Over the past few years, I've had the chance to get to know Shelly Lucas, Senior Marketing Manager at D&B/Hoover's. We met through the Hoover's Twitter account while I was hosting a weekly Twitter chat about marketing. Shelly (AKA @Hoovers @DnBUS) was the only business account that consistently attended and interacted with other attendees. I was always so impressed and excited by this, because I see very few other businesses take the time to really leverage Twitter for building and nurturing meaningful relationships. As our State of Digital Marketing Talent study found, great talent in social media marketing is hard to come by.
RELATED CLASS: Twitter Tactics for Higher Engagement & ROI
With that, I wanted to learn more about Shelly and get her thoughts on B2B social media strategy, so I asked her these 8 questions. I'm a big fan of her and once you get to know her, I think you will be, too.
1. How did you get started in online marketing?
Shelly: I started thinking like an online marketer in graduate school---not by studying marketing, but by thinking about the ways we make meaning. When we write something, it becomes a dialogue the moment it’s read. A book can be 100 years old, but its context is organic. It’s always interplaying with contemporary readers’ experiences. In that way—in its relevance and interpretation—it’s continuously being rewritten…and retold.
If you’re good at social media marketing, you understand before you can put yourself in customers’ shoes, you have to understand their context. You have to be willing to listen intently to what’s said--and what’s unsaid. This requires a certain fearlessness. Social conversations may require you to build upon, question, or unravel your own truth. You have to be ready, willing and able to establish an emotional connection within an ambiguous and constantly shifting landscape. It’s like dancing to a song you never heard before—with one or more partners—with the world watching.
2. What were you doing before becoming an online marketer?
Shelly: I taught college English for several years, and then left academia to wear many hats in corporate communications, PR, analyst relations, and traditional marketing.
3. What was your first job?
Shelly: A simultaneous server, cashier and dishwasher at a local pizza parlor. I was 14. Before that, I sold greeting cards door-to-door, earning $1 per box. I used that money to buy holiday presents for my family.
4. Our new State of Digital Marketing Talent report revealed that 70% of new employees expect to advance or be hired for upper-level positions before proving themselves. What advice do you have for those looking to break into social media marketing?
Shelly: Social media marketers with staying power rarely break into the field in a sudden viral explosion. More often, their success is the result of a painstaking, tireless and wisely calculated strategic effort. If you don’t have patience, you won’t last long in social. Brightly burning candles with short wicks need not apply.
5. One of the respondents to the study said, "people are either marketers, or digital, but rarely both." Do you agree with this? What do you consider yourself?
Shelly: Each of these roles is often missing skills of the other, but this will eventually remedy itself. Marketers can no longer push their brands on prospects; they have to learn to influence folks within the scope of individual preferences. So we’re back to context. It’s inescapable with mobile marketing and wearable technology. Digital marketers, on the other hand, may be good at online engagement, but do they understand the buyer’s journey? Do they design a digital experience that not generates clicks, but also supports the brand promise? Do they have solid industry-specific knowledge?
6. What are the most common mistakes you see B2B companies make on Twitter?
Shelly: They’re not experimenting enough. A lot of B2B brands concentrate on sharing content created by marketing and PR, which is great, but what about creating content specifically for social? How can you take an existing message and make it socially engaging? You don’t need a huge team to do this. Just be opportunistic and work smart. If your Twitter followers like visuals, consider swapping out a Twitpic of a report’s bar graph with a quirky photo and a creative lead-in. Or what about extracting highlights from the report and turning it into a slideshow with fun vintage illustrations? You could even pose a question on the very last slide with a hashtag, encouraging folks to continue the conversation on Twitter. Of course, whatever you do should fall within your brand’s guardrails, but you may have more latitude than you think. RELATED CLASS: Twitter Tactics for Higher Engagement & ROI
7. What is the most common mistake you see people make when hiring social media marketing talent? How can they solve it?
Shelly: They’re more worried about candidates’ familiarity with social platforms, listening tools, and promotional campaigns than they are about their business acumen. I doubt any hiring manager would turn up her nose at a social media applicant’s PR and marketing experience, but most aren’t willing to pay for it. They don’t understand the huge liabilities and opportunities of social. Are most fresh graduates ready to be on the frontlines of a brand crisis when it breaks on Twitter? Companies should invest in seasoned talent, which can mentor a more junior team—and the rest of the organization if it chooses to embed social in its culture.
8. What song best describes your work ethic?
Shelly: “I Lived” by One Republic. Like a lot of people these days, I spend most of my waking hours working. Owning every experience, and being truly present in every moment, is what I strive for.
Thank you Shelly, for sharing your insights and letting the OMI audience get to know you! I checked out "I Lived" by One Republic, and loved it. It's a great reminder that life is a gift and deserves all the very best of you—your talent, your enthusiasm, and your passion. When working in marketing (or any field for that matter) starts to feel monotonous, you can still find meaning and give it your all. I'll try not to forget that!
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