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New social media platform Wunder’s CMO: ‘Be entertaining or useful. Ideally both’

New social media platform Wunder recently welcomed former director of content at Ogilvy, Scott Manson, as their new CMO and he is under the spotlight in the latest of Press Gazette’s Marketing Maestro interviews. This series is produced in association with Lead Monitor, New Statesman Media Group’s content marketing arm.

What’s been your proudest achievement in your current role? 

Well, I’m Wunder’s first CMO. Its first marketing person full stop, in fact, since we’re a soon-to-launch social media network at the beginning of our journey. So that meant I had a blank slate – which is both exhilarating and terrifying. And while I’d written both marketing plans and marketing strategies before, in my previous role as a director of social and content at Ogilvy, this one hit different. There was investor money – real people’s money, if you like – riding on me getting it right.

Now, a few months down the line, we’ve appointed a great creative agency (Don’t Panic) to help us realise the vision that I first set out in my creative brief to them. And the work that’s emerging, our launch creative, is something I can’t wait to share with the world.

What media channels do you see as most important and best value when it comes to marketing spend and activity? 

It may not come as a huge surprise when I say social media, as it’s where our audience lives and undoubtedly the best way to find, connect with and engage those audiences. So, a heavy investment in paid search and paid social forms part of our GTM plan, but that’s supported by more traditional PR activity, content marketing and, for further investment purposes, maintaining a strong thought leadership programme.

The challenge is that as a start-up we have to be very prudent when it comes to marketing spend. I know, for example, I could get X number of app downloads if I spend X on paid media, but I have to temper that desire to spend big with the knowledge that many other aspects of the marketing mix also require funding.

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What is your advice for mastering social media? 

Number one is to be entertaining or useful. Ideally both. We’re in the attention economy and we’re asking people to give us their time. So, if you don’t deliver something of value to them – and do it quickly – then they’re gone.

So be smart, funny, creative and authentic. Don’t wriggle into conversations or communities where your presence feels forced. Take time to understand the language, the culture, the memes and trends of your audience before stepping in. But equally don’t be so timid that your content is bland. Because it’s also about getting as many wins as you can by trying as many approaches as you can. Got called out on social for a tone-deaf misstep? Own it, learn from it and engage with your audience to find out how to do better.

Regular, consistent posting is key. I remember brands I’ve worked with in the past feeling slighted that their big announcement fell flat on social and invariably it was because they hadn’t posted anything of worth in months. A content drumbeat, rather than fireworks and then radio silence, is key.

In your opinion, what is the main difference between B2C and B2B marketing? 

I’ve worked in both. I ran Nokia’s global B2B content for 18 months and, as they no doubt tired of me saying, B2B doesn’t have to mean ‘boring to boring’. The lines between B2B and B2C are more blurred than ever as marketers realise that you are talking to a human, not an organisation. And the same principles apply – engaging, relevant content served at the right time in the right place to the right audience.

There are some differences, of course. B2B is usually a longer buying decision journey, with more steps along the way. Getting your audience from education to purchase can be a long trek. I did some work for Inmarsat, a sat comms company that helps put Wi-Fi on aircraft, and the buying cycles could be up to five years. But that gives you great scope for a huge variety of content to test and learn with. Case studies and social proof using satisfied customers was like gold dust, we found.

What is the key to producing engaging marketing content and what types of content works best for you? 

It starts with the brief. I’ve seen some terrible client briefs in my time, woolly word salads packed with bland marketing mission statements but with little of substance to help drive creative and strategy. So, I’ve made it my mission with Wunder to write briefs that will leave no one, whether that’s an external agency or an in-house creative, scratching their heads. That doesn’t mean it should be a huge data dump of everything you know about the subject. Rather, it should clearly present the problem we’re trying to solve, relevant information about the audience and product and the desired outcome of the communications. Add in some guardrails, for sure, and even some ‘thought starters’ if you must but avoid being prescriptive. Let the brief breathe.

In terms of what works for us, we’re at the beginning of our journey so we’ve yet to find out. But I know that influencer content will be huge for us, as will partnerships in the fields of music and sport, which we’re already working on. And across all digital platforms, funny, creative and inspiring content will be our primary focus.

How important is technology in modern marketing? 

Modern marketing is a blend of creativity and technology, or art and science. But measurability still feels like the biggest challenge in marketing, particularly if you want results that are more sophisticated than ‘you got X number of impressions’.

In theory data should tell us what’s next. It’s our guiding force. And the ability to gather more data than ever before presents a huge opportunity, but it’s important to have the right marketing intelligence to unify and decipher these insights. A good data analyst is key here. I’ve been to too many meetings where the agency presents near impenetrable tables of data to the client and then cherry-picks a few stats that make them look good. A great data analyst can articulate where you’re at with your marketing in a meaningful, jargon-free way.

What future marketing trends will become mainstream before too long? 

Social commerce is definitely on the rise. I think ecommerce will continue to move from being website-based to social-focused as consumers trust the taste and judgement of influencers more than, say, reviews from random Amazon users.

Brands becoming part of online communities will also continue to rise. The smartest ones will be truly ingrained in those communities, rather than just broadcasting to them, so that they create something together. Look at what a brilliant job Copa90 has done with football fan culture – the two are so closely intertwined that it’s hard to tell where the Copa90 brand ends and fans of the brand begin.

And finally, if you could ask your peers for one piece of advice or help, what would it be? 

Oh my word, there are so many. How long have you got? We’re a founder-led start-up, so how do we maintain team culture as we grow quickly? Are there certain roles that are better outsourced or should we bring as much in-house as possible?

Also, do we really need a metaverse strategy? I’m not convinced we do. Not yet, anyway. We have several ways we plan to engage with the video gaming community and, to my eyes at least, when people talk about the metaverse at the moment, what they’re really discussing is just aspects of gaming.