Why Social Media Marketers Get No Respect [PODCAST]

As Rodney Dangerfield once put it, “Social media marketers don’t get no respect.” Image source.

Some people think that social media marketers get to play around on Facebook all day and call it a job. And with some of them making cringe-inducing mistakes, social media marketers have to be more alert than ever.

In this episode of the Call to Action podcast, Unbounce’s Community Manager Hayley Mullen shares how to steer clear of social disaster by avoiding six super common mistakes – and why social media has become further away from PR and closer to PPC marketing. And at the top of the show, we catch up with Unbounce’s German Community Manager Ben Harmanus about how our community is growing in Deutschland.

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In this episode: Stephanie Saretsky, Unbounce’s Multimedia Content Producer, chats with Ben Harmanus, Unbounce’s German Community Manager. Then, Dan Levy, Unbounce’s Content Strategist, interviews Hayley Mullen, Community Manager at Unbounce.

Stephanie Saretsky: Guten Tag. Earlier this year, we opened our first international office and hired a German community manager, Ben Harmanus, to spread the Unbounce love around Europe. But it wasn’t quite that simple. There was the small issue that our product and all of our content was in English, and that our German Twitter account had zero followers. So how did Ben get started?

Ben Harmanus: When I started in March, I didn’t have content. I mean, I didn’t have a German blog. So what I had to do is curate. Find people who are important in my industry and share interesting things, and then share them with my followers. So I think that works, and then you become a credible source just by being able to find interesting stuff. We’re doing well now. In the beginning, I felt it needed a little to get into the swing. Can you say that? We are doing very well with almost 1,400 followers.

Stephanie Saretsky: Now that we’ve been able to translate some of our content into German and Ben has started giving webinars in partnership with our likeminded companies with a presence in Germany, he’s been able to bridge the language gap and start making some real progress. However, the state of the conversion rate optimization nation is quite different in Europe than it is in North America.

Ben Harmanus: In Germany, we think of conversion rate optimization, I think, as this little thing that you can do to tease out a few more conversions and make results a little better, and it sounds like it’s a very technical thing. So when I started sharing stuff, I was always making sure, okay, do I just talk about conversation rate optimization and landing pages? Or most people don’t have a clue? They don’t even use landing pages, or really have an idea what a real landing page is? Right now, I cannot just go and do conversion rate optimization because people are not that far out here. So I have to find a way where I can connect topics that are popular over here with landing pages and conversion rate optimization.

Stephanie Saretsky: I’m Stephanie Saretsky, and you’re listening to Call to Action, Unbounce’s podcast about creating better marketing experiences. As we just heard, starting a new community, even built off an existing brand, is really hard work. You have to establish yourself as a credible source, and make sure that you’re publishing content that your target audience is actually interested in, all without annoying them with common social media faux pas. Our community manager, Hayley Mullen, knows all about that.

Hayley Mullen: My name is Hayley Mullen, and I’m the Community Manager at Unbounce.

Stephanie Saretsky: Hayley wrote a hilarious blog post on Unbounce to her fellow community managers called “6 Things We All Need to Stop Doing on Social Media Now.” Unbounce’s Dan Levy caught up with Hayley to get the scoop on the damage these mistakes can do to a brand’s credibility, and how to make sure that your social accounts are considered must-follow.

Dan Levy: I feel like social strategists and community managers are the Rodney Dangerfields of marketing teams. You’re on the front lines and you’re often overseeing some of a brand’s biggest and most profitable marketing channels, but you don’t get no respect, do you?

Hayley Mullen: There are definitely people who think those of us who work in social media get to play around on Facebook and call it a job, but I think that generally, as social has become more of a bona fide part of the whole marketing landscape, and the value of it and the people working within it is a lot clearer, even if what we actually do on a day to day basis isn’t, as my parents would say.

Dan Levy: So they think that you’re just playing around on Facebook all day.

Hayley Mullen: They don’t understand what I do at all, but that’s okay.

Dan Levy: Fair enough. Yeah, so social media is sort of like the Wild West of marketing, I feel. It’s like anyone can say whatever they want. There are no filters, no approvals. So it makes sense that marketers can run a little bit wild if they’re left unchecked. Why do you think so many marketers fall into similar bad habits?

Hayley Mullen: Well, I think that the fact that there really are no rules, and most social media is just out in public, it kind of creates this Venn diagram of potential disaster. But if we’re talking about well-meaning marketers who know what they’re doing and still say something inappropriate or, as I’m sure we’ve all seen, end up on BuzzFeed because they tweeted something stupid that got them fired – I just assume that that sort of comes from a place of trying to either push the envelope or have a “personality” as a brand on social, which is totally something that we should be doing. It’s just that that sort of leaves a lot of room for interpretation, which then also leaves a lot of room for errors.

Dan Levy: Great.

Hayley Mullen: As with anything, you just kind of take the bad with the good, and try and use your common sense as much as possible.

Dan Levy: Yeah, if only more people had common sense, I guess?

Hayley Mullen: I guess so.

Dan Levy: Well, the first social media marketing faux pas that you address in your post is automated responses. We’ve talked about the pros and cons of marketing automation on the podcast before, but what are automated responses on Twitter, and how come you suggest that pretty much everyone hates them?

Hayley Mullen: So automated responses, and in particular, automated direct messages, which was the sort of pet peeve that I was talking about in that post, they’re when a trigger is set up to message someone via their private inbox on Twitter. So a lot of people and companies set this up to happen when someone follows them, usually to promote their blog or their Facebook page, or whatever it is that their flavor of the month is. I’m sure that we’ve all hit “follow” at some point, and then a DM shows up half a second later with, “Thanks for following. Check out my ebook,” and blablablablabla, right?

Dan Levy: Yup.

Hayley Mullen: Which on paper sounds like a really great idea. I get it, I do. Sending someone a message is good. Showing them something else of yours that they may be interested is good, and totally seems like a good, solid promotional opportunity. But in practice, you’re a lot more likely to turn people off. One thing that has, and I think always will, hold up in social, and probably marketing in general, is just genuineness and being human with people.

Dan Levy: Right.

Hayley Mullen: And yeah, automated DMs just don’t really jive with that. It’s always pretty obvious that they’re automated, even if the copy sounds fun or whatever, but they just sort of come off as robotic and self-serving. And I’ve heard from and seen enough people who feel the same way that I do that I just don’t think that they’re worth the gamble. I’m sure that automated DMs have worked for some businesses, and that they’ve seen positive results, and I did hear from some people after I wrote that post saying, “They’ve worked for me.” But in my opinion, they’re just – there are so many other ways of connecting with your followers and promoting yourself or your content that don’t carry such a high risk of annoying the very people that you want to do anything but annoy.

Dan Levy: Right. I had somebody send me an automated response the other day, and it actually said in it, “Yeah, this is an automated response, but I’m really grateful for you to follow me anyway.” And I was like, “Oh, that’s kind of nice that they acknowledged it,” but I still unfollowed them, because I don’t know. It just annoyed me still.

Hayley Mullen: I know. I got one the other day that was like, “This is the first and last automated message that you’ll get from me,” and I’m like, okay, but still.

Dan Levy: This is the first and last message I’m gonna get from you because unfollow.

Hayley Mullen: Unfollow.

Dan Levy: Right.

Hayley Mullen: Bye.

Dan Levy: You say that, unlike automated messaging, automated publishing is actually essential for social media marketing. So what’s the difference?

Hayley Mullen: Yes. So automated publishing is like my trusty little sidekick that makes my working life much, much easier. It’s basically just scheduling social posts to go at a later time, so you can write all of your posts at once but sort of stagger them throughout the day or the week, or however far in advance you want to work. A lot of tools let you do this. I personally use Buffer and Hootsuite in conjunction, and they rock my socks, and they both have free plans and inexpensive options if you want to upgrade. They also allow you to post to a lot of different networks from your dashboard, so I’d highly recommend those. And there’s also –

Dan Levy: Um-hum. Why do you use both of them in conjunction?

Hayley Mullen: Buffer’s just sort of quicker to use, just the UI of it, and it also allows you to toggle images. Hootsuite allows that as well, but they have a linking system that it’s a link for the image, and I like to have the images show up sort of in line in the Twitter feed. Hootsuite is – I use that for monitoring more, and publishing for when I go away for further ahead. So yeah, they both are really awesome in their own ways, and so that’s why I use them both at the same time.

Dan Levy: Got it. Do you have any tips for approaching scheduled updates in a way that doesn’t make you come off like the dude who schedules automatic responses?

Hayley Mullen: Yeah. So one way, I guess, would just be to write your posts in a way that feels natural to you. Maybe add in a little additional comment so it’s clear that there’s actually a breathing homo sapiens behind them.

Dan Levy: Right.

Hayley Mullen: I don’t really know if you need to focus on not sounding robotic for scheduled updates as much as just making sure that you subsidize them with a genuine and human approach in the other ways that you engage on social. So with Unbounce, say, with our Twitter, a lot of the updates that I post are just the title of the post being shared. Because to me, it’s more about sort of getting to the point of what’s in the post and why it’s of value to our followers than writing some really creative copy for it.

But then when I’m talking to people on social, I’m a lot more just colloquial, and just trying to talk to people the same way that I would if I were talking to them in person, albeit in 140 characters. So I mean, I’m lucky because I’m encouraged to do that at Unbounce, and I’m given a lot of room to play around. I know that not everybody has that luxury. So I guess if your company has very specific voice or guidelines that you have to adhere to, which a lot of them do, then just work within those guidelines while keeping in mind exactly what it is you’re saying. If you sound like you’re giving a canned answer, or talking in sort of PR marketing speak, then just try rewording it a little. And also, use people’s names when you’re talking to them, because it makes a big difference. And always spell the names right.

Dan Levy: Yes.

Hayley Mullen: It’s – that’s a little thing that makes a huge difference.

Dan Levy: Oh, totally. Yeah. So automated responses, bad; automated publishing, good. You go on to talk about another tactic that’s common among social media marketers: blanket publishing.

Hayley Mullen: Yes.

Dan Levy: Tell me about that one, and how I should feel about it.

Hayley Mullen: Okay. So this comes down to basically just because you can do something doesn’t mean you always should. We have the ability to post the same update to a variety of social networks in a variety of different ways, whether it’s through the social management tools that I mentioned earlier, or by syncing networks to trigger posts to each other and what have you. Because I mean, obviously, this is really convenient and can be a big timesaver, but each network behaves differently and has an audience that will likely respond to things differently.

So you only have those 140 characters on Twitter, and it moves really fast, so people are looking for quick updates that get to the point, whereas, say, on Facebook, they’re likely in a more sort of relaxed headspace, perusing updates, and will appreciate less activity from you with more engagement potential. And then just from a technical standpoint, images that work on Twitter probably won’t fit the dimensions needed for Facebook, or LinkedIn, or Google+, and so on. So they’ll probably look a bit wonky if you try and do a one size fits all thing. In these cases, I would just say tailor your updates and post to them individually because sometimes it’s just better to take the long route in order to provide the best experience for your audience.

Dan Levy: That makes sense. So I know that big part of your job at Unbounce is curating content for our community of marketers. Well, you say that while you’re eager to share great content from other industry blogs, other companies, it often seems like a lot of those blogs aren’t quite ready for you. What do you mean by that?

Hayley Mullen: Okay. So I’ll start off by saying that if – say your business has a blog, the purpose of that blog is to have it seen by as many members of your target audience as you can, then make it as quick and easy as possible for people to share that content. It’s something they’re essentially doing you as a favor. It just kind of baffles me when I land on a blog and then I have to search around for social sharing buttons, or the company’s social networks aren’t easily accessible from that page, if I want to credit them. Or also, which happens more often than you’d think, if I find the share buttons and then the pre-fab tweet in them is over 140 characters, so then – that happens a lot, actually, and so I have to edit it.

Dan Levy: Oh, man.

Hayley Mullen: And so I’m just kind of like, what are you thinking? All of these are just really little things that cause friction between someone reading your post and sharing it. And so, it’s to your benefit that your blog is optimized for sharing, and allows people to just go, click, read it and then share just really quickly and intuitively. Also, I would say don’t forget to include your company’s handle in any pre-written post that you have just to ensure that you get the credit, and also build your following. And also, it allows you and your social team to see what’s been shared and track who’s been sharing it so that you can then engage with those people instead of having those shares sort of get lost in the abyss of the internet.

Dan Levy: Yeah. I know, ideally, it’s also great if the author’s name is included, because then –

Hayley Mullen: Totally.

Dan Levy: – every time that post is retweeted, the author sees it, and they’re incentivized to share it or reminded to share it as well.

Hayley Mullen: Exactly. As much as you can do to take the work off somebody else’s plate and to amplify your own content in those different ways, just do it.

Dan Levy: Yeah. It’s sort of like on a landing page, I guess, it’s make the experience for people as frictionless as possible. And for some reason, marketers, even if they’re doing a good job of that on their landing pages, which I guess isn’t always the case, they just forget about these basic principles when it comes to their content.

Hayley Mullen: 100 percent, yeah.

Dan Levy: So the last mistake that you cover in your post is not sending social campaigns to a dedicated landing page. That’s obviously the sort of thing that we talk about at Unbounce a lot, but can you remind us why it’s so important for social media campaigns in particular?

Hayley Mullen: Yeah. So the idea behind this isn’t really that different from having a dedicated landing page for any PPC campaign in that you want everything to align with what people initially see and click on, and to not sort of thwart any potential conversions with unnecessary information, or links, or really whatever can distract them from the single goal of your campaign. So for instance, if you’ve created a Facebook ad, and you’re promoting some amazing feature that your company just launched, you’ll be doing a huge disservice to that campaign by having your ad go to anything but a landing page about that exact feature. And that landing page needs to be optimized for conversion from there.

So the whole reason that someone even clicked on the ad in the first place is because something about it resonated with them. You don’t want to lose that. You want to give them exactly what they expect, and not send them to your homepage, which is blasphemous to us at Unbounce, obviously. Because there’s just so much competing information. There are so many links. There’s information about irrelevant things in the context of the campaign. And then hope that they navigate their way to whatever it is you’re promoting, because they won’t. And though you’ll have all of these clicks, and no conversions, and everyone will be really.

I’d encourage people actually to look at our conversion marketing glossary for this to give context to it. And in particular, look at message match and attention ratio, because those are two of the specific things I talked about. And also, my predecessor, Tia, she wrote the “How to Create Social Media Campaigns that Actually Convert” post on our blog. It’s super awesome, and it explains this idea really, really clearly, and it has a bunch of really good examples, so that sums it up perfectly.

Dan Levy: Cool, yeah. Well, people should definitely check that out, and we’ll link to that on our blog for sure.

Hayley Mullen: Oh yeah.

Dan Levy: So again, it seems like – I go back to the whole Rodney Dangerfield thing. It’s like, people know these principles when they’re dealing with PPC campaigns or email marketing campaigns. But for some reason, when you’re looking at social, this stuff just goes out the door.

Hayley Mullen: I guess so.

Dan Levy: It’s weird.

Hayley Mullen: I mean, I think that – yeah, because people don’t really know what it is social media marketers do, or there are just so many different versions of it that it’s also really hard to measure things, or really know what it is that makes a great one because there’s so much to it, I guess.

Dan Levy: Well, how do you think the role of a community manager or social strategist has changed over the last couple years? Because I feel like it used to be considered somewhere in the realm of PR or customer service, and like you said, those are still sometimes part of the job. But now that every social network has a sophisticated ad platform built into it, it’s also become more of a performance-oriented role, right?

Hayley Mullen: Yeah, I would say that. It’s definitely changed, although I think it’s still a very sort of – as I was saying, malleable role, that it – that differs depending on the industry you’re in, or whether you’re B2B, B2C, or whether you’re in-house, or agency, or really what the needs of the company are that you’re working for. It’s definitely more performance-based, and I think that’s because it’s more mature just as a career opportunity in general.

Dan Levy: Right.

Hayley Mullen: And so now we’ve learned more about what social can bring to the table, and what sort of KPIs we can and should be focusing on. It seems like follower growth and direct traffic from social shares and engagement and that sort of thing. That said though, a big part of our job is brand awareness, and creating relationships with members of our community, which is really hard to measure, but also incredibly valuable.

Dan Levy: Right.

Hayley Mullen: One thing that I can say, and this is just from my own experience in social media in B2B and marketing, is that there’s a lot more of a focus on the long game than gimmicks or quick wins or a huge push for contests and that sort of thing. Doing contests and fun social campaigns is great, and I’m not at all saying that we shouldn’t do them. But I just think that there’s more credence now given to just consistent provision of value and engagement with your followers and prospective followers and customers on an ongoing basis. Sharing great content, helping people just be more successful in what they’re doing, listening to them, building relationships, engaging one on one, and just being consistent with it. It’s not particularly sexy, but that’s where the real meat is.

Dan Levy: Yeah. Well, it sounds like what you’re describing, being consistent and having a long-term strategy, is another way of saying optimization.

Hayley Mullen: Totally.

Dan Levy: It’s like it’s approaching this stuff really strategically, and having a long view, and not ignoring things that don’t bring immediate revenue, for example, but planning for that for the long-term. And in the meantime, just measuring what you’re doing so that you could improve on it and optimize it as you go along.

Hayley Mullen: Totally. It’s like macro optimization across the board.

Dan Levy: Mm, I like that. Macro optimization.

Hayley Mullen: Yeah.

Dan Levy: So where’s the best place for marketers to get started running for strategic, and more importantly, less annoying social campaigns?

Hayley Mullen: Well obviously, use landing pages. But seriously –

Dan Levy: Obviously.

Hayley Mullen: – that will make a big difference. And I’m not just saying that because Unbounce pays my bills. Besides that, I mean, I don’t really have one answer for this. I just say, always listen to what your audience is telling you by their behavior, and do you research into what it is that they want, and what they need, and what makes them tick. It’s all about them. And just use your gut and keep things simple. Generally, I find that if you’re finding it hard to explain your idea to someone, or the value of it in a succinct way, then that’s usually sign that it’s too convoluted, and it won’t actually land with your audience either.

Oh, also, don’t try and change peoples’ behavior, because that will be an uphill battle. I think that a lot of campaigns or a lot of ideas, basically, especially with social media, is trying to change aspects of it, trying to change what people naturally do, and it just – that’s where you lose people. I’d say just incorporate your strategy into what it is that people are already doing and where they already are, and just take it from there. And then, of course, just be as human as you can. I keep saying it. I’m gonna keep saying it until I don’t have to say it anymore, until none of us have to say it anymore, until I stop getting automated direct messages, and then I’ll stop saying it.

Dan Levy: All right, deal. Yeah, don’t try to change people. Isn’t that a great lesson for marketing and for life?

Hayley Mullen: I guess so. Very profound.

Dan Levy: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat, Hayley, and for the great post.

Hayley Mullen: Oh, thank you so much for having me.

Stephanie Saretsky: That was Hayley Mullen, Unbounce’s Community Manager. Interested in learning more about running a high converting social media campaign? Sign up for our upcoming webinar with Sprout Social’s Michael Patterson at webinar.unbounce.com/social-media-conversions.

That’s your call to action. Thanks for listening.

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About Stephanie Saretsky
Stephanie Saretsky is a former multimedia producer at Unbounce. Producing projects like the Call to Action podcast and The Landing Page Sessions by day and a radio DJ by night, she is a lover of all things multimedia. Find her on Twitter: @msbeansie
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