Irish social media agency Simply Zesty has made quite a name for themselves creating content and growing their social media footprint. They do this with a small staff, while serving blue chip clients like Sony and Volkswagen. When founder Lauren Fisher reached out to me to let me know they were acquired by UTV Media, I jumped at the chance to ask her about their content strategy.
Agencies are often in their own category from a social media perspective, but since their customers are other businesses, they can be thought of as B2B companies. And the lessons Lauren shared with me below can apply to any B2B company.
Lauren Fisher, Founder, Simply Zesty; John McCann, Group CEO, UTV Media plc; Niall Harbison, Founder, Simply Zesty; Nigel Robbins, Commercial Director – Ireland, UTV Media and Ken Fitzpatrick, CEO, Simply Zesty.
Let’s start at the top. Agencies frequently struggle creating social media content because their staff needs to focus on billable work. How do you manage to strike that balance?
For us, it’s been a learning curve of getting the right mix between brainstorming for the right video, design, app etc., the actual production time and then the eventual distribution. It’s very easy to get sidetracked with focusing on the content without figuring out how much time you need to properly plan and get the best idea. As a business, we’ve worked hard on ensuring we have the right mix of time spent on all 3 areas, and of course that the billing accurately reflects this!
Can you provide some insight into your content strategy? Are there certain topics you focus on, and others you steer away from?
In terms of the blog, we have decided to keep a focus on news, analysis and also easy to follow guides/tips. We’ve found that there is a ready audience there for each of those areas, provided we put the work in to do it well! We’ve also been genuinely honest about what we would find useful or interesting. Unless we have an exclusive, we would rarely cover a breaking news story with a simple summing up, but we would provide additional insights for brands to put something into practice, or how it might change things for them. And we have learned that if you put the time in to an article, it will generally pay off.
Even though you work with a number of large consumer brands, you are a B2B company because you are selling your services to other businesses. How do you bring that consumer sensibility to your social media properties?
We have tried to keep the company social media properties as personable as possible. No one really has an interest in joining our Facebook Page if we’re just going to post links to our blog. RSS is fine for that! We think about how we run our personal social media accounts and try to replicate this where we can, with informal questions, pictures etc. I think that is where we stand out, but again it has been a learning curve. There were times, particularly when we struggling with a smaller team and being maxed out on client work, when we let our own social media activities slip. But this was wrong. After all, we have actually gained new clients purely through our own social media profiles. One time we even gained a new client as one of our videos was shown as a similar video in the sidebar of YouTube and they got in touch!
How closely do you track conversions, in the form of new business, from your social media efforts?
Honestly, probably not as much as we should. Firstly because it is quite time consuming to do it well, but also because it is of a much more organic nature, and not always easy to track. We tend to be quite anecdotal about it. If a client mentions that they found us through a particular blog post, video etc. we would try and implement more of those. But unfortunately it’s not an exact science. Sometimes you just get lucky and it can be hard to replicate the success.
Any final tips for companies looking to grow their social media presence to drive new business?
Definitely take the time to do it properly. It’s very easy to let it slip when you have client work coming out of your ears! But you will probably find that the work you get through social media channels will have a longer lead time, so it’s important to keep it up even during busy periods in your agency, as you could see the benefit even months down the line.
Also try and focus on where the decision makers are, and what they might be looking for that you can help out with. It might well be the case that networking in groups on LinkedIn won’t drive that many business leads (it hasn’t really for us), but that by tweeting interesting campaign links etc. you provide people with a useful resource and these may well be the decision makers in an organisation.