podcast, social media, influencers, WeRSM, We Are Social Media, Experts Talk, Travis Hawley, Viral Nation

12 Questions With Travis Hawley

by • November 17, 2017 • Experts Talk, InterviewsComments Off on 12 Questions With Travis Hawley3726

Say ‘Hello’ to this week’s guest, social media influencer and the VP of Business Development at Viral Nation, Travis Hawley.

Hello Travis!

As always, feel free to listen along, or read on!

Having served in the US Air Force, and been contracted by the NSA, Travis started using social media as a means of communication. However, in 2012 prior to his deployment to Afghanistan, he turned to social media for entertainment. Crashed on his bunk, he created his very first meme-inspired Facebook Page, ‘Hawlarious Humor,’ centered on the hilarity of the internet.

This page would later be the inspiration for the creation of the 2014 Facebook community page, ‘Jiu Jitsu Saved My Life,’ which was about his newfound love for the Brazilian martial art. He took it to Instagram as well, where infamous UFC Fighter, Ronda Rousey, took a liking to one of his posts and shared it with her following, causing a surge of interaction across his pages. This was a really pivotal moment in his career, showcasing the power of social media and what he’d later discover were influencers.

So then came time to take on social media from a different angle… business.  A friend suggested he look into getting a job in social media; he was then referred to and hired at gaming developer, Machine Zone Inc., as their Social Media Specialist. After taking on a number of accounts and promoting the various games across celebrity pages, he wanted to tackle a new challenge – which is when he joined Viral Nation.

Nowadays, his roles in business and social media are intertwined. He now meets with clients, rather than being the client, to discuss how their business objectives can be affected by Viral Nation’s social media influencers.

About Social Media In General

1. Which is your favourite social media platform?
I’d have to say my favourite platforms are Facebook and Instagram, but for two different reasons. I use each platform differently. Facebook is more for news, viral content, and connecting with family and friends. Instagram is a little bit different. I had to choose, Instagram is my ABSOLUTE favourite platform. I tend to spend more time there and the content… is a bit more fulfilling to me. When I’m on Facebook, I waste way too much time!

2. What social media platform used most by your brand/agency?
Mostly, Instagram. Working with influencers, larger audiences tend to sit on Instagram and YouTube. So, those are certainly two channels we focus on a lot. In terms of branding ourselves as a B2B company, we tend to not focus on maintaining an amazing social media presence. We focus more on running ads across the platforms, as well as non-social media ads (i.e. Google Adwords and Search. Things of that nature are more important to us, especially when it comes to bringing in new business.

Unfortunately, the content marketing abilities of Instagram or Facebook tend to fall by the wayside. So that’s actually what I’ve been trying to create a renewed focus on, in my year and a half year here; establishing more of the social media presence for our agency. Even if we’re a B2B agency, it is so important to have one.

3. In your opinion, what is the future of social media and what platforms will lead the way?
I honestly don’t know if there’s actually going to be a leader. The analogy I like to use is that social media platforms are now more like broadcast channels – like CBS, ABC or Fox. They are just channels. It is their content that differentiates them nowadays; particularly with the move into the creation of their own content and shows.

YouTube Red is creating its own shows, Facebook is also getting into it, and I’ve heard that even LinkedIn is considering it, to bring in more users and increase user retention. So I’m not sure that there will be a leader. In terms of monthly active users, Facebook is of course at the top, but it depends on what metric you look at.

Facebook‘s growth is going to be stagnant no matter what, because of the mass market share. In terms of users, they have the market cornered, but I feel like there’s still a lot of growth opportunity for Instagram, YouTube, and Musical.ly, because of the demographics that use them.

About Great Social Media Campaigns

4. Tell us about one social media campaign you liked most this year.
I really like what Stranger Things is doing with its content, particularly on Instagram using Instagram Stories. They’re making really cool quiz stories, doing some gamification, and enabling a behind-the-scenes look at the show. They’re really doing everything you can imagine in terms of continuing to drive the Stranger Things story beyond Netflix. It’s really captivating, innovative content.

5. What about the latest campaign your brand or agency was involved in?
Honestly, one of my favourite campaigns we’ve run was actually about a year ago. It was with Rovio, the creator of Angry Birds. They wanted to do a joint campaign with Apple and with the AIDS organization, (RED).

Rovio was looking to drive installs in addition to increasing in-app purchases. So to make things a bit more meaningful than just user-acquisition and monetisation, Apple decided to donate a good portion, if not all, of the proceeds from in-app purchases during the week-long campaign. Taking place on December 1st which was World AIDS Day, we designed this awesome heartfelt campaign where people could download and play Angry Birds in support of a charitable cause; helping to fight in the war against AIDS and HIV.

So we pulled in a total of 6 influencers, across Facebook, YouTube and Instagram; one of which baked an Angry Birds cake on a Facebook live stream, encouraging people to download the app and donate. We gave away Apple products and lots more! It was just such an honour to work alongside all three iconic companies and give back.

Check out more on the growth of influencers at 13:41.

So you know, a brand needs to first think what its objective is – its business objective – like app installs, sales, or brand awareness, no matter where it falls in the funnel. Define what success is, and then from there build the campaign outward.

Additionally, you’ve got to use data to drive your campaign. Identify your audience, what message they’ll be most receptive to, what format (i.e. video, image, text) and also what platform is best to achieve that objective.

7. In your opinion, what is the most important KPI to watch during a social media campaign?
I actually think that depends on the brand and the campaign. So I don’t think there is a most important KPI like across the board. That’s something we have to develop with our clients or on a specific campaign.

We work with many companies looking for awareness (top-funnel). So if that’s what we want, the KPIs we’d identify would be video views or impressions. Essentially, as many eyeballs as possible. When it’s about consideration or positive interaction (mid-funnel), we’d track sentiment, engagement (i.e. likes, comments, shares) and/or clicks. We consider clicks to be a consideration as people are interacting with your content/brand, either directly, or through your landing page. Finally, you have lower funnel objectives – such as conversions – which would drive us to track downloads, applications, sales, etc.

While I didn’t mean to skate around your question, there is a KPI for every point in the funnel. And once you identify it, it’s a lot easier to a design strategy and creative that will lend itself to achieving that KPI.

About The Future Of Social Media Marketing

8. What will be the role of social media in the marketing mix of the future?
As I said earlier, I feel like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or other platforms are now broadcast TV channels.

And because of that, brands will start to pull away TV dollars even more. The data already reflects that. So the ad dollars from TV will start to transition more and more to digital, first and foremost. Social media is really only a subset of digital. And even more so, influencers are a subset of social media. So while it’s going to trickle down slowly over time, we are already starting to see the effects, particularly in the last 4 years.

At the end of the day, social media will continue to dominate our attention, and therefore grow, especially on the marketing front. Social is proving to be the dominant and most effective platform to capture attention, and it’s that attention that drives conversions.

9. What would you say the biggest obstacle is in the field of social media marketing?
I feel that, depending on the client, it’s more about tracking and attribution. We have an abundance of data which is amazing! That’s something TV and offline don’t have. But this abundance can either, fuel our effectiveness, or bog us down, if we don’t understand the data. So I feel like that’s still a challenge; specifically in social media and influence, or marketing in particular.

It’s less about getting the data, and more about leveraging it, understanding it, and having it fuel campaigns. Data can attribute to connecting the dots between a campaign, and being able to prove business results from that activity. Therefore, when it comes to proving ROI, we can more confidently invest in a similar approach in the future, if the data proved it worked the first time around.

Attribution though, is something we struggle with every day. There is a massive opportunity for the companies like us, that get it right, and are finding ways to leverage this data – and connect the dots.

10. If you had to give one piece of advice to someone has just started in the industry, what would it be?
My greatest advice would be to be a practitioner. Completely immerse yourself in the social platforms. If you’re on the advertising side of things, use the advertising platforms as well. You need to really understand the nitty-gritty details and differentiating factors between the platforms and their different features.

Learning how to exploit those features, and leverage them for yourself or for your clients, is impossible without practice. Know and understand your user behaviours, in addition to the UI and UX of all the social platforms. Being a practitioner will put you in the position to actually be an effective strategist, and not just someone who acts like they know what they’re talking about.

If you can just talk confidently and really understand all the features, and ways to leverage social platforms, you’re going to earn trust with your clients, the industry, etc. It will prove that you’re not just an idealist who is regurgitating information you read online. We need more practitioners and fewer idealists.

Catch Travis’s thoughts on ‘micro-influencers’ at 25:20.

11. In your opinion, what is the ad format of the future?
I really like Instagram Stories and Facebook & Instagram Carousels, personally. And I think that is because both formats increase engagement through swipes and clicks. I think anything you can do to get your audience to interact with an ad is a great thing! Whether or not they convert, that is another story. The fact that you can hold their attention longer, is extremely important, as our attention spans continue to dwindle.

So that’s why I brought up the FuckJerry influencer campaign. They use really interesting ways to gamify content. To me, the one thing I think needs to happen on social media is to bring experiential marketing to the digital space. Making ad formats more experiential will improve the consumption of them, because they involve interaction. And that is what I love about IG Stories and the Carousel style ads.

They allow the user to literally touch the ad in some way, and affect the outcome, purely because it allows you to harness more of your audiences’ attention for longer periods of time. This will then eventually lend itself to greater conversions. It’s all about curating a memorable experience.

Sometimes, you have to take risks! And for whatever reason, brands are risk-averse. They’re afraid to try new things. Some are too lazy, some are scared, and some don’t have the budget. But at the end of the day if you’re not taking risks, or trying new formats and tactics, you’re not going to stand out. And really, that’s what you have to do in marketing. It’s all about capturing attention, right?

So, stop complaining, and start taking risks, being innovative, being creative. Be in it for the long run. Success doesn’t happen overnight, but the insights you learn from trying, will assist your future success.

Fun Fact

12. Finally, tell us one thing someone would NOT be able to find out about you from looking at your social media profiles?

I’m a polyglot nerd who loves foreign languages! I have since I was a kid. I have always been keen to learn new languages. Growing up, I used to learn languages for fun; Spanish, Persian, Farsi, Arabic, Assyrian and other Middle Eastern languages. I even taught myself the Russian alphabet! I was language-obsessed! So much so, that when I joined the Air Force, I was brought in to learn Hebrew at the most prestigious language school in the world, the Defense Language Institute! But unfortunately, it’s a get-used-to-it-or-lose-it scenario… but that is definitely something you won’t find on my social media!

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