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Put People First, and Be Human in Social Media

Featuring Duncan Alney of Firebelly Marketing

In this episode, social media guru Duncan Alney and I discuss social media strategy and best practices. Duncan has been doing social media marketing since 2007, so he has forgotten more about this topic than most people will ever know!

Persistent and cautious, Duncan runs his full-service marketing agency with an emphasis on original content and brand presence. YellowFin Digital and Firebelly Marketing often collaborate, since Duncan’s team at Firebelly handles all of the tough parts of social media marketing that we don’t tackle here at YellowFin.

After reminiscing over MySpace, we discuss how a single, strong marketing effort can drive every element of a company’s online sales. Duncan points out that a central part of e-commerce is the “E”- it’s all about the online efforts and visibility. Being helpful, friendly, and real online are essential for a brand. An emphasis on remarketing and direct targeting enables you to move people down a funnel toward your end goal.

What should an e-commerce brand be using their social media accounts for?

Use it to tell stories. You can use it to move people onto the pages that you want them to visit, those are transitional posts. But stories are something familiar and relational. Since olden times of sitting around a campfire, stories have been used to relate an audience to a topic. When your audience is engaged with you content, you have a much better chance of having high sales.

The importance of linking e-commerce to social media is that that’s where people already are at to connect. We want to disrupt them in a way that
Search vs social media: the difference is if we’re disrupting them vs. are they looking for us? Disrupt them enough times with a meaningful message and you’ll see results. A

As marketers, we can ask questions that get people excited. Pair the question with a story and you bring the humanity into play. You’ll get authentic responses and more ideas will come out of the woodworks.

Listening to and connecting with your community means you are “approaching the holy grail of marketing”- meaning you are building connections with your community/target audience. Having actual conversations as opposed to just throwing things out there- you’re enabling people to have conversations with their friends, family, etc.

Shared values and vision can enable a brand to connect more authentically with people. Presenting a particular designer or person’s vision of the world can help give you a way to frame your message.

What do you see brands doing wrong on social media?

It’s essential to be human. Don’t sound corporate, impersonal, or distant. Duncan sees brands doing this as though it’s simply what you do- but people want to connect over something that’s authentic and relatable. No matter what your brand or what you are selling, the ability to have compassion and empathize will connect you to your audience. It may not be an entirely calculated approach, but it will connect people to your message. Having authentic and relatable content connects you to people who make emotional purchases as well as those who really do their research first.

Social media can be an outlet for great customer service, and I think that’s a piece that lots of companies miss on social media. You can actually be helpful and respond to customers through your social media and messaging- it gives you the opportunity to take care of your people.

Duncan further advises companies to add value through additional opportunities for customers to connect to your brand. Take the time to think about connecting, and approach your social media efforts as a to-do list.

The equation begins with content, then building a conversation about it, and finally with creating an experience. You want to get your audience to a place where they’re not just happy about it, but they want to tell others about you.

  • LinkdIn – has a very specific audience targeted towards professionals, potentially great for B2B companies and services
  • Snapchat – is a moving target and not locked in the way other platforms are
  • TikTok is the “Wild West” – if you can get content out there, and do it consistently, some markets do well on this platform
  • Facebook and Instagram are, for most businesses, where the bulk of their social media efforts are happening. With diverse audiences and millions of users across the globe, these 2 social media platforms represent for the most part where people are currently connecting online.
  • Pinterest – an interest economy like “visual Google” – a great place for visual brands to be found over time

What are your thoughts on influencers?

Influencers can be an awesome resource and strategy for brands- but they can also be difficult to work with without a highly-detailed strategy. Duncan points out that it’s important to consider what actions they can actually influence. Consider your strategy and what your objectives are, then make a list of what you want to accomplish. Does the influencer you’re considering fit your message, and can they accurately represent your brand?

Establishing a relationship with an influencer that is truly symbiotic can be a difficult thing to do well. It can be very expensive and you need to have a clear vision of what you want to accomplish. It’s important to vet your potential influencers to make sure their history and voice are on point with your brand. When presenting proposal, include why is it a win-win to work with them? How do you monitor that they are actually doing the work- how do you quantify their efforts?

Duncan’s Wise Parting Words

Duncan knows through experience that success in social media stems from being human, and connecting.

  • Be consistent
  • Measure what you’re doing
  • Have good content
  • Don’t be afraid to go the distance with conversations
  • Exercise compassion
  • Ask for the sale

It’s important to inform your audience: Why should you work with us? For more information about working with FireBelly, Check out FireBelly’s website or social media accounts.

Would you like to find out how your business can become an Ecommerce Elite?