#3 Growing an agency & social media for business with Clare Groombridge
From growing up in a zoo, studying ancient history, becoming an air hostess, training as a paralegal and then launching a leading Social Media agency whilst on maternity leave, Clare Groombridge has a number of strings to her bow.
Founder of South Coast Social, a results-driven social media agency in Bournemouth & London, we delve into Clare’s experience of growing an agency, her top tips on using social media for business and her love of the 80’s American action drama: “Top Gun.”
This episode of The 10th Degree covers:
Growing your business through freelancers or employees
Learning to delegate as your business accelerates
Identifying yourself as an entrepreneur
The steps to launching a successful social media campaign
Top tips and tricks on using social media for business including: being authentic, picking your networks, algorithms, paid vs organic content and creating controversy.
“Because social media is so fast paced and changes so rapidly it’s one of those sectors that you have to keep on top of. We’ll come in one morning and find that the Facebook algorithm has changed and suddenly none of our campaigns are working. You don’t want to waste valuable cash as a start-up on faulty campaigns.”
“An entrepreneur is somebody who sees an opportunity, has the belief that they’re the person to fulfil that opportunity and decides that they’re really going to make a go of it despite the risk involved. It’s not always the sensible thing to do.”
“One of the key things with social media is to define your objectives before starting. Why are you doing this and what do you want to gain from this? It might change over time. For example, you may want to drive physical footfall to an event or into a shop. You might want someone to take action online, for example go to a website or sign up to something or you might just be trying to raise brand awareness.”
“No one knows a brand better than their internal team, so often they know how they want to be heard and their messaging. However they need support with the technical side, such as when to share, on what platform, what time and with what hashtags. How to structure their post, how to boost it and where to boost it for example. That is the side most businesses struggle with.”
“We often help B2B brands find a fun niche for social media. For example, we have an accountancy client who also works on a lifeboat. So we really push the idea of “life saving accountants” and “when he’s not doing your books he’s out saving lives at sea”. Those posts are extremely popular because it shows a human, relatable and humorous side to his business rather than “we can help you with your tax return” which makes people switch off.”
"Pick your networks wisely and do them well. iIt's far better just to have a presence on one social media network if you're going to do it really well, and it's relevant to your audience and it enables you to get your brand messaging across and you're really going to nail it. It's so much better to do that, than have a scattergun approach of all of them.”
“I try and get clients to look at Facebook advertising, for example, in the same bracket that they would look at spending on AdWords and SEO. They wouldn't be surprised if we put in AdWords campaign and they've got to pay for it. It's about putting Facebook in that same bracket. It's a formidable advertising network and you can target so precisely, like you can on almost no other advertising medium, but you obviously have to pay for the privilege of doing that."
Anthony Story 00:00
So I'm here with Clare Groombridge, and you're the founder of South Coast Social?
Clare Groombridge 00:28
Yes, I am.
Anthony Story 00:29
So you're an expert in social media. But you're also an entrepreneur in your own right.
Clare Groombridge 00:34
Anthony Story 00:35
So when I first met you, which is a few years ago now, it was just you and maybe one other person, how many people do you employ now?
Clare Groombridge 00:43
So now they're are six of us in the team, but we are always working with freelancers as well, so sometimes it seems like there's a lot more of us than there actually is.
Anthony Story 00:50
So you eb and flow in terms of how many people and do you fit them all in the office or the work remotely?
Clare Groombridge 00:55
Well we do all fit in our office. We've got a lovely office space up in The Triangle in Bournemouth, and yes freelancers operate remotely. We also work with photographers and videographers as well. So they'll either meet us out with clients, or they'll come into the office to work on projects with us as well.
Anthony Story 01:13
How do you find working with freelancers? What's that like trying to bring them in to make sure that they actually do what you want them to do, and that they adopt the values of the company?
Clare Groombridge 01:25
It's been a gradual process, I would say. So obviously, when the company started out, it was just myself, and we grew to the point where I couldn't do it any more without needing a little bit of sleep. So then using freelancers was kind of the obvious way to go because being a small business it meant we didn't necessarily have the overheads of employing someone and pensions and payroll and everything like that. And at that point, they were working remotely. Then we ended up moving into our first office space. Then they started working with me in the office space. And at that point, I think we're at about two or three freelancers. But it's always been very much my intention to grow the company as a little family almost, which is what we are now. And so having employed staff has always been quite important to me, because then you really, get that feeling of team. Freelancer naturally, are working for themselves, so it's more of their agenda than the company's agenda. "Singing from the same hymn sheet" is such a cliche, but it's that kind thing really. So then came the first employee, then a second and then the third. And we just kept growing then, moved office to accommodate them all, and now there's six of us.
Anthony Story 02:51
What was it like when you hired your first employee?
Clare Groombridge 02:55
Nerve racking! Employing has always been something that I take very seriously. We've had people that have left really great jobs in London to move down and work for us. People that have left University, and we've been their first full time employment. We've got mums - I'm a mum - so I'm very much about helping mums back into the workplace as well. So we've got kind of a real mix. But yeah, it can be nerve wracking, and I think it's something as an employer you want to get right, especially if you've got a small team, because they've got to fit in and we've all got to get on well. Although everyone brings a different skill set to the table having that kind of togetherness as a group is really important.
Anthony Story 03:44
But that first employee, suddenly it changes the dynamic, suddenly, you have to misquote somebody -"great responsibility."
Clare Groombridge 03:51
Yeah that's true. I think for me, that wasn't quite so terrifying as I have managed teams before. I think technically, there's a lots of changes to how a company works such as looking at payroll, pensions, business insurance - all the fun stuff that comes with employing someone. I think once you've employed your first person, it doesn't really then make much difference as you keep adding to the team aside from the costs going up. But yeah it can be a challenge. I think it's a decision you've definitely got to get right.
Anthony Story 04:29
And what about for you? What's been the change for you in terms of your role in the company?
Clare Groombridge 04:39
I think it's evolved over time. I've always been notoriously bad at letting things go. It's really not my strong point. But, again, it's something I've had to learn to do. We've got such an amazing team, and I've been very lucky ready to have that support from them. My role has evolved as we've grown, we now have a "Head of Brand" in place. So she, alongside her account management role, has taken a lot from me in terms of looking after new business and networking. We also just promoted one of the team to senior Social Media Manager. So she's very much in charge of the top level social media strategy and advertising strategy on Facebook and Instagram, so those are two elements of my job I was overseeing with the rest of the team and they've been able to help out and take them off me.
Anthony Story 05:32
Can we take a step back and just explain what the company does and what's the breadth of the work that you do?
Clare Groombridge 05:39
So we are a specialist digital agency, and we just specialise in social media, which is what we've always done and we've been fairly doggedly down that path from the start. If you're not familiar with the agency landscape, there are a lot of full service digital agencies that essentially do everything, such as website design, development, SEO, pay per click advertising, copywriting, maybe they'll do some social as well. And then there's the specialist agencies like ours who will maybe just do SEO or they'll just do paid advertising. Maybe they're just the web developer. So we went down that route, very early doors. And we just do social media. But within that we do strategy, management of clients social media accounts, which is the main "bread and butter" of what we do. That includes content creation, sourcing and creating imagery, video content, writing the content to go with that, and the community management side so responding to messages and questions. We do more and more paid advertising. It used to be a little bit of an add on for our clients but now most of our clients incorporate it in some way. And also we do some social media training as well. So we've recently launched our new social media workshops for those clients that do want to still do their own social media, but really want some guidance and advice on how to do it. That's something that we felt was missing as they're quite bespoke as they're just one to one.
Anthony Story 07:18
So you've got quite a focused, agency, you've restricted what you're trying to do. You're not trying to be all things to all people. But even within that, that seems to be expanding and changing?
Clare Groombridge 07:29
Yeah, I think that's the nature of social media. We always have to stay on top of all of what we do, because, we'll come in one morning and find that the Facebook algorithm's changed. And suddenly half of our campaigns aren't working. So I think with social media, because it's so fast paced, and because it changes so rapidly, it's one of those sectors that you do need to keep on top of really.
Anthony Story 08:00
So I think there's loads of stuff you've just mentioned that, we will definitely drill into as we go on, and that's gonna be really interesting. But I was just thinking from when we first met to now, which has been a few years, a few words which spring up when I think about the "Clare Groombridge experience" are driven, passionate, committed and really helpful.
Clare Groombridge 08:27
Lovely, I'll take that. Thank you. Let's just end it here shall we? Good night, thank you very much!
Anthony Story 08:37
Haha! But you didn't start out to do social media did you? You had some marketing experience? I want to discuss "way back when" and come to come to the vision of when you knew what you wanted to do. But I've got to touch on one thing first - did you grow up in a zoo?
Clare Groombridge 09:01
Gosh, yes I did. I grew up in a zoo. Yeah, you can insert any joke in here, I've probably heard it.
Anthony Story 09:08
Actually I'm just intrigued! Where was this?
Clare Groombridge 09:22
My dad was the curator of Marwell Zoo, so we lived on site because he was in charge of the animal management there. And my mom actually works on the horticultural side as well, on the tropical rainforest plants. So literally, I grew up there, I was born there and I lived there until I moved out aged 18. My dad retired a few years back, so they live don't there anymore. So I really did grow up in a zoo.
Anthony Story 09:53
So how do you go from that amazing environment where you're growing up so much stimulus around you to knowing that you want to be an entrepreneur, to following a different background to your parents to deciding that social media is the path? How did you get there? Because you studied history as well, didn't you?
Clare Groombridge 10:19
Yes, it does sound really random. I do have focus! Yes. I've had a few different career incarnations. I was also an air hostess for four years.
Anthony Story 10:37
Clare Groombridge 10:38
Flybe, I worked for them for four years. Also trained as a Paralegal as well. And within that did a degree with the Open University in history, there's been alot!
Anthony Story 10:52
This is a very clearly crafted career progression.
Clare Groombridge 10:55
Clearly, yeah, "don't do what I did kids"!.
Anthony Story 10:59
But I think, isn't that interesting? Isn't that brilliant? The fact that that you've got to be this person. You're somebody who's clearly interested in lots of different things but ultimately, you want to try things out. You've looked here, you've looked there, you've decided that you don't feel that you have to stay in one particular area. You've got the freedom and that passion and that drive to go "Okay, that doesn't necessarily work for me, let's go off and try something else."
Clare Groombridge 11:36
Yeah, definitely. So during the incarnation before South Coast Social, I was the marketing manager for an outdoor media company who had offices in London and advertised across the UK. That was where social media came from really because I did their social and they were very B2B. I really grew it to the point where it was just becoming a real success for them, even though it was something that they never really saw as valid. At the time, there just weren't that many purely social media agencies, locally, certainly, and even, across the country in London, it wasn't so much of a thing five or six years ago. And because it was, again, a bit of a kind of dark art, pages for Facebook and for brands hadn't even been launched then so it wasn't something that a lot of people knew how to do. And anyone that did was kind of learning as they went. And the seed kind of formed then for having an agency or a group of people or maybe just me that that could plug into these businesses as a social media specialist. I always loved social media and the capabilities of it for brands and how it how it was evolving so fast. So the idea was always there. I think the entrepreneurs tag is a funny one because I guess that's what I am now, but I suppose I wouldn't put myself in that bracket because I think for me an entrepreneur is a person that buys and sells a lot of companies. I'm obviously very much learning on the job with that one. So, although I've got vast experience in the marketing social media sphere, this is obviously the first company that I've built and grown and nurtured. So a lot of it is learning from other people. I think I've totally gone off on a tangent...
Anthony Story 12:25
A bit like your career really?
Clare Groombridge 13:37
Anthony Story 13:40
But absolutely an entrepreneur is somebody who's prepared to put their head sort of above the parapet and also someone who 1) see's an opportunity 2) has the belief that they're the person to fulfil that opportunity and 3) decides that they're really going to make a go of it despite the risk involved. It's not always the sensible thing to do is it? Especially when you start hiring people.
Clare Groombridge 14:05
Yeah, it was really risky, I left a great job, and a great team. I just had a baby as well - so obviously, the logical thing to do when you've got a very young baby is to start a business on your maternity leave! That was when South Coast Social was first born, along with my daughter, and having the time of not being in employment while looking after her was an opportunity to start putting things down on paper and create a vision of where I saw the company going. And then when I resigned from my job, actually, they became they became our first client, which was quite nice because we literally then launched with a with a lovely new client. And it just went from there really. But the first year is hard and it is always a risk.
Anthony Story 15:01
So when you first get together with a client, how do you plan a social media campaign?
Clare Groombridge 15:21
Generally, the first thing when an enquiry comes in to meet with us the first time is finding out what they want their social media to do. Because literally everything else that we do on a campaign comes back to that. And it's usually one of a couple of things. It's either they want to drive physical footfalls, or they want people to go somewhere and do something - visit a pub, go to an event, that kind of thing. Or they want people to do something online so they want to go to a website, they want someone to sign up for some thing. So you're looking to drive traffic. Or the third main one is they just want to build brand awareness. They want to reach people that haven't heard from them, and educate them on who they are. And they also want to engage more with the people that have heard of them, but engaging on a Facebook page and are just kind of sitting there. So they, usually want to use social media to do one of these three things. It's down to us to help them to tease out how we can do that.
Anthony Story 16:23
So the first thing is really trying to define objectives, why are you doing this? What do you want to get from this? And that might change over time?
Clare Groombridge 16:30
Yeah, especially as brands grow and evolve. Some of the brands that we work with, we've been there from the start, and we've seen them grow and and their objectives has changed. Maybe they started out with, one shop or two shops, now they've got 20, and it does sort of change. I think, advertising as well has really changed the social media landscape. So for a lot of brands, it's about explaining that to them. Especially maybe those that have been around the good old Facebook page days, when you didn't have to pay for anything and just great organic content was enough to get you seen. So usually one of the other first parts of a campaign is explaining that process.
Anthony Story 17:09
So once you've defined what the objectives are, what's the next step? Is it then working out what messages you want to say? Or is it about defining about what channels you want to use? How do you decide which networks are going to be right?
Clare Groombridge 17:20
Yeah, so both really. It generally depends at what stage the clients already at. So, sometimes we'll have brands come to us and they've got an established social media presence, and everything's all set up and it's running, but maybe it's just not working correctly and people aren't doing what they want to be them to be doing. Or we'll have brands come at the start of their journey, so they maybe don't have any social media presence at all, nothing set up. It would then be a case of looking at the most appropriate social networks and what's going to work for them to help with those objectives. So yeah, it's probably a combination of looking at the networks first and then combining that with the right messaging to make sure what we do works.
Anthony Story 17:20
How do you decide which networks are going to be right?
Clare Groombridge 18:09
It goes back to the objectives and the brand themselves to some extent. In a very visually, beautiful brand, which has got a really lovely bank of photography or video content, the really visual networks of Instagram or Pinterest would be perfect for them. If they want to drive traffic, then Facebook is still really relevant for concentrated advertising campaigns. And Pinterest as well can be a great, surprising driver of traffic. If they're very B2B, then we'd be looking at something like LinkedIn, we see really, really good results from that. But, maybe teaching them more how to use their personal LinkedIn and incorporate that with a company page. So yeah, it really does depend on on the brand and their sector.
Anthony Story 18:58
So you've got the company, you've got the objectives, you've got a lot of social channels, how do you determine what the message is that you've got to try and communicate? Is it easy?
Clare Groombridge 19:13
Well, sometimes that's brand led. So sometimes they will come to us if they have a marketing department in place and they'll have quite a coherent brand message already set. So they know what they want to say and how they want to be saying it. It's just the technicality of how they get it heard that they want help with.
Anthony Story 19:32
Are they normally right or do you sometimes have to correct them?
Clare Groombridge 19:38
No one knows a brand better than the brand's team, so generally in terms of messaging, they know how they want to be heard. Sometimes it's just a case of how to position it or add visual content as well. It's something that we tend to be able to add value on if a brand's not really used to selling themselves on social media. A lot of it is the technical side though, so they'll have the message, but it's a case of when to share it on what platform, what time, with what hashtags, how do they structure their post, if they're going to boost it how do they boost - that is the side that I think a lot of businesses struggle with.
Anthony Story 20:21
We hear quite a lot about authenticity and the idea that your social campaign must be very authentic. So I was just wondering, is authenticity the same as brand? Is it different? So let's take the scenario of "I sell jelly sweets". So the actual product and the authenticity is it: "if you have too many they're likely to rot your teeth and give you a sugar rush." But none of that's portrayed in the advert or in the brand, it's all about "It's fun. It's nice." It's the happy moments of the sugar rush that we're looking at not the downside. But if you're going to be authentic, how do you become authentic? Is it that you then focus on the brand? Or do you try and flip that around a little bit and then talk about something different like childcare? Would you as a brand do something which is tangential from what your actual main product is, in order to show that you care for the people who you're trying to sell to?
Clare Groombridge 21:31
Authenticity comes down to how you position your message as well as what you want to say. "Innocent Smoothies" is a great example and a great leader in social media.
Anthony Story 21:49
What makes them a leader?
Clare Groombridge 21:50
I think everything really - their content, is fun, is educational, is quite quirky as well. They did a campaign for the little knitted hats on top of the bottles. And I think they've got a really lovely tone of voice, which is something we often have to cultivate for a lot of the brands that we work with. And I think that's a real part of authenticity, is having that and making sure that you try to stay true to that on social, but then on all other marketing platforms as well, because, social media shouldn't stand by itself. It should be working in line with, with your Google ads and with your website and all the other kind of bits of marketing material you put together.
Anthony Story 22:29
So do you see that as being kind of part of your job? So if you take Innocent Smoothies, and you've got something like knitting woolly hats, that's great, but that's got nothing to do with the product per se. And someone, somewhere has been in a room brainstorming and they're thinking, "oh, oh, woolly hats, that's it!" Then the social comes in, in terms of, okay, well, we have to kind of get people to buy into this idea. Do you as an agency, try and come up with those original ideas?
Clare Groombridge 23:00
Very much so, we try and be as involved with brands as we can in that sort of perspective. So if it is a case of coming up with some campaign ideas or kind of something quirky or fun or unique that they want to do, we like to support them if that's something they've come up with internally. Or sometimes it is a case of if you've got a very B2B brand it's about how can we make it fun? Even if it's something like a charity that they support. We've got an accountancy client for example, he also works on lifeboat so some of the most engaging and popular content is actually been around that, and we make a bit of a play about "life saving accountants" and so when he's not doing your books, he's out saving lives at sea. And those posts are so so popular because they just show a really human side to his business and it's a very successful business. It's that that people love and that draws people in, and gets people talking. And it shows that they're a fun brand and they care. And yeah, obviously that they're selling accountancy services. But no one wants to read "we can do your tax return", "we can do your VAT return", "Have you done your bookkeeping?". They're the kind of posts that make people switch off so it's finding those nice little kind of niches and finding the quirky little stories that really help people stand out online. And I think that's kind of the same as what "Innocent Smoothies" are doing, but just obviously on a much bigger scale.
Anthony Story 24:34
Do those ideas really work? For somebody who's thinking about putting together a social campaign, you're suggesting that actually don't talk about the product that much - the products not that interesting, you've got to come up with something else?
Clare Groombridge 24:53
Yeah, you never want to be overly salesy. Of course you want to showcase your products in some way. But yeah, people are getting more and more savvy online. And obviously, your content that you share on social media is mostly seen on a news feed. So when people are scrolling down, assuming they're not actually on your page, you need something that's going to be eye catching, and it's going to be part of maybe an overall campaign, or it's going to get people talking, or it's got to be relevant or seasonal or current, or about something that's trending. Just kind of constantly selling your services, is boring, quite frankly, and people are going to get wise to it and will switch off. So it's about having those kind of fun messages in the way that you position yourself.
Anthony Story 25:39
What do you think about those almost "passive aggressive" posts on let's say LinkedIn, where you've got somebody going, "Hey, you know, isn't this really good?" But really, what they're saying is, "Hey, aren't we really good?"
Clare Groombridge 25:52
Anthony Story 25:54
Yeah, but it's not even clickbait. It's more just the fact that "Oh, congratulations to this award ceremony, because we just won an award!" Those sort of things which essentially are trying to project into a bigger world but really it's all about me. Should it all be about you?
Clare Groombridge 26:19
I think LinkedIn is slightly different, if you're using it for your personal brand as I think then it's okay to be a little bit about you, because obviously people want to hear about you but again, it should be more about offering your opinion on something. So, if you're talking about an award show, why is it interesting? Why did you go? Why did you enter? Why do you think you won and why do you think you didn't win? It's having your personal opinion on it that helps. And LinkedIn is very much about engagement. So as soon as people start commenting on a post, that immediately rockets you up their algorithm. So a lot of the time if you want your post to be seen something like a little bit controversial that is going to get people talking will do that. And it'll have that effect, which is exactly why people do it
Anthony Story 27:06
Because there aren't really enough tweets or Linked In posts which are saying "utterly gutted, that we didn't win. Can't believe those bunch of idiots actually won!", do you think that would work more?
Clare Groombridge 27:22
Yeah, it probably would have a humorous element! Obviously, LinkedIn is a business professionals network, essentially, so maybe people are quite a bit more filtered with what they say on there, for example, than they might on their personal Facebook. I think the more you can give away of yourself the better. It comes back to the authenticity and I think if you've got that likability then definitely, and if you can be a little bit tongue in cheek or just kind of showcase another side to what you do that's always good.
Anthony Story 27:56
So I've got something else I want to throw in because I've got a sneaking suspicion that you've got a bit of a passion for Top Gun quotes?
Clare Groombridge 28:05
Oh god. You're going to ask me that now I won't be able to think of a single Top Gun quote.
Anthony Story 28:11
That's alright, I've done the hard work for you. I'm gonna throw in some Top Gun quotes and you've got to be able to tell me who says it.
Clare Groombridge 28:22
Oh no don't do that to me!
Anthony Story 28:25
Yeah, and then, and then I'm gonna have a really serious question to follow afterwards.
Clare Groombridge 28:30
Anthony Story 28:32
Okay, so who says "You're everyone's problem. That's because every time you go up in the air, you're unsafe. I don't like you because you're dangerous."
Clare Groombridge 28:42
Oh, gosh. Uh, the girl? No? Oh, I'm gonna get all of these wrong now - next!
Anthony Story 28:50
It's Iceman to Maverick. So are you more Iceman or Maverick?
Clare Groombridge 28:56
I do like early Tom Cruise like pre-jumping on the sofa Tom Cruise. Okay. Yeah, I would probably go more Maverick.
Anthony Story 29:08
But coming back to that attitude of an entrepreneur you actually sometimes you have to be a bit dangerous. In terms of when you put your campaigns together is it better to be a bit dangerous or do you actually need to play it safe as ultimately it's your clients money?
Clare Groombridge 29:26
Yes. Obviously. I think there's kind of two parts to that. I think as an entrepreneur, it's always good to push boundaries and I suppose be a little bit dangerous to that that extent. With a clients campaigns obviously it's slightly different, there is a lot more structure and consideration but I think in terms of running a business I think taking risk and can sometimes pay off.
Anthony Story 29:54
"I feel the need, the need for speed"
Clare Groombridge 29:58
Anthony Story 29:59
Yes. So how quickly can you put a campaign together?
Clare Groombridge 30:14
Very quickly! We have had brands come to us that have literally gone, "we'd love to work with you but the catch is we need to literally start tonight because we've got something launching we realised we can't do it. Ideally usually it's about two week process for us from meeting with a client to you know, getting them on board and then posting our first content, but it has been done in a day.
Anthony Story 30:39
How long do you think a good campaign should last for?
Clare Groombridge 30:43
If you're looking at a one-off campaign, say for example something like a random event like Black Friday or something like that or something sales driven, it can be anything from a flash sale to a day or up to a week or longer. I mean, obviously we work with clients on their social media 24/7. So we're doing one off campaigns and, sales drives and things, but we're also, doing the content the rest of the time as well. So yeah, we don't really stop it is 24/7.
Anthony Story 31:16
So do you think there's a distinction between if you're putting a brand campaign verses just posting continually? That's just something you should be doing on a daily basis? Twice daily basis? Weekly? How often should be you be engaging in social media?
Clare Groombridge 31:33
The more the better, really. For most brands once a day is good. Instagram is very fast paced, especially if you're looking at doing Instagram stories. A lot of the brands that we work with we share content on their story four or five times a day. LinkedIn, maybe not so much, more when you've got something relevant to say. But Twitter's very fast paced again because obviously the nature of Twitter and because it's so succinct, because the feed is so flooded with content, you can really just go for it on that and almost share as much content as you like.
Anthony Story 32:10
Because most of it's going to be lost anyway?
Clare Groombridge 32:12
With the algorithm if you're interacting with people more then they're the people that you'll see the content from first. But yeah, essentially, because it's such a fast paced network, and it's very conversational it's a case of, making sure that you're not just putting content out there, you're being part of a conversation, you're replying and, you're looking at regional hours and hashtag hours and things like that. So, yeah, Twitter's more that than just putting your story out there consistently and not really interacting with anyone else.
Anthony Story 32:44
And if you're going to be doing more of an event campaign around a specific sale event, whatever it may be, should you be carrying on doing the kind of the daily brand stuff alongside of that or should that just then replace what you're doing?
Clare Groombridge 32:56
It depends on the event, to be honest. Ideally, you do, because obviously not everyone that is say for example going to be going to your event likes your brand. So they might not want to hear about it consistently for the three weeks leading up to it. And I think as well that's why having the guidance and advice from, an agency like ours does help, because a brand might just think, "oh, my goodness, we're going to talk about this for three weeks and everyone's gonna want to hear it". And we're the ones who are saying "actually with your audience, maybe only 5% of them are going to go to this event, the other 95% might still like to hear about the other content we share and your offers". So it's finding that right balance and for something like an event we'd be heading over to our Instagram stories for that and or putting together a group for it, and that kind of thing to move the content slightly off the main feed.
Anthony Story 33:48
I think for a lot of people if you're running a small company or you're a small business or a sole trader or a freelancer or if you don't have a dedicated team doing that or a dedicated agency, which obviously you say is the preferred model that people should be all going to an agency...
Clare Groombridge 34:03
Anthony Story 34:05
Ah yes, South Coast Social in Bournemouth triangle you mentioned?
Clare Groombridge 34:10
Anthony Story 34:11
so if they are, time time is factor and people can get sucked into the social media void, can't they? It's like, yeah, okay, I'm just gonna do this one thing...
Clare Groombridge 34:23
Yeah, we literally live in that void.
Anthony Story 34:25
Well we're very grateful you managed to escape from the matrix for us today. But how do you then plan? One thing I heard is that you should maybe just choose one or two channels and dedicate yourself to those because as a business, you will find that your natural customer base is going to be more located around one thing, does that make sense?
Clare Groombridge 34:47
Yeah, hundred percent. A mantra we trot out to new clients is usually to "pick your networks wisely and do them well" and it's far better just to have a presence on one social media network if you're going to do it really well, and it's relevant to your audience and it enables you to get your brand messaging across and you're really going to nail it. It's so much better to do that, than have a scattergun approach of all of them. The amount of brands that will will come to us and say we've got a Facebook page, we've got Twitter page, we've got Pinterest, we've got a company LinkedIn, and, we're on Snapchat, and it's like, "whoa!" it's too much. You've not got an audience yet and you've already spread it so thinly across a plethora of different social platforms, all of which have got different audiences and different messaging. It's far better to just pick selectively the one that's going to work for you and really just do that well, and build your community there, and then you've got one central place to nurture it. It's really only the big brands that have all of the social bases covered because they know that they've got the content and the team to be able too - they've probably got a Facebook team and a Pinterest team and they've got someone that can produce that volume of content and build those audiences.
Anthony Story 36:07
So is there any particular technique you can employ to try and work out which your channel should be?
Clare Groombridge 36:14
With us it's our general knowledge because we're just working in social, so we when a brand comes to us, once we've spent some time with them and learnt about them and their audience and who they want to reach in their sector and what they do, we can usually put together a fairly strong recommendation of where we think they should be. Obviously, it's down to the brand to make the final decision, but the reason you come to an agency is to have that kind of advice really. So we'll always be kind of pretty firm on what we think will work the best for them and generally, that's the the advice that they take.
Anthony Story 36:48
What about if you are at a stage where you can't necessarily afford to go to an agency and you've got to do it yourself such as companies in the early stages? Are their any "tricks of the trade" that could make them think "okay, that means I should definitely be focusing on Twitter or I should be going to Instagram."
Clare Groombridge 37:02
Definitely that's why we've evolved our workshops to be honest for the brands that couldn't afford agency fees. So you can attend a training session like one of ours, or there's lots of social media training can do online as well. The first step really is just a case of looking at your audience and where you can find them. If say, for example, you are in a small ecommerce shop and you're selling products online Facebook is still a good place to start, and you can also then link products in the Facebook shop. You can then sell on Instagram as well, by also tagging products. Maybe those were just the two to kind of pick for you and do it small. If you're looking to build connections, and you've got a startup B2B brand, maybe just really focus on building your personal LinkedIn profile and making sure that is perfect and you're on that or two or three times a day and then just build up from there. I think if you don't have that knowledge and expertise a lot of it is trial and error and just looking at seeing what works.
Anthony Story 38:08
So if you're on a particular channel and you're on their a couple of times a day, should you be putting down new content? Or is it okay to share old content? Or is it okay to comment? Or to like? How much should be original from you?
Clare Groombridge 38:25
Yeah social networks are called social for that very reason. So it's all about community and commenting. It's absolutely okay to share content that's relevant. Obviously, you would never claim is yours. And if you are sharing other people's content, it's kind of right and proper to make sure that they are tagged and credited obviously, for that. Most people will like that you're sharing their content, and they'll maybe reciprocate or share yours or they'll comment saying thank you for sharing and that kind of thing.
Anthony Story 38:55
So if you want to go up in the algorithms, do you need to put down original content for yourself? So let's come back to your accountant example?
Clare Groombridge 39:01
Yeah, ideally having original content that then generates mass engagement is the number one sweet spot that you want to be in with the social media post because obviously then you're the the originator of that content. Facebook's algorithm is ever changing, and they're moving more towards groups, and almost going back to making Facebook, what it was before - real people interacting with real people hence groups being quite a popular thing for that.
Anthony Story 39:40
So let's come back to your workshops. If somebody comes along to your South Coast Social workshop what can they expect? How long does it last for? What sort of things do you cover? What do you learn? What is the breadth of knowledge somebody should have, if they want to try and get themselves up to scratch?
Clare Groombridge 40:03
Ours are a little bit different. So there's loads really great social media training programmes around. Ours are bespoke, so they're only one to one, or we have a maximum of four people in a training session. So firstly, we kind of gear it around what that business or person wants to learn. You're right, it's impossible to teach all of social media in a three hour space, which is what they generally are. We split our workshops into four, so we offer a "social media basics" course, for those that just want to know the basics across channels, and we split it into what ones will be relevant for them. Then we go into a little bit more detail with our "Instagram and LinkedIn" workshops. And then we also incorporated a "social media advertising" workshop. Quite often, people will have a good grasp of what they want to share organically and they've got quite good at putting together content and the people they've already reached are engaging with them, but they really want to learn how to start to get to grips with Facebook or Instagram advertising. So we make them kind of quite specialist and we gear them around that individual brand and sector and what they want to know. We position it as an opportunity to come in and spend that time with a specialist social media agency. And we're very open, if there's something we can share in any way or add our knowledge to, we're not holding anything back. We're not sat there going, "oh, well, we're not going to teach them it, and maybe they'll become a client". We fully know that they're there because they want to learn it and go off and apply it to their business. It's wasn't something that we'd seen around much - just doing those bespoke workshops. As it happens, one of our team is a training professional, so she's the perfect person to lead that.
Anthony Story 42:03
Okay, we need we need more Top Gun.
Clare Groombridge 42:05
Anthony Story 42:08
"Son your ego is writing checks your body can't cash"
Clare Groombridge 42:15
Who said that? That was the girl? No!
Anthony Story 42:20
I know you want it to be the girl but it's not the girl. I'm sorry.
Clare Groombridge 42:22
I'm just gonna keep saying the girl and eventually it will be.
Anthony Story 42:26
Stinger. Maverick's commanding officer delivers a line as part of a dialogue and Maverick and Goose are chewed out for reckless behaviour in the air. So obviously the very serious questions to go with that is how do you know that what you're doing on social is not just because you like it, but actually because other people might want it? So it's not just about your ego, it's actually trying to appeal and connect with other people. Is there a kind of rule of thumb by which you can try and work these things out? Or do you just have to go through trial and error?
Clare Groombridge 42:59
If it's us creating the content for a brand, we've got the experience and a good indication of what's going to work and what's not going to work. In terms of how we technically structure posts and things like that, we generally know how that's going to work. If it's a case of somebody doing it for themselves, yeah, sometimes it will be a case of kind of trial and error. Quite often, especially for small businesses, it's about having that conversation element and giving a little bit of themselves away as well, which is nice. I think people like to buy from people. It's such a cliche, but it's true. If you are an owner business, it's just you and you're just doing your social media by yourself, telling a little bit of your story always works really nicely and people will like hearing about the background of a business as well. I think that comes back to the trust and the authenticity. But yeah, people like knowing that kind of story.
Anthony Story 43:57
Okay, so another quote. "Hey goose, you big stud?" Okay, that was asked by an unknown Meg Ryan as Goose's wife, and I've got absolutely no questions relating to that one at all. So we'll just move on. But let me come back into another thing that you were talking about earlier on - paid advertising. So how do you get your head around paid advertising? You're saying it's becoming more and more relevant is that because you just can't avoid it anymore? Honestly, ultimately, social media is we think about people connecting with each other but if you want to kind of take a slightly more prosaic or cynical view, it's actually about big companies selling a lot of advertising.
Clare Groombridge 44:41
Yeah, I mean, they're businesses and I guess that's why people get a bit annoyed at Facebook in that respect, and they own Instagram and WhatsApp as well so they are all in that bracket, but they are a business, and that businesses is an advertising platform. I think kind of once you've got that clear in your head, it makes it a lot easier to grasp. I try and get clients to look at Facebook advertising, for example, in the same bracket that they would look at spending on AdWords and SEO. They wouldn't be surprised if we put in AdWords campaign and they've got to pay for it. It's about putting Facebook in that same bracket. It's a formidable advertising network and you can target so precisely, like you can on almost no other advertising medium, but you obviously have to pay for the privilege of doing that. Obviously, having great organic content is so important, and building up your communities and building up your audiences. But essentially, you're putting the content out there and hoping people find you through correct technical structure and hashtags and trending topics and beautiful content and posting the in right places. With paid advertising, you're essentially putting that content in front of the people you want to reach, and that's the difference really, and you're just paying to do that. But, I mean, it is rising, and it's not going anywhere at all. Advertising on Facebook and Instagram is a priority to be honest for most brands that we work with, and they come to us knowing now that they have to do that to some extent.
Anthony Story 46:25
So you're saying that the paid advertising is going to get you into a more defined audience? How precise is that? If you know, who your audience is, does that help? What information does Facebook give to you to enable you to try and segment who this message goes out to?
Clare Groombridge 46:50
Most bands will come to us with their "ideal audience". So say for example, we work with a lovely children's clothing company, so they obviously want to reach predominantly mums as they are the ones most often buying children's clothing, sometimes in a geographical radius. The clothes that they stock are quite funky, quite alternative, quite ethical and sustainable as well. So from that we can kind of start to build a picture of the type of people we might want to target, so we can take that picture and go away and build their audience on Facebook. You can target to quite a extreme degree, but obviously, you're making assumptions generally about, the things that those people like, where they've shopped, where they've tagged themselves. That's all the data that Facebook picks up on. The data that is available has been curved recently, with the Cambridge Analytical scandal and things like that. So a lot of the data that was previously there, like financial data, where people use their credit cards and things like that, a lot of that's gone now. So it's a case of kind of being a lot more savvy and smart about how you find those audiences. But then there's also obviously you can use data from your website. You can use custom audiences and look alike audiences as well to find people that are the most likely to engage with your content. So yeah, that there's a lot of ways of doing that.
Anthony Story 48:35
Is Facebook any good for B2B or should B2B be looking at other mediums?
Clare Groombridge 48:40
It can be, it depends on your business and the content that you've got to share. Usually for B2B looking at something more like LinkedIn or Twitter is generally more relevant. If you you've got a brand with a really funky, fun positioning, and you're happy to be a little bit playful in your content, with Facebook, you may be more getting the audience in their leisure time rather than getting them at work. But yeah, generally B2B, it would be more towards LinkedIn and Twitter that we would steer people to usually.
Anthony Story 49:19
So we're gonna have to start winding things up, but I have a couple more questions. So we can't leave without digging back into Top Gun a little bit more.
Clare Groombridge 49:27
Oh no. I'm going to have to go back and watch this film now!
Anthony Story 49:31
You've got to be careful about what you put out on social media! Because people will trawl through and come up with some utterly random information about you! So "you can be my wingman anytime"...
Clare Groombridge 49:45
Maverick? No? Yes? No?
Anthony Story 49:48
It's too Maverick said by...
Clare Groombridge 49:51
Goose? No I've just failed haven't I?
Anthony Story 49:55
I think you might have to update your Facebook profile.
Clare Groombridge 49:57
I know! Get off my Facebook profile - that's private!
Anthony Story 50:03
I only went on the first page and thought "ooo that's all I need!"
Clare Groombridge 50:07
I can say them, I just don't know who said them!
Anthony Story 50:10
It's Iceman at the end of the film. And then Maverick, being a maverick, turns around says "No, you can be my wingman anytime." So anyway, that's a really important thing, just talk about the relationship with clients. Who is in control of the relationship that you have with your clients do you think?
Clare Groombridge 50:31
I think it's a two way street, really. Obviously, we're working for the client, but the better relationship we have, the more it's going to reflect in the content we produce. Quite often, most of our clients we're talking to on a daily basis, so they kind of look at us as an extension of their marketing team or sometimes their marketing team. We generally do have a pretty strong relationship and it yeah, I'd say it's a two way street. We're offering them advice, but then they're obviously providing their expertise and knowledge of their business and their sector, so it's a case of just working together to get the best results we can for them, really.
Anthony Story 51:08
What about in terms of trying to retain that control for example making sure that budgets don't spiral out?
Clare Groombridge 51:15
That's something if you're looking at advertising we can strictly control exactly what we spend on this almost down to the penny on advertising, and that just comes down to the kind of technical way that we set up campaigns so that that would never happen.
Anthony Story 51:30
Last couple of questions. How important are cocktails in your life?
Clare Groombridge 51:36
Anthony Story 51:39
Clare Groombridge 51:40
Favourite cocktail? Oooo, I like a margarita.
Anthony Story 51:44
Okay. Any particular type or specialist or is that more of a daiquiris when you get into different flavours?
Clare Groombridge 51:53
I like a good old fashioned Margarita! I like frozen Margarita's as well. Where are you going with this? Have you got one?
Anthony Story 51:58
Well a last thing to finish off, just that you're an entrepreneur, you work in social media, it's very fast paced changing world, how important is it to strike the right balance between work and life itself?
Clare Groombridge 52:18
It is extremely important. I don't know if I've got that balance nailed yet. I think, as a business owner you do tend to take your work home with you quite a lot. So yeah, it's obviously important to switch off and have a cocktail. Never while working, of course. Yeah, I think, it's something I'm getting better at. I think, again, that comes back to having a really amazing team, now as well. I know that I can switch off and I can hand over to them if I need to. They're just doing an amazing job for our clients, so it does enable me to step back at it and focus on other other areas
Anthony Story 52:57
One of the benefits of growing a bigger?
Clare Groombridge 52:59
Yeah absolutely. I've been very lucky.
Anthony Story 53:02
Clare it's been really nice to talk to you, thank you so much.
Clare Groombridge 53:06
I'm going to go and watch Top Gun now.
Anthony Story 53:10
I think watching Top Gun with a margarita is this evening sorted out!
Clare Groombridge 53:18
Anthony Story 53:19
That's perfect. Thank you.