Four sneaky tricks from NZ’s best social managers

Social media. Wasn’t it supposed to solve our problems and make us millionaires?

For a while there, I think some of us believed it. Then we got off our unicorns and realised it was just another way for our brands to connect with people. Sure, consumers could talk back, but we still needed to employ all of the strategy, expertise and forethought you need in any other mass media.

There are probably hundreds of thousands of social accounts languishing in the land of no engagement, abandoned after too many hours netted too little return (or after the receptionist’s teenage daughter just stopped posting because she got bored).

That said, social media are useful platforms, if they’re used right. So if you’re in charge of business accounts, and would like to get even whizzier and effective at it, this post is for you. I’ve called up all of my cleverest digital friends and gathered their top insider’s tricks for clocking social management.

Listen up, kids, they’re giving this shiz away for free.

Talk about the weather – Keren Phillips, CMO, Weirdly

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Keren Phillips is in charge of marketing at Weirdly, a hotshot tech startup designed to make recruitment easier, better and more fun. The nature of the startup beast is that she works with squeaky-tight budgets, so digital plays a big part of her media mix. With such intensive focus on the platforms – Twitter, most frequently – she’s noticed something odd (read: excellent).

You might think that posting beautiful photos of the weather, the ocean, the sunset (or cute animal shots) – whatever she stumbles across – might be just pretty trivia. But, she says those photos make good bait.


“They always get great play. People notice, like them, and interact with them”

Great, but where’s the business value in connecting with people about the weather (or a cute dog)?


“That photo will flag in people’s heads that your profile is worth noticing”

So the next time they’re scrolling past a million messages, they’re more likely to stop and read the next thing you tweet.

“Anything I tweet right after a beautiful image gets way, way more attention.”

Eavesdrop on people’s conversations – Me, Creative Director, Words for BreakfastFullSizeRender.jpg

Don’t be all hacking into people’s Facebook account, now. Do your eavesdropping on open platforms like Instagram or Twitter.

Here’s how:

Use a tool like Hootsuite to set up searches for phrases, or words relevant to your business, service or product. That way you can jump in on the conversations that are already happening.

When I was running an account for a natural skincare brand, I had searches delivering me any tweets that included their brand name, or relevant phrases. So often people would be talking about us – good or bad – or asking for recommendations for products just like ours. These searches let me maximise positive feedback, respond to complaints and connect with new fans. Even aside for the kudos it won for the brand, I made actual, hand-on-heart sales off this approach.

Save your followers for a rainy day – John Lai, Digital planner, TBWA Asia Pacific


John Laiwas one of New Zealand’s earliest social adopters, which means he’s seen lots of platforms come and go.

What happened to those brands that invested in MySpace, or Bebo? They probably had to start from scratch on Facebook once those platforms bottomed out.

Brand connections you’ve carefully cultivated could be gone with two shakes of the stock exchange unless you’ve moved your followers off the platforms.

So John recommends using social to build a separate database – not a social presence.

“Yes, it is great seeing your followership grow, but at the end of the day if Facebook or Twitter decides to pull the plug, all that hard work goes down the drain.

“Treat social as the front door of your brand with the goal of converting them into a lifetime customer using things like CRM system or EDMs”.

Be social – Danika Revell, Director, We Are Anthology

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You know what gets noticed? Notifications. You’ll get noticed if you take time to interact with people and with other brands. This should be a long-term strategy of actually building your online community, but also works in the short term.

“One of my team at We Are Anthology, Nicole, spotted this one – if you go and like or comment on other posts right before and after you put something up, you’ll get a lot more interaction”

It makes sense, really – if you talk to other people, they’ll talk to you.

“They feel more connected to you, so are more likely to feel a connection to your posts.”

Her warning:

“Be genuine. People can tell when you’re trying to scam them.”

These are some pretty genius hacks, but I can’t let you go without reminding you of something you already know: they won’t save a flawed strategy or patchy community management. Get those basics right first, then implement these hacks to you heart’s content.

Helen Steemson

The lead copy writer and creative director at Words for Breakfast. She spends much of her time working with the copy writing team across a variety of projects.