In the second episode of our I’ve Heard That podcast on the Hurrdat Media Network, host Meghan is joined by Social Media Director Kirsten Smith and Paid Search Director Allie Burkey to chat about how small businesses can use social media to attract customers, grow their brand, and more.
Which social media platforms should businesses be using?
Smith: I think it depends on their strategy and knowing who their audience is and what they want to communicate. What’s their story? What do they want to get out there? Is it brand awareness? Is it product-focus? Is it getting user-generated content? Thinking of the whole strategy can help you break down what the best platform is for you.
Why is engagement so important and for algorithms?
Smith: Engagement is one of the top KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for social media. That means the audience is liking what you’re putting out there. They’re listening to you, and they’re liking what you’re saying. You’re maybe solving their problems. The more engagement you get with a post, the more the algorithm is going to put your content in front of that audience.
How has COVID-19 affected paid advertising and where people are spending their budgets?
Burkey: It’s definitely been a challenge, especially because I think a lot of businesses’ entire business model changed. Especially for the first couple of months, businesses just looked entirely different. For us, specifically, I think it’s important to be agile and adaptable because things were changing by the day. Shift your focus to maybe driving things online. For example, if you’re a bank, maybe it’s pushing your promotions more toward your mobile app. Just thinking of ways to adapt to the current world we’re living in and how we can still get out our message and still promote, but be sensitive about our promotions.
Say I’m a small business owner. What do I need to do on social? Where do I start? Can I do it myself? Do I need help?
Smith: Social media is a great way to get your brand out to a large audience. And especially organically, it’s cheap. You can tell your story pretty well through organic posts by reaching the people that you want to engage with and then hopefully return as a customer. As far as doing in-house or using an agency, it all just depends on your headcount and how big your business is. The nice thing about an agency—especially us at Hurrdat Marketing—is we become experts in your field. We do so much research. We get to know your business, and we’re the experts at knowing what to get out and talking to the right person at the right time with the right message. Just being able to trust someone to do that leaves a lot off your plate so you could run your day-to-day business.
Burkey: Know your goal. Know your audience. Know where your audience is. Know how your audience interacts with these different platforms. And then test, test, test, especially with something like paid. If you’re putting money behind it, it’s really important to make data-driven decisions. Testing is really so important to hone in on your messaging and what’s working. It’s not “set it and forget it,” so you have to keep an eye on it at all times.
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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Welcome to I’ve Heard That, the podcast from Hurrdat Marketing that discusses digital marketing trends, tips and more.
Hi everybody. I’m Megan, I’m our agency director, and I’m so excited for today’s episode. I have Kirsten and Allie. Kirsten, tell us about yourself.
Hi, my name is Kirsten Smith and I’m the director of social marketing and brand communications. I oversee all organic social media at Hurrdat. We do social media for all of our clients, small to medium size businesses, and then also run all the social on our own brands.
Awesome. Welcome. Allie, welcome, tell us about yourself.
Hi Allie Burkey. I am the director of paid search and all of our paid media. So basically if you put ad spend behind it, I oversee it.
Awesome. Well, I’m so excited to have you guys both in the same room or virtually almost in the same room, because today we want to cover some thoughts on social media. So where does the business start? What is social media and where does the business start?
I feel like a business starts… they need to know what their goals are, what their overall marketing goal is, especially in the digital world, where do they want to live digitally? And they really back it up to that. So really starting with their overall business goal, knowing if it fits when the social media. As we know, social media has a million channels anymore, which channel does it fit into and then breaking it down from there,
That’s a great answer. I mean, I feel like with all the hype around TikTok through COVID we’ve had businesses ask that’s been the 2020 question of the year like, “Do I need to be on TikTok?” What do you say to businesses about that?
Again, I think it all backs up to their strategy and knowing on who their audience is, what they want to communicate, what’s their story? What do they want to get out there? Is it brand awareness? Is it a product focus? Is it getting user-generated content? So just really thinking of a whole strategy, which then can help break you down to what the best platform is for you. TikTok is a platform that, it was really targeted towards younger, but we’ve seen some older audiences also consuming that content and really going on there. Especially with the influencer world, that’s one platform they really dipped into was for TikTok. So just thinking that’s a whole another aspect of it is with influencers. So TikTok is one that has been, as we know, controversial too, with it being shut down by Trump, but it is still really important platform that’s out there that people consume daily. And it’s one of the fastest growing apps in 2020, especially the beginning of 2020 before it did get shut down. And it’s just all about what kind of content you want to get out though.
Well, break it down for us. So the common ones, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn TikTok, Snapchat. Where do you draw the line? So can you break it down for us? What type of audience is on each platform and when would a business use one versus the other or what are they good for?
Definitely. I think going and starting with the main one, Facebook kind of started this all. I think there’s now 2.7 billion monthly active users on Facebook, which is a huge reach. But that also means that it’s really saturated. Most of the Facebook users, as we know, is one of the oldest social media platforms. So we do see the audience tend to be a little bit older and how the content is consumed is going to be different than looking at the other channels. Facebook is still really relevant and really important to be on, to tell your story and to really get your brand out there. Within the algorithms strategy though, is definitely something that’s really important to know your strategy with them, Facebook and then your content strategy, and then who you’re reaching out to.
Instagram is probably the second top consumed social media platform, which tends to be a little bit younger, I’d say 25 to 40s that’s their audience. And Instagram really started with just beautiful pictures, that’s really what it was all about. Just really more visual, telling your story through a picture. And that really changed the way we consumed content. Visually Facebook was a lot about words and it was more of a social, literally communication platform. Instagram kind of changed that through the visual part of it. And that is still really relevant of what we’re putting out on Instagram and making sure it’s beautifully… people get attracted to what the picture is.
You have to be beautiful enough. Your ad has to be visually interesting enough for us to stop and consume it because otherwise you’re just going to get lost in the scroll, because there’s so many great visual elements in Instagram.
Right. And then, there’s Twitter, which again is one of the older social media platforms, which is really, again, social communication-based. Video is definitely something though that all three of those platforms are really pushing.
The algorithm loves video.
Yes. So then if you are doing video that’s stopping the scroll, visually appealing, has something important to say, it’s going to help stop your audience and get your word out and get out what… really, your brand awareness of what you want people to know who you are. And then TikTok is something that just sprung in. And that was started with just fun user-generate content. It was really more focused about the person and what… You’ll see on TikTok, the challenges and it’s really to communicate with each other, but through video or through… you don’t really write blogs on TikTok or anything like that. You’re definitely… it’s all going to be visual. It kind of sprung off a Snapchat too, in a way. Snapchat’s one of those older social platforms that’s had its ups and downs, but that one is to also more the visual part of it, taking the images and not really… You can chat within Snapchat, but it’s not as used like the Facebook or Twitter or Instagram.
And then LinkedIn is one that we can’t forget about. I think LinkedIn is something that keeps on growing quarter over quarter, their revenue is going up and it’s also one of the most trusted platforms too out there. We know that we’ve seen with the news lately, how Facebook has been in courts and lawsuits here and there. LinkedIn has been voted the most trusted one to be able to consume and put yourself out there. And it’s great for B2B.
That’s right. Allie, when it comes to advertising on these… because obviously, Kirsten was just speaking to the organic content that a business would be creating. What about advertising and what do you see each corner of the social media platforms? Where do businesses advertise and which platforms and for what? How do they use this too?
I think similar to what Kirsten was saying, it really depends on your audience. So I think first you need to know your audience and their digital habits where they spend their time, because of course that’s going to be different across every platform. And like Kirsten also was saying, knowing your goals. You can drive conversions in every single platform, but it’s probably easier to drive a conversion in Facebook versus something like Twitter. So I think it’s just knowing your audience, knowing where they’re engaged and also when they’re engaged is also really important in terms of ad targeting and when you want to run ads.
And when you talk about your audience… So I mean, clearly I know if you look at my phone, I have more than one social media platform and stuff, maybe a few. How do you build a strategy around that? Yes, you mentioned your messaging, yes, your audience, but knowing that people have more than one platform and are not solely members of one platform, how do you develop your strategy around that?
I think you almost have to look at each one and tailor your strategy differently. I wouldn’t necessarily this say that the same copy that would work in something like Facebook would work in something like Twitter. You’re obviously doing different things when you’re in Facebook versus when you’re on Twitter. I think you maybe have a different mindset. I go to Twitter literally strictly for sports news. I guess I’m probably more engaged on Facebook because it’s more of a casual scroll versus I’m seeking something out specifically. So I think developing an individual… Putting yourself in the mindset of your audience and developing an individual, almost micro strategy for each one of those different platforms is really important.
Well, I think that’s important to call out, Allie. When it comes to paid advertising, there’s you have so much more control over your campaigns, versus, obviously, organic or the algorithms controlling who’s seeing what, when. But for paid, yes, there’s an algorithm, but at least you can set some of those parameters up. So thinking through what time of day or night or where, or when are they consuming the content and planning your content and your messaging around your audience by platform, by those parameters, demographics, time, content.
I think too, paid organically is testing. Testing is really important and that’s how you can learn what your audience is going to respond to on each platform. You could try the exact same ad or exact same organic posts on each platform and you will see how each platform engages with it. So learning what the audience really wants is also important. And I can’t stress testing that enough and then you can get to those results.
So explain to us why is engagement… Obviously, getting your message seen is important, but why is engagement so important for social media and for algorithms? How does it all work?
So engagement is probably the one of the top KPIs for social media. And that mean the audience is liking what they’re putting out. They’re listening to you, they understand what you’re saying, you are maybe solving their problem. And so the more engagement you get within a post, the algorithm’s going to put your content in front of that audience more.
Obviously, as we think about Facebook in some regards competing for my screen time with Instagram, with TikTok, with LinkedIn, in that explanation, if Facebook’s giving me content and I’m spending my time watching it or engaging with it, then I’m more likely to use Facebook than Instagram, than TikTok in that moment. And so it’s trying to serve me things that I want to spend my time seeing. And if I’m saying, “Yes, give me more,” then it’s going to keep giving me more of that brand, right?
How do you think COVID has changed the way people use social media or where businesses need to advertise? How has all this changed things for us?
COVID has helped social media out a lot through consumption numbers have gone up a ton.
We got more time on our hands.
We have more time on our hands, so we are constantly just browsing with and the social platforms. One of the bigger things for organically, what we’ve seen is the increase in influencer marketing during COVID. And it’s been really important to use that influencer marketing to get your brand out because someone can’t walk into your store and you can’t give that great customer service in the store. So how do you do it? You use someone to be your brand advocate. So influence marketing has definitely gone up a done to during COVID too.
That’s a great example. So I think a lot of times when businesses think of influencer marketing, they’re thinking of the Kim Kardashian, showing her latest and greatest face mask or lip gloss or whatever on Instagram. But explain how that translates to different brands and/or do you have to hire Kim Kardashian and I don’t have a million dollars. So what do I do? How does a small business do influencer marketing?
There’s macro influencers, micro influencers, they go anywhere from even 15,000 followers to millions of followers. And again, all focus on your business goals in the end. But you can work with a micro influencer as a small business and they can still be your brand advocate and get your voice out to their audience, which is possibly an audience you haven’t even tapped yet or gotten your word out to, and really could be at a cheaper price too, than the traditional marketing, if you think about it, because I don’t need to serve them a radio ad or a billboard or an email. I can use someone that believes in my product, in my services and they can be my brand advocate and be authentic about it too. So I think it’s really smart for small businesses to use influencer marketing.
So that’s why it’s super important as they’re choosing which influencers to work with, making sure it still feels authentic so that it’s not, here I’m seeing this ad and it’s someone just trying to sell me something again, it’s actually them giving a really authentic review of a product or of a solution.
Right. It needs to still be on brand on their brand.
For Allie, I’m going to ask Allie the same question. How has COVID affected paid advertising in where people are spending their budgets?
It’s definitely been a challenge I think, especially because a lot of business’ entire business model changed. Especially for the first couple months people’s businesses just looked entirely different. So for us specifically, I think it’s important to be agile of course, and adaptable because things were changing literally by the day. And then shifting your focus to maybe… I think specifically driving things to more online or example, if you’re a bank maybe pushing more promotions towards your mobile app, just thinking of ways to adapt to the current worlds we’re living then and how we can still get out our message and still promote, but also be sensitive about our promotions.
I think that’s super important because the world has changed, so if we’re still pushing the content that we were before COVID, I think that’s few and far between the businesses that could get away with that at this point. So I think even to a degree, you mentioned, it seems really insensitive if you’re still using that messaging pre COVID now on your social. So tell me, you mentioned you use Twitter for sports, Allie. What do you use these platforms for? What is the content that you’re engaging with?
Well, like I said, Twitter for sports, for sure. Gosh. And then I guess Instagram for me is just a really embarrassing celebrity, I want to sneak in and look, but also absolutely small business shopping. There are a couple small businesses in Omaha. There’s a local, I guess it’s a secondhand, their store. I don’t know. But that’s one of my favorite ones, because they have such pretty photos and it just… I don’t know how many things I’ve been convinced to buy just strictly off of looking at it. Those are really my two big ones. TikTok, I can’t get into.
Those are really great example of it working and why it works for you. What about you Kirsten? What are you consuming?
I think the three main platforms, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn too. Facebook and LinkedIn I use more for educational purposes, I like to read blogs on those platforms. I like to get my news updates on those platforms, so I really look to those two for that content. Same with Allie on Instagram, I do small business shopping. I buy a lot of stuff on Instagram, surprisingly, which could be scary or could be great too. But like I mentioned, with those influencers out there, they’re giving those brand reviews and following them like, “Yep, I got to get that. She looks good. I know this will work great for me.” And then just memes and fun videos and stuff like that, it’s one of my platforms that I just can escape and just spend some time in there and to consume all the content.
Any favorite campaigns? You guys mentioned you both have purchased… And on social B2B, not just e-commerce related things, but any purchases that you’ve made, any favorite campaigns?
I am a sucker for skincare, so that’s when I always followed too because I’m like, “Oh, her face is beautiful. Mine’s going to look like that.” Any skin care campaigns I really fall for. And for LinkedIn, it’s more the motivational speaking part of it, where I see that ad come to me because they will promote themselves as an ad, I start following them and consuming their content.
Hey wait, we haven’t even mentioned Pinterest.
Sorry guys. Do you use Pinterest?
What do you use it for? Should you be on it?
Pinterest is also one of those platforms that has been around for a while. It’s actually a search engine almost anymore. So people think of it more as a search engine than social a lot of times, because people are on their searching. They’re looking for recipes, they’re looking for fashion advice, they’re looking for DIY, how-to, so it’s really considered searching anymore. It’s really important to definitely be on there if you fall within those categories. I think the bloggers videos of how to and videos gotten big on Pinterest too like everything else. So, I do consume Pinterest a lot.
I think that’s something that is… it’s been on the back burner of my mind, but throughout COVID tying off to your point. And their stock has increased for this reason because you’re sitting at home you’re like, “I need to re-do my kitchen. I’m going to stain my cabinets. I want to try something new with my hair because I’m bored at home. I’m going to go to Pinterest and look for these tutorials or bake something new.” And that’s where you go to find recipes, hairstyles, home decor. I mean, those are the things I’m looking at on my Pinterest. And I forgot I even had it installed until we were at home for COVID and I’m like, “Oh yeah, I need some ideas.” And I’ve done more pinning than probably the last five years. Any favorite campaigns for you, Allie? I know you mentioned you’ve bought a few things.
So Urban Outfitters has this thing, it’s like you owe on you. So it’s basically people showcasing the clothes on themselves, which I love. They did it a lot during COVID because obviously they weren’t photographing models. So they did a lot at that time. And I thought that was really… I mean that got me every time because it’s like, “Oh, well.” I mean I’m not 5’10, 120 pounds. I can’t relate to these models, but I can absolutely relate to someone just basically styling something themselves at home. So I feel like that one really got me, especially this last year.
I already knew about this watching the social dilemma, kind of gives you tear and you got to let it wear off. But data, privacy, how is social media’s algorithm and cookies… explain this world in your own terms and should I be scared or am I giving up a little bit of my data to get something in return? Or how do you view it?
With the privacy policies, you can decide as much or as little as you want the social channels to know. Yes, by you being on the internet in general, they’re going to get data. That’s why you will see ads from a website you were just on when you’re on a different website or when you’re just searching something. They’re going to target you. Within Facebook, they’ve gone through a lot of private policy violations.
I was going to say lawsuits aside, in general.
And you can actually go in and adjust the settings that you would like to know how much Facebook would want to know about you. They could know everything about you or they could know a little where then you don’t get those ads re targeted towards you.
How does that change how businesses use retargeting, Allie, with data privacy being top of mind and people scaling back on what they’re allowing these platforms to see? How do you use that information as a business?
I mean, it can be limiting for sure. It’s not the wild, wild west out there as it probably once was, but that’s a good thing, I think. And again, you just need to be a little more strategic in your approach if you are running a remarketing campaign and also understanding that there are limitations and maybe putting less money toward some of those retargeting remarketing campaigns and putting more money into brand awareness and driving just new traffic in general.
That makes sense. I do think in my opinion like that if you feel comfortable with it, limiting your details, limiting your information on these platforms is a comfort… what you’re comfortable with. Obviously Facebook is in hot water and I don’t want my data stolen, sold whatever. But if I’m agreeing to what I’m allowing, then I think it’s really good for paid advertising. I think it’s really good that I’m seeing content that I already said I’m interested in versus not giving the platforms any details about myself, and then I get bombarded with stuff I’m not even interested in. So of course, my engagement with that content’s why I’m getting served more things that I’m interested in and those around me, which is kind of freaky at first thought. But I’ll just give you an example.
I did see my parents, I broke down, saw them finally around Thanksgiving and that’s when, of course, I’m holiday shopping, like a mad person on a bunch of sites, so picking up cookies left and right. I go to my social media, I had looked at the sweater, I think it was on J.Crew. And then my mom was there with me, so Facebook knew that we were in close proximity to each other, really weird. The next week she’s getting ads for the sweater that I looked at on J.Crew And she shoots me, of course because she’s my mom, a screenshot. And she’s like, “Do you like this sweater?” And I’m like, “Yes, it’s working. Thank you J.Crew.” I think there’s some positive things that come out of it. I’m seeing content that I want to see if you can get past the all seeing eye, big brother, like Google, Facebook, knowing everything about me.
I think you have to be mindful too of… Definitely put an ad frequency cap on so that you’re not just constantly bombarding someone with the same ad. So being a little sensitive to consumers in that way too. You want to get in front of them, but you don’t want to give them ad fatigue either.
No one wants the hard sell. I’m like, “Scroll past that.” I think it was Instagram, I feel like, Kristen correct me if I’m wrong, that had to dial their algorithm back because they were bombarding people with ads. And again that could get me to stop using that platform altogether. If I’m like, “Fine, I’m just going to go watch TikTok because I don’t want to just be bombarded with ads.”
They just did a big algorithm update a few months ago. And I don’t know if you noticed this when you were on Instagram, when an ad would come up, it would ask you if you engaged with this ad or did you buy something from this ad and it was asking you that. So then them learning what you were really engaging with had them change then their algorithm of knowing exactly what you want to consume, which hurt somebody businesses, really.
I was going to say from an agency perspective, I feel like we were fielding a lot of questions on like, “Hey, why is my performance dropped?” Or even when you’re looking at influencers, seeing their performance dropping.
And it was really more at the impressions because they weren’t reaching as large as of audience, which engagement is so more important-
Relevant audience, not just eyeballs?
Right. You do want to reach, of course, a large audience, but be relevant in making sure that audience is engaging with your content. That’s really what Instagram was asking us.
And I think to Allie’s point, that’s why it’s so important to AB test, to continue testing because algorithms are changing, people’s tastes are changing, seasonally. I mean, obviously we’ve made it through the holiday shopping season. What are you advertising? Don’t just set it and forget it.
Or you’re going to pay a really high price and/or are the algorithms going to take you out?
Right. Your cost per click’s going to be high.
Definitely. So final question for both of you before we wrap up today, give me some advice. I’m a small business owner. What do I need to do on social? Where do I start? Can I do it myself? Do I need help? It’s 10 questions.
I think again, like I mentioned earlier think about your business goal. What is your business goal? Social media is a great way to get your brand out to a large audience and especially organically it’s cheap. You can tell your story pretty well through organic post, by reaching the people that you want to engage with and hopefully then return to be a customer. So for doing in-house or using an agency, I think it just all depends on your head count, how big your business is. The nice thing about an agency is that we, especially, I know at Hurrdat, become experts in your field. We do so much research, we get to know your business and we’re the experts at knowing what to get out and talking to the right person, at the right time, with the right message. And just being able to trust someone to do that leaves a lot off of your plate, where you can run day to day business.
I think that’s an important note to take though that. Social media content has a significantly shorter shelf life than the SEO or website work that might be part of their greater strategy. So again, feel free to try and see what works. Is it that really authentic… I don’t know, iPhone shot content or is it the more professional, planned, curated based content that’s working for your audience? And then do that, continue to test and do more of that. Allie, what’s your advice for the small to medium size business when it comes to using paid ads on these platforms?
Really similar to Kirsten, I think, know your goal. What’s your end goal? Know your audience. Know where your audience is. Know how your audience interacts with these different platforms, and then test. Test, test, test, especially with something like paid. If you’re putting money behind it, it’s really important to make data-driven decisions. So testing is so important to really hone in on your messaging and what’s working. Like you said, it’s not set it and forget it, so got to keep an eye on it at all times.
Keep testing. I like it. Business owners, we want to hear questions from you. What kind of questions you have for Allie and Kirsten? So comment, like our posts, engage with our social posts. But no, we do want to know what kind of questions do you want to ask our team? We’re open and we’re excited to help answer some of those questions for you. So that’s it for today. Really want to thank you, Kirsten and Allie, thanks for joining us. And subscribe or like our podcast, wherever you get our podcast.
Speaker 1 (29:54):
I’ve Heard That is a part of the Hurrdat Media Network. For more information, follow Hurrdat on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram, or visit hurrdatmarketing.com
Speaker 5 (30:02):
A Hurrdat Media production.