“Brands can build up engagement and followers from nothing with consistently good organic content”
— an interview with Matt MacBradaigh, a social media marketing expert
Using social media for brand marketing is essential for the development of any business. From introducing a company to the market to carrying out its PR and communication strategies — social networks are an ultra-effective channel to reach the target audience. So, how to make the most of it?
Learning all the intricacies of social media marketing requires guidance from someone with knowledge and experience in the matter. And we have invited just the right person to give our audience some insight into the complex world of SMM.
Matt MacBradaigh specializes in social media marketing and offers content marketing, social and brand strategy services. He helps companies to map out their social media activities to achieve their goals throughout the traditional marketing funnel. And today, Matt will share a piece of his valuable knowledge with us.
As a product 3D rendering company working with manufacturers and retailers on a daily basis, we are sure that this interview holds great interest for many business owners. Discover the valuable tips we got out of the conversation with Matt and nail your next SMM strategy!
What is your background in marketing?
I’ve been in social media marketing for almost 9 years. I came from an agency background. So, I know everything about brand strategy, content strategy, and applying those to social media. That’s what I help my clients with.
How important is social media for small and middle-sized businesses nowadays?
I think it’s a must-have for most industries and companies. When I start working with a new client, I talk about their business goals and what they hope to achieve with social media. And then, I correlate those goals to the traditional marketing funnel.
For a lot of companies, brand awareness is a necessity and one of the major purposes they use social media for. One more thing that needs attention from a lot of clients is the content they use in the middle of the funnel. It is the consideration stage when people try to assess what they want to buy. They seek the answer to the question: “What’s gonna solve my problem?” And, hopefully, your company offers one of the solutions that they’re looking for. The key here is that people want to buy as opposed to being sold to. They want to make a buying decision that feels right for them. So, at this stage, a business should provide them with good content that would help them find the solution to their problem. For the middle of the funnel, it’s super important.
The key is that people want to buy as opposed to being sold to. They want to make a buying decision that feels right for them.
Some companies have content that will lead prospects down to the bottom of the funnel — the decision stage. But I would say that for the vast majority of businesses, top of the funnel, brand awareness, discovery, and consideration stages are critical.
You mentioned some of the purposes that any businesses strive for when using social media. Give us some examples of specific purposes for furniture businesses they can achieve with SMM.
Depending on whether they are a retailer or manufacturer, the purposes might be slightly different. But there will be a lot of similarities as well. So, if you are a manufacturer, a part of your clientele is retailers or distributors. And if they sell directly, they will have direct consumers as their target audience. And for online retailers, the end buyer is their main target audience. Either way, the concerns of those audiences will not be completely the same. But brand awareness is still going to be important for each of them.
So, both a manufacturer and a retailer should let their audience know they’re there, let them know that they’ve got a new product or a product line. It is very important for discovery.
In making content for the middle funnel consideration stage, CGI tools can be of great help.
In making content for the middle funnel consideration stage, CGI services can be of great help. One of the things that are beneficial for either manufacturers or online retailers is that compared to doing physical photoshoots, they can create a bunch of different visual presentations of the product. Getting 3D dissection, showing the same product with different materials, and so on. That kind of education for the middle funnel consideration is a good example for furniture businesses.
What should businesses do on their very first day on social media? How can they find clients?
First of all, they need to define their brand message and understand a couple of things. Those are: “Why me? How can I solve the problems of a client? What do I do better than a competitor? What do I do differently and what is my competitive advantage?” Every business needs these answers, whether it’s a furniture brand, a coffee shop, or a Coca-Cola company. And when answering those questions, business owners must see through the lenses of their target audience. It is important to ask yourself: “Why should they care?” Because people do not care about companies — they care about themselves. They might give brands some attention only if they see that those brands can solve some problems they can’t solve themselves. So, the primary thing to do is to understand the brand’s role in that context.
People do not care about companies — they care about themselves.
The second thing to understand is: “Who is it for?” Who is the target audience and what do they care about? This way, businesses can establish a connection between who they are, what they do, and what their target audience is interested in. It can become the basis for all content and messaging.
All marketing is about attention. The tools change, but psychology stays the same: we give attention only to things we really need. It is especially true when it comes to social media. Nobody follows any pages they are not interested in. We unfollow even our old friends’ accounts to avoid seeing their family photos, let alone some business accounts. No one is going to follow the company and engage with its content unless it provides something of genuine interest for them. So, getting to know what the audience is interested in is the first step. Then, one needs to figure out what sub-topics and areas make for conversation topics that can be put out on social media channels. And then, a company can start building its content around them. This is what I do from the very beginning with the majority of my clients — when we need to do everything from scratch.
Can a business engage the audience through social media without advertising?
Absolutely. For many clients, I recommend augmenting some of their organic social content with promotional ads. The purpose of this is just to amplify organic content.
When companies start their business accounts from zero, they have no likes. And even if they create organic content that is perfectly tailored for their target audience, no one will see it. So, business owners need to ask their friends to share their content, and those friends can ask their friends, etc. The more, the better. Slowly but steadily, algorithms will pick the company up. I’ve done that with my clients. Without any paid content, it is possible to attract thousands of followers to your Facebook page.
Brands can build up engagement and followers from nothing with consistently good organic content.
But naturally, It’s going to be a lot faster with a page promotion ad or a boosted post. Even if a business spends a low amount of money on it, 10,15, 20 bucks, they would appear in front of the audience narrowed down based on their demographics and interests. So, there are higher chances that those people will be a match. But even without it, brands can build up engagement and followers from nothing with consistently good organic content. And I have done it with my clients. When we had very little at the beginning, over 6 months or a year, the amount of engagement and following increased significantly with entirely organic posts.
We all have heard the phrase “likes is the new currency”. So should businesses care more about followers or likes? And what should they post to generate more clients rather than likes?
In terms of metrics, there are two things I prefer to look at. One is the number of followers that you have over time. Monthly is a good interval. If the brands gain new followers every month and the raw number of engagements is growing, they are going in the right direction. What is engagement? It is a like, a comment, a share, clicking on the post to see it all, clicking the link in the post to see a blog, etc.
I wouldn’t chase likes per se. And the reason why is because sometimes businesses need to share content that educates their audience — but isn’t necessarily going to be a thing that will get a lot of likes. Yes, brands can post fun and light-hearted Friday posts to get many likes. But they still need to educate their followers about what they do.
Speaking of content… what kind of content should businesses post on their pages? We have lots of technologies nowadays, visual tools — still images, videos, AR, VR… What is go-for content?
Variety is the key. This is the thing to consider right after determining the core messaging of the brand. It’s not a good idea to be all sales, like insisting “buy me” in every single post. Companies need to educate their audience as well as share some fun things like Friday posts, fun facts, etc. I also like to include content in a mix — like posting something relevant to the industry and interesting for the audience, but not necessarily about the company I’m working with. Because that’s not necessarily all about us. It’s all about the audience and giving them content they like. I had clients with whom we built up thousands of followers on a Facebook page by doing all-curated third-party content.
It’s not a good idea to be all sales, like insisting “buy me” in every single post.
As for visuals, there are a lot of ways to be creative with how one presents content. It is possible to share the same message through a blog post or in a video, an infographic, do a little custom gift out of the video, and so on.
How often should businesses update their social media accounts?
Frequency is the key in my opinion. For all my clients, I recommend doing daily posts, from Monday to Friday, even on weekends, if possible. One post per day is not too much for most industries on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram.
The general rule is the more, the better as long as it’s quality content but not a post for the sake of posting. Anything posted should have some value for the audience. I, however, wouldn’t go any lower than posting three times a week — Monday, Wednesday, Friday.
I recommend doing daily posts, from Monday to Friday, even on weekends, if possible.
The second rule of thumb is to be consistent. The brands should always post on the same days and avoid skipping them or posting randomly. The reason for that is to not lose out on the algorithms. Every channel got those.
That’s how algorithms work. As soon as someone gets on their mobile or desktop device, the algorithm wants to show them what it thinks they want to see in their feed. Because it wants them to stay on the app for as many minutes as possible. They have millions of data points for each of us now to keep us on. And if the brand is inconsistent with posting, people stop seeing its content, and they stop engaging. The algorithm can “punish” for this because it would think that people are no longer interested in whatever the company posts. So, consistency and frequency are crucial.
How to use Instagram and Facebook stories? Do they have any value for business marketing content?
I see them as subchannels within the social channel. It’s also the first thing one sees when opening up the app because stories are at the top of the page. There are a lot of people who only surf the stories. And it’s important to reach them.
Using stories, it is possible to share anything that makes sense for your brand. One can adapt any of the regular feed posts and put them up as a story. Brands can also share web pages such as a blog post or some other page of the site in stories to “catch” the people and guide them. One can also do a lot of fun stuff like simply recording oneself talking about their products or showing them. Any furniture brand or manufacturer can do it. They can physically have a thing they’re talking about in front of them or show a photo of it. And then they can say “swipe up to see the page” etc. This way, they can do on-the-fly content. A lot of videos on social media like Youtube are not necessarily high-production studio-type ones, it’s just somebody talking to a camera. So anyone can do the same thing with their brand — fairly, low-budget.
Let’s say, a manufacturer has done everything you’d mentioned before and gained thousands of followers and likes. And now, they have engagement with their audience. How do you interact with them? Is it reasonable to reply to every comment or follow back everyone?
That’s subjective. I wouldn’t say there’s a need to follow back everyone for the most brands. It’s reasonable to respond to comments, to like comments, because that’s what being social is all about. Creating content is the first step in having active social media. And it’s ideal if brands get to the next step where they are engaging and interactive. If I comment on something that is trending, and the author of the post likes the comment or leaves something back, I notice that. So, it is recommended to like posts of people who share something with the brand’s content. Of course, it takes more time, and brands need somebody who is dedicated to doing that, so a lot of them just don’t do it. But ideally, that is what they have to do to be interactive.
We’ve talked about all the good stuff. But what about negative comments? How should businesses react to such feedback?
Negative feedback can be very valuable. If it’s a legitimate comment about someone’s not very satisfying experience and not a trollish response, that’s good to know. Thanks to it, brands become aware of something they need to fix. If one customer has such a problem, some others might have it as well. So, responding to it in an intelligible and thoughtful way is a good thing to do.
On the other hand, if somebody is just being obnoxious online, I advise clients to handle it differently. If there is a comment with profanities and nothing of substance whatsoever, I suggest deleting the comment and blocking the user. One should not be afraid to do that if the feedback is not constructive in any way, shape, or form.
We thank Matt for giving us a glimpse into the inner workings of brand social media marketing and sharing his personal experiences in the field. And we hope this interview will provide our readers with useful tips for their business along with a deeper understanding of SMM in general.
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