Stephen Parnell shares his expertise in this social media interview

Who are you and what does your company do?

I’m Stephen Parnell, founder of CanEye, a digital marketing agency specializing in acquiring customers using PPC, SEO and social media. We work with clients on both sides of the Atlantic and have offices in the USA and UK. Our areas of specialty are the legal, immigration, real estate and business sectors.

How and why did you get started in social media?

We added social media (SM) services into the mix for our agency clients about 5 years ago. This is when it became essential for growing brands to be active on SM to effectively communicate with their clients and prospects. SM forms an integral part of our clients’ digital marketing plans.

What do you believe the benefits of using social media for business are?

The main benefit our clients see from increasing their use of SM is the ability to communicate in real-time with both, prospects and clients. In essence, it is an effective communication tool for promoting educational content. SM is also a great channel for testing short-form content that would have otherwise not be created and used.

What do you think are common mistakes business owners make when building brand awareness through social media?

The biggest mistake we see is the habit of needing to sell in almost every post. We encourage our clients to use social media as first and foremost a communication tool. There is nothing wrong with selling via this medium, but you need to establish a balance between educational/beneficial content and sales messages.

What qualities do you think social media managers should have?

Social media managers should respect their followers and have the desire and ability to source and deliver content. That content needs to educate new followers and inspire them, enticing every reader to continue to want to stay in touch. It’s a tough combination to find, but those who understand the needs of the target audience can work wonders with your social profiles.

How do business owners know if their social media campaign is working?

That is a great question! When the idea of SM is first discussed, most clients don’t know how to quantify results. It is important for clients and businesses to understand what they are going to use SM for, only then can the metrics of success be measured. While SM can become a stand-alone vehicle for outright advertising it is best used to enhance other mediums.

How do you see social media evolving over the next 5 years…what do you hope to see?

As someone who has been involved in digital since 1996, I have seen so much develop in 5-year segments that it has become pretty tough to foresee exactly what the future holds. One thing I believe we will see is some truly amazing new uses of SM together with applications used for leisure rather than commercial purposes. It’s going to be a brutal out there, so staying ahead of the curve is essential. It’s also important to not get too caught up in the fever of new ideas simply for the sake of it.

What do you think are some of the consequences of not getting on-board with social media?

In the digital world of today and tomorrow, those who aren’t on board with the idea of using SM as part of their digital marketing plan are rejecting the opportunity to communicate with their prospects and clients. All of the time we hear that “social media is not right for my demographics” – nonsense! It simply comes down to choosing the right SM platform for your business. Why wouldn’t you want to have a presence where your competitors are already or where they are yet to be?

What are your thoughts on social media versus more traditional marketing activities?

Following on from the last question I believe it’s important to establish which SM platform(s) are right for your business. You can start to identify that by asking some fairly basic questions:

  • Who is your target market?
  • Who are your clients?
  • Where do they spend their time on social media?
  • Which platform offers you the best way to communicate using the answers above?

Knowing the answers to these questions helps to make it clearer which SM platforms you should focus on. Once you know which network(s) is right for you, it then becomes a far easier job to form an inclusive digital media plan that includes the correct mix of social for your business.

Which one best practice would you recommend about using social media to grow a business?

The best social media practice for me comes down to knowing your client and/or prospective client, focusing on the right SM platforms and forming a cohesive and inclusive digital media plan. This requires either allocating an experienced social media manager in your business (pretty tough) or outsourcing your social media management to an agency that does not believe in a one-size fits all philosophy.