Speaker 2 00:10 Welcome to another episode of social PR secrets. My name is Lisa buyer and I will be your host. Today's guest is Neil Schaffer. Neil and I caught up a few years back when I was teaching my class at university of Florida on social media management. At the time Neil had just published his book, maximize your social and this was required reading for my class. It's still very relevant today. In this interview, Neil and I talk about different parts of his book, everything from how to increase your presence and improve your presence on social media, two different workflows, social media strategies, and even social media policies. Let's get started with Neil.
Speaker 3 00:53 Hi everybody. So we are getting ready for week three and now we're getting into some of the um, the meat of the social media business side of social media. And we're going to be talking about the social media strategy. And we have with us, I'm very excited to introduce him because he is the author of our book that we're reading. Maximize your social. We have Neil Schaffer and he's a speaker. He's a consultant. He speaks, he'll have to tell you how many languages but many languages. Um, but the most important language he speaks fluently is social media. So Neil, tell us a little bit more about yourself and also I want to note that you have I think the 102,000, um, 102,000 followers on Twitter, which is pretty amazing. So now tell us how you did that.
Speaker 4 01:35 Wow. Well, thank you for the introduction. Uh, sorry that I was sort of playing around here in my home office, getting your book on my bookshelf there where it should have been the first place. Uh, my name is Neil safer. Uh, welcome to this video session. I wrote the book maximize your social. When I was in college I did not know what I wanted to be when I grew up. Uh, I went to a liberal arts school called Amherst college. I was actually an Asian studies major, but I realized that really understanding other people and being able to communicate with other people were the two critical things. One needed to be successful in business. Uh, the way we communicate is, is varied. And when I actually, uh, I'm sort of unique in that I speak Japanese and Chinese and I launched my career in Asia, but when I came back to the U S in 2005 and then look for a first job in the U S in 2008 because I went straight out to Asia after I was in college, um, I realized that I needed to build a network.
Speaker 4 02:27 And that was how I got into social media, literally February of 2008, beginning of LinkedIn because professionals weren't on Facebook and Twitter was still very new and what have you. And what I realized since then is that social media is a really, really powerful tool. Uh, it helps you yield, uh, influence. It can help change the world in a positive way. It can help businesses, it can help you tell your story. And as you, uh, you know, get hired and worked for newspapers or PR agencies or brands, it's going to help you help them tell their story as well. So I just took a very, very, I won't say aggressive, but I saw it as a tool. So I post the same things on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. I do not post any photos of my beautiful wife or children on any social network because I have sort of what I would call public persona.
Speaker 4 03:13 Um, and I sort of recommend you do as well as you start to sort of clean up your social profiles as you get closer to graduation. But I just, um, I enjoy meeting new people. Uh, I enjoy learning from other people and I enjoy sharing what knowledge I have. And I think that if all of you took the same approach to social media, you too can build up a very, very large following and you can be very successful helping whatever company you decide to work for it. Just as a final note, I joined Twitter in November of 2008 thinking that I was late to the party. So you're never too late for any of this and I want you all to achieve more. And obviously taking, uh, professor buyer's class as a first start and hopefully reading maximize your social health dissolved. So I'll stop there so that we can get onto the content.
Speaker 3 03:56 Perfect. Great. Neil. Well, as we both know, um, and when it comes to business and social media, many times businesses start with the tactics before the strategy. So we want to talk to you today about strategy and we want you to share with us. So what is the state of social media strategy in 2015 where do businesses stand and what's important today?
Speaker 4 04:17 So in 2015, I still doubt that most businesses actually have a written social media strategy document, which dictates their tactics, their objectives, their ROI. Uh, you know, when I first started my own social media strategy consulting, it was January of 2010 and businesses were trying to figure out the tactics they wanted help. And I realized that they needed, they needed the strategy and they needed to align everything they were doing with that strategy and be able to measure it, right. So companies are now at the point where they understand that they need to measure, they understand that um, social is eating up more and more, especially of their marketing budget and they need to sort of, you know, get a grasp of ROI around it. And it's forcing companies to look deeper into what they're doing and why they're doing what they're doing. It should they continue to do it.
Speaker 4 05:03 So I think companies are getting more strategic. Uh, I still don't think that that document, as I said, you know, companies will outsource things, the agencies. But how are companies, man brands managing that relationship? Do they have the strategy document? I still don't think we're there yet. In all honesty. And you know, you see the fortune 500 that are active in social, you see high tech companies, you're very savvy ones. Like the Adobes and Oracles were active. But I'll tell you, a fortune 50 consumer brand reached out to me. It was several months ago. And they have, you know, a million fans on Facebook and over a hundred thousand Twitter followers. And they said, Neil, our social media program was an afterthought. It was someone in marketing who said we got to do this. And they just did it on their own. And I would, I would consider that it's sort of a rogue program. Right. And they've been successful, but maximizing the social is all about the potential. And if I can get as many followers as they can, they should be doing a lot more of the salsa, right in a strategic way. And they weren't even looking at the social for customer service or for all the other, you know, corporate functions can use it for. So that's the state of social media for business. The 2000 shifted. I think we still have a long way to go.
Speaker 3 06:03 And how do you see social media influencing public relations? A lot of our, um, a lot of our viewers, a lot of our students here are public relations majors in the college of journalism. And how did the two relate? I mean, you know, they definitely relate, but what, how does, what is it to you?
Speaker 4 06:17 It's peanut butter and jelly, right? The public is on social media. Uh, and it is an unparalleled way for you to access the public just by posting something for free on the social network. So it is a social media is the ultimate way for you to create relationships with your public. The problem is, and it's the same thing I've seen from a lot of marketing people that I work with is the traditional approach of just sort of blast and, and, and send everywhere and hope that you get clips or, or what have you, however you measure it. And you know, social media is a two way conversation and those companies that are savvy with their PR enter social media with that understanding and instead of a one way conversation of really having a conversation with the public and building up your reputation, one social media user at a time while many others, and it's the same with a lot of social media marketers, they're still blasting social media as if it was another outlet for their press release.
Speaker 4 07:07 And that is obviously not what you want to do. Um, so yeah, uh, it, it should be utilized. Uh, will it become the most important medium for your public relations? I don't know, but considering that, um, you know, TV, radio, all the traditional form is a medium, are expensive. They're a lot harder to get access to where we spend more time in social and depending on your target demographic, I mean, if, if your target demographic is gen Y millennials or, or you and you probably spend most of your time not even on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat and Instagram, then you'll want to be on those channels. Right? So it's all about being where your audience is. And the same thing we see with, with brands and social media marketing, um, you know, skewing towards social. It should be the same for PR.
Speaker 3 07:47 Yeah. And what I love more than ever being in the PR industry is that between social media and search, you can just go direct to your audience and you can, you know, not that the journalist isn't important, but you have that access if you want it. And, um, it's there. So
Speaker 4 08:01 as a facade, as a followup, I mentioned the Twitter chapter, maximize your social, but Twitter is where the media is. So if part of your public relations program is media relations, you have to be on Twitter. That's where the media is searching for the news. So I'll stop there.
Speaker 3 08:14 Yup. So what are some tips? That was a great tip. What are some other tips that you can, um, you can share with us? Maybe top three tips for strategy in 2015,
Speaker 4 08:23 uh, for public relations specifically
Speaker 3 08:25 for social media, NPR. Okay.
Speaker 4 08:28 Um, you know, I just put out my first podcast of the year, which was on the nine things you should focus on for your social media efforts in 2015. So just picking off that, I'd say number, I'll just pick three of them, right? Number one, I just can't say it enough is visual. Um, and we, we all talk about visual, social media marketing, but really visual is the key to get heard above the noise to differentiate yourself or your brand. Um, and, and you know, to brand yourself to create an emotional bond through visual because are all visual animals as human beings. And when I talk about visual, obviously you have pure visual social networks like Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest, and we know these are the three largest growing networks. But even in the traditional networks of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and I forgot YouTube obviously, but even within the traditional networks of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google plus the visuals ensure that you're featured prominently in the newsfeed, right?
Speaker 4 09:16 More than just posting something of text. Uh, if you are blogging for your brand or for yourself, having a photo attached to it and optimize for the social networks, ensure that you're going to get a little bit more traffic for that or a little bit more, uh, you know, engagement because you optimize it properly. So I think visual is definitely one key for success in 2015. Um, number two, well, this goes into the ideas behind the book. Maximize your social, but I'm going to go with ownership, um, that a lot of companies are outsourcing. And even if you end up working at a PR agency, working with a brand, um, you need the brand needs to own their social because we have a lot more going on with like employee advocacy or even, uh, you know, um, with your brand advocates, uh, working with them or even influencer marketing.
Speaker 4 10:04 But it's more important for the brands to really understand the essence of who they are as a brand and they need to be able to use that for their own social media marketing as well as whatever agency they work with, whether it be a, a, you know, a marketing agency or a PR agency. And if you end up working with a client that doesn't have that, I think it's a great opportunity for you to really take a leadership role and to help them develop it. I think it's going to help you create a longer relationship with that and maximize your social. Hopefully it will be the blueprint to help you do that. Um, so we talked about the visual, we talked about, uh, ownership on. The last thing I want to talk about is process. And, uh, hopefully when you get to the end to maximize your social, I don't know what's chapters are going to be recommended reading, but I have a whole thing about calculating your ROI and the teachings of professor Edwards Deming who is considered the quality of the godfather of quality control about this PDCA Deming circle and without professor Edwards.
Speaker 4 10:54 Jeremy also said without a process you don't know what you're doing or you don't have a product. I forgot what the exact quote was, but the whole idea is that social does not scale because humans do not scale. Right. The only way to scale your social media efforts is either by hiring more people, using more tools or you know, using some sort of automation or using paid social to compliment your efforts. So with that in mind, there has to be a process that other people can follow in doing your social media program, whether you, whether you're outsourcing it, whether you need to hire new people, whether you're replacing people in the future, whatever it might be. I think there's a need for us to have more defined programs in terms of process that once we define the process and optimize it, it's going to help companies scale a lot more. I know it sounds very academic, um, but, uh, you know, hopefully, um, through reading the book and through your own experiences, you can start to become an architect in some of these processes. And I really think you have a great opportunity to help a lot of companies out after you graduate because they're, you know, with companies being so late and social not approaching it strategically, that just means more opportunities for you. So those would be three bits of advice for a social media strategy in 2015.
Speaker 3 12:00 I love it. And definitely that chapter on ROI will be required reading towards the end of the semester. And we actually have, um, Adam singer is our guest interview for that, so it'll, it'll match up very, very well. Um, so we talked about kind of what's in 2015 and um, but what about, what's out? Just, for example, you know, voicemail, I think Coca-Cola was a company that took a survey of how many of their employees, you know, really want voicemail. And I think 3% or something crazy said that they want voicemail. So voicemail is out in general for for business. But what's out in social media? What is just like, you know, so yesterday.
Speaker 4 12:35 Um, wow, that's a great question. I think just posting in general marketing, uh, posts on your social media profiles as to out with, uh, with all the noise people can see through it. You know, it's funny, in the, in the social media blogging world, I try to be as transparent as possible as to, you know, how much money I'm making on SU, how much traffic has Pinterest generate. I will literally cut and paste a Google analytics screenshot and I'm going to be on a social media examiner posting with, you know, the stats for my site. And companies like buffer. We see a few of them, you know, Zappos as a big brand. Those that are more transparent end up creating the biggest bond with consumers and with social media users. And I think we'll be, will benefit the most from social media. So those brands that are still posting these just, you know, social media methods.
Speaker 4 13:20 So Jean from 2011 I think that is definitely out. I think people can see through it. I know that you all listening to this or watching this can see through it as well and they will not be successful and they will, they will be ignored because there's a lot more savvier companies that are having better conversations. So that's one thing. The other thing I think is what's really out as I call 2011 social media, which is great. We're on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, maybe YouTube, we've got, you know, we're covered. Um, and just ignoring the new platforms, whether it be Google plus, whether it be Instagram or Snapchat or what have you. Or tumbler. I don't, you know, I forgot to mention or even Reddit, which is extremely popular these days. Um, people are more scattered. People are members of multiple social networks and you may be able to catch them by boosting a Facebook post, but you know, you might not be able to catch him, uh, on another day because they're always on Instagram or maybe they're engaging on Snapchat.
Speaker 4 14:06 So I think social media marketers and, and if you're in public relations, you need to be covering a lot more bases and you need to be strategic as to which bases you cover because you want to be your audiences. You don't want to waste your time. So I think that's sort of two bits of investing. The third piece of advice is, you know, back in the early days of social media when you are on your diapers, um, there was an application called pink.fm. So you sort of like say the same message and a blast it out to 60 different social networks. Isn't that awesome? But you know what people can see through it. So if you're like posting hashtags on Facebook where they're not that popular or you're posting like five hashtags on Twitter, but when you do the same on Instagram, it looks sort of weird and spammy.
Speaker 4 14:45 Um, you need to customize your message for each platform because people speak differently on each platform. Uh, and I think that that company is just saying the same thing on all platforms, although the technology is it or like to do it. I think that's becoming very old school very fast. And like I said, people can see through it. I know YouTube you can as well. So make sure when you get hired, you do not, you do not become a practitioner of that. And really, you know, you need to be part of the community and be successful there. Right. You can't just be an outsider just spraying messages and praying that they stick. So, um, it's, it's really common sense, but it's, it's sort of surprising how few companies actually you follow that common sense.
Speaker 3 15:22 Yeah. And it's, it's hard. I mean the resources, um, some for companies it's hard to, for especially my next question is about small businesses and you know, if you're a small business and you're trying to do social, it's um, you know, you might get squeezed on resources. So if you are a small business, um, it could be overwhelming to create a social media strategy and, you know, what advice do you give to small businesses or startups? Um, you know, it seems like in one way startups almost, it's easier for social media to be a startup because you don't have the red tape of a big fortune 500 fortune 100 company to go through, but they also have the challenges. So what advice do you give to small businesses or startups?
Speaker 4 15:59 What's funny, I'll, I'll reflect on two things there. The first is I wrote a blog post several years ago on the oxymoron of small business social media marketing because small businesses have no budget and they want to see the ROI immediately and it's not possible. Um, you know, it's taken Lisa and myself several months to develop the relationship we have now. It takes time for people to develop relationships with other people. It takes even longer to develop a relationship with a brand unless you've already used them or have some urgent need to use them where you're, you know, you're checking out where to buy. So, um, it takes time. And that is really the hard thing for a lot of small business owners to, to accept and understand those that do because they use the networks themselves will make the investment. So I think it comes down to, look, you're a small business owner and I'm going to talk about startups separately, but you're a small business owner.
Speaker 4 16:43 You see what social can do for you. A great example I have, I'm actually advisor for a Japanese social media agency out here in California and they do social media for a lot of ramen restaurants, believe it or not. And it's, you know, Robin's good and there's a boom on it. And anyway, what have you, and the ramen restaurants kept on, you know, spending money at these like newspapers that they hand out at Japanese and other Asian supermarkets, right? However, $500 a month, a thousand dollars a month, maybe spending a hundred dollars a month on like Google ad words and what have you. And it's about, Hey, let's put all this money together and let's start at 5% or 10% or 15% and let's start with social and see the results that have. The beautiful thing is that social sticks. Once you get a fan on your Facebook page, there's a chance in the future, although it's only two or 3% these days that they will see another post.
Speaker 4 17:29 You can build a community that way. You can't build a community using a lot of the other things that you have in your marketing budget. So it really starts there. Start with one network for the ramen, restaurants, Facebook. Great. You want to start in the second one? Let's look at Instagram, right? Um, start with one. Start slow. Measure what you're doing and do it well. That would be my best advice. And just take it one step at a, they're not going to, you know, you've got to take your budget out at someplace else. Let's see what's not effective and experiment. Try something new for startups. You're absolutely right. They have no brand equity, uh, you know, they have nothing holding them back. No red tape. And now we have the emergence of growth hacking as sort of a term. And I think what's helped a lot of companies do the growth hacking is a very aggressive approach to social media buffer.
Speaker 4 18:09 And I've seen buffer grow from day one. They started out commenting on blogs. I'm like, who is this? Why are these buffer people, right? So then they started creating like a plugin or you know, will, we should put your buffer button on the, on WordPress blogs like okay, we'll do that. Then they buy a WordPress plugin and they add to their social media dashboard and now they are creating some of the best blog content out there, period. Right? Yeah. It's amazing. And that's growth hacking and that's using social media. What works for them is not going to work for every company. But if you have a budget and you're a startup, it almost makes sense to be a little bit more aggressive, be a little bit more creative. But whether you're a startup or a small business, I will say that maximize your social is based on my experience of writing social media strategies for companies.
Speaker 4 18:52 Anywhere from, you know, I'd say S, M, E, um, you know, maybe 10 to 25 million annual revenue up to fortune 50. Right? And that social media strategy was normally like a 25 to 50 page document. Um, when I'm working with various small businesses or startups, they do not need, that's a little bit over blow for them overkill, right? Um, but they need a few pages. They need a lot of education and they still need a framework as to what they're going to do. They can just be a lot more nimble, do a lot more experimentation and change a lot more frequently. So that would be my approach with them. It would be a little bit different. And I won't say like a one page, I think you need a little bit more meat, but it would be a subset. Um, and it would be focused on more constant experimentation and more aggressive on the tactics, if that makes sense.
Speaker 3 19:34 Definitely. And you know, Neil a great point as far as when it comes to education and the opportunity that young professionals, um, that are, that are in social media can have, um, when it comes to joining a company and really helping them through the education process because it's, you know, we're still in such the early days of let's say the revolution. Right?
Speaker 4 19:53 I agree. It's, you know, it takes time for people to get caught up with technology. In all honesty, there's still five to 10 years here, you know, I believe, I mean you still have companies now that don't know what SEO is. Yeah. For instance. Um, so that's, and it's going to be a reality cause some people are early adopters, some are later adopters, some more technically adept, some lesson. And that's really the opportunity for you as professionals really stake your claim. You know, I want you to shoot to become leaders in the space cause I think you can, and if you, you know, right now, if you're a junior or senior, if you invest six to 12 months or 18 months in your own brand and you start to blog and share your experiences and to start to become active on social channels, you're, you're going to look amazing when you're ready to graduate.
Speaker 4 20:35 And you can go into companies saying, Hey, I don't have experience doing social for company, but I do have it. We're doing it from my own brand. I know Lisa, you're having the students do this as well. I think it's a great idea and really approach it with a passion because every one of you a lot to share, you have your own perspectives, experiences and I want you to share it. I think it's only going to benefit you. It's going to benefit those around you and it's going to help you build your own fans and they're going to come to your help when you're looking for a job, when you're changing jobs, when you're looking for advice or what have you.
Speaker 3 21:01 Well, Neil, you just actually answered my last question, which was going to talk about the personal social media strategy for your own personal brand. And you know, we're going to be focusing on that throughout the semester rather than picking, let's say a company, just focusing on your personal brand and what you look like in social media. Um, and also there's a project that's gonna come up on, um, personas and, um, you know, that's kind of a very foreign to not just students that are juniors and seniors, but also, you know, just in general in the marketing industry. It's just, it's kind of a step that's easily skipped. So any last words you want to say when it comes to personal branding? Um, persona could be a whole nother interview possibly. But any, any last words on any of those things?
Speaker 4 21:45 Well, I'd say that you, you know, I see social media since when I started in February, 2008 as an inbound marketing tool. So who are the type of people you want to attract? If you want to go to work in a certain industry or in a certain discipline like PR for travel, then you should be following those people, those brands and social media. You should be trying to engage with them and you should be thinking of your own perspective. It's like why don't more hotels offer free wifi because it's only going to help people share, you know, their experience with social media. Why don't hotels have like an Instagram corner in lobby where people can take a cool photo with a little, you know, load with a hotel there. You know, the world is ripe for ideas like this and you're all fresh and you probably have lots of ideas.
Speaker 4 22:27 So share them in blog or what have you. But there's another part of this and that's the inbound market. I mean the other approach. The other part of this, what are you passionate about? I'm passionate about Japanese food, about travel. About photography, about soccer, about the Lakers and Dodgers. And I let it out. I mean I let people know and it attracts other people like that. And I've met other soccer players. I went to a concert in Japan and met other fans of this, uh, female rock singer that I like it because we met over Instagram, right? We both commented on the singers post and we were in a meeting at this concert and it was like in Japan and it's been incredibly enriching. And I found out about all these secret things, you know, secret performances and what have you from that relationship that started an Instagram.
Speaker 4 23:08 So when once you are passionate about what you do and you can share that passion in social media as well, it's only going to give you more personal ROI. It's going to, um, it's going to provide you more benefits and you're going to stay more attached to it. And it's going to become a natural thing to do when you have to do it for a living, where you're going to be told what to post. And it might not be as fun as doing it for yourself, but you're going to be able to pull it off because you're passionate about it and you've been able to merge the two worlds together. That's really the best advice. Don't you know, use social media to really, um, amplify not only your personal brand but also the passenger you have. And you will benefit from that.
Speaker 3 23:42 Great advice. Thank you so much Neil. So where can we follow
Speaker 2 23:46 you? Where's the best place that we can hang out with you on social media?
Speaker 4 23:50 Okay, so, uh, I have four different, I'm sort of an entrepreneur and sort of add, so I um, I always have a lot of projects going on. So maximize your social, I used to have a website, a windmill network game of rebrand and maximize your social.com is where is, you know, it extends the education for my book. I have a podcast there. You do a search for maximize your social on iTunes or SoundCloud, you'll find my podcast, but that's maximize your social.com. I'm also the founder and editor in chief of a social media for business blog called maximize social business. We have more than 20, uh, thought leaders contributing unique content on a monthly basis. I blogged there as well. Maximize social business.com and muscle launching my first social media conference called the social tool summit in Boston in may. So, uh, go to social tool summit.com if any of you are from Boston or have any relatives there, be sure to check that out. And very soon I'm going to be starting a new community, um, as an extension of the book to really help more people, uh, at a greater scale called the social media center of excellence. Uh, so social media, coe.com also launched a Facebook group for that open for anyone and everyone that wants to, uh, to, to join it. So in a nutshell, that's where you can find me.
Speaker 2 24:55 And on Twitter at Neil Schaffer
Speaker 4 24:57 everywhere else in the LCA for NGAL, S C, H, a, F, F, E R, uh, Twitter, Google plus Facebook. You know, part of <inaudible> is being consistent. So I'm consistent with my image and I'm consistent with my name, so pretty easy to find.
Speaker 2 25:09 Okay. Neil, thank you so much. This has been awesome content for our weekend social media strategy and we will catch up with you hopefully again before the end of the semester.
Speaker 4 25:18 Sounds great. Good luck everybody. And uh, please keep in touch if I can be of any help. And thank you so much Lisa. This has been great.
Speaker 2 25:24 Thank you. Thank you for listening to this episode of social PR secrets. If you like what you heard, check out the book on Amazon or follow our [email protected]
this episode was sponsored by the buyer group, a social PR agency, striving to keep our balance in the digital world, practicing public relations, social media and search marketing while occasionally drinking a glass of wine or two for the best creativity and results. Thank you all for tuning in. If you would like to get a free chapter of social PR secrets, go to social PR secrets.com/free.