Social Media from the Frontline with Matt Owen

Social Media from the Frontline with Matt Owen

By Rob McNair

We’re very excited to introduce Matt Owen from Econsultancy for our latest Social Media from the Frontline. He hopped into our hotseat and answered questions about everything from being a brand voice and multitasking, to how a career in social involves homework every night. Don’t we know it!

If you’d like to be involved in a Frontline feature, hit us up at @mycleveragency.

NAME: Matt Owen

ROLE: Social Media Manager

COMPANY: Econsultancy (although we work with… er… everyone, pretty much.Brands, agencies, from individuals to supermajors)






Tell us about yourself:

I’ve been at Econsultancy for just over two years now, and suppose I have a bit of an unusual role really. I’m responsible for running our social channels, so I’m the Brand Voice there,  but also I spend a lot of time working out what works and what doesn’t, how to measure and improve things, keeping an eye on what’s new in the space – anything we can pass on to our members really. I can usually be found with my head buried in analytics trying to figure out a blog post.

It’s been great because the role keeps growing, there’s something new to get to grips with every week, and we use ourselves as test subjects fairly often. Sometimes things work, sometimes they don’t, but we always get interesting information from it that we can share.

It’s also brilliant because I get to hear from lots of brands and agencies that are doing interesting things as well; I get to play with new tools and platforms as they appear. Basically my job is to make sense of social media, work out what ‘Best Practice’ actually is, and help other people out with implementing that and making the most of it.

What do you like about social media?

I genuinely like being able to help people out – as corny as that sounds. I find it really interesting to find people who have a question and be able to point them in the right direction, and I love learning new things from people every day.  I like that I get to talk to so many different people every day, so there’s always a new view or an angle that you hadn’t considered. Also – I now have friends all over the world, which when you get right down to it, is pretty amazing really.

What don’t you like about social media?

I don’t have much time for ‘Gurus’ 😉 There’s only so many ways you can say ‘engage the audience with relevant content’ really, and there is still a bit of an echo chamber at work there. I think a lot of people are desperate to find an across-the-board strategy, or a number that says ‘social media is worth this much’. It’s not, it’s different for everyone.  I think that kind of thinking is a bit linear and outdate but it does seem to be slowly improving.

Oh, and if you’re considering a career in social, you’re basically giving yourself homework every night for the rest of your life!

Do you have any social media tips you’d like to pass on to our readers?

Three main things really. Firstly, check yo multi-channel analytics reports people. ROI is actually fairly easy to find for social, but think about where that sits in relation to the entire business. It’s not a silo. Think about how the things you do benefit everyone: Customers and your business. How is it tied into other channels – online and offline.

Second, don’t worry about being on every single platform and using every available tool. You don’t have to be an expert in everything, just be aware of what’s going on and where the market is heading. At this point I doubt anyone remembers the name of every social platform. Find the ones that are best for you.

Finally, don’t worry too much about big numbers, concentrate on finding the right followers and fans, ones that are of value and will benefit from what you have to offer. If someone says “We need 200,000 Facebook fans”, find out why. Who are they? What are you doing with them? Fairly basic advice but often overlooked.

Where do you think social media is going? Do you have any predictions?

Firstly, I think it will become less obvious; technically, it will just be integrated into everything we do. The generation coming up now is far more comfortable with sharing information than ever before, and I think people will just assume that if you say something online, it’s there forever. It might seem a bit odd, but I find that quite liberating. I’ll be first in line for connected contact lenses!

I think going forward we’re going to see different business departments blurring into each other – we’re starting to see it with sales, tech and marketing through marketing automation, and I’d like to see good social practice across the board in business.

I want to throw out that old ‘Here, buy stuff’ mindset that still exists for so many companies.  Social media has always worked best when it’s built into your core business values. It’s not about telling people you’re great, it’s about finding ways to help them be great at what they do.

In terms of people working in social, we refer to ‘T-Shaped people’ – with a deep specialism in one area of business, and a broad general knowledge across others, so good social marketers will understand sales, marketing, community, tech… and they’ll find ways to balance those areas and get everyone talking on an even footing.  I think we’re at the start of a real change in business structures which social can facilitate, and that’s very exciting and interesting to me.

This post was written by Rob McNair

Rob has experience advising some of the worlds most iconic brands. He thrives on helping improving social media knowledge within organisations with the ultimate goal of making theirs brands more social, transparent and accountable.