Lilach Bullock is one of the world’s foremost experts on social media marketing for small businesses.
Named on two Forbes Influencer lists, she has been helping companies thrive on social for more than a decade and describes herself as a “one-women hurricane”.
The winner of multiple industry awards and successful author, Lilach’s main talent is helping businesses grow their web traffic – she aims to double it in 30 days.
Here she offers expert advice to SMEs looking to boost their social media presence and grow their business in the process…
Could you please tell us a little bit about your career to date – particularly how you went from being an early adopter of social media to being named on two Forbes’ Top 50 Influencer lists?
I started my career back in 2006. At first it was an attempt to find a way to spend more time with my then one-year-old daughter, but then it turned into a real passion for all things social media and digital marketing. I worked a lot directly with clients and I noticed a big need for social media marketing, so since I was already an avid user of Facebook and Twitter, I decided to look into it and start helping businesses to manage their social media.
I particularly fell in love with Twitter and that love hasn’t stopped to this day. My growth on Twitter, to the point where I was named in Forbes’ top 20 influencers list, was very organic. In the beginning because I loved using it, and as time went on because it became a great source for promoting my blogs and even for finding clients.
When social media first appeared, it took a lot of brands and PR agencies a while to figure out how to utilise it. How did you know it was going to be so huge?
Since the internet became popular and more available world-wide, people have always looked for ways of communicating with each other online. I don’t know how many of you remember, but before Facebook and Twitter came on the market there were a lot of other social networks that were quite popular, although I can’t even remember their names now! But they were only popular in certain countries or with certain groups of people; when Facebook arrived and I started working with social media, it was clear this was the social network that would take things mainstream and was here to stay. From there my thinking was pretty straightforward: if that’s where people are spending their time, then that’s where businesses should be if they want to be seen.
At the time, I think that many brands and PR agencies just didn’t understand that social media was the future. Although the internet had been a big part of our collective lives for some time already, it was still somehow seen as a fad.
There is so much content being shared on social media now, what tips would you have to make your content stand out from the crowd?
It’s so true, it’s increasingly difficult to make your content stand out. Honestly, I think that there are two important elements to a successful piece of content: quality and who you know.
Your content needs to provide value to your audience; that’s a given. That value can be educational, it can be entertaining, it can be anything you want – it just needs to be what your audience wants or needs. Ideally I would recommend that you simply test different types of content to see what your audience wants – there’s no universal formula that will work for everyone!
Because there’s so much competition, I think that currently one of the best ways of getting more eyeballs on your content is a matter of getting your content shared by the right people. That’s why influencer marketing is so big right now – there’s just too much noise, and influencers offer a great shortcut to social media visibility and engagement. But you also need quality – otherwise, no influencer will want to share your stuff!
What would your advice be for businesses looking to start measuring their results on social… where’s the best place to start?
The best place to start is to set very, very clear goals. The more specific you are, the better. Only by establishing a goal can you start measuring your results, as you will know exactly which metrics to focus on.
For example, if you want to get more traffic from Twitter, don’t set your goal as something general like ‘get more traffic from Twitter’. Be specific, like ‘increase my Twitter traffic by 20 per cent over the next month’. Then you’ll know exactly what to measure and for what period of time. Try to set measurable goals that are realistic in terms of results and deadline. From there it’s much easier to figure out which KPIs will help you determine your social media success.
In your view, what are the most important metrics in terms of measuring social ROI?
Again, that depends a lot on what your overall goals are from social media. That being said, I think that engagement metrics are extremely important. Sure, they don’t exactly bring in any revenue directly, but when engagement is high that usually also means many of your other KPIs are also higher. For example, if a lot of people share and retweet your content, then it’s much more likely that you’re also getting more clicks and traffic and that you’re reaching a larger audience.
Video and chatbots were two of the break-out trends of 2016. Is it essential for SMEs to fit both into their social strategies?
Not necessarily regarding chatbots, but I think it depends a lot on what type of business you’re in. I think that it makes for a great bonus feature that makes your customers’ lives easier, but it’s not yet something that customers necessarily expect. When it comes to big brands, it’s a bit different – but smaller businesses might be better off investing in video first before chatbots.
I would definitely recommend video, though, to any type of SME no matter the industry. Video is huge right now on social media, but it’s also great for promoting your products or services and for using on your website and landing pages to improve your conversion rate.
Advertising on social can be daunting for companies who haven’t yet tried it. What advice would you have for them?
Start small – pick a social network that you know well and that you have the most fans or followers on, and start experimenting with different types of ads and use a small budget to start with.
First, establish what your goals are so that you can decide what ads will help you achieve that goal. Then, create a few different variations for your ad to see which one performs the best. The targeting feature is probably the best part about social media ads – make sure to spend some time on this and really think of what type of audience you want to reach.
There is a wealth of tools out there to help brands manage their social media activity. Do you have any favourites?
Oh yes, I love trying out tools. My favourite management tool and the one I use the most on a daily basis is Agorapulse. It’s a social media management tool, but it also has monitoring features, a CRM tool, reporting features and much more. MeetEdgar is good for scheduling updates to social media, and Brand24 for social media monitoring and analytics.
Influencer marketing can pay dividends if done properly. How can businesses go about establishing a solid social influencer strategy?
Again, I want to mention the importance of setting goals. Think about what you want to achieve by using social influencers – more engagement on social media, more followers? More traffic to your website? Increased brand awareness?
Then start adding relevant influencers to your list – the more, the better. When you research influencers you need to look beyond follower numbers. A person might have hundreds of thousands of social media followers, but if they aren’t engaging much then that person isn’t much of an influencer. That’s why sometimes a smaller influencer with less than 100k followers but who engage daily can bring in more results than an influencer with one million followers but who rarely engage organically. Focus your attention on influencers with an engaged community and that can also help you achieve your specific goals.
Once you’ve identified influencers, start building relationships with them. Follow them, engage with them on social media, their website and whatever other platform you can. This can take some time, but it will help you in the long run to have these relationships, as they can be mutually beneficial.
Is it essential for brands to have a presence on all social platforms? Or are some more important than others depending on the target audience?
It’s best to only focus on as much as you can handle; if you can realistically manage multiple social networks, go for it. But if you don’t have the time it’s more damaging than helpful to have profiles on multiple social networks. Pick one where your audience is and where you’re already getting the best results.
Can you give examples of brands that, in your view, are doing a great job on social?
Oh yes, I’ve got quite a few favourites! One of them is General Electric – they’ve been consistently great at social media for years now, particularly with the images they share on Instagram. What should be a very boring brand is actually very successful on social media and constantly getting plenty of shares, likes and comments.
Domino’s are another great example of social media done right because of how integrated their whole strategy is. They managed to take things to the next level by including things like the Messenger chatbot to easily order directly within the popular app or the click-to-order to feature.
Finally, Lilach, do you have any predictions on where social media is heading in the coming years?
I don’t know what new social networks will pop up and take the world by storm in the coming years (and then likely disappear just as swiftly as they appeared!), but I think that one of the things we will definitely be seeing more of is a better integration between social media and other channels. There will be more and more businesses selling directly on social networks, more chatbots and more integrations between social media and the real world.
To find out more about Lilach visit her website.