I love social media. I’m a real enthusiast. I spend loads of time on the so called social platforms staying in touch with family and friends on Facebook, connecting with like minded people on Twitter, sharing knowledge and experience with professional contacts on LinkedIn, checking in on Foursquare, and most recently joining in with the tribes at Triberr (a great way to promote your blog in a non spammy way)

Oh yeah, and writing and promoting this blog!

So I’ve seen first hand the enjoyment you can get from get joining in and getting involved. But I’ve also seen the power of these networks from a different perspective. So much so, I’ve got involved with putting on a social media conference, the Oi conference in September.

But first and foremost I’m a professional Marketer and Seller. I run a radio station, a big one! It’s a business that I spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on promotion for (including a significant social media presence) and in turn, that business involves me and my team selling advertising to Wales’ businesses up and down the country. When you’re selling something, you get to know a few things about it. And Ive sold advertising and marketing services generally for a long time. I’ve studied marketing at degree and post graduate level too – Like I said, I’m a professional.

And I can honestly say, given the power social media provides to us as businesses, and the relatively low cost of entry, I’ve rarely seen such an exciting opportunity. For me social allows us, as marketers to:

Reach our audiences so cheaply and at a level and in numbers we’ve never been able to do before for equivalent investments.

Receive unprecedented permission from customers to talk to them, we can build relationships like no other marketer before us has been able to do.

Offer a level of service, 24/7 again perviously never available for us to give, at a fraction of the cost a vastly lesser service would provide.

Understand our markets and their requirements at a granular level so detailed that previously the costs to achieve the same would have been prohibitive.

Build communities with our customers, listen to them, talk to them, engage with them, in a way we have never been able to before, no matter how much marketing budget we would have had.

But you’ll note, while in some ways these opportunities are pretty unique and genuinely innovative, having never been seen before, they still COST. Cost less certainly, depending on your ambitions, but cost all the same. There’s still no such thing as a free lunch.

Having spent a load of time over the couple of years or so evangelising to SME’s about getting ‘social’, sharing my social media experiences and knowledge with my clients, I keep coming up agains the same stumbling blocks again and again.

They have no strategy: They all know what its about, but don’t know what to do with it.

They have no resource to manage it: They don’t therefore use it in any sort of effective way whatsoever.

Don’t know what to measure, much less how to measure it: So don’t know if its working anyway.

Lots of people have the accounts set up, on Facebook or LinkedIn or whatever, but so many lie dormant and unused its not true.


LEARN about this stuff – Don’t, please don’t pay some fly by night ‘expert’ to SEO you, or set up your profiles and automate the life out of them. For a start, read these blogs to find out:

How to use it! Learn about content creation, curation and targeting your audience.

What strategies are effective for what type of business: Is Facebook the place for you? Or is LinkedIn where you should be? Maybe a concerted Foursquare campaign would pay off

What effects you should count on, and what impacts you need to avoidIts not rocket science, but it needs to be thought through.

Put the time in it deserves. It won’t just happen. It needs work, it needs thought, it needs time. You need to invest in this stuff. But the pay off is MASSIVE.

My best advice, based on your size:

BIG – Charge your marketing people with building your social strategy, consider employing a respected agency guy like Jay Cooper at Bloom Worldwide or the brilliant Paul Fairburn at Aimable to support it. (Both trusted personal contacts of mine, but there are loads of other good guys out there too)

SMALL – Research a social strategy online. Read books. There are a ton of resources out there for you to learn from. In my opinion there is no need to pay for this information. This blog, its optimisation, its search rankings, its readership, its subscribers have all been achieved without me having to spend a cent on anything – expect my (and my families) time

BIG – Employ a social manager – even better a social team, someone qualified to implement your strategy and by accountable for its success

SMALL – look for an up and comer in your business and give them a break. They are probably young, and you may not have even spoken to them. But they might be the single most exciting social media talent on the planet. Or look for an intern? Or even, say if your in the third sector, a volunteer.

You need to know who you are talking to.

What you want to say to them.

Why they should be engaging with you and your brand.

That at least has never changed.

As for me, I’m happy to help if I can. Tweet me @radiojaja, find me here on LinkedIn. Leave a comment below on the blog, or on the Facebook page. Or evn email me directly on [email protected]

I’d love to hear from you!

  1. ET
    ET says:

    Thanks for such comprehensive information, Tony. My fledgeling business is just taking root and now needs watering. Delivering a 90 second pitch is proving far more difficult than I anticipated. Wish me luck!

  2. Tony Dowling
    Tony Dowling says:

    Hi Eiry! But its fantastically exciting isn’t it! Remember, you are welcome over to the office anytime you think its worth your while, happy to talk whenever!

  3. Nick Smith
    Nick Smith says:

    I totally agree the time spent whilst hard graft is so rewarding, a retweet gives you a real buzz and to know its driving you towards the front page of google a real tangible added extra.
    We find though that whilst they start with good intentions many (most) clients just don’t put in the hard yards and so do not get the immediate rewards and give up.
    In my mind this is the biggest sin as if you do not keep it up to date it gives a negative impression of your brand.
    Good post thanks

    • Tony Dowling
      Tony Dowling says:

      Yes Nick, nailed it, like a lot of Marketing plans actually, its essential to stay on target to get to the desired end game. The first thing you feel like doing when things get tough is changing tack, and that sometimes ends in disaster!