As an SEO I often bump into Social Media people throughout my day-to-day life. Some are educating small businesses to crawl with Social Media, others are playing the Whistle of the Pied Piper and have the attention of much larger companies. These are enjoying the financial awards of accepting Social Media as merely more than “just for teenagers”. My personal objective was to interview only Bristol based people, and this time I have asked for interviewees, and boy have I found some gems.
Thanks to Alexei, Peter and Nigel for being willing to be interviewed.
Please take a couple minutes out to read their replies.
1) When did you start getting involved with Social Media, and what principles and skills helped you get to where you are now?
Alexei Lee: My background is in the music industry, I was involved in the marketing and distribution of digital content (specifically club music) for quite a few years. Social media became increasingly important as people turned to social networks to discover new music.
Music companies have been trailblazers in the use of content to create conversation. We had no choice but to experiment with new approaches to marketing and this has given me a very grounded understanding of what does and doesn’t work in social media. There’s not really any substitute for immersing yourself and learning by doing.
Peter Kay: I have been using social media in one form or another for many years now. I was an intensive care nurse for over ten years before going it on my own in the world of business. I love people and technology so I guess I am a social geek.
Anyway, nursing in that environment provided me with many skills that I constantly draw upon today. Reading people, reading data, managing teams
and matching it all together to achieve specific goals.
Nigel Legg: I was active on forums and bulletin boards from 2001, and have had a number of blogs over the years; I progressed from there to facebook and twitter. My professional use of social media is primarily for research purposes, based on my experience working in market research.
2) When you first started using social media, did you ever consider internet marketing would become so fundamental?
Alexei Lee: The music industry was massively affected by the emergence of digital media, so I’ve always been aware of how rapidly our world is moving online and the need to keep ahead of the curve.
In terms of social media specifically, I’m constantly in awe of its potential!
Peter Kay: For me it is only an element of a wider approach.
Anyway Marketing with social media is the by product of getting everything else right. If it is the primary focus then it generally doesn’t work.
You can argue where marketing starts and finishes until the cows come home but treating social media as an advertising tool doesn’t work. The problem is that most people in my industry don’t understand this and neither do their customers. What that means is that there is a fair bit of the blind leading the blind going on.
Nigel Legg: I believe marketing has been a fundamental part of the internet from the start, and it was only natural that the new channels of social media would be used for marketing.
3) What are your favourite projects you’ve worked on?
Alexei Lee: I think my all time favourite to date has to be working on the social media campaign for Warner Bros comedy – The Hangover (during my time at HyperlaunchDMG). It’s always a joy when you get to work with amazing content and that film was hilarious, so we had no problem getting people talking. I think we had about 35,000 Facebook Fans by the end of the 3 month campaign.
We also ran a competition on YouTube where people posted videos of their ‘exploits’ on a night out. Quite a bit of moderation was needed!
Peter Kay: My favourite to date is working with the marketing team at Bath Ales. Although I also have a number of exciting projects in the pipeline at the moment that I can’t tell you about right now.
Nigel Legg: I’m unable to pick a particular one. I have assisted in producing baseline data for a number of PR campaigns, and have provided training to get a number of small business up and running with social media. I am currently interested in deeper analysis of the conversations taking place, and working on using text analysis to derive the latent concepts which occur, which can be fascinating.
4) Where do you go for inspiration?
Alexei Lee: If you mean online, then I’ve got a big list of blogs I subscribe to. But I tend to gravitate towards Mashable and Trendhunter. Twitter is a great way of discovering random things.
Peter Kay: I go amongst lots of people interacting to get inspiration. Places like the park with my boys, a cafe or the pub with my friends. Social media is after all just a mirror of these sorts of places online so I like to observe how it all fits together without the hardware.
Nigel Legg: I read a wide range of blogs and am active in a number of Market research related groups on LinkedIn, and on twitterchats. I use social media to gather my inspiration for my own blog and work in social media.
5) How do you believe the roles of Social Media and SEO should be defined?
Alexei Lee: There’s definately an overlap between the two. SEO is a consideration when developing content for social media because prominence on SERPs will naturally help drive traffic to your communities. Similarly, the ability to post content quickly and frequently on open social platforms like Twitter coupled with their high Page Rank has obvious benefits for SEO marketing. As a bit of a social media puritan though I believe the emphasis should always be to offer people something valuable, relevant and genuine to encourage conversation that will then build awareness & SEO organically.
Peter Kay: Both drive traffic BUT so what? In business it’s the bottom line that counts not the amount of hits you get.
Social media can support the bottom line of a business on so many levels that are just not immediately apparent even to many operating in this area of business.
SEO just drives traffic ;)
Nigel Legg: SEO and social media play different roles: SEO creates fast routes and sign posts to sites, while social media is a channel of communication in which all conversations are retained; it allows for far more diversity, exchange, and qualification of information. While good SEO says “go here”, social media says “you could go here, or there, or maybe you should actually be looking for this.”
Alexei Lee – React. Adapt. is a social media consultancy based in Bristol and run by Alexei Lee, a specialist with over 10 years of experience in digital content, marketing and PR. As well as providing support for local businesses, Alexei works with agencies across the UK developing and delivering social media campaigns for the consumer and business-to-business sectors.
Peter Kay – Not From Bolton is the brainchild of Peter Kay. Peter is a leading social media consultant based in Bristol.
His approach is somewhat different to the vast majority of involved in his new sector as he works with businesses to enable them to integrate social media into their processes. The reason he operates like this is that he understands that the real power of these applications are only fully realised when they are in the hands of the business they relate to.
Think the fishing analogy. If you give a man a fish he eats for one day, if you teach him how to fish he eats every day.
Peter works with a number of high profile companies here in the South West region and increasingly he is in demand across the whole of the UK.
Nigel Legg – Trevanian Legg Ltd provide social media research services. Data is collected from across the web, and then analysed using sophisticated text analysis tools, to provide deep insight on either an ad hoc or tracking basis of the opinions and attitudes towards companies or brands.
Very interesting interview, it’s nice to read different views on social media from experts in the field.
It certainly makes you think about approaching social media differently and how you can use it better.