Episode 112 – Social media is the wild west.

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Episode 112 – Social media is the wild west.

wild west

Today on the podcast, we chat with Emily Crowe – Social Media Manager at Mercy Corps.

Adam: [00:09] Hi, welcome to the Good People, Good Marketing podcast, a podcast about digital marketing and how to make it better so the good people and good organizations can have good marketing as well. I’m your host, Adam Walker, co-founder of Sideways8, a digital marketing agency and 48in48, a nonprofit dedicated to hosting events that build forty-eight websites for forty-eight nonprofits in forty-eight hours.

[00:29] My guest on the show today is Emily Crowe. Emily is the Social Media Manager at Mercy Corps. Her goal is to drive creative, positive change. She’s passionate about combining the power of digital data with the soul of human-centered design. Emily, welcome to the show.

Emily: [00:44] Thanks, Adam. I’m happy to be here, and thanks for having me on.

Adam: [00:47] Yeah. I’m excited about it. I love your tagline: “Power of digital data and the soul of human-centered design.” You’ve got a way with words. I like that.

Emily: [00:57] Thanks. Yeah.

Adam: [00:59] That’s a good start. I love it. So let’s dive in, if you’re ready. I’m ready. I’m ready to go. I want to hear what you have to say here. So related to digital marketing, can you tell us something that has worked well for you?

Emily: [01:11] Yeah, I would say a big thing— Especially focused on social media, sometimes it can really be seen as the Wild West. And I think a big part of what I’ve seen be really helpful in social and in digital as a whole, is bringing a process to that. And I think, because especially in digital, but especially on social, barriers to entry are really low. It changes really often. And so I think it can get really easy to get stuck in some ways that’s really reactive. And I know, as someone who’s been a one-person digital marketing team or a one-person social media team, it’s easy when you’re in that sort of just like shooting-from-the-hip place to lose a lot of energy or miss out on opportunities.

[01:59] Yeah, I think a lot of people like nonprofits can relate to this. And so I would say, taking that time to invest in processes around engagement or building conversation intentionally; like every week, do it this many times, or focus on these kinds of conversation starters. But even things as simple as like reply guides, or content plans, or request forms for people inside your organization, so you’re not just getting pinged all the time. Honestly, it sounds so simple and it’s so basic, but it’s freed up a lot of time and space to really be excellent in other ways, or bring on interns, or expand the team.

Adam: [02:41] Yeah, I mean when you have to stop and think every day, “Oh, what am I going to do for social media today?” Like you’re earning brain time, if that’s a thing. I don’t know if that’s a thing, right? But you’re just spinning your wheels on something and asking yourself the same question every day and trying to determine what the answer is. If you’ve already got a plan, you already know what the answer is, then you can just move forward with that social media plan and execute. And you can spend your time in execution, not in planning, and thinking, and strategizing, and all that other stuff.

Emily: [03:09] Exactly. Yeah.

Adam: [03:10] Well, I think you might be the first person on the podcast that has actually shared that as a strategy, and it’s a much-needed strategy. So I’m really glad that you shared that. That’s great. Do you have any advice—I’m just curious—on how to get a plan started? Like as far as like at the starting point.

Emily: [03:26] Yeah. I think really starting just from basics of… All of the processes, basically, that I’ve started, start as a Google doc, where I’ll just copy and paste ideas as they come, or, “Hey, I think this is the fifth time I’ve posted this reply; I’m going to just jot it down.” And yeah, just starting small, because I think it can feel really overwhelming or you can end up investing a lot. And I’ve done this, investing a lot of time in making a process that’s be kind of like, “Cool, that doesn’t actually really work for me.” So I think starting in just your day-to-day work, making like, “Hey, this seems like something I might use again,” just dumping that into a Google doc that you can organize later.

Adam: [04:09] Yeah, I love that. And speaking of—I don’t know if you’re familiar—I use a tool called “TextExpander” for quick replies. And so for example, if somebody needs to rebook my podcasts and they’ll say, “Hey, Adam, I was excited to be on the podcast, but I’ve got to rebook it.” And then my reply to that is the same every single time. So I can, literally on my keyboard, type in “rebookpodcast” with no space and then it automatically fills in my entire response to that in that email. And I can hit send and I’m done. All the formatting’s there. I mean, everything, it’s just all done for you with a quick keystroke.

Emily: [04:44] That is great.

Adam: [04:44] Yeah. It’s something to think about, TextExpander.

Emily: [04:46] Yeah, definitely.

Adam: [04:47] And it really gets the job done; does a great job. So, okay. Cool. So next one. Question number two: related to digital marketing, can you tell us something that has not worked well, that we can learn from?

Emily: [04:57] Yes. I think we can all relate to seeing things that don’t work well in nonprofits as well as well, and I would say, kind of on a similar note, getting stuck in with tools or processes or things that have always been the way they are, especially as a small or even one-person team can be really tough. I’m thinking like say, “Oh, we invested in this tool. It’s too expensive to switch,” or like, “We’ve used it for the last five years. It’d be so hard to change.” And I think, sometimes, that can be really hard when you take a step back and realize like, “I’m the only one using this. Why don’t I maybe look into other solutions?” And so I think, it’s really easy to get siloed and miss out on what other kinds of things might exist, just because of the narrative that’s in your own organization or in the space.

[05:54] And so I would say, trying to never be married to a specific tool unless it really, really is so important and impactful that it’s the perfect solution, because there is something to be said for investing in something really, really excellent and ideal and perfect. I would say kind of keeping that network. The way that I’ve tried to address it is keeping a network of people who are maybe in more cutting-edge or agency kind of spaces, where they have a bit more budget, they’re a little more likely to be trying new things, and more comfortable with that sort of space can help open the doors or listening to podcasts like yours and listening to other people who are using tools or might be doing things a different way, and open your eyes to, “Oh, wow! This is a tool that I didn’t even know existed,” like TextExpander or a social media automation tool, or something that maybe could take something you’re spending hours a week fiddling around with and do it way better than the tool you’re currently using.

Adam: [06:59] Right. Yeah. I love that. That’s great. I mean, you’re talking about sunk cost, right? When you’re invested into something and you start to make decisions for the future based on the degree of investment about what you’ve had in the past, and that’s your sunk cost. But the mistake we make is we can’t make future decisions based on the sunk cost because that cost, it’s already gone. We’ve already spent it. We’ve already burned the time on that tool or the investment in that tool or whatever. And we have to recognize is, “Is that tool working? Yes or no?” And if it’s no, we’ve got to move on to something else and find what is working. And if it’s yes and then fine, we have to ramp up using it and that’s fine, but we can’t get stuck just because of the sunk cost.

Emily: [07:35] Yeah, exactly. I think, it’s so interesting. I’m sure it’s like this across the space. I know in digital marketing, we’ll go through these procurement processes and have these whole charts for if how we decide what we want to use. But then it’s like we never come back and reevaluate. If I have a company, I’m hoping maybe we’ll take time like once a year to take a second look and see like is there something else better that meets these needs? Maybe at same price, less cost.

Adam: [08:04] There’s often something better that’s cheaper. It happens all the time. And there’s new products coming out all the time. And so, you have to have your eyes open. I think it’s really smart to be networked with people that are keeping ahead of the pace. And that really is kind of one of my goals of this podcast, is to stay ahead of the marketing pace so that people can see what’s coming down the pipeline, adjust, and be prepared to move forward with their own marketing efforts. So that’s great.

[08:30] So question number three: related to digital marketing, can you tell us something that you are excited about?

Emily: [08:36] Yes, I’m really, really excited about the future of where we’re going, especially with the way that things like nonprofits, where there’s a lot of heart behind it, are engaging with their customers or potential customers. I think, overall we’re seeing platforms like Facebook, making user needs out of necessity become more and more prioritized. I think they’re even forced into it. But overall, I feel like it’s changing how brands— Like, the platforms themselves are realizing it and it’s forcing brands to realize, “Hey, we can’t just put money in an ad and make it happen,” or, “We can’t just be on Facebook and people will be paying attention to us and we’ll be getting new customers.” I think, overall, we’re having to really learn how to communicate and engage with people in a way that builds trust, is really high quality and really fosters, I think gets to the heart of what made social media and digital marketing great, which was suddenly, you’re connected to people all over the world and you can talk to people from all over the world. And I think it’s coming back to those roots of, this is a conversation. This is a community. And so I’m really excited.

Adam: [09:50] That’s great. I totally agree. We’re moving in the direction of higher-quality content, better engagement, better interactions, more customization specific to the user themselves and really, users are demanding better and better content from us. And so we have to be thoughtful in how we approach that, how we think about it, how we execute it. We’ve got to really be intentional about it. We can’t just throw out a bunch of junk because it doesn’t work anymore. It’s like you said, we’re not just creating random campaigns. We’ve got to create targeted campaigns around specific people, around specific needs for specific purposes that are really, really high-quality campaigns.

Emily: [10:31] Exactly. Yeah. We really have to be able to have that heart in there too, I think. I know it’s really scary, because there’s a lot of change and it can be really tiring. But overall, I think it’s what makes it last and it’s what will make people stick around.

Adam: [10:50] And it’s what keeps us all employed, right? Because of (inaudible 10:54) So somebody’s got to stay on top of that, right? That’s great. Well, let me see if I can recap our conversation for some good takeaways for our listeners.

[11:02] For question number one, related to digital marketing, what’s working well for you, you mentioned that social media is the Wild West and therefore, bringing a process for how you approach it has really worked well, because you’re were able to systematize it, think through it, and then you’re not stuck being reactive, but you’re able to start each day knowing what the game plan is and you can then execute on that game plan rather than trying to figure out what to do every step of the way. And as you mentioned, a one-person team can get really easily lost in social media. A lot of non-profit marketers are one-person teams. And so, having a game plan together really helps. And you mentioned as far as how to create that game plan, a good starting point is to have a Google doc, just take notes and map out all the processes that you go through as the ideas come. Just begin writing them down and then especially jot down common replies and paste them in there for later so that you can use it later. And then of course we mentioned TextExpander, which may be a helpful way to even c that as people use that tool.

[11:56] For question number two, related to digital marketing, what has not worked well that we can learn from, you mentioned just basically getting stuck in tools and processes that are always been the way they are and they’re not really working that well, and having the inability to move away from them because of sunk costs, or because they’re just stuck in a rut and don’t have the ability to step up and look around and see what other opportunities are out there. And so you mentioned, staying on top of what’s going on in marketing. So listening to podcasts like this one and talking to people that are more on the cutting-edge are really helpful ways to do that and sort of stay abreast of what’s happening in the marketplace.

[12:30] And then for number three, what are you excited about, you mentioned the future of where things are going, that nonprofits are engaging and how they’re engaging more and more with customers and users, that platforms are now having to begin adapting to user needs and making user needs more prioritized. And that’s also making brands adapt to customer and user needs and make those needs more prioritized as well, so that we can be more customized, more targeted, more thoughtful in how we create content and campaigns so that we can do just a better quality approach all around.

Adam: [12:59] Does it sound like I did a good recap there? Did I miss anything?

Emily: [13:01] Yeah. That sounds great. Nope, that’s perfect.

Adam: [13:05] Well, that was all you. So I’m sounding good. Congratulations on that. I think this was really, really good information. Do you have any sort of final thoughts you want to share with our listeners?

Emily: [13:16] No, I think I’m just really excited to hear. I love your podcast and hearing from other people, I think it’s really great to hear. I think sometimes, we think of non-profits as like, “Oh, we’re a bit behind. We have lower resources.” But really, I think it forces a lot of innovation and creativity. So it’s great to hear from people who are also on the same wavelength and really doing great work.

Adam: [13:38] Yeah, there’s a lot of innovative non-profit marketers out there.

Emily: [13:41] There really are. Yeah.

Adam: [13:42] I try hard to be among them, but it is a real interesting adventure every day out there.

Emily: [13:50] It is. Yeah.

Adam: [13:51] That’s great. Well, Emily, thanks so much for being on the show. I’d love to have you back again sometime soon, and thanks for joining me.

Emily: [13:58] Thank you.

Adam: [14:02] Thanks for listening to the Good People, Good Marketing podcast. To get more resources about digital marketing, make sure to go to goodpeoplegoodmarketing.com where you can find more podcasts, blogs, and other fun resources. Also, if you want to find me, your host, you can find me on Twitter @ajwalker, and on my blog at adamjwalker.com where I blog about leadership, productivity, habit building, and the craziness of having five kids. Thanks, and tune in next time.

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