Greetings Inboxers! This month, we’re taking a slightly different look at the digital marketing industry with a focus on social media. While our first love will always be email, any great digital campaign must include a healthy dose of social in order to achieve the integrated, cross-channel reach that drives great results.
As senior specialist for social media at SSPR, Ashley Glenn is no stranger to the power of social media to engage audiences. For nearly 3 years, she’s worked with clients in a wide range of industries to tell their stories through social interaction, social media advertising, Facebook and LinkedIn, to drive leads and promote new business.
With over 4 years in the industry, Ashley has also worked as social media specialist at SocialSEO, Inc. and as social media director in the provocative political scene. Here’s what she had to say about how social is impacting the industry.
1. Why did you choose digital/social marketing, or maybe it chose you?
I think it more so chose me. My dad has run for both the U.S Senate and Congress and tasked me with being his social media director. So, I started doing it for his campaign to engage young people and find creative ways to get them active. That audience isn’t reading newspapers, so he though I’d be the perfect person to try and reach that Millennial audience because I’m one of them. At my previous job, I dabbled in social a little, but now at SSPR, I do that exclusively. I’ve always been in the marketing space, but social kind of fell into my lap.
2. What is your personal mission statement?
To encourage and support others to act on their passion. I’m a marathon runner, and it’s my passion in life. A lot of people think it’s a crazy thing, but when people see me talk about it, they see that passion come through. I want to help others find stuff they’re passionate about and to achieve their goals.
3. Tell me something about your job that inspires you to keep working at your company.
Hands down, it’s the people. I love the people I work with. It’s such a collaborative environment, and we’re constantly brainstorming and pushing each other to think outside the box. Things in this industry are always changing and we’re constantly being forced to think of new ways to reach our clients’ goals. It’s never easy, and never the same. But it also never gets boring and it forces me to think creatively.
4. When you think of the word “successful,” who is the first person who comes to mind, and why?
This is probably an unpopular opinion, but I think of Tom Brady, the quarterback for the Patriots. He’s been to 9 Super Bowls and won 6. He’s the epitome of someone who acts on his passion, and he makes everyone around him perform at their best. You can put a subpar player on his team, and he’ll make them great. He plays on one of the most hated teams in the NFL but doesn’t let that negativity get in his way.
5. What is a skill that every digital marketer or PR specialist should have and why?
You should be able to accurately build target market personas. You need to be able to get to the heart of very specifically who your customer is, what they’re interested in, their behaviors, and who they are as people. Even if you’re selling a B2B product, the end user is still a human, and you have to find a way to connect with them, to solve their needs. If you can’t reach a person, you’re not going to be able to market your product. And, it’s not easy. A lot of companies have multiple personas they’re trying to reach, which makes it even tougher.
6. What is the best part about your job?
Besides being able to do it from anywhere, it’s the fact that it forces me to get creative, to think about everything from the consumer’s perspective. My end user is always a human. Finding creative ways to convince them they need this product or solution is a challenge, but I love it.
7. If you could only use five digital marketing/PR/publishing tools, what would they be? And why?
- Google analytics. If you have a website, you NEED this. It tells you where your audience is, how they’re interacting with your site, how long they’re spending on it…nearly everything about your customer can be found with this tool. Even for Facebook advertising, you can go into Google Analytics and get data from there. I’m our Google Analytics guru at SSPR and I’m responsible for rolling that out across all the account teams. It’s really valuable.
- Facebook advertising. Even with some of its limited capability and recent controversies, it is still far better than the other social ad platforms, including for B2B companies, if it’s used properly.
- YouTube. People seem to find video more engaging than text, and when they’re scrolling through social platforms or news aggregation source, it makes people stop and pause. Our attention spans are becoming so short these days, you have to have impactful content and video is interactive. It humanizes your brand. If they can just listen, it makes it much more interesting.
- Cision. This is a great way to measure your share of voice and to keep an eye on your competitors. You can also use it to find any reporter’s email addresses to send out pitches.
- Canva. This is a simple graphic design tool that anyone can learn how to use. When you’re promoting a brand, you need great looking and compelling assets. A lot of people resort to Photoshop, but it’s very daunting. If you need an easy, quick tool, Canva goes a long way and makes your brand look more professional. You can use that slick look through social posts, on your website, etc.
8. Who inspires you?
It would actually be two people: Shalane Flanagan and Desiree Linden. They’re both American marathon runners who have shown what it means to persevere, to never give up. Shalane won the New York City Marathon in 2017 and Desiree won Boston in 2018, the first American women in over 30 years to do so at both events. Just hearing their stories and how they’ve gotten so close to a win before, and now having these major breakthroughs with wins at such high-profile events is really incredible. When I think I can’t run anymore, I think of them and it helps me to keep pushing forward. That mentality also helps me at work. When you have a really tough challenge, you have to keep trying. You can’t just give up. You have to try something new, find a different way, and keep going.
9. What is the biggest digital PR trend/challenge for 2019?
Finding ways to advertise and get your message out there without being intrusive. Native advertising is so pervasive, and because I work in this business, I can spot an ad almost immediately. And, even though I know it’s necessary, it still angers me immediately that it’s in my news feed and taking away from updates from my family and friends. I think “Why? Why are they inserting themselves into my personal life?” Now you have those Gmail advertisements popping up there. I pulled up a Forbes article today and 3 ads popped up. I don’t even want to read those articles anymore because the ads ruin my experience, and it slows page load. I understand they need to do this, but the challenge is finding ways to do it without upsetting the user. If you’re that intrusive, they will intentionally not purchase because they’re irritated.
As an industry, we must find ways to effectively advertise, where audiences are spending their time, without being so intrusive and aggressive. I wish I had the answer.
10. If you could have one billboard and place it anywhere, what would it say and where would it be?
It would say “Do your research and consider both sides.” I’d hang it somewhere that gets lots of traffic, like a New York City subway. People tend to read a headline and they just take it at face value. They don’t look into the issue. They read one thing, don’t consider any alternative points of view, and then they become so aggressive about what they believe based on that one piece of information, they can’t even imagine there being a viewpoint that is different from their own. There are always different ways of considering the same issue, but it seems not many people want to take the time.
11. What have you changed your mind about recently?
I would say I’ve changed my mind about companies being able to choose one form of marketing to successfully reach their business goals. In the world we live in now, people need to be convinced or inspired to take action in several different ways. It’s no longer good enough to launch a social media campaign and think that you’re going to get results. Businesses must make sure their PR, marketing and sales teams are on the same page and pushing out the same message to promote their business in a consistent way. This will show consumers that your brand is aligned and not operating under different siloes.
12. What’s the one or two things you can’t live without to get the job done?
First, I need my morning run every day so I can clear my head. I start every morning with 6-7 miles in the dark, and it helps to put my mind at ease. I get my endorphins going and head into work with a clear mind. If I don’t get to run, I can tell that it really impacts how I do my job. I just feel “off.” I also need coffee, and it’s the first thing I grab when I get to work. Finally, Google Analytics. After coffee, that’s the next thing I do every morning: check-in to see what’s happening with traffic on my clients’ websites.
Thank you, Ashley! We also love to look at things from a variety of perspectives, and we thank you for sharing yours.