything related to that hashtag relates to that category of content or that arc of content, or story thread. And so people can filter by that as an example. So, you know, it really has to be incorporated into your content planning and deciding what hashtags we’re gonna use for discoverability, what hashtags we want, if we’re going after any, community niches or subject niches. And then there’s what branded hashtags will we use, and in what instance?
Adrian Tennant: And Andrew, I’m curious, how many hashtags is too many?
Andrew Jenkins: It depends on the platform. Now, on a personal profile on LinkedIn, if you turn your personal profile into creator mode, it allows you to stipulate certain hashtags that you want associated with you and your content. For Instagram, we’ve worked with clients that had batches of hashtags depending on what they were posting. We leverage some of the ongoing research of our tech partners, and some of the third-party scheduling tools that are tracking hashtag performance more regularly than we are. And they’re constantly updating, should it be two to four on LinkedIn? Do hashtags even work on Facebook? And they do to a degree, but not the same as they do on Instagram or Twitter. Twitter doesn’t tend to need as many hashtags as Instagram does. And this is the challenge of having to stay abreast of what’s happening on each platform. And then you get into TikTok as an example, and you’re using trending hashtags that are completely unrelated to your own content, but you’re using them to get onto a For You page completely for discoverability or visibility.
Adrian Tennant: Chapter 14 of the book is entitled Humanity. In it you state that quote, “you can’t be social without being human. Sadly, many brands have lost touch with that fact over the years” end quote. How so?
Andrew Jenkins: If you’re doing any social media listening, you can see sentiment over time. And whenever I’ve talked about social media listening, and people talk about sentiment, especially if they’re seeing negative sentiment, I have to say, you have to peel back the onion. There’s typically an underlying systemic issue that’s causing negative sentiment. So if I’m a cable company and my customer service tollfree line has ridiculously long wait times, or people are getting frustrated, waiting on the tollfree line, they might go social to complain. I can’t fix the wait times in social, but if I fix that underlying issue, then it’s going to – over time – be reflected in the sentiment that we’re seeing in social. So getting back to the broader topic of showing humanity, there’s numerous examples of where organizations even offline can show humanity to stakeholders, to consumers, or just society and have that humanity spill over or people, talking about it on social. We’re seeing social media accounts, like I think it’s the Northeast Ohio Waste Management organization being a bit tongue in cheek. They’re in waste management, but they’re doing a phenomenal job on Twitter. making a name for themselves, about the work that they do, which is not would not top everyone’s list of a place that they might wanna work. But they’re funny that again, they’re humanizing themselves as an organization. There’s a Twitter account for Lake Superior and they’re bringing notoriety to the lake and infusing it with some humor and so on. And if you look at Wendy’s Twitter account, they’re trolling other restaurants. People are going out of their way to go to Wendy’s Twitter account to be trolled just for the attention and for the fun. And just again, just showing some humor, showing some, just, you know, you don’t have to be a stiff brand. And it’s not for every brand. We do a lot of work in financial services and I will say this: financial services organizations and insurance companies have a much more serious mandate. They are stewards of our money. They are in the business of protection for their stakeholders. But that doesn’t mean they have to be this buttoned up and so serious that they can’t say good morning on a Monday morning, over their social accounts.
Adrian Tennant: In the book, you reference many tools that can help create, schedule, post, and analyze social media. In the text, I counted 39 tools for social media management solutions, 24 for content discovery and curation, 55 for visual design, 20 for AI-assisted copywriting, 35 for video creation, 22 for social listening, and 27 social media analytics tools. Now you are managing social media on behalf of clients, so how did you approach the selection of tools in your tech stack?
Andrew Jenkins: Mm-hmm. Well, I’m sure that list has already changed since the original list was compiled. I guess it’s an ever-evolving space. You know, I have to put a caveat in place right at the outset: I run a social media agency. Many of the tools that we use are to serve an agency, serving multiple clients simultaneously. They’re not necessarily tools that a single organization or an individual would use for themselves, to manage their own personal social or the social of their organization. My approach, when I’ve looked at putting together our tech stack, has been more purpose-driven. There have been times when we’ve been approached by a more they’ll describe as an all-encompassing sort of Swiss army knife of social media tools. It does some listening, and it does analytics, and it does this and it does. And I’m not saying that those are wrong. I have just found that whenever I’ve taken that approach, I hit a wall, something there’s a shortcoming. “Oh, it doesn’t do that. Oh, okay.” Or “it doesn’t do that as well as the distinctly standalone tool that I have for that specific task.” And as well, one of the reasons for the extensive list I have by category from free to modestly priced to ridiculously expensive, depending on the size of your organization and the budget you have available to. So one of the most expensive enterprise social media management solutions is Sprinklr. You know, it’s kind of like, do you want the Rolls Royce? And, you can have it, but you will have to pay accordingly. I used to work in software. And I worked for a Microsoft solution provider and I would get all the latest betas, from Microsoft and so I was always running the latest versions of whatever. And so, right or wrong, I’ve always been like finding new emerging solutions to evaluate and test them out even at the beta stage. And I’ve managed to establish some really rich collaborative relationships with those technology providers. And one I’ve helped them on their technology and they’ve helped me by making their technology available to me. So there’s been a bit of a quid pro quo, as they say. And so I’ve managed to get some pretty powerful tools for modest to no cost. But it’s again, I’m helping them by giving them evaluations, giving them feedback, really pushing their solutions to the limit and to show them what’s working and what’s not. And so there’s an exchange of value and that’s helped us get access to some pretty amazing technology. So just to sum it all up, there’s nothing wrong with finding a Swiss army knife. Evaluate your needs. Is it good enough? You can go down a rabbit hole picking technology. You also have to recognize what it is you’re trying to find, in terms of insight from data and analytics, if that’s one of the categories, like what do you need to scale? Like how much content are you dealing with managing it? And also how easy or complicated are these tools to use? Because you may not be the only one using them. So you may get like, ” oh, this is an amazing tool”, but then members of your team are like, “I hate it. I don’t wanna use it” or they love something else that they used when they were an independent freelancer, but that you hired them as staff and you, “Oh, I didn’t know.” They bring in a tool into the mix that you were completely unaware of. But also just to say, think about budget, think about the cost of ownership from a training and ease of use, does it meet your needs? Is it good enough? but don’t stop paying attention cuz you know, this space keeps evolving, so there may be a better uh, bread box next year.
Adrian Tennant: Andrew, if you only had one strategy for social media marketing, what would it be?
Andrew Jenkins: Listen. So many organizations jump into social and they haven’t done any social media listening, or even if they’re, you know, haven’t even established themselves in social media, I like to say that there are conversations happening in the digital landscape about an organization, about a brand, that they’re not even privy to, that they’re not participating in, or that have implications about their business. They don’t even have to get on Facebook or Twitter or anything like that and establish a presence. But there’s a lot to learn from simply listening on social media to find out, how are we being perceived as a brand? How do our customers see us? Are they happy with the service or product that we provide? What are they saying about our competitors? What are they saying, just in general, about their needs? Um, you know, we’ve done work with insurance companies and I’ve had to say to them, like, “I know you, you know, live and breathe your brand, but people don’t talk about insurance with a great deal of excitement. It’s necessary.” But they do talk about life events that have an implication or have a link to insurance. So listening for a job change, buying a house, getting married, getting divorced, having children, and children graduating from college. All these life events have a potential implication to something like insurance. And so it’s listening for those kinds of conversations. A friend of mine who does a lot of social media listening was working with a cough drop company. And the cough drop company was of the belief that people bought their candies when they had a sore throat. And through my friends’ social media listening efforts, they said, “No, they buy them when they have a tickle. Not when it’s a full-blown pain, they buy it when they suspect that they have or a cough coming on.” And so it blew the brand away like, “Oh,” it was at a completely different stage of the consumer journey and it would not have been discovered were it not for social media listening. And I just share that as it’s one of my favorite examples.
Adrian Tennant: Social Media Marketing for Business has been out for a few months now. What kinds of responses have you had to the book so far?
Andrew Jenkins: I’ve been really pleased with social media practitioners finding it. I feel a little immodest saying this, but some are calling it a bible for them, and passing it on to other colleagues of theirs. Some are writing to me and they’re referencing a quote from the book, how much that meant to them, or how “oh, I couldn’t agree more with that.” And it’s been a rewarding experience to hear my words reflected back to me and people saying emphatically how much they agree with what I shared as well as people finding it a valuable resource. So much so, that they’re passing it on to colleagues. So it’s been really, fantastic.
Adrian Tennant: Andrew, if IN CLEAR FOCUS listeners would like to learn more about you and Volterra’s services, where can they find you?
Andrew Jenkins: Our website is Volterra – V O L T E R R A digital.com. And we’re on all the socials, but VolterraDigital.com and they can always reach out to me on LinkedIn, or on Twitter @AJenkins.
Adrian Tennant: And if you’d like a copy of Andrew’s book, Social Media Marketing for Business, you can save 20% on either the print or ebook when you purchase directly from the publishers online at KoganPage.com. Just add the promo code, BIGEYE20 at the checkout. Andrew, thank you very much for being our guest this week on, IN CLEAR FOCUS!
Andrew Jenkins: Thanks so much for having me.
Adrian Tennant: Thanks to my guest this week, Andrew Jenkins, the author of Social Media Marketing for Business. As always, you’ll find a transcript with links to the resources we discussed today on the IN CLEAR FOCUS page at Bigeyeagency.com. Just select Podcast from the menu. If you enjoyed this episode, please consider following us wherever you listen to podcasts. Thank you for listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS produced by Bigeye. I’ve been your host, Adrian Tennant. Until next week, goodbye.