How To Connect, Converse, And Convert Through Social Media Listening
In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Brooke Sellas. Brooke is the CEO & Founder of B Squared Media, an award-winning digital marketing agency focusing on social media management, advertising, and social-led customer care. She teaches a Digital Marketing course (virtually) at the University of California in Irvine. She’s also the author of a new book — Conversations That Connect: How to Connect, Converse, and Convert Through Social Media Listening and Social-Led Customer Care.
People aren’t starved for content on social media. They’re starved for connection. If you’re thinking about social media as the destination for your marketing campaigns, you’re already doing it wrong. In this episode, Brooke Sellas, Founder of B Squared Media and author, dives into why knowing how to listen, share feelings, and offer opinions is the key to effective social media management. Brooke shares her tips for having meaningful conversations that build relationships and connect with your audience on social media.
Questions I ask Brooke Sellas:
- [1:41] How do you define social listening?
- [2:36] What are some tools powered by machine learning and AI that are out there today to help with social listening?
- [4:01] What is social penetration theory and how should we be using it?
- [6:27] How do you balance that idea of being vulnerable and showing your core, but not sharing too much or sharing too soon?
- [7:44] How do you engrain this idea of conversations not campaigns into your social media team members?
- [9:46] What percentage of social media posts and content is total unmitigated crap?
- [10:52] Is there a place for some of what many people may consider cliche posts?
- [13:25] Would you agree that if you’re not getting some dissent, maybe you’re not pushing it enough?
- [14:28] Is there a place for opinions under your brand umbrella?
- [16:33] What should I be posting?
- [18:29] What is social-led customer care?
- [22:11] How could I use social to build more brand affinity so that when people walk into retailers they ask and look for my product?
- [23:41]how do we get our customers to produce some really authentic user-generated content for us?
- [26:14] Where can people learn more about your book and your work?
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John Jantsch (00:48): Hello and welcome to another episode of the duct tape marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Brooke Sellas. She's the CEO and founder of B squared media and award-winning digital marketing agency focusing on social media management, advertising, and social led customer care. She teaches a digital marketing course at the university of California in Irvine, and is also the author of a new book. We're gonna talk about today, conversations that connect how to connect, converse, and convert through social media, listening and social led customer care. So Brooke, welcome to the show.
Brooke Sellas (01:27): Thank you so much for having me. I'm so excited to chat with you today.
John Jantsch (01:32): So part of the, part of the subtitle, I guess, is actually there's two terms in the subtitle I really wanna get into, but the first one is let's just jump right into, you know, how do you define social listening?
Brooke Sellas (01:44): Oh, that's a great question. So for me, social listening is using tools which essentially those tools then use artificial intelligence and machine learning to look for keywords, right? It's really just that simple. You put in keywords about your brand, your industry, your competitors, your products, and the social listening tool goes out there into the worldwide web and on social media channels and listens for those terms that you've put in and then brings all of the information back to you on what's being said about those terms. So it's, you know, if we were to do it manually without the tools and without the artificial intelligence, it would be like trying to drink through a fire hose.
John Jantsch (02:30): Yeah. So, so the most basic tool, I mean, I've had a Google alert set up for my name, I don't know, 20 years. Right. So what are some of the new what's the, some of the new tool set you've mentioned, you know, machine learning AI. So what are some of the new tools?
Brooke Sellas (02:44): Yeah, so Google's actually great. And I say that like, look, you could set up a Google alert, you put your, you know, your company name or your name into Google with quotations. It's going to bring back, you know, instances of when that keyword is found. But we use at B square media, we use sprout social mm-hmm, which is a social media marketing tool. They provide a suite of different types of tools for social media marketing, but there's a lot of them out there there's mention.com. Yeah. Right. And mention, allows, I think for one free listener. So if you wanna dig, dip your toe in the water, check out, mention.com. They'll let you set up one, but there's other ones too. Talk walkers, another one, sprinkler. There's a lot of different tools that now offer this service. My advice, if you're just getting into social listening, know what you want to do first and then ask as you're demoing these tools to be shown. Right. Show me, don't just tell me how your tool can help me accomplish this thing that I'm trying to do.
John Jantsch (03:43): Yeah. Yeah. That sounds like a hard task. Know what I want to do first? Right? You introduce fairly early in the book, something you call social penetration theory and I'm have to tell you that that sounds painful actually
Brooke Sellas (03:56): Terrible name. I know, obviously not named by marketers
John Jantsch (03:59):
Brooke Sellas (04:17): Yeah. So if we jump in our hot tub time machine and go back a few years, I was looking to complete an undergraduate thesis and I was really into Facebook at the time. I kind of saw that there was like a business case for Facebook. So what I did was I looked at this social penetration theory, also known as the onion theory, which says as human beings, the way we form relationships is through self disclosure. So if I like you and I meet you, Hey John, how's it going? You know, that's cliche, that's number one. And I say, what do you do for a living? And you say, I'm a marketer. That's a fact, right? That's two, but we're not really building a relationship with cliches and facts, right? It's very surface level. It's like the breath it's going around the outside of the onion. We would appeal that onion back through the layers and get to the core of who someone is. So if we start to share opinions and feelings, those third and fourth level disclosures, that's where we start to build trust, move the relationship forward, become loyal to someone. And what I looked at in my thesis is does this theory apply to social media? Can brands use this, you know, opinions and feelings type content to better connect, converse and convert their audiences? And what I found was yes, because humans are still humans.
John Jantsch (05:49): You know, and so much of what applies in social media where we're not face to face, I think applies if you're at a cocktail party, right. I mean, people use that analogy all the time. And I will say that, you know, if I'm at a networking event or something and somebody I've not met, uh, walks up to me and says something like, so what's your favorite food to eat? You know? Or just something that like, sort of random, but too personal, you know, or just like really wants to like dive into, you know, what are you working on? That's exciting for you today. I mean, you know, people do that kinda stuff. They're just like, yeah. Ooh, I, I don't know. We gotta get through like the fact stage or something. Right? Yeah. So how do you balance that idea of sure. Be vulnerable show, you know, show your core. I mean, that's how people want to, but not do too soon.
Brooke Sellas (06:39):
John Jantsch (07:42): One of the, this, you might actually say, this is the underlying story or plot for the entire book. Is this, I, this notion of thinking conversations, not campaigns. And particularly in this day and age, when everybody sees social as a channel, a marketing channel, and that they're building teams that they're giving tasks to do social media. I mean, how do you get that? I mean, it's almost culture, right? Yeah. Ingrained as opposed to, you know, people thinking, no, I have a task. I, my task is to meet business objectives by using social media.
Brooke Sellas (08:15): Right. Yeah. And I think the big thing that I try to help marketers understand is if you are having these opinion and feelings, conversation, it's so much easier for you to bring back home a voice of the customer data, which then helps you that much more easily meet those goals that you have, right? Those business goals that you're trying to meet, right? Because everything that we do, if we're gathering these really good opinions and feelings from our customers and would be customers can drive product packaging can drive sales messaging can drive more social content, can drive, you know, our advertising copy. So it really goes well beyond social media, even though we're using that medium to collect this information.
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John Jantsch (09:46): in your opinion, or in your research. What percentage of social media posts, content, et cetera, is total unmitigated crap.
Brooke Sellas (09:57): 99.9, 9%.
John Jantsch (10:13): And don't, let's not forget the well worn quota host.
Brooke Sellas (10:17): Oh, we,
John Jantsch (10:18): Yes, I don't. Where does that
Brooke Sellas (10:19): Fit? I cliche. I would, you know, I would probably label that as cliche. You know, it, here's an interesting little homework assignment for anybody who's listening and does use social listening start labeling your content. Be honest with yourself, start labeling your outbound, social media content with your social media listening tool as cliche fact opinion and feeling, and then you can start to collect data points for yourself. Oh my God. 99.9, 9% of our content is cliches in facts. We need to try to do more opinion and feeling type content.
John Jantsch (10:52): Is there a place for some of that that we're kind of laughing about? Like sometimes I will be snarky about people posting quotes and then I'll get a lot of people that go, no, I love those. You know, so, I mean, is there a place for like some amount of that?
Brooke Sellas (11:05): I think there is, but that's, I would never be the decision maker on that. I would let the voice of the customer tell me. So if I, if we, you know, try those quote posts and we put those out and we label it as, you know, cliche, but we see that we're getting the engagement and the conversation, right. Not just engagement. I want to converse mm-hmm
John Jantsch (11:49): So this is not a very useful part of the segment of the show. I'm warning you right now, but let's just, let's just get the trolls out of the way right now.
Brooke Sellas (11:57): Ugh. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think it's just a fact of being in social media, right? It used to be like, oh, well, if you have to deal with the troll, I think it has now shifted to well, when you have to deal with troll, right. And especially when we're talking about being vulnerable and posting opinions and feelings as a brand, or, you know, trying to align your audience with your own brand values, there will be trolls
John Jantsch (12:25): And well, I guess in some ways you're expressing opinions by doing that and that's just gonna attract trolls. Right.
Brooke Sellas (12:30): Exactly right. And that's okay. They're dissent is allowed. That is part of the conversation. Dissolution is also allowed. We want to align more with the people who are, you know, like us similar to us and align with our brand values. So if someone doesn't align and leaves, that's fine. If someone gives dissent in a conversation, they're sharing their opinions. That's fine. Yeah. You have to decide with your troll policy. When does it cross from dissent into, you know, actual trolling and then what are your rules and regulations around dealing with those types of people? Because guess what, as I say in the book, some of those people are, you're paying customers. So what do you do then? It's not as easy as like, oh, just ban them, block them, delete what they said. It's it. Doesn't, it's just not that easy. It's much more nuanced than that.
John Jantsch (13:23): I mean, I think you're, you would say, would you agree that it goes far as saying if you're not getting some descent, maybe you're not pushing it.
Brooke Sellas (13:31):
John Jantsch (14:20): So, because we've been talking a lot about opinions, there are a lot of very strong, personal opinions out there circulating in the world right now.
Brooke Sellas (14:27): Very,
John Jantsch (14:28): Is there a place for that under your brand umbrella? I mean, obviously you can make a case for be true to who you are, but you can also make a case for does anybody who is buying your product really care, what your personal opinion is on X?
Brooke Sellas (14:46): Yeah. I think that's a great question. And I think, you know, more research is needed around that, right? We need more brands who are willing to take the risk, and then we need to study that because I've seen it both ways. I've seen brands post about black lives matter or pride, right. And have PE people in their community really latch on and appreciate that. I've also seen those same brands push people away because they've really stood their ground with a certain opinion. So, you know, I think one of the examples that I give that kind of falls along with this isn't in the book is Nike. When they started working with Colin Kaepernick mm-hmm
John Jantsch (16:16): Yeah. Probably every one of those videos that got posted burning shoes sold about eight pairs. Right. I mean, they were probably like burn baby burn. Right.
Brooke Sellas (16:24): And also like, you know, from the other end of that, like, just from the consumerism point of that, Nike's like, well, yeah, I already gave us your money. So do what you will with the
John Jantsch (16:33): Product. Good point. So I guess the, I guess I'll ask you the really big, giant question that you probably get asked all the time. And I know there's an, it depends answer as part of this, but what should I be posting?
Brooke Sellas (16:46): Ah, I, you know, I think more opinions and feelings, content, and it doesn't have to be risky. It doesn't have to be black lives matter or pride. It could literally be, you know, if I'm assuming a lot of marketers listen to this podcast, you know, how do you feel about Instagram's latest update. We already know, right. We've seen it. The conversation been happening all around, but that's a layup. That's a layup question that allows you to get that voice of the customer data back opinions back. And then you could say, here's how we feel. You know, you are gonna align with some of those people or, you know, maybe lose the others. And it, they could be little easy layups like that with the book I just published, I was using cover art all throughout publishing. And then as I'm writing, I'm like, oh, you know, I should probably ask my customers what cover they wanna see.
Brooke Sellas (17:39): So I created kind of two throwaway covers because I assumed the cover I was using was going to be the one they chose and they didn't. So I actually went to print with the cover. Most people chose because that's what voice of the customer does. It allows us to see what the customer wants, see what they align with. Right. And that was that there was nothing risky in that. I mean, I could have, if I really wanted to gone to print with the cover I wanted, but why would I would be going against my own advice at that point?
John Jantsch (18:09): Yeah. And I will say on that topic, because there is a picture of the post that you did, that you have a lot of great examples and pictures and that I think will, that are helpful to drive home some of your points. So let's, I, I started the show by talking about the first idea in the subtitle of a, of social media listening. And I want to end really giving you a chance to unpack the second topic in that is, you know, explain what social led customer care is.
Brooke Sellas (18:40): Yes. So most people, I know brands won't wanna hear that
Brooke Sellas (19:49): And we did this fun little project actually, while I was writing the book, we went to all of our customer care clients. And we said, how much of your social chatter, you know, coming into the brand, do you think is acquisition? And how much do you think is retention? And every single customer said, oh, acquisitions probably like zero to 5%, it's all retention. So we started tagging all of these conversations as such. And what we found was that every single client had over 20% acquisition tags. And that means customers who aren't yet customers coming in and
John Jantsch (20:26): Asking like presale questions. Yeah,
Brooke Sellas (20:27): Yeah, yeah. Three purchase questions. In the buying moment, we had one brand who literally has four product lines that month, over month have somewhere between 60 and 80% acquisition, mind blowing mm-hmm
John Jantsch (21:47): All right. I'm gonna ask you a, a question that is a fairly specific use case. And it's it's because I want to know the answer to this myself.
Brooke Sellas (21:58): No shoot. I love this. I love it. It's exciting. It's like a game
John Jantsch (22:01):
Brooke Sellas (22:26): I love that question. And that's a great, that's a great segue into social listening beyond, you know, customer care because you can use, remember we talked about social listening, being keywords. So like, let's just use, say you're working with a company that doesn't sell direct. It sells through retailers, but it's printers, right? Let's just pretend it's printers Uhhuh. You could put the keyword into social listening best all in one printer. Right. That keyword phrase, as we go on with this example, and then again, the artificial intelligence is gonna bring you back. All the instances of people online, talking about best all in one printers. If you then could go into those conversations and make the recommendation for the dealer or the reseller or the retailer.
John Jantsch (23:16): Yeah.
Brooke Sellas (23:16): You could then still close that business. I mean, it's the same kind of project. It's just not warm. Right? It's not inbound. It's outbound. So it's a little bit colder, social selling, but I still bet you would capture some percentage of that conversation towards revenue.
John Jantsch (23:34): All right. One last question. I'm going longer than I usually do sometimes, but I want to give people the chance, get this question all the time. How do I get first off and then use, you know, we used to call it user generated content. Certainly you could talk about it as customer care content and you know, how do we get our customers to produce? So some really authentic social content for us. And I'm not meaning like, how do we get them to just do the job? But it's like, how do we get them enthusiastically wanting to participate in that way?
Brooke Sellas (24:05): It's so interesting because I, this is the same answer I give when people talk about community, how do I know if I can build a community or if I have a community. And I always say community happens in the conversation, not in the, not with the content. It happens in the conversation. So does U GC are user generated content. If you're having those opinion and feelings, content, and John says something spectacular about my product, I then say, and we're conversing, right? So we're already having this back and forth. So there's a little bit of like trust there. Yeah. I could say to John, I cannot, like, I couldn't have described our product better. Would you be willing to create a post? You know, that says that, or can I snip this conversation and use this in one of our own posts and more than likely, I mean, going off of experience here nine times outta 10. Sure. John says, yes.
John Jantsch (24:54): Yeah. Cuz I'm a fan. Why wouldn't I? Yeah.
Brooke Sellas (24:56): Right. You know, you already have
John Jantsch (24:57): That. I did it voluntarily. Right.
Brooke Sellas (24:59): You already given us the information and we are kind of coming back to you and going, oh my gosh, you're a rock. This is amazing. Can we use this? And John, because most of us are like, oh, give me the limelight. Yes, please. It's going to say yes. And then other people might chime in and see that right. Community audience and see our conversation and say, well, I think you're amazing too. It, we are built as human. Right? It's all about psychology. We learn by mirroring one another. It's all about reciprocity. All these same psych psychological concepts happen on social. It's just a different medium.
John Jantsch (25:38): Well, and it circles very directly back to your social listening too. Right. Because I bet you that we're missing those like golden moments that our customers are out there actually sharing because we're not listening.
Brooke Sellas (25:49): Right? Yes. Yes. You'd be surprised, you know, people tag brands or mention brands just fine. But a lot of
John Jantsch (25:56): Times I do it all the time. You're
Brooke Sellas (25:57): Not being mentioned. Yes.
John Jantsch (25:59): Well I do it and I tag them and I like never hear from 'em too. You know? So you man, in my
Brooke Sellas (26:04): Way, I wanna help those people.
John Jantsch (26:06):
Brooke Sellas (26:19): Definitely. So if you visit our website, it's just B squared.media. So it's our business name B squared media. But with a.media, you can find out all about our services, the book me, or you can just literally Google Brook sells. I think I'm the only one so far and all of our sites will pop up. You can connect with me directly through social. Twitter's my favorite platform. So if you wanna come talk with me there, happy to have a conversation with you.
John Jantsch (26:48): Awesome. Well, Brooke, again, thanks for taking the time out today. And hopefully we'll run into you one of these days, soon out there on the road. Hey, and one final thing before you go, you know how I talk about marketing strategy strategy before tactics? Well, sometimes it can be hard to understand where you stand in that what needs to be done with regard to creating a marketing strategy. So we created a free tool for you. It's called the marketing strategy assessment. You can find it @ marketingassessment.co not .com .co, check out our free marketing assessment and learn where you are with your strategy today. That's just marketingassessment.co I'd love to chat with you about the results that you get.
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