So let’s get started!
So how did he get involved in social media?
The Pittsburgh-born native started out studying Computer Science, concentrated on web design. After graduation, he managed to land his first job in Cybersecurity, with none other than the U.S. Department of Defense!
Nine years later, and three trips to Afghanistan and Iraq, Brian’s initial intro into the tech space was spent encouraging the DoD to embrace collaboration and sharing of cybersecurity policies across military branches. With no degree in cybersecurity though, you’d think it’d be quite a feat, right? Well, Brian took on the challenge, and graduated from a different “university” we all love… YouTube; teaching himself about cybersecurity on the weekends, and putting it into practice during the week – using some social business tools like Yammer and SharePoint.
Around the same time, the Pittsburgh sports-diehard found Twitter and fell in love with the ability to communicate with other fans as if he was at the game. So with YouTube kicking off his professional life, and Twitter (and sports) consuming his personal life, he was ready for the next challenge. Following his nearly 10-year stint with the U.S. government, Brian joined a startup as an evangelist; connecting with clients, customers, and partners, to then relay that unfiltered information back to different departments. How? You probably guessed it – social media of course! And the rest they say, is history.
In addition, he helps brands understand the future of social media, and how they can leverage bleeding edge technology to connect with younger generations! So let’s jump right to what you came for… insights!
If you’re listening along just jump to 3:37 to get started with question numero uno!
About Social Media In General
1. Which is your favourite social media platform?
It’s been an interesting transition for me. I’d say for the first eight or nine years I was using social Twitter quite a bit. It WAS my favourite platform. I love that Twitter enables you to connect and communicate with people you don’t even know about, through the use of hashtags, events, and just genuine common interests. I truly believe it’s the greatest discovery tool in the world!
Then Snapchat entered the game, and I’ll admit it that I was infatuated. Until about 18 months ago, when along came Zuckerberg and introduced Stories on Instagram! It’s my new infatuation. The platform itself just really sucks you in, but most of all the Stories… people are using them so differently! It’s genuinely the only platform I look forward to brand content, on all the social media. It’s just so crazy to think that three years ago, Instagram was maybe in my top five, and now it’s the first one I look at in the morning and the last one I’d turn off at night!
Catch Brian’s insights on the future of 2018’s comeback kid, Snapchat at 5:51.
2. What social media platform used most by your brand/agency?
I really gravitate towards Twitter more so than any other platform, since a lot of my business is really about how to connect with people where they are or how to connect with different leaders in different brands or different companies. For me, the answer is simple… it’s Twitter. And the one fun fact about Twitter that ALWAYS surprises people, is that 60 percent of my organic traffic to my website comes from the platform!
To be fair, I’ve spent a lot of time building an amazing community on Twitter that currently is home to a little over 100,000 followers. I spend a lot of time engaging there, with an average of 80 tweets per day and only around 19 of which get scheduled. That’s a good 60 tweets a day from my two thumbs and a phone.
Honestly, I believe that a little bit of the success of every platform can be attributed to how much time you invest in it. So for me, Twitter is number one and number two is actually a close one as well… LinkedIn! Since the launch of LinkedIn video, I’ve been seeing a massive uptick in not only clicks to my website from the platform, but also direct engagement from new businesses. And honestly, given its current uplift, I won’t be surprised if LinkedIn takes over from Twitter in 2018, as the platform driving the best business value for me.
What’s in it for the future of Microsoft’s LinkedIn buyout? Check it out at 9:54.
3. In your opinion, what is the future of social media and what platforms will lead the way?
This is probably one of my favourite questions because I believe we are in a massive disruption of social media. I think for the last nine or ten years we’ve been using social to scale and distance ourselves from our consumers and our community. But if there’s one thing that live video has proven to me, it’s that we as digital consumers / digital natives have been craving human to human interaction on social media. It’s kind of crazy to say that because social media was really put there for that exact reason, but the focus these last few years, has been advertising. And I think everything is finally going to come full circle. My bold prediction for 2018… it’s going to be the year of employees/influencers takeovers on branded accounts.
How else do you humanise a brand that for the last six to seven years has built a following on a logo and blasting out messages? It’s time brands start empowering their biggest assets, their employees. Sure, brands like Cisco are already killing it, but it’s time others see the light. And the cross-section of influencer marketing? It continues to prove that people buy from people they relate to. Unwrap this whole piece and that’s my prediction for 2018.
In terms of platforms leading the way… it’s not a platform, it’s a feature; Facebook Live! Currently, there are many very BAD live videos being produced… even from brands. And largely, I think it is because 2017 was spent still trying to figure it out. Therefore, I think in 2018 we will be presented with strategic live video, incorporating employees and influencer conversations.
So the future rests in the hopes of Facebook Live becoming a much more of a strategic weapon across the marketing funnel, and not a separate marketing initiative – which it has kind of been in 2017.
Listen what IBM, Dell and HP had to say to Brian after the launch of their first-ever live video, at 16:50.
About Great Social Media Campaigns
4. Tell us about one social media campaign you liked most this year.
I think NASCAR. They are using Snapchat, Instagram Stories, Facebook Live AND Periscope all in different ways. They even quite regularly use influencers. They even allow various drivers from pit road to take over their Facebook Live. I mean, I watched an Instagram Story from Martin Truex Jr. five minutes before he got into his car for his last race, where he ended up winning the championship. To me, this is probably one of the coolest ways of giving your audiences what they want; unfettered access.
And NASCAR has provided for it’s audience throughout the whole year incredibly. From access to drivers, to behind the scenes with crew chiefs and tailgate parties, you have access to it all. Not only is it exciting, but it’s truly brilliant.
5. What about the latest campaign your brand or agency was involved in?
So one of my favourites I think without question, has to be the B2B enterprise technology brands. How these brands start to humanize themselves and emerge victoriously is interesting to watch. Let’s take global technology company SAP as an example. They power something like 91 percent of all the Fortune 500 businesses, yet most people weren’t very familiar with them.
However, in the last 18 months, I had the pleasure of joining them at the Super Bowl to assist in the broadcasting of live interviews. And while I haven’t done a lot of work for them in 2017, it’s the work I did in 2016 that inspired a lot of what we do now, like their Life At SAP series that gets teased out on Instagram Stories. They even have employees do takeovers on Facebook and Facebook Live. I think they’ve truly done an amazing job! It really is one of those things where if a company embraces it, change can do great things!
We’re even working with them on some podcasting projects for the future. But in terms of watching them just accelerate their brand and leverage what we implemented about a year ago, that is probably my most exciting success story to talk about.
6. What is the most important thing brands and agencies need to keep in mind, in order to build a successful social media campaign?
So, this is one that I’m really harping on in 2018. We’ve figured out that creating content in real time is possible, AND we’ve figured out that creating produced polished content is possible. We now need to find that happy medium to create quality content and deliver it at the right time.
Let me repeat that, “delivered at the right time.” Now I’m not only talking real-time but yeah real-time! Because we live in a very strange world… it seems these days you either create off the cuff, really bad, shaky content and blame the lack of time, or you take 9-12 weeks to produce a high-quality polished video. Makes sense right? No.
I think 2018 will be the year of strategic planning for both content and live shoots. Because live doesn’t necessarily mean unplanned. You can create a strategy in terms of the content you will produce, people you will interview/chat with, as well as the message you will want to convey. I think, ultimately the best real-time video is using real-time tools with an overall strategy in mind.
I think in 2018 we’ll start to see brands finally wrap their heads around that. Which is exciting, because at the end of the day, we as consumers want content. We may be very needy, but consumers today have more power today than ever before. We want stuff where we want it, when we want it, and how we want it.
Now, the key for brands is to listen and apply that data to inform their content strategy.
Check out how Brian takes his platform learnings and audience insights and applies it to the content he creates for his podcast at 26:51.
7. In your opinion, what is the most important KPI to watch during a social media campaign?
Oh… I’m loving these questions! Personally, I like to be very transparent. In addition to my podcasting and iSocialFanz, I’m also an adviser and on the board for a real-time social video analytics company called Delmondo. And without stating the obvious too much, we all want high-volume in-depth video analytics such as Average Watch Time.
However, with that said, my personal favourite KPI to watch for at the moment is something I call Repeat Viewership i.e. when someone watches, listens, or reads your content and they come back for a second and third time to consume your content over a short time period (i.e. 60 days). If a certain number of people that come back three times in 60 days and they listen to my entire podcast, that is a mature lead and interested person. Forcing someone to opt-in doesn’t make them a viewer. Let them come back two or even three times before reaching out to them people don’t like being sold to. Shocking, I know…
Check out Brian’s most recent podcast ‘Translate the Geek Speak’ here and learn more about it at 30:11.
About The Future Of Social Media Marketing
8. What will be the role of social media in the marketing mix of the future?
I think as marketing grows, I think we’re starting to see social media actually branch out beyond marketing. Now, I’m not talking about using LinkedIn for recruiting. I mean things like Hootsuite‘s #Followthesun campaign that took viewers on virtual tours of Hootsuite‘s offices across the globe, staring their employees. And although the outcome was unplanned, it ended up being one of their greatest recruiting tools! So I think social may start to have an even bigger role in recruitment in 2018, thanks to a mixture of UGC, Live, and Stories.
We may even start to see product marketing get a bit more involved in live video, where brands start to tap into audience insights through conversation, or polls of features for product demos. Sounds novel right? But this is the idea. If you’re a marketing team struggling to get the budget for social, look outside your marketing walls. Look outside of sales, and start looking at things like your product marketing, or your product management, recruiting and HR, or even training.
Listen in at 33:29 to hear all about an internal training podcasting solution Brian and his co-host are doing in partnership with SAP.
As social media becomes more social again, live video will start to tear down the barrier between brand and consumer.
Additionally, the digital native generation, millennials, are starting to appear in executive positions. Therefore, not only will social become embraced more overall, it will be better-understood. The cool part about that, is it’s going to allow social media to enter the boardroom.
I think this is an exciting trend. It’s going to take a little bit to get there, but it’s something that I see emerging as social media starts to touch more of the business and up the stack into the executive room.
9. What would you say the biggest obstacle is in the field of social media marketing?
I think the biggest obstacle we face in social media today is trust. But trust in many different ways. Trusting our employees to know what’s best for us. Trusting we know which platform is best to use. And even trusting that our message holds value.
In this case, with trust comes change. I think as we see this shrinking of the distance between consumers and brands, we need to start trusting our consumers. The amount of people that question their consumers despite the data… I think it’s because of the old quote by Henry Ford. ‘If I would have asked people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.’
But the fact of the matter is, times have changed. The consumer is more powerful today, than ever before. If Mr. Ford were to ask the same question today, he’d get particulars; colours, makes, and the works. And it’s because of that we have to trust that the data that we’re getting is the data that we’re willing to act on.
Catch Brian’s insights into the non-demise of Twitter and social media at 38:02.
It’s not an easy answer but it’s also not an easy problem to solve. But if we shrink the distance between brand and consumer or even brand and employee, then we’ll have the ability to test things out. If you don’t trust, you’ll never know if that kind of content is valuable to your audience.
10. If you had to give one piece of advice to someone has just started in the industry, what would it be?
My number one piece of advice is ‘Do don’t tell’. And what I mean by that is I get a lot of people that come to me and say ‘Brian I tried to get my boss to do Facebook Live and I told them what we need to do and they said no’. Here’s the interesting thing, in this world we live in today with social media, if you if you tell people we need another Snapchat campaign, the first thing management is going to do is say no. So, try presenting it like so: rather than telling your boss what they need to do, show them how you’ve done something, and ask them if they want you to do something similar.
If you have a mobile device and you live in 2017, you can pretty much do just anything to prove the value upstream. So if your boss isn’t getting your buy-in or you’re applying for a job, why not do some of the work that you say you can, before they turn you down? Prove to them you can do it yourself.
11. In your opinion, what is the ad format of the future?
This is an interesting one. I have three daughters. and my oldest is seven. And my go-to stage story is this: EVERY time she sees the 5-second roll of an ad on YouTube she gets frustrated. Like, you’ve got to be kidding me, kid?! I used to rush home from school and if I got good grades my parents would let me stay up until 9 p.m. to watch 90210 on TV. We lived in a world where the TV channels decided when we consumed content, and we watched the commercials because the TV channels decided that that’s when they were going to disrupt us.
Well, the times we live in now are on-demand, courtesy of Netflix, YouTube, etc. So, I think we’re going to start to see advertising platforms force brands to really think about their content, and adjust their content and stories to fit into formats that are being consumed, rather than forcing people to consume ads how brands see fit. Therefore, I think advertising is going to move towards being less disruptive and more integrated into user consumption.
12. Finally, tell us one thing someone would NOT be able to find out about you from looking at your social media profiles?
So, a fun fact is that I played a couple years professionally in the World Series of Poker, travelling to Europe, Asia and the Middle East. And I use the skills that I learned at the poker table in everyday life. A lot of it is about reading people’s body language, and being able to relate to people, communicating with people you might not know, and even understand data and analytics.
It always amazes me how many times I reference a poker book when I’m building out a strategy for social media. But it’s not something that is advertised on my social profiles. But if you look hard, you follow me on Instagram or Snapchat you’ll see some views sometimes of me sitting at a poker table – but that’s the fun fact. I’m very blessed that I invested in learning poker and taking the time to do that because it’s helped me be a better speaker and it’s helped me be better at social media.