Sedge Beswick is not only a wonderful social media practitioner, currently working with ASOS, she's also one of the judges for this year's Social Buzz Awards - Entries close in a week remember - so we thought we'd ask some questions about the state of social media...
What got you into social media?
I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t doing Social, I’ve had a personal blog for a few years now and watching the Social space develop was something that really fascinated me. Before I knew it I was pulling strategies together with one hand and tweeting on the other. I can’t imagine my life without Social, I’ve always been a serial ‘networker’ so adding the online element just made everything even easier for me.
Who does it well - either as an individual or company?
That’s a really open question right there. The one that springs straight to mind for me is Red Bull, I’ve always loved the way they utilised their platforms, for me Social is all about breaking down the barriers and that’s something they’ve led the way with for quite some time now. The relationship they have with their athletes is incredible and they make it so easy for their athlete’s fans and customer base to connect with them. Visually, the brand knows exactly what it looks like too so there’s been plenty of top line Social assets.
Cadbury’s is a good all rounder one too. Their entire Marketing strategy now focuses on Social - you can really see the impact it’s having but sadly this does mean no more drumming gorillas *sobs*.
I’m not going to lie, on an individual basis, I absolutely love following @Queen_UK on Twitter – I’ve definitely done my fair share of retweeting.
Then, the blogger wise... Rumi from Fashion Toast is stealing the show for me, always has done. My background is technology so a day doesn’t pass where I’m not stalking down the latest post from Mashable. Pete Cashmore is a pretty influential person for me (and most people I’d imagine!)... he’s sparked a fair few ideas that I’ve run with for my Social campaigns.
Few other top line names; Levis with their Instagram ‘IAmLevis’ campaign, French Connection with YouTuique for video content... okay, I can’t not say it... Old Spice. You’ve got my guilty pleasure right there.
Is it for every business?
I don’t think so, no. In the words of Avinash Kaushik, ‘Social Media is like teen sex, everyone wants to do it. No one actually knows how and when it’s done, they’re surprised it’s not better’. You only have to look at the chaos that kicked off on FemFresh’s Facebook page recently to know it’s not a space for all. I can’t imagine following a sanitary product, let alone engaging with it.
I do however think it’s something that every business should look at and weigh up the doors it’ll open, regardless of how big or small the business is. If you really think about what you want to get out of the Social handles, you shouldn’t have anything to be scared of, right?
Is there a lot of snake oil about over social media?
I don’t know, I think we’re all just learning together... that’s the real truth of it all.
There’s an old argument that PR/marketing/advertising should own social media - should any of them?
As a Social Media assistant, consultant, producer and now exec... I have sat in just about every department from PR, to Marketing, back to PR, on our own... you name it, I’ve sat everywhere... being in Social is like a big kids version of musical chairs. I think it really depends on the business and their strategy but overall, I do think Social should sit on its own, that just takes every business a little while to get its head around.
Why is there such a fear over traditional ROI? Surely it’s the best metric to be using?
I still think it’s the best metric. I understand both sides of the coin but unless it’s bringing in the dollar, even if it does take a while to really get it working for you... the long and short of it is that you can’t invest time and effort into something that isn’t bringing anything back to the business. But equally, you can’t just focus on ROI, it’s all about the sentiment, demographic, fan increase... you need to knuckle down on what works for your community.
What are your favourite social media sites?
This changes daily... I end up getting pretty addicted to new sites. Pinterest for me is a big time waster right now but who knows what tomorrow will hold.
In your eyes, what’s the biggest barrier to adoption of social media? And how would you tell people/firms to overcome this?
Right now, I am so lucky. ASOS are really leading the way with all things Social but in a lot of businesses it’s about changing their mindset, opening their eyes to the possibilities that are there around Social. Getting buy in isn’t always easy... people/ firms need to really see what it can do for brands/ individuals though, hand holding and showing them the ropes is always a good starter for ten. For many, they simply don’t understand it all. I’ve lost track of the amount of times my Dad tells me I’m talking a different language when I’m trying to educate him on the benefits Social could have on his business... I’ll get there though, eventually.
If you had to choose one platform - for you personally - what would it be and why?
Everyone is going to say the same thing here aren’t they? Yes, Twitter! I’m bored of stalking my friends, I’m now on to stalking bloggers, celebs and opinion leaders. I always feel a little guilty tweeting though, I have quite eclectic interests, I love music, tattoos, extreme sport, social, tech, trainers (obsessed with trainers)... this makes tweeting pretty hard as I don’t have a niche or an area I can focus on meaning everything I tweet doesn’t appeal to the masses.
What’s the can’t live without App on your Smartphone and what make is the phone?
Okay, hands down... best app on the planet: Bar Chick! I’m a Northerner at heart so I’m still working out where to go in London but this little app does all of that for me. It’s now got global content too so if I’ve planned a cheeky weekend break I can avoid the tourist traps and plan my visit around the places that I know I’ll really enjoy.
As for the smartphone... *Bows head in shame* iPhone... I did however have a HTC One X on Three, that treated me very well. I am an Android fan too.
What’s the must-have Apps on your tablet and what make is it?
iPad... So mainstream. For my iPad though I love Flipboard, I love the seamless integration across all my Social handles and the mag-style look and feel, it really brings everything that I’m interested in to life.
What motivates you when you’re down/seeking creativity - what’s the one thing that gets the brain going when you have to dig deep?
Music, I’m a self confessed rock chick. If I’m getting caught up on something, the headphones go in, the toes tapping and the creativity flows again. It’s nice just to switch off and come back to things. A holiday always works too, the amount of times I’ve set myself the challenge of no Social for my break... the free WiFi in just about every bar doesn’t help that though. I was in Vietnam recently and it was scary how easy it was to get online... naturally, I tweeted and pinned updates on my travels. No will power!
Given that the way most social media institutions - Facebook, Google, Twitter - are making their money is through the most traditional of ways - advertising - is this a failure of thinking? Surely if social media is such a paradigm shift, we wouldn’t be relying on advertising just like we have done since 1955?
Is there another way, really? No one would pay to consume...
Should the phrase “social media” be abolished as there is so much to it - it can be linkbuilding, community engagement, community building, sales, SEO, blogging, gathering and seeding visual information - should we be at a stage now where people get to specify what part of this their talents lie in?
That’s a bit like saying Marketing is a broad term, there’s plenty of subsections to what people do and the different roles... for the outsider, Social Media just categorises it all. It’s when you’re involved that the fun and the million and one other titles come into play. I quite like the air of mystery that ‘Social Media’ has, I swear all my friends think I just sit on Twitter all day, they’d never believe me if I told them the amount of geeky analytics I do on a day to day basis.
Companies seem to be concentrating their efforts on Facebook - is this a dangerous move?
Dangerous, no. Naive, maybe? The other platforms are catching up, they need some serious TLC too, without that level of understanding, development etc, you can’t expect the results.
A huge element of social media seems to be based around customer satisfaction but should companies - and customers - accept that you won’t always get it your own way?
I love the role Social Media has on customer service, the immediacy, the simplicity. All of it! There’s constantly new ways to evolve and develop too. I believe that if you genuinely have your customers at the heart of every decision that you make; online and offline, then you have nothing to fear.
Where do you see social media being in five years time?
The internet would have died and I’ll be out of a job. Lies. I don’t know, I really don’t... I’m ready for it though.
For those thinking of getting into social media, any tips or pointers?
Enjoy it, have fun..! That’s the only way you’ll really work out what works and what doesn’t work for your community. You’ll spend more hours on Social than you intended but you’ll also learn a whole heap of stuff, really quickly!
Read, read everything you can. i.e. Mashable, this will help you get a real understanding of what’s going on and where you need to be.
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