Next up in our series of Australia’s best social media managers is Cameron Parker, Head of Sales and Marketing at Australian fashion label, Black Milk Clothing. Black Milk Clothing have an impressive social media presence, especially on Instagram, conversing daily with an audience of 843K followers. Here, Cameron spills his social media secrets for us.
Which social media platforms does your business actively engage in?
We currently engage in Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, Google+, Myspace, Snapchat, Tumblr, and Vine.
What social media platforms have you shied away from and why?
We have previously not been involved in Polyvore because we haven’t had the right kind of images to upload, however we’re looking at changing this in future and increasing our presence on Polyvore.
How important is social media in your company’s overall marketing efforts?
Social media is absolutely vital for us. We don’t do commercial advertising, we rely solely on the connections we form with people over social media to get our brand out there. It’s challenging but we value the authenticity and personalisation it affords us.
How important is blogging to your business and your social media efforts?
We began as a blog, and it was other bloggers who helped us get our name out there initially. Blogging is very important to us, both as an integrated part of our overall social media activities and as a standalone statement on the brand.
How many people are involved in your social media planning, development, execution and monitoring and measurement?
We have a team of five full-time social media staff and several members of the business who help out on social media part-time. We have a social media manager, three social media team members, a dedicated gym social media team member, and at least two other members of the business who help out intermittently.
Your business is particularly strong on Instagram – what is it about that platform that your business has nailed?
The main reason Instagram is such a great medium for us is because it allows us to feature members of our community. We repost a lot of community photos and give them a shout out, and it really makes their day. Also, our designs work very well in a micro-blogging format – they’re eye-catching and don’t need a lot of work to look great in a photo.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in managing the social media needs of your business?
As we’ve grown very quickly and we are a global company, it’s a constant challenge to just keep up with our online community. We want to make sure every question is answered, and every person acknowledged. Add time zone and language differences into the situation and you start to realise what a huge job our social media team has. Luckily, we’re passionate about forming these connections with our community so it’s a labour of love.
How often do you check, analyse and report on your social media activity?
We keep a constant eye on our social media performance, but we typically do a round-up and analysis on a weekly basis.
Do you use any 3rd party social media tools to help you manage your social media activity (eg. HootSuite, SproutSocial, Buffer etc)?
No, we do everything manually and in-house. We find a more hands-on approach on our end helps up development more meaningful relationships with our community.
How do you measure social media ROI (return on investment)?
We use bitly links, and examine click-through statistics. It’s often very difficult to measure success on social media through objective means, so we do a great deal of subjective evaluation. We’re constantly asking ourselves “are people having fun on our pages? Are we entertaining and engaging our community?” If we can confidently answer yes to that, then it’s just as important as hitting high numbers with likes and click-throughs.
Do you outsource any of your social media? Why/Why not?
Not at all – we prefer to keep our social media in-house. That way it’s always personal, and we can maintain a consistent, authentic presence.
How do you monitor your social media stream out of hours?
Our social media team is online for two shifts each day, a morning and a night shift, 7 days a week. We’re only ever not online for a few hours overnight, when the pages are usually very quiet. We don’t really have an ‘out of hours’ period for social media.
What advice do you have for handling negative social media feedback?
We always give people the benefit of the doubt, but there is a difference between constructive criticism and pervasive negativity. In the case of the latter, we have a policy of gently reminding people that we’re trying to create a positive space on our social media platforms, invite them to email customer service if they have a particular issue, and ask that they try to stay positive while engaging with our social media.
Most of the time, people understand and are more than happy to direct any issues to our customer service team, who will always be there to help them out, and keep social media for more positive things like sharing photos. Sometimes, unfortunately, we do need to remove people from the page. It’s important to have a solid policy on how you want your social media to be, and to stick to it.
What’s the social media campaign you’re most proud of?
Our Adventure Time collection was a very important one for us. During Adventure Time we were able to bring together a lot of our favourite elements of social media, from campaign videos to the blog and lots of interactive social media activities.
Do you find you have time for your own personal social media adventures, and if so, what’s your platform of choice?
Black Milk Clothing’s social media is quite a pervasive thing, and we’ll all find ourselves checking in outside of business hours, but for personal use Instagram is really the easiest and the most fun.
Who else do you admire in this space?
We very much admire brands like Solestruck, who have an irreverence that really resonates with us.
Where do you see social media in five years?
Every year there are new social media platforms doing amazing things, but eventually the big players will emerge and the minor ones may have to integrate into those. There may also be more partnerships across channels, more cooperation in terms of cross-platform posting like what we see with Instagram posting directly to Facebook and Tumblr.
Questions from my followers on social media:
What’s the biggest social media faux pas one can make? Or you’ve seen made? (@paperedthoughts)
Talking down to your community probably tops the list. Social media is an equal-opportunity platform, and you have to be open and honest with the people you’re engaging with. People can sense when you’re not being authentic and they generally don’t react well to that. Isolating your community by treating them as essentially different from yourself is a great way to cannibalise your social media network.
Do you schedule posts ahead of time? Do you optimise your send times based on insights/data? (@erica_w)
Not usually. When someone on our team makes a post, we like for them to be online to field any questions and to keep the conversation rolling. Sometimes we schedule posts on public holidays or very early in the morning just to make sure our presence is still there, but we much prefer posting manually.
If your business has been on social media for a while, how do you manage adding new platforms as they become popular with your audience without spreading yourself too thin in terms of management? Can you effectively migrate or quit one even if it still maintains traffic flow to a website (but has become a bit shite in terms of follower engagement)? (@tessmccabe)
We prioritise, particularly when different platforms have similar functions but different engagement levels. For example, Facebook and Google+ have similar functions but we have a higher level of engagement on Facebook. So while we won’t quit Google+, our presence there is comparatively minimal to our presence of Facebook.
How can you be both authentic and strategic? I’ve seen businesses built predominately on an Instragram account filled with professional images from the net, which to me isn’t totally authentic but seems a strategic way to gain a captive audience. What is the benchmark for high engagement? (ie followers/fans to like/comments ratio) (@saintgertrude)
We like to think of authenticity as a strategy in itself. If we post things we are genuinely interested in and honestly think are cool, people engage with that and respond to it with a similar level of enthusiasm. Shares and comments are usually the most accurate way to tell how successful content is.
Thanks so much Cameron for letting us in on a little of your social media knowledge.
If you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear them!
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