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We recently caught up with Akhil Suchak, head of social media at media giant Bauer Media, who let us in on his processes for success.
Define your Priorities
I believe strongly in a prioritization process. Know what’s worth the most to your business and give levels of importance to the tasks ahead. I always say ‘there’s a difference between being busy and being productive.’
In my days at MTV, we decided to capitalize on the volume of ‘fandom’ conversation on Twitter and our authority in the music space by partnering with Spredfast to launch Twitter voting. We created 360 campaigns called #MTVHottest and shortly after that #MTVStars, now both widely recognized as some of the biggest hashtags on Twitter, period.
The idea was simple and showed how a carefully thought-out digital strategy can snowball into something huge. Too often, people believe in trying to bring an audience to their platform when you can partner with exciting platforms with huge success.
An example of being current is, very recently (Sep 2015) at Bauer via the Grazia UK brand, we partnered with Periscope to bring fashion lovers a video diary direct from London Fashion Week.
This allowed users to get close to some of their fashion icons, influencers, and designers and see what happens from a backstage position. The key is knowing what the audience has an interest in and tailoring strategies to reflect this. This way, you know that you will have natural traction. Everybody is after a share of the consumer, so you need to always look for innovative ways to connect with an audience that is very digital-savvy.
Social media and digital as a whole is ever-changing, so I always like to ensure that we’re across new platforms and innovation. Sometimes, a simple test can lead to wider deployment. Things like Snapchat Discover and Facebook’s Live Video are superb recent additions and, in their own ways, reiterate how important content is. For me, content and social are one and the same, and you’ll generally find that someone who truly gets social, the importance of sharing and data, will be a solid content lead.
What are the biggest challenges you face as the head of social at radio/print/offline publisher?
The challenges in the digital world are ever-changing, so it’s important to stay close to trends, opportunities, and threats. There are always plenty of brands vying for the consumer’s attention, and so leading the way with innovation, data trends, and content is always a key objective. One of the biggest challenges is ensuring visibility for your content in an increasingly saturated landscape. As a publisher, you need to tailor your content, making it unique and digestible. Going back to what I said earlier, use data to make smarter publishing decisions.
How do you quantify the value of social in your business?
As we all know, social is hugely valuable, not just in driving traffic to platforms, but also as a brand amplifier. It’s really important to use data to measure the impact of social and communicate metrics such as referral rates and engagement rates. Imagine life without social and how much you would need to spend to get that number of eyeballs on your products. If you work in social, don’t be known simply as someone who tweets all day… show the actual value of what traffic and engagement you are driving! While most social tools measuring insight don’t offer you anything groundbreaking, there are a select few that really can bring big value to the table.
Most of your publications generate ad revenue from CPM sales– how can you go beyond CPMs for advertisers?
It’s important to evolve, and here at Bauer, we are constantly looking for ways to develop our commercial packages to reflect changing client requirements. Social inclusion is now key to commercial campaigns, but users don’t want to have products promoted to them they don’t care about.
Always think with your audience in mind and look to complement display with solutions that users will engage with. We’re increasingly focused on native content and social interactive platforms to boost interaction and virality.
Is Facebook Articles a threat or an aid to publishers?
Personally, I don’t see Facebook articles as a threat but more-so a complementary platform which enables publishers to extend their readership. Facebook has a huge potential reach that can be turned into fans for brands, so long as publishers think with that in mind, it should actually boost numbers. That being said, it’s always important to get the right balance in your publishing strategy, so pilot and scale is always a sensible approach to test effectiveness.
What’s been your biggest success in social so far and why?
I’ve been involved in a number of things I’m proud of. Over the years, I have grown multiple highly engaged massive online communities and, more importantly, ensured they have had an impact on driving awareness, sales, and traffic. In my previous role at MTV, I was involved in launching #MTVHottest and key show social media like Geordie Shore, and I assisted in MTV EMA strategies. Although I’m new to my role at Bauer, you’ll see social media feature a lot more across products and brands with data and innovation at the heart of what we do.
How about failure?
Like many things, social is about trial and error. I believe in positivity so either ‘you win or you learn.’ There are times when you expect a campaign or a strategy to deliver more, but you learn to adapt in the process. People always wait ‘til the end of a campaign to make a judgment when they’d be better off monitoring closely and trying to adjust ‘in-flight’. With social being a mouthpiece for brands, sadly, things do go wrong, so monitor and listen – the key is to be reactive.
Some simple key points to remember – use this as a checklist, which we love to do:
-Learn as much as you can by reading articles (such as this one).
-Define clear objectives.
-Include the right stakeholders and departments from the start.
-Use data & insight to know your audience.
-Choose your platforms based on the demographics.
-Set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and go get it!
Are you simply being busy, or are you being productive?