Successful people with millions of followers and a humble attitude are hard to find. And you know you are really lucky if they take out time from their too-hard-to-imagine busy schedules and get in touch with you! Yes, Social Champ was really privileged to have a conversation with one such social media icon, Mack Collier, a social media strategist, trainer and speaker located in Alabama that specializes in helping companies better connect with its customers via social media and digital marketing channels. Some of his numerous accomplishments are listed below:
- Companies Mack has worked with include Dell, Adobe, Paper.li, Red Lion Hotels, Club Med
- Top social media conferences and events: South By Southwest Interactive, Blog World and New Media Expo, Content Marketing World, and Social Media Tourism Symposium
- Articles published in: The Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, USA Today, CNBC, ESPN, The Washington Post, CNET and Entrepreneur Magazine
- Mack’s first book Think Like A Rock Star: How to Create Social Media and Marketing Strategies That Turn Customers Into Fans, published in 2013 by McGraw-Hill and is an Amazon Best Seller.
Read the whole conversation to discover some really useful advises for your businesses, especially if you are a beginner!
Social Champ: Hi Mack, how are you? It’s a pleasure to have you on board with Social Champ. Could you briefly tell us how you started your career and became a social media celebrity. What motivated you to become such an exceptional social media influencer?
Mack: Well that’s very kind of you to say. I started blogging in 2005, and when I was researching what a blog is, I saw that it was basically defined as ‘an online diary of sorts where you share your opinions about different topics’. So I took that literally, and shared my opinions. It didn’t matter what the topic was. If I saw that Seth Godin or Guy Kawasaki had posted something I didn’t agree with, I would write a post about it. The point is, I wasn’t afraid to share my thoughts and ideas. A lot of new bloggers don’t do this, they feel as if they haven’t ‘earned’ the right to say what they think, and that’s utter nonsense. Putting myself ‘out there’ helped me build a readership and following early on before a lot of people discovered blogging and social media. I would advise new bloggers to do the same, every voice has value and deserves to be heard.
Social Champ: “I tell them to complete this statement: this effort will be a success if X happens”. You shared this quote in your book “Think Like a Rockstar”. What would you put in place of ‘X’ for yourself?
Mack: That’s a great question. At the end of the day, I want to do my part to help companies understand the power of embracing and empowering their passionate customers, or fans.
That’s the 30,000 foot view of measuring results. From a purely business standpoint, I want to know that the content I create is helping me reach the decision-makers that will hire me for speaking, workshops, consulting, and mentoring. I am constantly evaluating my content to make sure that it’s focused on areas that are consistent with the work I do and the markets I want to reach. I do a lot of experimenting, a lot of trial and error is involved. But that’s how you learn, and each person or business’ efforts are different, so experimentation is necessary to drive growth.
Social Champ: Digital marketing has become an essential field altogether in today’s world. How do you think Digital marketing helps a brand /product flourish in the market?
Mack: Social media gives every business unprecedented access directly to its customers. Businesses can leverage Twitter and Facebook as customer service channels, while using their blogs to create content that through SEO drives traffic back to their websites that converts into sales.
The one caveat I would add is that businesses need to use social media deliberately. They need to build strategies that define their social media usage so they know why they are using social media and what they are trying to accomplish. I constantly work with clients that started using social media because ‘everyone else is doing it’. I start working with them to craft an actual social and content strategy so they start seeing better results, and in less time. The quickest way to waste time and money with social media is to get on Facebook and Twitter because ‘everyone else is doing it’. Let a solid strategy guide your efforts.
Social Champ: Mack, you have got myriads of followers on almost all social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google. How can they be used by a beginner to establish a strong presence on social media?
Mack: Start small and grow big. This applies to both individuals and businesses. Pick one social channel, learn how to connect with others effectively on that channel, build a following, then you can branch out to other sites later. Too many people and businesses try to launch a presence on multiple social sites at once, and end up abandoning many or all of them. Learn how to use 1 or 2 sites effectively, then try to grow.
Social Champ: Social media has become an essential part in the world of marketing in the present age almost everywhere around the globe. Have you observed any difference between the strategies used in the western and eastern countries, such as in the Middle East?
Mack: I have noticed that attitudes toward social media are a bit different in Europe. For example, in many places in Europe, content curation is viewed in a negative light. We see it as a value-add to bring toward and share multiple pieces of content around a similar topic, but in other parts of the world that’s viewed as almost ‘copying’ someone else’s work. If your business is global and will be interacting with customers in multiple countries or even continents, it’s obviously important to know how behavior can change based on the area and country you are trying to reach.
Social Champ: Mack, as a content marketer, do you think content helps a product to achieve its goals? How do you suggest the content can be pitched to the target audience?
Mack: Content needs to be pitched not only to the right market, but also factoring in where that market is on the buyer’s journey. For example, a lot of businesses are blogging to ‘build awareness’ for their business, who they are, and what they do. But at the same time, many of these same businesses also want to create content that sells to this same market. You can’t do that. If you are trying to build awareness, then you are trying to reach a market that does not know who you are, so you cannot sell to that market. But once a market knows who you are and knows how your products fit into their lives, then you can sell to them. So it’s not enough to simply understand your market, you also have to understand what type of content your market is ready for.
Social Champ: Failures play a big role in helping one achieve his/her ultimate goal. There is a saying ‘Failure is a part of success’. Mack, what was your biggest failure and what did you learn from it?
Mack: That’s another good question. One of the mistakes I made early on (and I see a lot of my peers still doing this today) is I spent too much of my time creating content for my peers and fellow consultants, versus my clients. It’s easy to get caught up in these ‘Top Social Media Marketers to Follow’ type posts and lists, or to read a gossipy post about how this ‘influencer’ is charging ‘too much’, but clients could care less. Digital marketers need to spend less time talking about themselves, and more time creating content that addresses real problems that their clients are facing.
Social Champ: You occasionally speak at conferences and help budding marketers with your advice. What is your favorite topic which excites you while speaking?
Mack: Every presentation I give and topic I choose has the common theme of focusing on how businesses can better connect with their most passionate customers. I will tell companies that “I am the biggest fan of your biggest fans”. I want companies to understand the value of their EXISTING happy customers because so much of what they do with marketing, customer acquisition and product development could be greatly improved if those companies did a better job of connecting with and appreciating their best customers.
Social Champ: Mentors are the lifelines for success. Who were, or are, your mentors who helped you reach where you are today?
Mack: Let’s see, Kathy Sierra taught me so much about what drives passion in your customers, and she was an amazing help in writing Think like a Rock Star. She’s brilliant. Ann Handley has always helped me be a better writer and understand how to present information in a way that’s more meaningful and helpful to the reader. Kerry Gorgone taught me of the importance of consistency in creating content, she is meticulous in editing her podcast Marketing Smarts and it always comes out every Weds and is the best business podcast and recognized as such. Geno Church taught me the importance of connecting to your customers around an idea or belief that they are passionate about and ‘growing the love’.
Social Champ: Mack, your advice means a lot to the startups and newly born digital marketers. What precious advice do you have for them for growth hacking and increasing followers?
Mack: My best advice for increasing your followers is to not worry about increasing your followers.
It is FAR better to have a tight connection with 10 people than it is to be loosely connected to 1,000. I remember a specific conversation I had in 2011 when I was in Austin working with Dell on #DellCAP. A Dell customer asked me how many followers I had on Twitter, and at the time I had 36,000. Today, six years later, I have 46,000. So I’ve only gained 10,000 followers in 6 years. That’s because I don’t focus on growing my followers, I focus on building tighter relationships with the people I am currently following. Let’s be honest: Its incredibly easy to inflate your follower count on social media sites. For example, if I wanted to add 500 followers on Twitter today, all I’d have to do is follow 2,000 people. But those 500 followers would be people that were just following me back, most could care less who I am or what I tweet about.
So don’t worry about how many people follow you, worry about becoming closer to the people that are ALREADY following you.
Social Champ: “There are Three sides to every interaction: Yours, mine and the view of everyone watching us. Act carefully”. This is one of your most popular quotes on the internet. How important do you think the role of the ‘third side’ is that people tend to neglect?
Mack: This quote is aimed at people that might get in an argument online, say for example with a customer. It’s easy in a heated exchange to lose control of your emotions and say things you might not otherwise. So just remember that everyone else is watching your interaction as it happens. If you are cool, and level-headed, people will notice that. If you lose your cool and lash out, people will notice that as well.
Social Champ: What do you think about Social Champ, an automation tool that allows you to schedule posts on Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms? What are your favorite tools for digital/content marketing?
Mack: I think automation definitely has a role for social media marketing. For example, I automate the sharing of about a dozen of my articles every weekday on Twitter. But I am also mindful to be available to interact with anyone that wants to discuss those links or who has a question about them. As with any digital tool, it should be used to better facilitate value for you, as well as for your audience.
Thank you so much for taking out time for us Mack! Social Champ wishes you all the best for the future and hope our budding marketers learn a great deal from you.