The time of the SMB is now. We spoke to Rick Liebling, Head of Global Marketing for Unmetric, a social media intelligence platform with a brand focus, listed by Forbes as the number one Social Media Company to Watch in 2015. We interviewed Rick on all things social media marketing. We talk about how to create culturally relevant content, how to achieve organic reach on social networks and how smaller brands can outperform their larger competitors.
What is the most innovative marketing concept you’ve created to date and how did you come up with the idea?
Earlier this year, we were trying to think of a way we could stand out at SxSW. Everyone there, especially the tech startups, print up t-shirts with their logos across the front. Rather than be a me too, we decided to go in a different direction and create a shirt that would be relevant to our business, but also connect with culture in a larger way.
So we decided to ask the question, “What if a social media analytics company launched its own streetwear brand.” As a result Genuine Unofficial was born. It was a huge hit, with people stopping us on the street asking for shirts, and people pinging us all weekend on Twitter trying to track us down. You can read about the creation of Genuine Unofficial on our Medium publication, Un Branded.
You believe that in order to connect with people, brands today must understand how to create culturally relevant content. What do you think is the number 1 issue stopping brands from doing this and how can they overcome it?
Fear. Brands are afraid they’ll say the wrong thing. They’re afraid they’ll offend someone, they’re afraid their bosses won’t understand. They’re afraid of consumer backlash and mostly they’re afraid to try something new.
As a result, most brands play it right down the middle and if you removed the name from the tweets of five different casual dining restaurants, you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart. See what I mean?
How do you overcome this issue? When you realize that playing it safe is the real risk, and that differentiation and being original is what works, that’s when you decide to start trying things outside your comfort zone.
What type of content do you think is most relevant today?
The same type that has always been relevant: the ones that reveal a human truth. It doesn’t matter if it’s video, photos, a novel or a cartoon, hit people with something real and emotional and they’ll respond.
Forbes recently listed Unmetric as the #1 Social Media Company to Watch in 2015, why do you think that is and what have you done to contribute to the success of Unmetric since coming aboard early 2014?
Unmetric is filled to the rafters with super smart people all committed to understanding and listening to our clients. We take these learnings and pour them into the platform. Our product roadmap is driven by the people who use Unmetric, so we’re not just innovating for innovation’s sake; we’re innovating based on the needs of the people who rely on Unmetric. As for me, I’d like to think that my biggest contribution has been helping my team grow professionally every day. Everyone on the team, including me, can look back to a year ago and say, “wow, I’ve learned more in the last year than I thought possible.”
After comparing themselves to top competitors and benchmarking their efforts, how can smaller brands outperform their rivals online?
Good news guys, size doesn’t matter. I’d tell a brand, regardless of size, the same thing I mentioned earlier. Develop a unique POV and find the human truth in your brand. People will not only respond, but they’ll amplify your voice.
It’s getting harder and harder to reach your audience organically on social media, how can brands overcome this and know which content to actively promote to their target audience?
Brands have found themselves stuck between Scylla and Charybdis, with a glut of content on one side and platform algorithms on the other making organic reach very difficult. I wish I could tell you there is some secret, but even producing great content that has real value isn’t always going to get a brand the type of reach it is looking for.
Ok, shameless plug time. At Unmetric we’ve recently introduced Paid Post Detection, so you can see with a very high degree of accuracy which brands are putting dollars behind their posts and updates. Soon we’ll be rolling out Predictive Analytics, which will help marketers understand how to optimize their content for maximum engagement.
Once a company has created inspiring content, do you believe they need to change it for each social platform? What do small businesses need to know about targeting their efforts across various social networks to get the most engagement for a campaign?
It is important to understand that the different social platforms have different audiences, and those audiences have different needs and expectations. Video length, image quality, and the amount of text are all variables that will be different depending on the platform.
First, businesses really need to have an understanding of the problem they are solving for people. The Jobs To Be Done framework is great for this. Then, work on showcasing your solution in a variety of styles, leveraging everything from video and infographics to case studies and white papers. Oftentimes one idea can be utilized across several pieces of unique content.
What is your favourite social media platform to engage your audience and why?
It really depends. I use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram… it all depends on what I’m trying to say. If it’s a live event like the Super Bowl, Twitter is fantastic. If I want to share my love of fancy soaps, I’ve got a Pinterest board for that. There are some things that I might post on LinkedIn, but don’t share on Facebook because I’m connected to a lot of people who aren’t involved in my line of work. Again, it’s about knowing your audience.