For this week’s Community Manager Monday, we had the opportunity to chat with social media legend, Jeff Bullas. Although Jeff is not a Community Manager by trade, he is an accredited social media blogger, author, and strategist. Companies seek out Jeff to help them optimize their marketing strategy. This comes as no surprise since Jeff was #11 on the “Forbes Top 50 Social Media Power Influencers” list, Huffington Post’s “Top 100 Business, Leadership and Technology Twitter Accounts You Must Follow,” and has even been published by the New York Times. Jeff’s expertise in content generation, community management and social media is widely applicable to Community Managers.
Firstly, what initially attracted you to digital media?
The attraction for digital media started in 1995 when I discovered the web and one of the first browsers, Netscape. I realized that how we find and consume information and knowledge would never be the same. Libraries had been reinvented and disrupted. This attraction was accelerated when I discovered social media and noticed how it touched people. For me it was also an exciting synergy between technology, marketing and humanity.
With the pace of social media marketing being as rapid as it is, how do you stay ahead of the curve?
How I stay just ahead of the curve can be summed up with three words. Reading, Writing and Doing:
- Read as much as you can offline and online. Blogs, news and books. Stay curious.
- Writing drives discovery and research so it accelerates the learning process. The art of expression facilitates in structuring and making sense of the incoming information.
- Doing is where the rubber hits the road. My blog is my social media, marketing and digital laboratory. Helping other brands both corporate and personal keeps me real and connected
What pieces of advice would you give a small business just starting out on social media?
You need to understand that the virtual social web is now part of our reality. Here are some key truths that I have discovered along the way:
- Establish your own brand online and treat it as seriously as your brick and mortar assets. This means having a blog or website that you own as your hub and portal with your own domain and self hosted.
- Create the best content possible that adds value to people’s lives and helps your customers succeed.
- Build your social media networks as rapidly as possible. This will provide the distribution platform to grow brand awareness, credibility and trust. Be everywhere.
- Turn those readers and viewers into customers by having calls to action to sign up, subscribe and then buy. You need to have something to sell.
What’re some of the challenges you find that brands most often encounter on social media?
There are two types of challenges. Unique to social media and familiar marketing challenges.
- Learning how to be transparent: The old faceless corporate façade and language doesn’t cut it any more when creating your marketing messages. Social media demands transparent communication.
- Responsive in real time: Being more responsive in a real time online environment where Twitter and Facebook wait for no one. This requires constant vigilance and monitoring of social media networks.
- Free economy: Giving away some of your ideas and intellectual property for free without an immedieate benefit is a challenge for many. So can old dogs learn new tricks?
- Limited Budget
- Lack of Resources
- Finite Time
You have a Twitter following of 182k engaged users, what do you think makes your content so appealing?
I sometimes wonder about that question myself. Maybe it is due to the following:
- Learn the art of writing great headlines. On the web you are only one click away from oblivion
- Enticing introduction that promises a secret or a gem or two of wisdom that will make their life easier.
- Be conversational. Write as you speak and it will be seen as authentic, not formal and stuffy
- Discover your writing voice and let the “real” you shine through. Don’t be afraid to be different
- Keep it simple. Make it easy to read and take people by the hand and guide them to understanding
- Structure the content so that it is able to be skimmed and scanned. This means structuring the text with subtitles, short paragraphs and sentences and bullet pints and lists. Don’t confront people with a wall of text. They will run away.
What do you have to provide to foster a social community’s growth?
Social community growth comes down to engagement through forgetting about you and helping others. Engage first, sell second.
What do you think brings people back to your blog?
By continuing to produce content that adds great value. If I don’t continue to do that they will stop coming.