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Social Media Interviews with M Booth’s Carrie Van Es

Vikas Bysani

In this week’s Beyond the Numbers Interview series, we spoke to Carrie Van Es, the Vice President at M Booth. Follow her on Twitter where she shares thoughts on social media and other great content.

Read on to get an inside look of the minds at M Booth and how they approach digital.

This interview is part of an ongoing series, see other great interviews with industry experts in our Interview archive here.

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 How does your organization define social media marketing, and  how does it fit into the larger digital marketing picture?

If you were to ask ten digital marketers what social media marketing means to them, you’ll likely get ten different answers. We think of social marketing as any campaign or initiative designed to spark conversation and leverage the power of word of mouth recommendations.

Social media must be an integral part of any marketing or communications strategy. Gone are the days when we used to develop a campaign and then ask how it could work on social media. Now we start with online conversation and ask how it can inspire a 360 degree campaign. 

How have you seen social media greatly impact your business? 

As a communications agency, we are storytellers at heart. So, in many ways, social media gives us new platforms to do what we’ve always done: tell engaging, relevant stories that inspire people to join the conversation and become advocates.

But social media makes us better storytellers because it enables us to get to know our target audiences and communities much better. As marketers we can see what they are looking for, how they feel about our brand and how it fits into their lives. Ultimately, brands need to actively listen to tell a compelling story that inspires action.

When is social media data most critical to your efforts: During the planning process; while you’re executing a campaign, so you can change course or allocate more resources; or afterwards, to measure your success? 

I can’t think of an instance where we don’t refer to social media data. During the planning process it informs our strategies, influencer programs and paid targeting. As we execute, it helps us adjust and identify opportunities. After, it allows us to measure the campaign’s impact and holds us and our clients accountable for achieving meaningful business results, whatever they may be.

We often counsel clients on focusing on the right data and avoiding analysis paralysis. The most important question to ask is, “how does this data tell me whether I’m reaching my goals and what to do next?”  With so much data available, it’s easy to lose sight of what you really want to achieve. A maniacal focus on likes and shares, for example, would lead a brand to over-index on pictures of puppies. But how does that help you achieve your brand’s objectives? People often talk about signal versus noise, and we believe that’s the right way to think about it.

What’s more valuable, competitive intelligence on brands within your industry, or being able to look at the efforts from brands in other verticals?

Comparing yourself against your category or vertical competition is the right place to start, but we encourage clients to look at other brands, too. There are many ways to do that.

For example, there’s a lot B2C and B2B brands can learn from each other. B2B brands are experts at honing in on a specific audience and creating extremely meaningful conversations and connections between people who share a common professional goal. It’s often done in a very pragmatic way. B2C brands tend to push the creative envelope to appeal to broader audiences in a more emotional and fun way. But people are people and brands need to think about it in broad terms.

Another example is looking at brands that share a common target demographic. Recently in our work for an aspirational luxury brand we found that most people posting about the brand were not regular customers, but instead were celebrating a one-time splurge. We took that insight and applied it to other aspirational brands we work with and saw similar trends. One could hypothesize that many, if not all, aspirational brands deal with this reality.

Social media channels are increasingly moving to where paid content is promoted more than organic content. How do you feel about this, and how has it affected your social strategy?

It’s no secret that organic reach for brands is decreasing. But while the paid space will continue to evolve across platforms, ultimately success will always come down to the quality of your content. The best story still wins, and if your audience likes what you have to say they will share it regardless of whether it’s paid or organic.

Our approach for clients is to identify great content that is performing well organically and add a paid spark. Increasingly, sophisticated paid targeting allows us to make sure it reaches the people to whom it is most relevant.

What do you see as the single most disruptive force coming to the world of social media marketing?

The most disruptive force is not one but a combination of factors that all add up to relevance. Sophisticated social media data, channels and tools allow us to make our marketing efforts smarter and more targeted. Geo-targeting, demographic insights and custom audiences are just a few examples of this. At the same time, consumers’ expectations are shifting. They’re inundated with marketing messages every day and will ignore content that’s not relevant to them.

As marketers our challenge is simple: use data to uncover what’s relevant to our audience, create content that is authentic and credible, and use targeting to ensure it reaches the right people.


What are the social media metrics you don’t have access to today but would like to be able to leverage in the future? 

It would be great to see metrics that answer questions about how competitors are using paid media to maximize their efforts. We’d also love to better understand our followers’ behavior across multiple channels, as data is often siloed by channel.

Social media measuring tools like Unmetric are getting more and more sophisticated, but ultimately the key challenge for anyone with access to social media data is to be able to connect the dots and understand how it informs your strategy.

Join us next week, as we travel to Singapore and catch up with Sandeep Padubidri from Publicis.