I recently spoke with Tiffany Phillips, a highly talented social media strategist who helps companies throughout Northern California leverage the latest digital techniques to increase awareness and drive profit growth.
Q: Tiffany, first, how did you get your start in digital and social media marketing?
A: As a typical millennial, I have been on social media since its start in the early 2000s (hello MySpace!). I have been on Facebook since 2005 and Instagram since 2012, but started using business tools when I was assigned marketing duties while working for a law firm. I started diving deeper into training and developing more advanced skills in 2013 when I started a side business as a fitness coach and from there, I recognized the need for social media management in my community. I guess you can say the rest is history! Since then, I have obtained certifications, invested in several formal trainings with the top digital marketing and social marketing experts and have expanded my services beyond the area of social media marketing to other aspects of digital marketing as well.
Q: Why is developing and executing a proper social media strategy so important for businesses today?
A: One of the biggest problems I see when working with clients is the lack of direction in their social media strategy and practices. It’s extremely important to first identify what the business wants to achieve. Defining a narrow target prevents wasting time and budget with an unfocused ‘shotgun’ approach. Then social media marketing can be leveraged as part of an overall marketing strategy. From there, it’s important to understand who the target market is and focus on utilizing the platforms most frequented by that target audience. Beyond that, it’s important to know what resonates with that audience. What type of visuals does that audience respond to? What tone of messaging they tend to identify with? How can you understand their pain point and connect with them on an emotional level? And last, it’s imperative that businesses identify the KPIs (key performance indicators) to measure what’s working and make real-time adjustments in your social media marketing campaigns. Professional marketers know that focusing on these key areas and leveraging metric-driven strategies will maximize return on investment and minimize chasing after every ‘new shiny’ thing, jumping on every platform and posting whatever feels good in the moment.
Q: Can you explain the difference between paid vs. organic social media traffic and why it might be important for marketers to focus on their social media or website landing pages as well?
A: To put it simply, organic marketing means customers are finding you naturally, as opposed to finding you through an ad that you paid for. This can be done through various channels such as social media, Google search, reputation management sites and more. Social media is a big factor in driving organic traffic to many websites. It’s important to have your website optimized in addition to having all of your social and reputation management accounts optimized and linked to your website. This can help increase organic traffic.
Regarding organic vs. paid on social media, specifically — we know that Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and virtually all other social platforms enable creation of business profiles for free. You can post (for free) as many times as you want on behalf of your business. However, they all have aggressive algorithms that make it difficult to reach large audiences, unless you pay them. For this reason, many businesses turn to paid campaigns on these various platforms. One of the most underutilized tools used in paid campaigns is retargeting strategies. Many of these social media platforms, such as Facebook, have internal activity tracking that give marketers the ability to retarget activity that takes place on that platform (such as retargeting anyone who engaged with your Facebook page or Instagram account). In addition, businesses can use tracking mechanisms such as Facebook Pixel to retarget web traffic and serve ads to an audience that is already familiar with your company. This is a huge factor in moving your target market from the awareness phase to the consideration phase, and ultimately converting into a customer. Most successful digital campaigns use both organic and paid digital marketing strategies to achieve their goals.
Q: As a digital marketer myself, I often remind corporate leaders that unlike TV or print campaigns, digital initiatives don’t have to be perfect at launch. Social and digital marketing platforms enable rapid iterations and continuous optimization. Can you share some of your ‘secrets’ to creating high-performance social media campaigns?
A: This is so true! TV, print and other traditional marketing campaigns offer very little flexibility to adjust the campaign once it’s started. The great thing about digital campaigns is the ability to edit mid campaign. My biggest piece of advice is learn, learn, learn! I’m a big fan of A/B testing and learning what works with your audience and what doesn’t. I highly encourage testing out factors such as placements (platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, etc.), visuals, captions, offers, audience targeting and more. The more you learn about your audience, the better you can optimize your campaign to fit their needs and succeed in reaching your goals. I also advise closely monitoring the tracking analytics and making metrics-driven adjustments until you have the consistent and desired results you set forth for that campaign.
Q: What mistakes, which can cost precious time and marketing dollars, do you typically see marketers make on their social media campaigns?
A: As stated before, one of the most common mistakes is not understanding the target market clearly. Another is the failure to develop proper KPIs. But one mistake that I’ve seen, especially since COVID-19, is the lack of digital empathy in businesses. Pre-pandemic marketing is a thing of the past. We must be sensitive to what is going on in the world and adjust our messaging accordingly. Some marketers also forget to provide diverse content that doesn’t just try to sell, but helps their audience and adds value to their lives. How can you educate, inspire, entertain, build community or provide a safe positive place for your desired customer/client? How can you humanize your brand and let them know that there’s a real face behind the screen? Integrating that type of content into a social media strategy is so important in gaining trust with your audience, which ultimately leads to conversions if executed strategically and correctly. Most businesses miss this completely and wonder why they can’t convert.
Q: Can you share some key digital trends affecting businesses right now and your best tips for platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and TikTok.
A: It’s been interesting to see how drastically social media has changed since the start of the pandemic. There are so many more monetization tools on many of these platforms that small businesses can use, especially for businesses that sell physical products. We’ve seen the rise of non-permanent content, such as stories, over the last couple of years. Even LinkedIn and Twitter have now adapted to that by offering “LinkedIn Stories” and “Twitter Fleets.” This type of content gives brands an opportunity to show a more authentic and humanized version of themselves, which is becoming more and more important. We’ve also seen a rise in video streaming. YouTube is now watched four times more than Netflix! If possible, adapt and incorporate video into your content strategy. We’ve also seen the rise of meme culture. Between the pandemic, pressing social issues and the hostile political scene of 2020, many turned to humor to lighten the tone of social media. One last thing that I will touch on is the importance of purpose- driven campaigns. As Gen Z continues to gain purchasing power in the world, they are turning to brands and businesses that they connect with on a moral and value-driven level. What is your company’s mission? How is your business inspiring and connecting with your audience? Incorporating this into your strategy is going to become increasingly important.
Q: Thank you so much for your time, Tiffany. Any last words of advice for our readers?
A: My last piece of advice is to stay adaptable. Social media is constantly changing and new features are being introduced on the various platforms every single week. It’s important to keep yourself updated on what’s working globally and how you can adjust your campaign accordingly. I know it may seem daunting, but there are plenty of great resources such as Social Media Today that can help us stay current on important trends. Reach out to me, if you have any questions. Helping small businesses and nonprofits thrive is my passion and I truly love making a difference for our community. Thank you so much for your time and the opportunity to connect today!