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Technology & Internet5 Minutes With: Social Katy
Katy Lynch is a young, thriving social entrepreneur. Her company, Social Katy, helps businesses generate a thriving a social media persona by driving their active, online presence and instilling a cutting-edge, brand strategy.
A leader in creating original social content and building active, online communities, Katy has recently become a finalist in Chicago’s 2012 Moxie Awards for ‘Tech Woman of the Year.’ Despite her influence and success, Katy remains bright, focused and true to the communicative roots which established SocialKaty.
Hi Katy, welcome! Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how it led you to found SocialKaty?
KL: Sure! I moved to Chicago almost 5 years ago and started working for Facebook's largest travel application, Where I've Been. I was hired as the Community Manager in charge of all social media outlets for the business. In two years, I singlehandedly grew WIB's social media presence to a very decent size. (The Twitter account alone went from 0-70,000 followers!)
When Where I've Been sold to Tripadvisor in 2010, I took my strong passion for social media and decided to embrace my entrepreneurial spirit and start SocialKaty.
Zero to 70,000 – that’s incredible! You have definitely carried that ability to attract followers to @SocialKaty. Any insight for our readers?
KL: With the @SocialKaty Twitter account, the first thing I did was to create lists of Twitter influencers. I created a Google Doc full of top social media thought leaders (nationally and locally), best social media news outlets and magazines, and our direct competitors. Additionally, I created a list full of hashtags and Twitter chats that are relevant to social media. Every now and then I hop onto those weekly Twitter chats and add thought commentary.
My Twitter account is a balance between interacting with the community as well as providing my own insight about social media. Every now and then I post articles that I think are interesting. I may even throw in an interesting quote or two from thought leaders. I also post content from the SocialKaty blog, which is currently managed by myself and my employees.
The truth is, the @SocialKaty handle is successful because we (my team) take the time to add fresh content as well as listen and talk to the community every day. We are transparent about who we are and what we do.
What role does high-quality content play in social media? How has this concept influenced SocialKaty?
KL: High quality content is incredibly important on many different levels.
First of all, the SEO benefits of having rich and unique content is crucial to a solid social media campaign. Keywords get picked up by search engines, like Google, which in turn, get your brand in front of thousands of people searching for your brand!
Secondly, the social media landscape is completely saturated with content. It's hard to stand out from your competitors unless you have compelling information that grabs attention. Differentiating yourself with high quality content is key. It immediately positions you and your brand as a domain expert.
When we hire our employees at SocialKaty, we make sure that they are all trained in best blogging and SEO practices. In fact, we have a special 8-10 week intense training program that all interns must complete before becoming a full time "social media assassin."
You guys are known for producing quick, effective and creative campaigns. For many people, the “quick” part is tricky. How do you manage to be both speedy and influential?
KL: Use the tools out there! Social media management tools save my team a lot of time. We use our own internal tools as well as: Sprout Social, Tweet Reach, Buffer, HootSuite... to name a few! It is far too time consuming to manually input information into all of the social media channels out there. The great part about using these tools is that almost all of them have tracking/analytics built in - so you can easily measure how well your tweets, blog articles, and Facebook posts are performing.
For many companies it’s hard to attract a loyal following within the expansive networks. How did you and your team learn to be so successful?
KL: There are a few ways to attract loyal fans. First of all, a business must define WHO their target audience is and WHAT social media networks their target audience "hang out" on. If it's Twitter, the best way to attract a following is by participating in relevant Twitter chats/hashtags. For example, if you are a restaurant owner in Chicago, you may want to participate in re-occurring chats such as #foodiechat (where foodies hang out and talk about places and food they like to eat!). If you own a travel company, you may want to offer incentives or participate with the travel community on #traveltuesday.
A great way to find influencers in a particular industry is by visiting Topsy. Check out the "Experts" section. Alternatively, Listorious is a wonderful resource, full of user-generated lists of industry experts.
Where do you go to stay up-to-date on social media marketing? Do you have any “must read” sites or blogs?
KL: Oh yes! I have plenty of "must read" sites! For breaking news, my go-to sites are Techcrunch, Mashable, VentureBeat, and LinkedIn Today. Hubspot, Social Media Examiner, and Social Media Today are awesome resources, too!
What is the biggest challenge you have faced within social media?
KL: The BIGGEST challenge I have faced within social media is hiring the right people for my company. There are way too many "social media gurus" out there who try to position themselves as experts. The problem is, these "gurus" have absolutely no experience working with brands.
We only hire people with experience. They must be numbers driven, tech savvy, and able to think openly and creatively.
As I mentioned before, every individual that we hire goes through an intense social media training course at SocialKaty before he/she becomes a full-time employee. This is how we ensure they are a right fit for our company.
What is the greatest piece of advice you have received from someone in your industry?
KL: Craig Ulliott, my business and life partner, says this to me all of the time: "FOCUS! Focus on one thing and do it really, really well." It sounds simple and straightforward; but quite frankly, it is the best piece of advice I have ever heard!
One of the reasons why SocialKaty is a great company is because we specialize in one thing - Social Media Management. We do not offer any other type of service, such as PR, print advertising, traditional marketing. Our brand managers spend a great amount of time researching and focusing on the social media landscape and the industries that our clients are in.
How do you see social media and/or content marketing evolving in the next five years?
KL: I think over the next few years we are going to see more and more brands adopt social media as their main channels for communicating with their customers. Brands are going to continue to get creative about how they use Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc to attract new and existing customers. Additionally, we are also going to see a stronger emphasis on keyword heavy, relevant content that people actually want to read. Brands and their marketing teams are going to spend a lot of time thinking about how their content impacts SEO.
Remember, social media is still relatively new. It's not a fad, it's only going to continue to grow. In a year from now, there will be a handful of new social media channels and brands will have to keep adapting and re-thinking their overall strategy.
5 Minutes With is an interview series by exploreB2B that elicits the success stories of entrepreneurs from around the globe. These businessmen and women take us through the history and methods by which they have reached the level of professional achievement they enjoy today, with the aid of social media. Connect with them on exploreB2B.