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Published January 2nd 2019

Interview: Hootsuite’s Mark Abrami Shares 3 New Year’s Resolutions for Social Teams

In which we chat to Mark Abrami about three key ways social teams can approach their work in the new year.

Mark and I meet a couple of days before breaking up for the holidays. I can hear Christmas music coming from the office and I’ve just had an enormous lunch. Mark is recovering from the Hootsuite holiday party, although he insists it wasn’t too messy.

Surrounded by end-of-year festivity, Mark tells me the story of his journey to being a senior value realisation consultant at Hootsuite, where he helps businesses understand how to make the most of social media.

He remembers his first foray into live streaming video on Facebook around 2010 when he worked at Pernod Ricard. The team had to hire a full production van with an aerial on top after weeks of logistical planning – the same thing today could be achieved with just the click of a button on a smartphone. That said, he and his team got a million views in 24 hours, something that brands might struggle to make happen today. That experience meant he caught the social bug, and he still hasn’t managed to shake it.

Next he moved into a social media management role at Hotels.com, part of Expedia, where he built out the social strategy and managed to quickly turn paid social ads on Facebook into a multi-million dollar channel for the company. Talk about the ROI of social.

Mark has worked as a social practitioner across nearly every discipline I can think of – influencer marketing, social selling, employee and customer advocacy, content publishing, paid social and more. It makes him perfectly qualified to act as a consultant for businesses and organizations that are looking to take full advantage of social.

Now you’ve seen a snippet of Mark’s impressive social resumé, here’s his advice for teams working on social as we get into 2019.

Resolution 1: “I will be more human.”

Traditionally, brands and organizations have used social for broadcast. Today, users have very low trust in what they see in social media, especially when it comes to branded content.

Social practitioners need to think hard about how the content they’re producing will fit into users’ news feeds.

“Think about your own news feed,” Mark says. “It’s made up of all sorts of things, but most of it will have a human interest aspect – your cousin’s new baby, your sister’s home cooking. Overly branded content disrupts the experience of the social media user.”

An important part of being more human is to choose your moments and not post for posting’s sake – something many a community manager (including me, for a time) is guilty of.

When Mark was at Expedia, the team made a conscious decision not to publish to a strict schedule. Instead, they’d pay attention to what the real world was talking about and, where appropriate, they’d get involved in that conversation.

Mark explains that thinking in terms of time frames and planning ahead is key to success here. Community managers can prepare for things like Valentine’s Day well in advance. Events like the Superbowl or Academy Awards, where outcomes are unclear, can prompt content to be prepared in advance just in case something with a link to your business pops up. Meanwhile, as is often the case, events will come out of nowhere. Act quickly and get the tone right and you’ll have a winning social post that trend-jacks its way to the top of the conversation.

When it comes to customer care, especially when emotions are running high, Mark says brands need to “have empathy, be human, be considerate.”

“Brands often take the media part seriously but not the social part.”

Resolution 2: “I will use more data, and I’ll use it responsibly”

When we use social media and apps we leave behind a lot of breadcrumbs that businesses can take advantage of. That places a lot of power in the hands of marketers.

“Data is hugely available. Marketers have a responsibility to use that data in the right way.”

And that goes from invading people’s privacy through to wasting their time with poorly targeted ads.

On the other hand, data related to marketing activities also needs to be used better, Mark thinks.

“Marketers also have the responsibility to use data to make decisions. Too often we rely on gut feeling.”

When looking at the results of a new campaign, it’s important to go beyond ‘vanity metrics’ like likes and shares, Mark says. The sentiment of mentions around your campaign, or the actions people take when they get onto your website after interacting with that campaign, are the kinds of metrics that will help you make meaningful decisions and prove the ROI of your work.

“Take the data, understand the data, use it to optimize and make decisions.”

It’s important to share data beyond the social team, too.

“Take the data about what the real world is talking about and give it to your organization.”

Every team can benefit from social data, Mark says. By listening to the right words, the whole business can be empowered to make better decisions.

Resolution 3: “I will play nicely with others”

Mark’s final resolution relates to what we spoke about when sharing data in #2.

“Often social is the responsibility of the marketing or PR and comms team, but actually every team across the organization can benefit from it,” he says.

Mark’s got a theory about social media:

“Social is the new digital.”

When he first said it I felt a bit skeptical – it sounds like a pretty generic marketing buzz-phrase (if that’s a word) – but he soon convinces me that it’s got some legs.

“Think back ten years when businesses had to re-think and adapt and change across all aspects – not just marketing. Social should be approached in the same way.”

He goes on to explain how social can be used across a number of departments that wouldn’t usually be associated with social. Examples included recruitment (when it comes to raising awareness of a company’s culture as well as posting job ads and vetting candidates), sales (through paid ads and social selling, or relationship building), and customer support (dealing with queries and feeding them back into the product team).

“Social teams need to preach the gospel of social to all departments.”

Many thanks to Mark for his time and tips. You can find him on LinkedIn here.

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