Interview: Brian Carter - 1. part

Irena Šovčíková   24. 8. 2012

We are looking for inspiration and experience not only in Czech Republic, but we are interested in content from foreign countries, we visit foreign conferences and speak with marketers from UK, USA and other countries as well. We've got this idea to share the inspiration and interesting opinions through interviews with interesting people from our business field. The first one to interview was online marketing expert, contributor on Mashable or Search Engine Journal , just to name few, author of The Facebook Marketing, speaker and comedian. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Brian Carter.

Okey, let’s start with the easy question. Could you give us some examples of great work at social sites?

It depends on how you define „great“. I don’t wanna be like a lawyer, but some campaigns aim clearly to profits, some not. For example I wrote a post on Search Engine Journal, that had 3 Facebook ROI case studies. Another example, I’m working with World Health Organisation, on a project called Women Create Life. What they do is they try to improve the conditions for women from all across the globe. We use Facebook Ads to get fans in countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan or India. Those are countries, where is it very affordable to get fans, but they need a lot of help as well.
They create very interesting posts that get great interactions. Success depends on your goals and for them, they want to build up fan-base, interact with people and try to create change that way.

How could LinkedIn work as marketing tool for companies. We can imagine, how important is it for the individuals and headhunters, but what about the companies?

LinkedIn has company pages and accounts, just like Facebook does, and you can create your own group. So you can create content, that helps persuade people before they get to talk to your company’s sales people. Content marketing is huge part of using LinkedIn as marketing tool. A lot of companies is moving towards that and what that mean is that brands become publishers.
Media used to be just few channels and few sources for news, but now with the internet there’s a lot more sources, a lot of blogs – some of them are very credible now. Companies have an opportunity to change their perspective and become publishers. It could be podcast, articles, videos, whatever-simply something useful to grap customers attention. We kinda live in this attention economy, where people are paying attention to too many things, so you have to break through that with something interesting or funny, or useful and then you have the chance to sell to that person.
Marketers could also help employers with their profiles, because sometimes the first thing someone sees about your company is one employee’s LinkedIn profile. So if it doesn’t look good, they don’t have any recommendations. On the other hand, if your employees look good, then the company looks good as well. Also salespeople can use it to find potential prospects, they can do LinkedIn Answers to demonstrate expertise.
LinkedIn is very good for B2B businesses, to B2C companies I would recommend more Facebook.

Many people speak about Google + as kinda „city of ghosts“, what is your opinion on it?

They had trouble since they started and that’s because they started so late. People are already really into Facebook and Twitter, and some of them are like „Hey, why I should be on Google+, it doesen’t add anything“. Google has done some things to make it look better, for example they make it sound like they have way more users than they actually do have. Nobody from the social media marketers I know is actually excited about Google+. It may help you to be on Google+, for example with ranking in organic search, but it isn’t really compelling, so it’s not surprising that people don’t spend much time there.
I would say invest your time and money into networks according to their popularity. If you have extra time, test Google+ out, but it wouldn’t be my top priority.

You have worked with such entities as US Army or Universal Studios. Is there any other company you’d like to be marketing consultant for and haven’t got the chance yet.

That’s a good question. I’ve done some of the big names and some small or medium businesses and currently I’m working with company called InfiniGraph, which helps people find out what content is the most popular among their customers. We started to work with FinishLine, another big name, they sell shoes. But I don’t really have a wish list. What I think would be cool is to work with people in entertainment industry-musicians and comedians.

You are one of the most respected experts for online marketing. How did you got there?

I’m always learning, like constantly. I’m very curious person-in the sense that I have curiosity, haha-so I go out and look around, I learn from blogs, from people that are doing cutting-edge things, I try to experiment with things and see what works and what doesn’t. In field like this,where people are doing things before there are books written on it you have to learn quickly. The value I’ve brought to people over the time has been to do new things or systematise things and than write about it. So a lot of my knowledge comes from blogging.
Writing books was a big deal. I didn’t want to write a book, because I thought books are often outdated after they’re published and so. But it turned out, that a lot of people think that somebody who has written a book is somehow magical, so I thought „well, I have to write one.“ I’ve learned a lot from writing these books.
Also going out and speaking is important. I grew up super-duper shy, so I went into things like ToastMasters and stand-up comedy which is still terrifying for me. For me that’s the basic training, like when you go to military and they train you like crazy- like that was ToastMasters and stand-up art to me.
Also guest-blogging- you have to work your way up through the hierarchy.
But I haven’t studied any college, because there were no programs on internet marketing or social media when I started doing it. I have my masters degree from internet display studies and we’ve learned to research and write. And that was everything.

We’d like to know your opinion on one of the basic questions- is it possible to divide business fields into the ones, which are suitable for social sites and these which aren’t that good for social media?

Most businesses can benefit from social media in some way. There are some cases like medicine, or finance which are highly regulated, there are certain laws about what you can or can’t say. Those are little bit harder. It must be done in very specific way, which means it could be more expensive because of that. But even local businesses that have only one location can benefit from social media, LinkedIn for B2B stuff, Twitter or Facebook can help e.g. Coffee shops bring bunch of new customers.

But it’s little bit harder to make people interact somehow in more technologic fields like IT and so, right?

It’s kinda boring topic, or not as exciting as other things on Facebook. A lot of people, when they talk about social media, they talk only about conversation. But there’s another important thing-content. If it’s B2B and you are trying to get your customers to talk, they won’t admit publicly what are their problems, because it makes them look bad. So you have to figure out what their needs are and create content that addresses that.

Here ends the first part of this interview. Feel free to add a comment or share this article and stay tuned for the second part as well!