Correlate online campaigns with in-store purchases. The antidote for social media metric myopia is to draw a line between social media buys and consumer purchases. Programs like Facebook’s Offline sales measurement and Snapchat’s Placed acquisition allow us to help tie back social to brand ROI. Until fairly recently, marketers didn’t have these kinds of tools that connect online exposure to offline purchases. So use them. Action step: When you run a campaign, set up a mechanism to see if it’s affecting offline sales.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Courtney Blount, Group Director of The Media Kitchen where she manages multi-channel media strategies and planning for clients in retail, alcohol and CPG.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I’ll say my path has been an interesting one. I never set out to become a Digital/Social Media marketer. My path was anything but conventional. My original plan was to become a professional ballerina. Instead, I decided to attend Howard University, where I got a B.S. in Health Science, thinking I would become a Physical Therapist. However, towards the end of my schooling, I realized that wasn’t for me. I was familiar with the advertising industry because my mom was in the business. So, I decided to try my luck, head straight to New York and land a job at a great agency. I had no clue at the time what a recession was and that 2008 was the worst year to graduate. After seemingly positive interviews that resulted in calls that confirmed hiring freeze after hiring freeze, I received a call from an agency under the same holding company of one of my prior interviews. They wanted me to come in for an interview and the rest is history.
While my career didn’t begin with a heavy digital or social footprint, over the course of the last ten years, I strategically maneuvered myself to take advantage of opportunities that allowed me to stay close to what’s next.
Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority on Social Media Marketing?
I’ve been very fortunate in my career to have the opportunity to work with brands that were going through a rebranding of sorts, launching a new product or had a target audience with evolving media consumption habits. The common thread across all of these was the need to prioritize innovation. This prioritization pushed me into immersing myself within the social media ecosystem. Clients rely on me to be a thought leader on all media channels. Social media, I feel, is the one channel where one day you have mastered it all and the next day the entire interface has changed, every placement name is completely different, there’s a new way to measure it all and your client is coming to you that same day for your point of view! There isn’t any time not to become the authority. I have to know it like the back of my hand to ensure all of the strategies built can actually result in positive business outcomes. It’s a channel that doesn’t allow brands to get it wrong — consumers will let you know right away. My immersion into the channel has allowed me to build results-driven strategies.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Well I have made some mistakes that are funny in hindsight, but weren’t funny in the moment; we won’t get into those. This wasn’t really a mistake but rather just a learning opportunity. I’ve never been fearful of presenting, largely due to the fact that I grew up on a stage. However, I always tried really hard to emulate someone else during my presentations. When you’re starting off in your career, you get blown away by powerful speakers. All of a sudden you think you can go from three years of work experience to Barack Obama. During a presentation skills workshop, I put on my best, or what I thought was my best Barack hat. My content was strong, I had rehearsed ad nauseam and as always I was comfortable.
I got up and nailed the presentation and got decent feedback. The one piece of feedback I got that changed my approach to presentations from that point forward was, “You were great, but I wanted you to show a little more of you. I like you when we talk one-on-one, but up there you weren’t as likable.” From that I learned it’s okay to let me shine through. I can still be as prepared, but the ability to allow my personality to shine through is what makes people say, “Now that was awesome.”
Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?
I think it’s a bit hard to make such a general statement because effectiveness varies based on a few things such as category, target audiences, messaging. I believe the most effective platform at the moment is Instagram. When you think about the reason you go to Instagram, it’s to take a minute or sometimes hours away from your normal life. You go there to read that inspirational quote to make it through the rest of the day, to get some fashion inspiration for that weekend trip you have with your girlfriends or to see what new health-food trend you can try for the week. My point is, you’re going there already in that exploration phase and most times you don’t know what you want until you see it.
For brands, this is the most ideal state. The consumer is in the consideration phase and can be heavily influenced if your targeting, messaging, visuals are right. Even as a marketer I still log on to Instagram and an hour later I’ve bought a candle I’ve never smelled, shoes from a brand I never heard of and a skin-care serum that will make me look like Jennifer Lopez. This is all due to the right targeting and eye-catching creative at the right time. What makes it so easy on Instagram is the heavy focus of shopping features. It’s any ecomm marketers Candy Land. I think it also explains the success of so many DTC brands. If you take a look, Instagram is a core if not the sole piece of their marketing strategy.
Let’s talk about Instagram specifically, now. Can you share four ways to leverage Instagram to improve your business dramatically? Please share a story or example for each.
- Pick the right goals. Too many social media strategies are based on reaching arbitrary metrics that don’t intersect with business goals. Likes, retweets and comments are all irrelevant if the goal is to increase traffic to your website, gain visibility, generate leads, prompt app installs, boost event attendance or increase sales. Ignore such proprietary metrics and focus instead on the objective for the campaign. For instance, If you’re looking to drive traffic to your site, set a site traffic objective that will optimize towards driving the most efficient traffic to site Action step: Decide on your objective and then use randomized controls to test whether your campaigns are meeting them.
- Correlate online campaigns with in-store purchases. The antidote for social media metric myopia is to draw a line between social media buys and consumer purchases. Programs like Facebook’s Offline sales measurement and Snapchat’s Placed acquisition allow us to help tie back social to brand ROI. Until fairly recently, marketers didn’t have these kinds of tools that connect online exposure to offline purchases. So use them. Action step: When you run a campaign, set up a mechanism to see if it’s affecting offline sales.
- Use third-party data, depending on your needs. Ideally, firms would have a critical mass of first-party data that helps them identify their customers on social media platforms. Such data can be used to increase loyalty, retarget or upsell consumers. But third-party data can help boost acquisition efforts by using first-party data to create look-alike audiences. Look-alike audiences are new customers who are statistically likely to be interested in what you’re selling because they share many traits with your existing customers. Pairing one data source with another can also yield insights. Articles that are read, for instance, can be an indicator of interest and intent. When coupled with location data or shopping data, they can expose new occasions for serving up marketing messages. Action step: Use third-party data to create look-alike audiences.
- Work with your social media partners. Social media is constantly evolving. Maintaining communication with your social media partners will help you stay up to date on the newest placements, understand their applications and negotiate inclusion in beta programs. Action step: Form strong relationships with social media partners to take part in their new initiatives.
Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I feel given our societal climate these days, this is a question most millennials ask ourselves daily. There are so many great movements currently that I proudly stand with. This is a tough question because I want to do so much! If we’re speaking on bringing about the most amount of good to the most amount of people, this goes back to the establishment or rather re-establishment of our government. When you take a step back you can make waves at the grassroots level, inspire change, build activation, but, ultimately, it’s the laws passed that govern how we operate. I think we’re slowly beginning to understand the importance of this, especially given that younger and more diverse politicians are emerging. This has to continue. We have to take a step-by-step approach to essentially rebuild a government that never intended to see the world in the way we do today. That’s the movement I want to inspire.
Some of the biggest names in business, VC funding, sports and entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world or in the U.S. with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with and, if so, why? He or she just might see this if we tag them.
This is probably a bit greedy, but it’s honest and I can’t just pick one. I would ask for a lunch with two friends — Jay-Z and Michelle Obama. Jay-Z because I respect his foresight as a businessman and I know he would have a book full of business gems to help catapult me to the next level of my career. He’s also a New Yorker and hustle is in his DNA. I would love to understand the vitamin regimen he uses to keep on his A game all of these years. I don’t think I have to explain much as to why I would want to include Michelle Obama. I’m intrigued specifically by her poise, charisma and patience throughout her eight years as the First Lady. It takes a special kind of woman to make an impact on so many diverse people — who doesn’t aspire to operate at that level? Of course, I would also need a nice hug to soak up all of her amazing vibes!