Interview: Professor Mike McGuirk on How Brandwatch For Students is Used in His Classroom
By Olivia SwainSep 6
Spredfast has been making some serious waves in 2016.
Not only did the vendor recently announce a stunning $50m funding round, but its Market Strategy Director has the coolest name in the biz.
That man is Eb Adeyeri, and in speaking to Brandwatch – which enjoys a partnership and integration with Spredfast – he revealed that his role encompasses three main areas.
“One is to help our existing customers with their social strategies, and making sure our software aligns perfectly with what they want to do generally in the marketing social media space.
Two is to work with new customers, and help them achieve whatever it is they’re trying to do. And three is to give Spredfast a bit more of a profile in the European region.”
Adeyeri is something of a name in the UK industry.
Before Spredfast, he spent some time on the vibrant agency scene. A quick glance through his resume would reveal notable stints at places like Lewis PR, Ogilvy and We Are Social.
He’d noticed that technology within agencies was becoming more and more pervasive, and started to grow into a critical part of the work he did there.
“Marketing technology seemed to be converging at ever closer speeds, so making the leap to the vendor side of things really felt like it made sense”, Adeyeri explains.
Who else then, could be better positioned to share his insight on how brands can start making the most of these new technologies?
Adeyeri has bundles of advice for those people, and offers questions for them to think about before making any kind of investment.
“It starts with your broader objectives, looking at where you sit in the market. Where is your company or your brand positioned? What infrastructures have you got in place? What are the critical gaps within your infrastructure?
So for instance, you might determine that your brand needs to be positioned in a particular way to beat your competitor, or it might be that you need to be more agile, you need to be faster – of course everyone needs that these days. It might be starting with working out where are you weakest.
Is that meaning you are too far away from your customer? Is it that your products are perceived to be old, or to be out of date? Only once you start to answer these questions can you begin thinking what technology you can put in place.”
It matches the kind of thinking we try to instill at Brandwatch. Adeyeri has another philosophy close to our hearts, and that’s to try and retain a healthy skepticism when it comes to any major investments.
“The other piece of advice that I would say is – and this is coming from a vendor as well – is go into the process with your eyes open, and don’t believe everything you’re told.
Look for validation, look for third party endorsement, look for people who have been there and done it, and get their recommendations.”
Many readers will be nodding their heads, but others might be shaking them; not in disagreement, but at the despair felt when attempting to coerce and cajole the great number of people required at rolling out a huge marketing technology program.
Adeyeri is realistic that not every company will be able to enjoy the luxury of sitting down and mapping out the process from an objective-first point of view.
“If you’re a mature, sophisticated company, you can scope the whole thing at once. But we haven’t found a lot of companies that really are that advanced, or are so agile that they can do the whole thing at once, particularly with the nature of what marketing stacks have become in this day and age.
There are so many different components to it that move so quickly that it’s very difficult to kind of really nail down what it is you need, and to be confident about it.”
So what then, if anything, can organizations do to start building their stacks in a sensible way? There are plenty of different thoughts on whose responsibility these technologies should be, in terms of both maintenance and procurement.
For Adeyeri, there’s no fixed answer.
“You will find some companies where historically, IT has led such purchases.
And I’ve seen that in the past some cases of when IT has led some purchases, bought technology for the marketing department, and the marketing department is not really using technology in the way that it was procured.
And I’ve also seen some instances where the marketing department has bought something that doesn’t meet the group requirements that you expect from an enterprise organization from a technology point of view. Perhaps it’s not secure enough, or there’s no kind of adoption plans being put into place to make sure people actually use it.
So the process point in coming to that depends on sort of the nature and the culture of the organization. I think it’s always good to get as many stakeholders involved in the process, working out who the ultimate decision maker is going to be, but putting into place a kind of vast decision making process.
So it doesn’t have to be the person that is going through doing the assessment actually makes the decisions, but making sure that everyone internally understands what the process is to buying a particular tool or a platform.
It is very easy to fall into the trap of just buying stuff without actually looking at well, how is it going to be used? How is it going to be adopted? What does success really look like?”
It’s apparent in the interview that it’s this point that Adeyeri is clearly regularly frustrated by.
Asked to elaborate, he concedes that it’s one of the most common traps he sees brands walking into. When asking marketers about what success looks like, he hears things like ‘we want engagement’, or ‘we want to increase likes and social shares’.
Adeyeri is quick to dampen these lines of thinking. Instead, he prefers to guide them to asking questions that will get closer to the purpose of technology investments like Brandwatch or Spredfast.
This might be to ask what success looks like for your organization, or what success looks like for a particular piece of technology.
“A lot of people are always looking for easy answers. A lot of the time it is not that easy because there are a lot of assumptions and guesswork to be had in this”, Adeyeri points out.
Although initially focused on technology buying advice for marketers, the conversation has turned dangerously close to ROI: a topic sprinkled liberally throughout these interviews. It feels right, so we dive right in.
“Let’s break out the ROI. I’ve started to do that more: rather than just say ROI, actually using full terminology. Return On Investment. What is the actual investment?
And let’s try and quantify what that investment is. Then let’s look at what return we’re likely to expect from that investment. I think ROI in its terminology is sometimes used as a bit of a strawman just to justify your existence. So maybe you’re spending 300 hours every month just shifting assets around the organization, creating these big excel spreadsheets of content calendars.
Naturally, you decide you need to do this more efficiently. So let’s get in a social media management platform, or let’s get in a listening platform, or let’s get an analytics platform. These things can help you reduce the inefficiency that’s going on by just trying to hack all this stuff together.”
Adeyeri is clear that sometimes the ROI discussion is a justification of investments. For vendors like Brandwatch and Spredfast, quite often this can mean a case of identifying the things that you are currently doing (like market research or publishing), and working out how technology can make your organization more efficient; more agile.
There’s also the other side, which is more about moving the organization into a greater competitive space. If your competitor is also using a listening platform to listen in to what the market’s doing, then you need to be doing that as well, according to Adeyeri.
“The return on an investment there, or the justification discussion, is really about not being outdone by your competitors”, he suggests.
“Now, in that sense it’s less inward looking. It’s less navel gazing about what is our return on investment, and so no longer a case of ‘we spent $4 on this, did we get $5 back?’ Instead, it’s ‘well we spent $4, our competitor spent $6, so we need to kind of match them if we’re going to look at the results they’re getting.’”
This may well be true, but there will always be that other way of looking at the ROI question. Senior marketers and their executive teams will always be searching for a return on investment that can be measured in value added, not just parity with competitors and a cost of doing business.
Adeyeri shares a quick example of how the navel-gazing approach is, of course, still perfectly valid.
“We deal with a lot of sports organizations and sports brands who deal with advertisers.
Usually this will mean a brand sponsoring whatever it is – from Formula One through to Premier League, basketball, motor racing; all those kind of things. If I’m an advertiser, and I’m sponsoring a particular event, how can I really justify that value? Being really smart about how I get that value from that sponsorship, be that through a socially engaged audience, or be that taking that social content and displaying it in other places.
I’m sponsoring a particular event, I want to make sure that not just my logo on there, but actually all the people engaging in that event see my logo, see my brand, know what I stand for.
And actually, really getting that justification from my sponsorship investment. So that’s kind of one aspect.”
Adeyeri closes on a point that rings true for many organisations. “I think brands being smarter about how they invest in social, and the returns they look to get back, and being smarter about how they’re going to get that investment.”
A big thanks to Adeyeri for taking the time to speak with us. This is one in a series of interviews with industry experts, you can find the full library of articles here.