Rachel Miller says she spent most of her life in Australia. However, no one can tell given her undetectable accent. We’re convinced her Down Under homeland story is a ruse to cover up the fact that she was really birthed on the Internet.
Rachel Miller “did” social media long before the term even existed. She started her career in social engine optimization, and quickly moved to marketing and social selling. Today, she serves as the chief listener at Pipeliner CRM and excellence officer at BroadSuite – growing online communities through the latest social media tools, weekly podcasts, Twitter chats and vlogs.
We were curious to learn a bit more about her given her experiences and fluency in social media. So, she spent a perfect Los Angeles morning sharing a bit of wisdom with us:
PA.O: What have you been obsessed with lately?
Rachel Miller: I’m a social tools junkie. I’m always trialing new things. I really love to see what people are doing and seeing how the future will evolve. Developers are building tools that aren’t famous now but will be five years from now.
PA.O: Can you tell us about some of these up-and-coming tools?
Rachel Miller: There is a tool I’ve been using for the last six months – it’s called Socedo. It’s a multinetwork communication enablement tool. You input prospect criteria, and it identifies candidates for you. It starts on Twitter, and then, depending on prospect behavior, initiates a communication dialogue that ends on LinkedIn. It presents viable prospects to me every morning. You can say yes, no or later to whomever you like. Like Pandora, after you tweak it you’ll get to the audience you want.
With this tool, you can scale your social media outreach to new prospects quite easily. It is showcasing how social media automation is truly beneficial to the modern business professional.
Every business is talking about big data and cloud, and that really isn’t a business differentiator now. Pretty much across the board, we haven’t figured out how to leverage data effectively, yet. Stepping back and analyzing data with a layer of human intuition is important. We see the data, but what do we do with it? We see the data, but we have a hard time making the most of it. The best use is segmenting our data, crafting messages and allowing that person to respond to it – which won’t necessarily be in real time, but what we call right time. When they have eventually made the best decision. Automation is a huge and necessary part of marketing right now.
PA.O: You mentioned something interesting – people in the social media industry would see your use of a tool, like Socedo, as impersonal and robotic. Can you share best practices in maintaining the personal touch in your automated communications?
Rachel Miller: Social media automation is not the devil. In general, I feel the social media community is actually very accepting of it. The tech is incredibly smart.
Social media automation has gotten a bad name because everyone gets those horrible direct messages where someone is asking you to connect on LinkedIn or Facebook, but they’ve never engaged with you. It’s bad form. You’d never walk up to someone and say, “Hey, do you want to go for a ride in my car?” Social media is a communication channel. Using DM’s to broadcast and spam is not the type of automation I advocate.
The goal is to free up your time to do what you do best – being social and being human. Tools that have large automation elements are just allowing us to communicate at scale. That is the type of automation I like. They have a lot more to do with executing content distribution and automating activities that a human doesn’t have to do.
PA.O: It sounds like the trick is knowing what you should automate and what you shouldn’t.
Rachel Miller: Automate your posts. A tool called Followerwonk analyzes your network and lets you know when you should be posting. How often you should post varies – if someone has a more geographically distributed network, they might post every two hours 24/7.
PA.O: I know a big part of what you do is building a business-to-business community online. How do you get other businesses in your sales funnel via social media? One would think that, given they are working professionals, they wouldn’t be on Twitter or social media often at work.
Rachel Miller: Using social media to connect with B2B is basically the same as business-to-community. You are trying to build awareness and solicit emotional responses to your product and service. I’m in a B2B tech space and my job requires me to be online all the time. Most members of my communities are online all the time, also. If I get a Twitter mention alert, I can respond right away, as supposed to someone who is in B2C and checks their Twitter at lunch or on the way home.
The trick to building a community for B2B is that you need to educate your audience first. Find out what attracted them to you in the first place. Everyone wants to be a better version of themselves – communicate how your product and service will make them better. Are you making them a key player at their job? Maybe their favorite celebrity or business role model does XYZ. How can you help them do that?
It is much easier for B2B communities to move with education first.
There are a lot of bad examples on social media communications in the B2B space. If you get a crappy DM, instead of blocking that person or writing back something mean, kindly tell what’s wrong best online casino with how they used marketing automation to communicate with you. Better your community by telling marketers what they can be doing better.
I’m a huge fan of referral marketing – be a help and an advisor.
PA.O: If this space is all about education first, why do we see so many B2B brands promoting something that has nothing to do with their brand?
Rachel Miller: Something as simple as redoing your website for the holidays isn’t the best tactic for B2B. Why don’t you tell me you are superthankful I’m a customer in March? You have to be tactful that your message stands out – you don’t want to just follow the crowd. News jacking, or posting the latest news updates, should be avoided unless it is highly relevant to your industry and community. Using a popular event that is irrelevant to your brand or industry will bring negative attention and is the quickest way to disappoint.
PA.O: What data do you collect to help you make decisions for your social media content and activity?
Rachel Miller: Specific to content, I don’t pay much attention to the vanity metrics. It is nice to see that your content is being shared, but what I really look at is the time on page for each specific post. And comments or dialogues online triggered by the post.
Time on Spent on Page signifies interest.
With it, you can easily see if your posts are being read. If you have 500 social shares but your page views are under 1 minute, they are sharing because maybe they like you but aren’t really reading your content. If you are focusing on education and knowledge retention, lengthy page views show success, especially if they read and then post comments.
Social shares are called vanity metrics for a reason. It’s nice to see that people are sharing your content, but what matters the most is that people are actually engaging it.
PA.O: What are the “new metrics” for consumer engagement?
Rachel Miller: There is a trend called micro-influencing that’s becoming more important. These micro-influencers have just 2,000 to 3,000 followers – but they are a dedicated core. If you send this group something, they are sure to respond. The premise is, you respect a referral from your friends much more than a complete stranger. This is so much better than someone who has 30,000 followers and a .001 percent engagement rate.
2013 was the year of the paid brand ambassador, and then in 2014, there was a big backlash against having huge followings of ambassadors and celebrities with no genuine connection to their fans or the brands they tweet about.
There are rules from the FTC on celebrities endorsing products on social media. If it is a paid endorsement, they have to say so.
PA.O: How has the buyer journey changed? Are we in a new era of marketing?
Rachel Miller: Marketing is definitely not a funnel. We are all hyperconnected right now, so I guess marketing is a spider web, instead. Information is so readily available, 75 or 80 percent of buyers know about your brand and have made up their minds before they have even contacted you. I’m on the phone with customers that are very knowledgeable about our products, and that is so amazing to see. The sales persons’ job is to not screw things up. People can just download and purchase products and services by themselves. They don’t need to wait for things to be brought to them.
PA.O: Seems like we’re in the era of the self-educated buyer.
Rachel Miller: There’s a saying that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t get it to drink. That’s why content marketing is so par for course. People are taking the time to do research by themselves, and you can supply them with all the resources they need to make a decision.
PA.O: When do you think we’ll reach content overload? There is so much information out there.
Rachel Miller: I think we have already started to see that happening.
LinkedIn Pulse and other platforms, like Medium, allow people to self-publish and amplify their message. What is interesting though is that the longer posts are the most read and shared. Longer-form content typically includes data and research links to back up opinions.
I believe we have a content overload because we are reading others opinions repeatedly without feeling like they are being backed up by anything. It’s just too much fluff. Unless they are an expert in their field, it is hard to take them seriously after a while. I think we are wanting more facts and detail over opinion. The pendulum is swinging slowly, but it is swinging.
I’m an avid reader so reading short posts with no facts or calls to action doesn’t excite me. Every day, we use tactics of explaining why we feel a certain way. Did you try it and it didn’t work? You need facts to back up your opinion.