In this episode of BrandTalks Gareth O’Sullivan explains how to effectively use social media and where to get the inspiration to develop the business.
Gareth is a versatile digital marketer with experience in various social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and many more. Gareth also writes various, extremely interesting, blog posts. You can follow his activity on his social media platforms and his website garethosullivan.com
Host: Hello Gareth, how are you?
Gareth: I’m really good, thank you. And yourself?
Host: I am as well, thank you. Let’s start with our first question. You chose your career path quite easily, as far as I’m concerned. What affected your choice? How did you know that social media marketing was exactly for you?
Gareth: To be fair I’ve always had an interest in social media, I’ve always loved working and being there. Therefore, I wanted to expand that and actually make it my profession. I started off with a Youtube channel in 2010, which gained the following of 7000 subscribers. Then I decided to take it to Twitter as well and I gained 10 000 followers or so (that was my Youtube’s channel Twitter account). I decided to expand from there and presently I’ve got 2 Twitter accounts, an Instagram account and I’m pretty much on all the major social networks. I also did an apprenticeship in social media marketing, with all the other SM enthusiasts, that pushed me even more into the SM marketing world. When I started my career, I was a social media and digital marketing assistant. Then, I was headhunted by the current director of Creation Agency, Jason Borrows. He found me through my personal Twitter account, which at the time had 100 000 followers, and that’s just where my career’s begun. I’m currently a content marketing manager, but I was promoted to this position after 4 months of working as a social media executive.
Host: It’s difficult not to notice how popular your Twitter accounts are. Why exactly did you choose Twitter and Youtube in the first place? I’m asking, because the majority of people choose Facebook as their first point of contact with SM.
Gareth: I did have a Facebook account, but I wasn’t as active on there as I was with Twitter and Youtube. With the latter, I was able to share my experiences and create videos. As they were mainly gaming video, I got into the Youtube community quite early and gained the mass following on them. Later I took that to Twitter, as that was the easiest social media network, where you could actually tweet often and get a lot of engagement. Facebook wasn’t quite like that back in the days. It had all the possibilities, but it was used more for sharing what you had for dinner. With Twitter, it was made easier to share your videos to your followers and make sure your subscribes would be notified when a new video was released.
Host: When you think of your professional career, what would be the most important lesson you’ve learnt so far?
Gareth: The most important lesson for me is always to strike at delivering the highest quality content. You don’t want to post any content that has no use for anyone. I found that when I write specific content, such as guides and ‘how to’ tutorials etc. for my followers, it needs to be understandable and contain tips that they can actually apply.
Host: Would you say that learning the lesson was a longer process or maybe a day came when you just came to this conclusion?
Gareth: It wasn’t a very long process but I did put some effort into researching. I listened to other influencers, I observed how they engaged with their community, what content they posted. I also learnt many tips and tricks while doing the apprenticeship. Having gained that knowledge, I started applying it in my own work and the results came soon after. I have gained bigger following and learned more about social media marketing.
Host: As for the other influencers, is there anyone in particular you currently follow?
Gareth: I follow quite a few people. I follow Sam Hurley, the number one digital marketer according to a German report for 2016. I actually had the pleasure to interview, the outcome of which you can find on my blog. Other top marketers I follow are Jed Record or Gary V., to name a few.
Host: That’s interesting as I have bought Gary Vees book quite recently.
Gareth: That is just what I reading at the moment! There is also this podcast he is doing called ‘Ask Cary Vee’ that he posted on audible. That is definitely something I intend to subscribe to and listen to in the nearest future.
Host: Gary V certainly is an extraordinary man. Now, let’s go back to your work. What is the best way to use social media to drive traffic to your site?
Gareth: I mainly use social media networks such as Twitter, Instagram, etc. I found that Twitter is by far the best one and have gathered many clicks to my website. I also have some social media managing tool, such as Buffer, and I am currently trying out this Twiggle, which is like an RSS feeder to twitter. It is really useful but at the moment Buffer is one of my main favourite tools that I currently use. When I write statuses and posts etc. I prioritise images, I definitely want to include images in all of my posts. I also want to make sure that the message is really striking and eye catching, thus easy for people to find. It is also important to answer the question on how this can be of any benefit to your follower in the actual message. Once you show them those benefits and attract their attention, they click through to your website.
Host: As for tools, is Buffer the best there available or are there any others that you’d recommend?
Gareth: I do think Buffer is great when it comes to scheduling content or getting it all out to your audience. I also recommend ‘Co Schedule Headline Optimiser’. What it does is, when you put a blog post title, the tool comes back to you with a score and tells you how good the actual content title is. You can also use it to create quality, striking message for your social media posts. Obviously, it can really be time-consuming, however, if you really want to take that advantage, you could actually use the tool to do that.
Host: I’d also like to ask you about tools to automate Twitter. When I start following someone, I often receive an automated message welcoming me and directing to a blog or an eBook, for instance. What is your opinion on that kind of tools that send automated Twitter messages?
Gareth: To be fair, it highly depends on what messages they are. I am not going to lie, I do actually have an automatic message set on my Twitter account. However, what I found successful is providing useful information in my in my automatic message. For example, when I had my interview with Sam Hurley, who is number one digital marketer, my automatic message said: “Hey! Thanks for the follow, I appreciate it. Did you see my interview with the world’s number one digital marketer? Check it out, you might find his tips very useful”. So rather than linking to a website, I link to that tweet. Therefore, when people click on that tweet, they will see how many retweets, likes etc. it already has. Now, that particular tweet actually has 69 retweets and 61 likes and a lot of comments as well. Seeing this, people might think that the article must be good and worth looking at. You can apply that approach to any specific blog post, even if it is your website or a certain message you are trying to get across.
Host: So, automation in itself isn’t bad, it’s all about the way we utilise it, isn’t it?
Gareth: Exactly! I myself receive a numerous amount of automatic messages throughout my day. I have ones which are like and find really interesting. What makes them work is that they specify what benefits they provide. They give some examples or include the tweet that contains the link to an article. Still, there are many who simply thank you for following and there’s nothing wrong about them. The ones I don’t find quite successful are the long messages containing the whole company bio and telling you to click and buy. When I receive one of those, it literally goes straight to trash.
Host: Thank you for saying what you just said, because it is very important to emphasise the good manners and bad manners of automating. It is challenging to build a good company image. As for challenges, what was the hardest problem you’ve had so far and how did you manage to solve it?
Gareth: Hmm, that is a really good question. I probably say time is one of the hardest one. I have a job, but when I finish my day work I get home I am working again. Definitely, finding time is probably the main challenge. It takes a lot of time to create the content throughout the day, to connect with my influencers, to then write blog posts so… I need to do it in my free time, instead of spending it with my family, my girlfriend. It can be quite time-consuming so what I found for how to actually overcome is that scheduling the content at night can be really good and useful. Also, I recently tried out a tool that I mentioned earlier called Twibble. It is a RSS to twitter feed, so therefore , you can put in an RSS feed, for example, a business to community topic on social media and then put that into this Twibble. Twibble will then automatically tweet it for you and you put in the hashtags which you want to include in every single post. That’s probably been the best tool which helps me overcome the time challenge with posting the content, however, it is still good for me to create the content in advance. I need to be prepared, be proactive and organised.
Host: I am surprised that you said time, but I must agree with you that it is indeed a great challenge to handle all tasks in a timely manner. Let’s go back to Twitter for a moment. If you could you share one or two growth hacks, what would it be?
Gareth: As for Twitter growth, you want to build your following. There are many tools to help you with that, but it is difficult to find the best ones. I use CrowdFire for following inactive people, but for actually growing your account I apply several methods. I did write a blog post about this, on how I grow my twitter account as well. I basically look at different accounts then I research and find different ones which are influencers. I would then add them to a private list on Twitter and pretty much identify their follow ratio, if they are good followers, if their accounts are good. I then give them a follow and engage with their account like, by possibly retweet, give them a like on their content, tweet at them etc. That’s build a targeted following rather than following just anyone. You just don’t want to follow anyone, you want to only build targeted following. When you create posts and publish them you actually want to get a lot of engagement, where if have a targeted followers like I do on my account you can much always get engagement on your posts. That is my main growth hack, to find influencers that are big accounts that, add them to a private list on twitter and go through those accounts following some of them. Follow them as long as they are suitable. I use CrowdFire, Tweepy any other tools which then un-follow people if they don’t follow back in a set amount of days, which is usually about 5 to 10 days. If people find the content interesting they are more likely to give you a follow, but if you just posting content where you are trying to get sales then they are not likely to follow back. I think it is about 80 to 20 , 80% of your content should be just blog posts and other content and then 20% should be your sales posts, which you then can feed through now and then. Personally, I am not selling anything so pretty much all of mine is helpful advice etc.
Host: That is definitely a very useful tip. When will we see your newest article on your blog? I am looking forward to see a new one.
Gareth: I have one in draft at the moment. I literally just need to put in one more point. It is about Facebook, how to get a lot of engagement, how to post at the right time etc. Probably, I could publicise that tonight, or this should be published by the time this podcast will have been published.
Host: We will paste a link to your blog below the interview. I want to thank you very much for your time. It was great talking to you.
Gareth: thank you for having me here as well.