There are countless social media professionals out there.
Freelance social media consultants. Agency social media strategists. PR-two-dot-something-or-others. And they’re all great, and do great work (hopefully!) for brands of all shapes and sizes.
But what about the people inside the brands? The people that know what makes the brand tick… and more importantly, what makes the customers come visit, click, and even sometimes buy?
I wanted to hear from the folks on the front lines, so I reached out to ten of my favorite social media brand professionals with the same ten questions. I’ll feature one of them every week for the next ten weeks.
Ten brands. Ten people. Ten questions.
I’m excited to start off this new series with none other than my friend, Zena Weist, the Director of Social Media for H&R Block. Zena leads an award winning social media team that has received national acclaim for integrated online marketing communication programs, and the H&R Block online community. This includes the National Social Advertising, Media and Marketing (SAMMY) Award for Best Social CRM from digiDaily, and the National PRNews Platinum for Social Media Award.
Zena is a digital practitioner and social media strategist with over 15 years of online marketing experience, including executive leadership in digital start-ups, account management with interactive agencies, and client-side roles with Hallmark, Sprint and Embarq. Her specialties include online brand engagement, integrated marketing communications, and project management. Zena lives with her family in Kansas City, Missouri.
1. When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is _______.
2. Define “brand” in 140 characters.
3. What’s the best tool in your social media arsenal?
Our people… their passion to help our clients inspires me. (And I’m not just saying that — I really mean it.)
4. Why is it important to have a real live human behind your social media efforts?
Not just human, but a person vested in your brand. I think it’s important to have associates (not agency folks) as brand advocates. They naturally speak with your brand’s voice, care deeply about getting clients’ needs met, and enjoy representing your brand in public.
We partner with our amazing eCare crew, and several hundred of our very best tax professionals. What we’ve ultimately found most effective in our social media efforts is finding people who understand the difference between being a brand advocate, and being a company spokesperson. Two different roles… both very important.
5. How much of your content is pre-planned vs. real-time responses?
We have a very aggressive content strategy, and we are in a heavily regulated industry — so there’s a lot of pre-planned content. That said, every day we are constantly creating real-time content called conversation ;).
6. We all know social media isn’t a part time job. Realistically, what kind of hours do you put in and what are some typical tasks in a normal work-week?
Our team is constantly on. Thank goodness we have a team! We take on-call shifts. My typical work-week is around 50 hours — in tax season it’s easily 65. When there’s an issue we are working it can be up to 70-75.
7. What do you do to get away from the “always-on” experience?
Due to burn-out, I made a conscious decision to give up a lot of “personal” social media activities. I jumped head-first heavy into social media in 2007, working during the day, and exploring at night. This summer, I hit maximum overload. My “always-on” mentality was hurting my personal life. I made a commitment to myself to shift my priorities.
I don’t blog, check-in, or comment as much. I’ve filtered a lot of “nice to have social media stuff” out. I definitely don’t stay up with all the industry commentary like I used to, and I’ve given up trying to keep up with the latest and greatest “shiny objects”. I’m very rarely “on” unless it’s necessary for my job. My “free-time” choice is offline. I will admit that sometimes I lapse, and my “free-time” does get consumed with private community chatter, some Q&A forum debate, or DMs. I’m working on it, though.
8. If you had to choose between delivering your message and caring for your community (but only choosing one), which would it be?
Easy! Caring for our customers where they are (be it our community or a public forum). You have to respond to needs before you can deliver messaging.
9. What’s the wackiest/most eccentric community you’ve ever been a member of?
The Kansas City Ugly Christmas Sweater Party community is the wackiest I’ve got going for me. Crazy social media funsters working their booties off for a great cause!
10. The last thing I do before bed is _____. (PG rated!)
Count my blessings.
When she’s not working (which, as you can see, is rare), you can find Zena blogging at Nothin’ but SocNET, and tweeting as, surprisingly, @zenaweist (with a name like that, why choose anything different?)