Our social team is often engaging with students at a time in their life where there’s a lot of uncertainty about life, college, work, and more. We’ve seen firsthand how a moment of real kindness online can affect students; as a result, whenever I see a brand whose identity consists of insults to their prospective customers, it makes me want to scream. You never know where someone is at emotionally when you hit ‘reply’ to that direct message, so I’d love to see more brands think about the way they interact with students online and the opportunity they have to form a real — if brief — connection with someone.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Matthew Monagle, Social Media Manager for Aceable, Inc. (https://www.aceable.com).
Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I began my career at an organization without a dedicated social media manager, which meant we often took an ad hoc approach to our social channels. If someone had something they felt needed to be posted, they’d post it, leading to infrequent and inconsistent updates. Since I had an interest, I took over our social accounts and it quickly became a big chunk of my work at as member of the marketing team. I saw the importance of a consistent brand message and online presence, and I wanted to be part of solidifying that.
Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority about Social Media Marketing?
Like most, I’ve had to wear a lot of hats in my career as a full-time and freelance social media manager, but my time at Aceable has solidified my position as a social media start-up expert. From originating the position at our company with a youthful audience to managing both the paid and organic sides of the business within a performance marketing team, my challenges (and successes!) have been varied as the company has grown exponentially.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
Early in my time at Aceable, we briefly partnered with WeRateDogs — just before it became the powerhouse social media presence it is today — on a summer giveaway program. Since our company emphasized growth, we were hoping to raise our profile on social media, but we were shocked at the number of users who submitted user-generated content as part of our contest. Our favorite part of the contest was after we picked a winner, we were able to send one particular Twitter user who’s dog had just passed a Pop Your Pup! pillow featuring their forever friend. When a campaign works at the macro and micro level, you know you’ve done something special.
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?
During one of my first webinars, we had an equipment malfunction that prevented our video device from capturing correctly. Our workaround was simple, if not particularly elegant: I contorted myself into a ball in the corner of a small conference room and held an iPhone for 30 minutes as our guests discussed the subject of the day. The lesson? Technology fails, and triple-checking your primary devices isn’t enough. Have a second device ready at a moment’s notice or be ready to invest heavily in muscle relaxants.
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?
Every business is different, but we’ve had a lot of success at our organization by carving out dedicated time to test and iterate on our Facebook retargeting campaigns. In my current organization, we’re lucky to have a dynamic SEM team who helps us get people onto the page; building social media campaigns that convert these page visitors ensures that we’re thinking holistically about our customers (instead of becoming siloed within our own channels). Now that Reddit has grown its native advertising platform, we’ve run some early prospecting tests with related subreddits that could pay big dividends in the future. Nothing can be an audience that self-identifies their interests for you.
Let’s talk about Instagram specifically, now. Can you share 6 ways to leverage Instagram to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.
Have authentic interactions. As simple as it may sound, everyone knows the fastest way to grow your Instagram presence — and therefore drive more traffic back to your website — is by interacting with other Instagram accounts. That being said, don’t be one of those brands that simply spams other companies with comments like, “Great photo!” or “We love your business!” Leave specific comments, ask real questions, and show other that you’re not just another Instagram bot. Sure, this might lead to more followers, but it also might also mean more partnership opportunities (backlinks, influencers, etc.) down the line.
Find your office’s secret photographer. If you cannot afford a full-time graphic design person as a small company, don’t worry: odds are good that someone in another department is secretly an aspiring photographer and willing to chip in some projects. My biggest weapon as a Social Media Manager at Aceable is our Digital Assets Manager, whose primary responsibility is to oversee the distribution of course content but who happens to be an amazing photographer in her spare time. We’ve been able to produce high-quality stock photos and Instagram campaigns that separate our marketing material apart from our competitors, just by carving out a few hours in her day.
Pay attention to your discovery metrics. Instagram’s native analytics include the ability to report out on what percentage of a post’s audience came from non-followers. Measuring this on a weekly basis can show you which content and keywords are bringing net-new impressions and followers to the table. If a post has a lower impression share than you’re used to but is reaching more people outside your network, that additional reach might just be more important to you than the loss in impressions.
Find the link tool that works for you. Every social media manager hates the restrictions of having to call out the link in your bio; one colleague even went so far as to create an entire persona around this limitation (their mortal enemy, Lincoln Bio). Thankfully, these days there are a handful of link tools like Campsite and Linktree that will allow you to add additional links mapped to individual posts. We started using one a few months ago and it’s been a huge boon to our page traffic analytics.
Treat Instagram like a social landing page. Most small organizations often struggle just to keep the lights on when it comes to content, often leading to Instagram feeds that are cluttered with varying types of content that happened to fit what they had on hand. If you can, take the extra time to create something visually consistent — a well-conceived collection of photos can often make up for a lower follower count in the eyes of prospective customers.
Don’t try to be everything for everyone. As marketers, we know the values of our brand inside and out. We also know that targeting everyone sometimes means you end up communicating with no one at all. Know your target audience, of course, but also know your ideal audience, the kind of people who will become life-long advocates for you and your organization, and provide the type of content that resonates with them. We have clear a clear brand voice and tone established for both our real estate education and drivers education verticals, so we don’t get bogged down on vanity metrics like followers if they’re just sitting silently and providing us no in-platform value.
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. 🙂
As an online drivers ed company, our social team is often engaging with students at a time in their life where there’s a lot of uncertainty about life, college, work, and more. We’ve seen firsthand how a moment of real kindness online can affect students; as a result, whenever I see a brand whose identity consists of insults to their prospective customers, it makes me want to scream. You never know where someone is at emotionally when you hit ‘reply’ to that direct message, so I’d love to see more brands think about the way they interact with students online and the opportunity they have to form a real — if brief — connection with someone.
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 US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
If I could have coffee with anyone in the industry, it would be Michaela O’Shaughnessy, Social Media Manager for Teen Vogue. She and her team live at the intersection of education and social impact; I would love to talk about her approach to Generation Z and how they continue to be one of the most important teen brands in the business.