Earlier this year, I had the privilege of attending the Mesh Conference  in Toronto where I interviewed Maggie Fox , CEO of the Social Media Group . Watch the YouTube video  or read the transcripts below:
Tell us about yourself and your background
I’m the founder and CEO of a company called the Social Media Group. We’re one of world’s largest independent social media agencies. We’re based in Canada. We actually do about 80 percent of our work in the US market, perhaps most notably with Ford Motor Company whom we’ve worked with since 2007 and SAP, which is one of the world’s biggest enterprise software firms.
What do you think that most people or businesses continue to do wrong in the social space?
I think that most businesses tend to not recognize the commitment and funding that’s required to do social properly. They tend to think they can flip on a switch and have a social experience and then flip it off again and just forget about it. The reality is that social media is like a puppy. It’s something that you need to make a commitment to, engage in its care and feeding and really maintain the long term in order for it to be successful.
What are companies continuing to do better in the social space?
I think companies are really starting to understand how to engage with digital influencers. There are people around their brand that have a lot of impact and influence and I think that kind of activity is something that is relatively easy to do. It’s not brain surgery, it’s slightly different from media relations, but it’s something that people can figure out. I do see companies doing that very well these days.
You mentioned the earned, paid, and owned channels, could you explain that?
Earned social media is when the consumer becomes the channel. You give them a remarkable product or experience or brand experience and they talk about you in their own words in their own channels. Owned social media are the channels that you control as a brand. That can be things like Twitter, Facebook, your own social platform you have on your website that is socially enabled. Paid social media are the opportunities to engage in paid activity on social platforms, for example, Facebook applications, things of that nature.
How difficult is it for you to convince companies who are set in traditional marketing and convince them to consider social media?
At this point I don’t think anyone, just based on the numbers in terms of usage, is questioning the need for and understanding and integration of social at some level in some way, whatever is more appropriate. So there really isn’t a lot of convincing and frankly at this point, it’s really about content consumption and where people spend their time. When you look at the numbers they make the case for you. You actually don’t have to do a lot of convincing. Where the convincing comes is trying to convince people to work through the process to find the right idea. I think one of the challenges we see is that organizations want agencies or individuals to come in and say, look we need Twitter. The reality is you don’t know if you need Twitter until you figure out where your audience is and if in fact they are on Twitter. So I see a lot of wasted resources and wasted energy, people focusing on things that are really the big idea as opposed to the bright idea.
Where does conversational marketing come into play for businesses?
Conversational marketing is an opportunity to scale credible experiences, credible remarkable brand experiences to mass audiences. One of the things that we have to recognize is that in order to affect the bottom line of a very large company, you need to reach tens of millions of people in a short time period. That remains unchanged despite the fact that social media is on the scene. The factor there that causes the problem when you look at traditional advertising is that attention is fragmented, so people are not paying attention to the channels. They are not spending time where they used to spend time so it’s harder to reach them. When you do reach them because there is so much noise, the way that you reach them [is through]the content you use, which must be very good. So how do you take good content that’s credible and get it to people in a way they can consume it should they so choose? And that’s the core of conversational marketing so what we see working well is taking earned social media and taking that to a mass audience on platforms like Digg.com. There are opportunities I think on Facebook, there are a number of platforms particularly in the US market that let us scale those experiences to a large number of people. We still have to reach lots of people, but we have to reach them with good as opposed to just lots.
How can we find out more about you?