Zach Braiker is the CEO of Refine and Focus a digital media agency with deep expertise in online advertising, digital strategy and social media. His firm has worked with clients as diverse as Clear Channel Radio, HipCricket and Broadmark Capital. A frequent contributor to marketing and media industry panels and event I wanted to get Zach’s take on social media and glean some advice we can all put to use.
What does your firm do?
refine+ focus develops and implements comprehensive social media strategies for brands that map to their business goals. We’ve used social media tools to grow businesses, help clients’ understand their customers, industry, competition, effectively brand within niche markets, enhance and extend their sales and marketing strategy. And, we always share our enthusiasm for the tools we use and the opportunities they present to our clients.
Why is social media so hot for marketers? Does it represent a cheaper way to acquire customers?
Social media is hot for many reasons. First, the growth of social networks is impossible to ignore. With 200+ Million on Facebook, 32 + Million on Twitter, marketers feel remiss for not having a strategy. For many, it’s the fear of non-participation which motivates their involvement. Secondarily, many social networks are exciting places for brands in the sense that opinion leaders and taste makers are more easily recognized and powerful ideas are frequently shared. Third, marketers are seeing the value of social networks in real, “non” theoretical ways.
Developing a collaboration with colleagues around the world, having access to cutting edge ideas and thinking, and participating in real conversations with prospects and current customers are among the benefits savvy marketers enjoy. Is it a cheaper way to acquire customers? No, it’s not. Why because it’s a commitment. It’s a commitment to consistently adding value to a conversation, not about your products or services, but rather about the ideas and the problems impacting your customer. Sometimes, this materializes into sales immediately when you are perceived as a trusted resource. And other times, near term sales do not result. However, my professional belief is that social media provides a unique way for businesses to help their customers make better decisions.
Can you share an example of a client using social media in a smart way?
We are working with Dancing Deer Baking Company (www.dancingdeer.com). Recently, Trish Karter, their CEO, rode her bike 1,500 miles to raise awareness for family homelessness. Refine+focus developed their social media strategy and implemented it on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter (@dancingdeer) and their corporate blog. The campaign positioned Dancing Deer responsibly and effectively to the social media community.
What about a lame business move with social media?
Not having enough background and a clear set of goals. Once a client understands how the tools work, we all can be on the same team. For instance, “do we want to grow our Twitter followers 10x or more deeply engage the current followers we have? Can we do both?” Conversations like these we can, and should have, once we’re all on the same page.
It seems like half the half the people following me on Twitter want to sell me something....many of them want to sell me tips on how to be successful using Twitter. Can you save me some money and share your top tips right here?
I’m glad to. We’re all about helping people be more successful.
• Accounts with photos attract more followers than those without
• Photos of people usually attract more followers than logos
• One of the most important aspects of your twitter account is your name. If your name contains a term you want to associate with, like “luxury” or “advertising,” it’s a lot easier to build followers who share that interest.
• Clever names take more work. If I called my Twitter account “SocialMediaTrends,” rather than “QuiverandQuill” I think it would have taken off much faster. If you don’t believe this, open as second account and try it out.
• Don’t just share links to articles. It makes you look like a robot. Add your opinion, your distinct, human voice.
• Twitter takes time. I think this point is somewhat deceiving. On the one hand Twitter is all about what you are doing “right now.” It is the consistency of what you write over time and how deeply it resonates with followers that form the meaningful connections that make twitter worthwhile.
• Understand what you want from Twitter. I personally enjoy speaking to people I meet on Twitter on the phone or in person. So, I follow people I want to meet. And, very often, I meet them.
• Twitter may not immediately make sense. It’s good to touch base with a friend, a colleague, an intern as you start your account. You should read this NY Times piece for a basic understanding of why Twitter is important:
• Anyone can start an account, sustaining it can be challenging. This is especially true for a business.
• Think of Twitter like learning a new language before you travel to a different country. Once you learn it, you get to order off a different, “non-tourist” menu. And I think you’ll like it.
How do you stay Smart?
Students. We have five interns, ranging from undergrads to MBA students. And every Wednesday night we buy them dinner, review case studies and trends. I’m teaching a social media class at Emerson College next semester and am looking forward to the students keeping me on my toes. I go to many events, about 2 a week, ranging from unconferences at MIT to informal Boston tweet ups. And, of course, Twitter. As a general rule, I try to surround myself with great teachers. Finally, I started a social club bringing bright people together in Boston every 6 weeks for dinner. If you’re ever in Boston, be sure to come by.