Social media has become an important ingredient in just about every company’s marketing mix. With its direct link to prospects, customers and partners, social media has opened the floodgates of communication, offering your business new marketing and customer engagement opportunities unimaginable in years past.
It’s with this backdrop that StartupNation interviewed Ryan Holmes, CEO of HootSuite, for his thoughts, insights and advice on social media. With more than 5 million users, HootSuite is a leading social media management platform. HootSuite helps teams engage with audiences and analyze campaigns across multiple social networks like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ Pages from one secure web-based dashboard. According to Brandwatch, a global social media monitoring firm, after Twitter’s own interface, HootSuite is the most popular tool for businesses managing their social media.
Through HootSuite, Holmes has redefined the face of social media. A serial entrepreneur, he started a paintball company and pizza restaurant before founding Invoke Media, the company that developed HootSuite in 2009. Today, Holmes is an authority on the social business revolution, quoted in The New York Times and Wall Street Journal and called upon to speak at TEDx and SXSW Interactive Conferences. An angel investor and advisor, he mentors startups in Canada and around the world.
The following is StartupNation’s interview with Holmes:
What’s the most ingenious social media campaign that you’ve ever come across?
Holmes: I was impressed when I saw the Coca-Cola Superbowl XLVI social media campaign this year. Our team even ranked them the #1 social media engagement brand of the Superbowl in an infographic we released. Social media engagement has become an integral part of today’s successful brand marketing strategies.
During the game, Coke’s signature polar bears, already a fantastic brand tool, were presented watching the game with fans on Facebook in real-time, including a series of gestures and movements that followed the on-field action. The hashtag #gamedaypolarbears was used on Twitter to direct users to the campaign. This multi-channel social engagement with fans was reinforced by commercials that supported the idea of building a relationship with the bears and watching the game with them. By branding this way, Coca-Cola’s fans minds were taken off the fact that they were actually being sold a product during this engagement.
Social media can be overwhelming for many small businesses. What tips do you have for the small business owner to be effective in their social media marketing efforts while keeping on top of it all?
Holmes: No one can be online all day, which is why being able to schedule tweets is such an advantage for small businesses. Owners or social media managers can plan a full day’s worth of social messages the night or morning before, use HootSuite AutoSchedule feature, and check in at will if they have updates or announcements to make throughout the day.
Auto-scheduling also allows these businesses to tweet or post during the optimal time of day and really think each post through. Timing is crucial when amplifying social messages. A restaurant, for example, may benefit from tweeting daily specials at lunch time.
And social messaging should be tailored to each audience. Twitter users love the short, catchy posts with relevant hashtags while Facebook users will spend a little bit more time on a more detailed post. HootSuite allows these businesses to track their messaging in order to determine what type of message and time of day work best for them.
A need for more efficient time management when dealing with social media is what drove me to create HootSuite in the first place. Having all of your social assets on one dashboard allows you to cross post and generally save those valuable minutes and seconds that you would have spent signing in and out of accounts, and use that time to run the other facets of your business.
If you had a magic wand, what would you change about social media today?
Holmes: If I had a magic wand I would effectively replace email with a better internal communication tool within businesses. With developments in social media and internal communication over the last few years, social has truly transformed how we communicate, share information and collaborate on ideas and projects. At HootSuite we recently launched HootSuite Conversations, which is an internal chat tool that you can use to discuss things with your entire staff or smaller teams.
Follow Ryan Holmes on Twitter: @invoker