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Social Media Portal (SMP) interviews Alexei Lee from Strategy Digital

Tim Gibbon (Social Media Portal (SMP)) - 02 August 2015

Alexei Lee from digital marketing agency Strategy Digital on content and social

Strategy Digital logoSocial Media Portal (SMP): What is your name and what do you do there at Strategy Digital?

Alexei Lee (AL): Iím Alexei Lee and Iím head of social.
I head up the social media and content marketing team, overseeing the coordination of our social media, digital PR and blogger engagement for clients. These activities form a core part of our digital marketing offering.

SMP: Briefly, tell us about Strategy Digital

AL: Strategy Digital is a digital marketing agency with a heritage of over 19 years, offering a range of digital marketing services (that include social media, content marketing, digital PR, blogger outreach and online advertising) to clients across sectors including retail, fashion, hospitality, professional services and specialist trades.

SMP: What are the challenges that youíve encountered and how are you overcoming them in what you have been doing so far at Strategy Digital?

Photograph of Alexei LeeAL: We work within a rapidly evolving digital landscape. The lines between social media, content marketing, digital PR and advertising are becoming increasingly blurred. In such a crowded and fast-paced marketplace, itís quite often the case that techniques which worked 18-months ago no longer work today. Part of my role as a digital marketing strategist is to seek out new ways of engaging consumers online, Ďtest and learní with new tactics and work out ways to continuously optimise what we do. Itís an ever-evolving world that certainly keeps you on your toes, but itís exciting to be a part of.

SMP: What are the high moments of what you have been doing so far?

AL: We started working with Turtle Bay this year, a rapidly expanding Caribbean restaurant chain. Weíve had the opportunity to play a part in the brandís success by growing the social media presence as the business itself grows in size. Through building engagement with customers and influencers and developing a unique tone-of-voice that sets the brand apart in a crowded space, we have created a strong online brand recognition and following. Itís been fun to chat with Radio 1 DJs, TV personalities and musicians on Twitter and get them excited about Turtle Bay! (Plus we get to eat their amazing Jerk chicken on a regular basis!)

Strategy Digital homepage image

SMP: What do you think is going to be the most interesting aspect regarding social media, social networks and/or technology for the next 12 to 18-months and why?

AL: One of the most exciting technological developments that will really come into its own next year is programmatic marketing. The ability to overlay and analyse data from social media, advertising, web analytics and even offline behaviour on a big scale offers awe-inspiring potential. With social media being effectively a real-time medium, the ability for us to engage the right people, in the right places with highly tailored content, responding and adapting in real-time across multiple channels without huge drain on resource is critical to getting results.

Itís also very exciting for me personally that social media is evolving to become THE primary driver that binds all other marketing activity together. This is a concept Iíve been promoting for some time, but with the changes that Google has made to search over the last couple of years, the growth of social influencers and consumers increasingly using social as a go-to place to engage with brands this is now more true than ever before.

Wearable technology is also one to watch, although Iím not convinced 2015 will be the year it breaks into the mainstream.

SMP: What are your top five predictions for social media for the next 12 to 18-months?

AL responds with:

  • Many social media platforms have now entered a new stage of maturity from both a user experience and a commercial perspective.  Following Facebookís lead, 2015 will be the year when paid-for content and native advertising becomes an established part of most social media platforms.

  • In tandem with this move towards paid social content, current trends in ad spend (40% more investment in social ads this year) are pointing to an increased focus on social media advertising in 2015 media budgets.

  • Moving into 2015 I firmly believe that all successful search and content marketing strategies will require genuine social engagement in order to develop brand advocacy and content sharing, which then translates into credible links and stronger domain authority.  Social influencers now fully understand their worth and arenít shy of negotiating with brands who want their support.  Maintaining a thriving social media community, publish inspiring content and creating experiences worth sharing will be key to culturing long-lasting relationships with bloggers and other influencers.

  • The social wallet will become big news in the New Year, as Facebookís hidden payment feature was publicised in October, and the network has already rolled out an auto-fill feature which allows users who save their credit card information to check out with hundreds of thousands of ecommerce merchants.  Twitter has also just launched its own payment feature. Apple has a new Apple Pay app, and the marketplace seems ripe for new entrants who can ingeniously weave social, shopping and purchasing into one simple process.

  • With the increase in social advertising will come the inevitable backlash from those who donít want to be advertised to, and there will be platforms like Ello that pop up in response to increased social ad presence touting themselves as Ďad-freeí, tempted some user to migrate across.  We might also see some niche services start to use a subscription model, but when all is said and done people donít like paying for something they perceive should be free.

  • No one can have missed the buzz around the Ďinternet of thingsí in 2014. In 2015 this is set to become a reality for the tech-loving public.  As gadgets gain an increased capability to gather and share user behaviour, this could mean that in 2015 we start to see more of this data being pushed to social networks like Facebook and Twitter and used to target content Ė offering advertisers a way to track both offline and online activity effectively.

Strategy Digital homepage image

SMP: What are your top overall five social media tips?

AL responds with:

  • Before a social media strategy is developed, the rationale behind it needs to be clear, so businesses should ensure these strategies are based on their core business and marketing objectives.

  • Next it is vital to understand the target audiences properly, and this doesnít just mean customers, it also means influencers and peers.   By taking time to understand who these people are, where they can be found online, how they use social media and what types of content they are likely to share online, a cohesive and effective social media strategy can be created.

  • Ensure the resource dedicated to social media engagement is strong.  Donít simply delegate it to an intern, after-all Ė they will be the voice of your brand! Donít underestimate the overall resource commitment needed; treat it an integrated element of the wider marketing strategy.

  • It is vital to measure success of social media activity, so setting objectives and regular evaluations of results is central to understanding what works and what doesnít. Itís too easy to focus on likes and follower count as well. Make sure to tie your social media measurement plan back into the overall goals of your business.

  • Finally donít assume that all social media platforms are right for your business.  Facebook might not necessarily be the right audience for a specialist software vendor, or a highly visual business like a jewellery designer might not be making full use of Pinterest.  The lesson is to understand which platform will work best for the business in terms of content, and where the audience hangs out.

SMP: Is there anything else we should know, or is there anything that youíd like to share?

AL: The brands that benefit most from social media are the ones that understand the crucial difference between the business value they attach to social engagement and the value followers and customers attach to it.  What means something to you, is not necessarily what means something to your customers! Always think Ė what do they get out of this?

SMP: Best way to contact you and Strategy Digital?

AL replies with:

07827 444402

Now some questions for fun

SMP: What did you have for breakfast / lunch?

AL: I have somehow gained the title of ĎSandwich Kingí in our office, I think I may spend too much time planning and constructing them each day!  Itís all about the condimentsÖ (p.s. it was a Cambozola, salami and watercress baguette!)

SMP: Whatís the last good thing that you did for someone?

AL: Got up at 4am to sit with my son and make sure the monster under the bed didnít come back to bother him!

SMP: If you werenít working at Strategy Digital what would you be doing?

AL: I would say playing on stage at Wembley, but I think that opportunity may have passed me by now! Iíve been lucky enough to have already done a lot of the things Iíve always wanted to do (play in a band, DJ at Space in Ibiza, run a record label) so I canít really complain!

SMP: When / where did you go on your last holiday and why?

AL: As we have two young children the most we could manage this summer was a few days in Cornwall for some sunshine, rest and relaxation. We got the sunshineÖ

SMP: Whatís the first thing you do when you get into the office of a morning?

AL: Make myself an extremely strong coffee!

SMP: If you had a superpower what would it be and why (I am really hoping that you donít say flying, but weíll see)?

AL: Iíd quite like to say invisibility for this one, but realise it might sound slightly dodgy!

Strategy Digital homepage image

Strategy Digital is now part of the FatMedia Group.
Interview conducted in February 2015, see @strategydigi and @FatMedia for the latest.

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