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Social media tips from Sprout Social: ‘If you aren’t having fun, your audience know’

Sprout Social’s Head of Marketing, Cat Anderson, answers our questions 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?

I’m particularly proud of the line up on our first season of our podcast, Social Creatures. We explore the success stories of how people, places or businesses have used social media to find success, in whatever shape or form. We’ve had some amazing guests from UN Women, Eurovision, and even the people behind the amazing Weetabix x Heinz campaign that took the internet by storm last year. It’s been a really fun project which has shown me that ultimately, social is a level playing field, where there are so many ways to be successful.

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

Call me biased, but social media! It’s the best way to find, connect with and engage your audiences. It’s so fast that it affords you plenty of opportunities to connect with your audience – more than traditional marketing channels. It also encourages agility, experimentation and silliness – three things which as a marketer I love. And on top of all that, good content is still what social media ultimately rewards above all else.

What is your advice for mastering social media?

There’s no direct path to social media success, but there are a few common denominators in the most successful accounts:

Be authentic: Find what’s unique about you and double down on it.

Be consistent: Despite what it looks like, it’s rare to the point of impossible to find an account that became viral overnight.

Have fun: Social media should be a fun place to experiment, grow your following and connect with others. If you aren’t having fun, your audience will know!

Make things easier for yourself: There’s a LOT happening on social media. Social data can help you sift through the noise to figure out what is really working for you and your brand.

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

The only difference that I believe matters is there are a few more layers until you get to the decision maker with B2B – which means you have more opportunities to impress on the way to that final conversion! I’ve worked in both industries, and I dislike thinking that B2B and B2C are vastly different from each other. Ultimately, you’re working with humans. There’s space for warmth, humanity and creativity in both industries – something which B2B marketing can sometimes lack. Thankfully, I think the B2B industry is waking up to the huge advantages that these elements bring to their marketing efforts.

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

You need to know and understand your audience to truly produce engaging marketing content. Too often, companies create content which they think they should be creating, but in fact, it’s not what their audience is interested in at all.

I’m a big fan of Monzo bank’s cheeky and fun style of marketing – it’s such a refreshing way for a bank to talk to their customers. Traditionally we’ve thought that financial institutions have to be polite and straight-laced to imply trustworthiness, but Monzo has completely turned this idea on its head. Instead, it looks, sounds and feels like a bank people want to bank with because of its warmth and relatability.

How important is technology in modern marketing?

Technology is modern marketing – and vice versa! In terms of calculating ROI and impact, of course there’s still a place for above the line or traditional marketing efforts, but compared to the precise insights you get with digital efforts, I find them impossible to compare. I used to work in a traditional advertising agency and never could get my head around the vague ROI reports that would be created based on radio and TV ads or outdoor billboards. Understanding how, why and when your audience interacts with your marketing is integral – and it simply didn’t exist with any degree of accuracy before technology entered the scene.

And finally, what future marketing trends will become mainstream before too long?

I think social commerce will increase its grip on the ecommerce market. As social becomes increasingly more part and parcel of our day-to-day lives, I anticipate that ecommerce will move from being website-based to the majority conducted via social. I also think there’s a fresh and growing appreciation for creativity and personality in brand marketing – again, something I think we’ve seen really flourish on social – and I think the brand marketing personalities of Innocent, Aldi and Lidl and Ryanair will soon become much more commonplace. Consumers are ready to feel connected with your brand, and if you’re formal and inaccessible, you’ll start to lose out to the personality-based and emotional marketing of these more innovative and fun brands.