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Simplifying social media in 2022 with Kate Busby
About this episode
Have you ever felt that the social media world is confusing and disorienting?
Have you ever struggled to prioritize your social media efforts?
Or doubted their purpose.
Well, you are not alone.
In this episode, Kate Busby walks us through some very simple and clear ways of perceiving social media in 2022.
What they talked about:
- Being Social on a Social Media World
- How Startups should Kick-Off their Social Media Activity
- How to be Lean in Social Media
- How Social Media Activities Scale
Kate Busby: Hi, my name is Kate. I’m Director of Social Media SEO, PR and Content at The Keenfolks, a digital transformation agency based between New York, Mexico City and Barcelona. I’m based in Barcelona, and I’ve been working in content marketing and social media marketing for the last 10 years. I’m excited by the questions you’re gonna throw at me. Let’s do it.
Spyros Tsoukalas: Hi, Kate. I’m very well. Happy birthday. I’m glad you’re here recording with us on such an important day for you. Exactly. I would like us to focus on the social media aspect of what you do. I have tons of questions. And I’m looking forward to listening to very exciting stuff that I don’t know. So let’s get started. Can you tell me something that most people don’t understand about, about how social media work nowadays? I’m sure that like the usual perspective that we have as users is like, way off, compared to what it should be.
Kate Busby: Yeah, I’ll give you two answers. Okay, first answer is really obvious. But it’s something that we all overlook. Social media is about being social. So even though when we think Facebook or Tik Tok or Instagram, our thoughts immediately jump to okay, what can I post? What content can I put out there? What should I be publishing? This is 50% of the equation. The other 50% is finding accounts commenting on other people’s content DMing people showing up being social, right? So that’s one thing that we often miss about social media, it’s often something that a lot of companies don’t have the resources to actually do. They just publish, publish, publish, but they don’t do the other half. So that’s one thing. And the second part of my answer, something that we don’t really think about, about social, maybe misunderstanding about it. When we talk about the algorithm of tick tock, or the algorithm of YouTube, that sometimes the images of I don’t know, a machine or something super complex, that super difficult to understand, comes to mind. You know, like the word algorithm is such a kind of thorny word. But actually, an algorithm is simply a set of instructions, like a kind of, do you know, if this then that that website, you know, where you put in some inputs, and then you get something out, that’s an algorithm. So it’s like, if Kate likes this piece of content, then I’m going to show that person’s content more often in Kate’s feed. Now, the complexity of the algorithm is that there are lots of lots of lots of these instructions and inputs and outputs, right. And they’re constantly evolving, right? There’s new ones being added, or ones being taken out. So that’s what the complicated aspect is, but really, an algorithm is, it’s just a command, right? Do this face because of that. So hopefully, those those two little answers were, were somewhat enlightening.
Spyros Tsoukalas: I learned two new things, actually. And it’s funny, because like, my expertise, and my background in my Bachelor’s studies was algorithms. So in computer science, so it’s fun getting into that, that discussion. So we, I have been heavily involved in the past with early stage startups. And on the one hand, it was marketing in general, that was kind of overwhelming for us, but especially social media. Like, I was always feeling kind of disoriented, like, what to do, how to do it. I mean, okay, I would start posting, what that what would select the posting, like when, yeah, what happens with the brand. So I was filling that out, whatever we did was completely random, no strategy and no understanding of the strategy. What would you say to an early stage founder, or a startup like, regardless, the stage that they have to put social media in a box in their own algorithm, like the set of commands that they have to do like, how should they think about?
Kate Busby: Okay, I’m gonna give you hopefully a not boring example. Imagine you’re at a party, okay? And imagine you’re the new kid in town and you don’t really know anybody, but you’re at this party. Okay. Spyros what would you do? Okay, I can see that you’re a very sociable guy. You know, I can imagine that you you’ve been to a few parties in your in your lifetime, like, how would you handle being the new person in the room?
Spyros Tsoukalas: I would start from somewhere like I would start talking from someone like, no, no other steps, like just start from somewhere and go through it.
Kate Busby: Yeah right. And I’ve been in a similar situation, I kind of, I kind of scan the room and I kind of look at who’s there. And, you know, based on, like, what I can hear from conversations going on around the room, or what someone’s dressed like, or how they’re behaving, you know, like our kind of gravitate towards one person or a group of people get talking, you know, like, see if there’s good energy, there’s compatibility, maybe we kind of end up, you know, going to a bar afterwards. And that’s social media, you turn up as a new brand. No one knows you. And let’s face it, no one really trusts you. But the more you start interacting with others, and showing up yourself showing what you’re about, you know, publishing content. It’s all by little, and I think what you said is right, you know, you, you get by you, you find a way, right, it’s maybe not an overnight success. And especially if you’re doing organic social media, which is the unpaid non boosted side of social media takes time, it’s a long game. But the idea is yet you show up, you do your 50% of publishing, and you do your 50% of socializing, okay. And then, you know, the key for many early early and startups would be to build trust and credibility as a brand right within the space that you’re working. Because then people hear about you, they refer you, they even buy into you. And to build that trust, I always look to partnerships, you know, finding someone in the room who likes you, and you like them, and you have the same values. And everyone already knows that person, like they’ve been around for a few years or whatever. So then when you people see you guys together, they’re like, Oh, I’m gonna check out this new brand, I’m gonna find out what’s going on there. Because if they’re endorsed by somebody who’s already been around, then maybe they’re good. So it’s like being at a party or think of the party. And that’s the big party of social media.
Spyros Tsoukalas: I guess from what you said, like, I completely understand it. And it starts from what you said in the first answer, like, start by being social, and things will start getting in place gradually. So before meeting you today, I was browsing through your social media, actually. And at some point you defined approaching social media in a lean way. Yeah. So what does that mean to you in the context of social media and not in the more very common context that we have in the startup world, like the Lean Startup Framework, or whatever? How does it apply in social media?
Kate Busby: I think in social media, the lean concept applies in terms of headcount, and the number of skill sets that you’ve got on a team producing a social media strategy. So in the past, I’ve been the only social media person, a team of one. And it was at some point a bit disheartening, because, you know, sometimes you realize that companies really don’t invest in social media. And you’re wondering what, how is this possible, given that we’re in 2022. But that said, being a team of one makes me realize, hmm, there is a way to do this in a very simple minimalistic fashion. With automation, okay, and having outsourcing the skill sets that you don’t have in house. So I was a team of one in house, but I had five people working with me from agencies outside part time, not all the time. And with that small group of people, we were able to lead the social media channels for a multinational company with 120 markets. So I realized, okay, we don’t need to have like, I heard rumors that some of the airlines of the world have like 200 people working on their social media, maybe because they have a lot of people complaining on the concourse. Where’s my plane? Tweeting? And so can I please have a refund, and so they need a lot of people to kind of monitor those conversations. But if you’re a brand that doesn’t rely on social media as a customer service tool, you can manage with a community manager, a social media strategist, or content producer. And that’s more or less it. And then maybe if you if you like, the strategist isn’t strong in business analytics, then someone who does bi as well, but that’s it. So you can really do a lot with a small number of people, and then increase it depending on what you’re going to use the social media tools for the following year. You know, like I said earlier, if you’re using social for customer service, then you start needing to become a bigger team, then it starts to become a little bit more complex. But now aside from that, if you’re just doing a straight up brand strategy on social you can work in a very small number, like a small pool of people in a in a in a lean way. How do you understand the word lean, because maybe I miss applying the term, you know.
Spyros Tsoukalas: The word lean In my understanding, like if being inspired from the Lean Startup Framework is about the process of making a hypothesis and making the minimum effort to test it collecting data and reassessing if we are going to pivot or confirm the hypothesis. So let’s lean in my startup understanding, let’s say.
Kate Busby: It’s very similar. I mean, it’s really about like you said, like having an idea about where you want to go building a strategy and doing the minimum to get there, right, the minimum number of people the minimum number of processes, the minimum number of effort, right to see whether you’re going to get traction. And then if you do get traction, you start building. But But yeah, no, I think I’m probably loosely applying the term to the way that you’re, you’re using it, but it’s the same kind of philosophy.
Spyros Tsoukalas: Great, great, great. So you gave me a great pass mentioning your role to that multinational company earlier. So, okay, we’ve started in social media, we start being social, we started interacting, what does it mean, to scale social media activities, because like, in the beginning, all this start, like you said, start being social, start interacting with other brands, partnerships, these are things that don’t scale, and I’m a big fan of them. Like in the beginning, you should be doing baby steps towards every direction, you shouldn’t necessarily look for, like the ultimate outbound campaign that would scale to millions of emails or whatever. So how does this baby, these baby steps in social media end up in something that really scales?
Kate Busby: Yeah, so really good question. You’ve got to find a sweet spot between social media automation, and social media personalization. Okay. And I don’t think that it’s easy. It’s very brand dependent. But you know, for example, Instagram have, in the last few months released a series of features where you can do automated DMing. Okay, or automated direct messaging? There are lots of brands that have customers who use Instagram as a kind of questions channel, like, Oh, can you please help me find this, or I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong. And because it’s not seen, Instagram is not seen as a channel where the customers are asking, let’s say, super urgent questions that need a human being to give them a very nuanced answer. They’ve ended up automating all of the frequently asked questions, and then having an option to transfer any customer with a niche question to an actual human being. That allows the mass number of people to reach out to the company through social media and for the company to save a hell of a lot of money on headcount, and time as well. So there are ways I guess it depends on your brand, your product, your service, you know, if you’re an airline, you’re probably going to, like I said earlier, like, you’re going to need to have quite a large team of customer service representatives on social media, who can deal with people’s problems as and when they occur. And if you’ve got like a subscription, like a Netflix kind of scenario, where the number of technical issues or the number of problems are kind of finite, you can automate any response that is going to come up simply because you can kind of predict what people are going to say. So where there’s more prediction, there’s more possibility for automation, and that’s scalable. But yeah, if you have a very unpredictable relationship with your clientele, then you need more people to man, the phone lines like this is probably the, the the way, but you know, in terms of other otherwise the content creation side of it, so not the customer service part, but the actual publishing of content. There are fantastic innovations in artificial intelligence now that can actually create content whilst you’re sleeping. So you know, there are these wonderful adversarial networks that people set up that create human faces of people that don’t exist. So you don’t need to worry about copyright issues. You don’t need to worry about finding an image on Shutterstock, right, you just set and forget and your cover, your computer just generates visual content for you whilst you’re not even at work. And so that is very scalable, you can create an enormous amount of content without any human intervention. So they’re always upscaling it. But yeah, there’s there’s always going to be something personal about social media, there’s always going to be a necessary necessity for human beings to be manning the operation or being part of the operation.
Spyros Tsoukalas: You said in the very beginning, it’s about being social.
Kate Busby: Yes.
Spyros Tsoukalas: And like you can be social with an AI like do you have to be sociable with humans?
Kate Busby: Well, I don’t know if you saw the movie her that I mean, one day AI may we may be on the same level as a human being with a personality and a certain element of spontaneity, but we’re not there yet.
Spyros Tsoukalas: Yeah, I have used a few chatbots. I understand that it’s your right. But like I’m trying to say that like being social is the basic element right now social media. So people who want to benefit out of that should be social there and can’t expect being replaced by the AI at scale or everything. Anyway. So what do you have been describing about? Scaling social media leads me to exactly another question that I have. So we do, let’s say that we have like an enormous activity in social media. And we do multiple stuff. We post content, we both interviews, audiograms, audio podcasts, whatever. How do we track and assess the impact of that? On our brand? Like, okay, we’re getting mentioned, we’re getting comments, we’re getting likes, like, how, what’s the impact on the business, we can be having, like 1000s of followers and no single conversion? So how do you assess all this?
Kate Busby: Yeah. And what makes it even more complicated are the new rules that Apple brought in about their devices and shutting off third party data. So it’s even more difficult to track how people move through digital ecosystems these days, because people have rights and they want privacy, which I totally respect. I think the answer to your question is that social media does not exist in a silo, it is not a social is not a marketing channel that’s disconnected from all the other parts of the marketing universe. What do I mean by this example, if you want to track sales from social media, and you’re not a makeup company, or selling a product that you can just buy quickly on Instagram, which is very easy to measure so that you can see how social means your bottom line, if you’re not one of those companies. What you’ve got to do is ensure that all the channels of your marketing ecosystem are connected, and that you’ve got a tool like HubSpot, that is managing the user interactions with all of the different, let’s say, touch points in your digital ecosystem. So you know, if I go to Instagram one day and see an ad for, I don’t know, some socks, I’m like, oh, yeah, I really want those. But then I forget about it. And I click x and I don’t buy. But then I go to Google the next day, and I log into my Gmail or whatever. And then I’m remembering, oh, those socks that we googled them, and then they’re like the first result in the SERPs in the search engine results. I click and I buy. Now, if that company that sucked companies using HubSpot, they could see from my cookies or whatever, because I’m using Android or whatever, that I went to Instagram, left Instagram, and then the next day bought some socks from their website through direct but it’s the same person, then you can start to build an argument to say, okay, social media has some kind of impact on sales conversion for my product. It’s very difficult to measure the direct correlation between social media and the final purchase, if it’s not a direct journey, but you can definitely see patterns and trends. So yeah, it’s even more difficult with other marketing channels like traditional PR. I mean, how can you measure the impact of, you know, a print newspaper, where you have an article, or even better a billboard on the side of the highway, you know, that as your product, people spend millions on both, with the good faith that this is how helping keep their brand, top of mind influence people’s decision making positively in their favor. So it’s difficult to track when it’s when it’s offline. It’s difficult even to track social media impact, when it’s obviously a digital phenomenon. But you can see trends and tools like HubSpot and Sprout Social. I’m not an affiliate, by the way, but these are the tools I use in my job. They are helping bridge that gap and they’ve got a roadmap to make things easier and easier as time evolves. But yeah, I It’s an indirect relationship, social media and the bottom line of a company. I never like to tell a company that I’m going to get you more sales through Tik Tok you know, it’s a dangerous game to play, because it’s more likely that you’ll be disappointed when you don’t see those results. Even if your sales do on top, after you’ve launched the Tik Tok campaign, you know, because it’s difficult to correlate the two.
Spyros Tsoukalas: Your analogy with billboards, and magazines or newspapers, you paint exactly how I feel about what’s the impact of social media in business, like, as it was with newspaper, I can’t really define it. So let’s, let’s say that you have a startup or a brand that’s already active, they have been doing that for quite some time, whatever, we don’t care about the details. How do they how do I assess where I stand in the social media game? Like, am I doing enough? Am I doing too little? Am I doing completely in the wrong direction? Because the type of content that I have decided to publish is like way? Not? It’s not It’s unsuitable for my audience, maybe like, or am I doing too much like workshops, and the eBooks and webinars and all this and nobody cares? How do I assess where I stand?
Kate Busby: It’s a good question. Look at your competitors. What are they doing? How often are they posting, you know, especially competitors that have been around for years and have been doing the social media game for years, take learnings from them, right? Like you don’t need to start from scratch as if there’s no one around you learn by observation, I’d say that’s the first step. The second step is probably to test doing less and then doing more. So maybe start your social media with one publication a week, then after a month, start publishing twice a week. Then after a third, you know, in your month three, publish three times a week, which is what the recommended amount of public publishing is. So three posts per week, especially on Facebook and Instagram, maybe on tick tock is a bit more Twitter for sure, it’s a lot more. But you know, use the platform averages as well, to get an idea about what you should be posting and then see the impact on your audience. I think that those are the two ways I’d go about it.
Spyros Tsoukalas: I like the idea of looking at competitors, like you can use it in almost in very in many activities that startups or companies do, looking at what your competitors do like is a great way to let’s say reverse engineer what’s happening. And if your your domain or your direct competitors are small, or the activity is not matched, you can go to other industries and copy paste from them. Great, Kate, thank you so much. I have like two Nathan Latka style questions for the end. And all the insights that you have shared were incredibly interesting. I really enjoyed them. Like I’m naturally curious about these kinds of topics. So thanks for taking the time to share with us always. So the two final questions are, what’s your favorite tool? And what’s your favorite book?
Kate Busby: That’s a very, very good question. I read a lot. So the latest book I’m reading comes to mind, it’s excellent. It’s Alex Hormozi’s 100M offers. It’s a quite short book, and it’s about packaging services as an agency and pricing them. And it has some really interesting psychology about how to present your offers. It’s quite a daring book, you know, it really does give you food for thought. So if you’re a business owner or aspiring business owner, I recommend it even if you’ve already got your packaging and pricing sorted out. It’s very good. Tool tool.
Spyros Tsoukalas: What tool changes your life daily?
Kate Busby: Tool changes my life daily. I don’t want to be boring and say Google Analytics, but it’s really good. I think.
Spyros Tsoukalas: I’m boring. I am boring in mine is Notion.
Kate Busby: Oh, it’s no but that’s exit that’s not boring. That’s super like hip. I do use Notion. I like it but I’m not maybe I’m not using it to its optimal level. Because I’m not like dazzled by it but but it’s useful. I like click up, click up is really good because I can track everything I’m doing. How much time I’m dedicating to it, create tasks within tasks within tasks. It’s like very good that way. It’s very good for building standards of procedure. I think I’ve been talking a lot recently to some colleagues and also some mentees about SparkToro. I actually asked them the other day, if they had an affiliate program. They said no, because I’m mentioning it so much. I’m like it should be an affiliate for these guys. But it’s a really great tool for digital PR. Why? Because by typing in some keywords that you associate with your product or service or what you imagine your ideal audience talks about. You can find out what publications they read, and then that puts you like is the right place to then reach out to those publications and try and get a link in them. So sparktoro.com is definitely a tool that’s that’s moving heaven and earth for me at the moment. I guess. Yeah, no, but I have a lot of tools and a lot of books that I love. So if you want me to add a few more in the description I can.
Spyros Tsoukalas: These were fine. I hope that everybody enjoys this episode as much as I did. Thank you so much for being here and for sharing all those useful insights with us.
Kate Busby: Thank you so much for interviewing me.
In this episode
Director of Social Media, SEO, PR and Content at The Keenfolks, Digiday Agency of the Year 2021 🏆
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