SMITHFIELD, RI – Not only do Sharmin Attaran, Ph.D., and Stephanie Boyer, Ph.D., Associate Professors of Marketing, teach marketing principles, strategies, and best practices, but they are also successful practitioners. Social media is one of the most effective ways that brands can define and position themselves, build awareness, engage with customers, and drive sales.
In “The Little Black Book of Social Media” (Sentia, 2020), Boyer and Attaran generously share their expertise with individuals and brands who want to build a network, grow a business, or become an influencer.
“We will teach you how to do it right the first time to make managing your brand much easier later,” say the authors. “The book takes readers through 30 days, almost like a branding diet, to ignite their brand. The hands-on, practical layout is simple, with working prompts for daily activities with space to write and journal progress. It encourages action on the part of the reader, along with motivational prompts to encourage completion.”
Focus more on meaningful relationships than sheer numbers.
“Even veteran social media users can benefit from the refresher and the web resources which are an amazing treasure trove,” says Ebony A. Utley, Ph.D., Professor of Communication Studies at California State University, Long Beach.
In this Q&A, learn more about the authors, their impetus for writing the book, and a preview of their insights, expertise, and passion for what they do.
What was the impetus to write this book?
We are regularly asked by companies, students and colleagues for advice with social media, positioning your brand online, and social selling. Since we can't help everyone, we wanted to create an accessible resource for these groups to get started. We love working together, so it was an easy decision. During the Bryant Women's Summit last year, we set a goal to be on stage sharing the book for the 2020 Women's Summit. That dream has come true! We are presenting at the 2020 Women's Summit on June 10.
What are the questions you get most often about social media?
Professor Boyer: How do you use LinkedIn to create leads/develop relationships/find jobs/make valuable connections/make a sale/do research/plan for the sales call/create a professional brand/design a profile/get a promotion/improve your relationships? Essentially, how can I get a great career or build my business?
Professor Attaran: Is it necessary to use social media? What's the best platform for my business? What should I post on social? Where can I get content? How can I find the time to post?
Being a social media user is different than being a brand builder.
You teach students who are digital natives and social media savvy. What do they most need to learn when it comes to social media?
Being a social media user is different than being a brand builder. Students need to learn principles of branding and promotion and then learn to use the digital tools to launch, maintain, and analyze their campaigns.
How can social media be used to advance students’ education?
Social media doesn't stop at theory. Students are able to directly apply and practice what they are learning, get feedback, and make the necessary adjustments. Preparing their online brand also prepares them to project the right presence online and to employers. Each student focuses on becoming a thought leader or expert in the area they are passionate about. This communicates to any employer that they are savvy online and can communicate what they are learning using digital tools.
Social media doesn't stop at theory. Students are able to directly apply and practice what they are learning, get feedback, and make the necessary adjustments.
We wrote a paper about this back in 2013. When students use social media, it creates an extension of their brand. When they post on social media as they are learning, they more effectively internalize what they are learning. What is especially important right now is that social media is online, therefore, they are able to keep working despite the current global pandemic.
What brands and influencers are good examples to follow?
It really depends on what you want to accomplish – become an influencer in a certain product/service category, or grow your business, or find a job. There are influencers in each category. For instance, if you want to become a motivational speaker, follow Tony Robbins. If you want to get a job, follow recruiters in the field and leaders in the companies you want to work for. If you are growing a business, follow leaders and join groups that coordinate events for the community and have a voice in the industry.
Remember to use kindness and etiquette when using social media communication.
What are some specific social tactics people can apply from reading your book?
Remember to use kindness and etiquette when using social media communication. If you walk into a room and someone says hi to you, would you ignore them? No. So, don't do that online either.
What are the most common pitfalls or mistakes that you see people making?
People need to start with a strategy that aligns with specific objectives, rather than just going post-to-post. Many people don't even have objectives for their social media use. Also, it’s critically important to review the data, interpret the results, and course-correct when necessary. Don't be afraid to make adjustments when something isn't working.
Don't be afraid to make adjustments when something isn't working.
What is your advice to people just starting out?
Start out by identifying what are your passions, talents and values. Passion alone isn't enough. What do people ask you for advice about? That is a talent. What is important to you? Finally, how do these align in a way you can monetize this?
What are the latest trends in social media that people should pay attention to?
Videos with transcription, live streams, chatbots, personalization, social shopping, dynamic ads, growth of groups and online brand communities, more people on devices/screen time with current situation. Now is the time to build relationships and avoid pushing sales.
Are there any new platforms come up that people should look out for?
There are many tools to use platforms more effectively, but Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram are still the largest. Once you decide what you want to accomplish, then you can decide which platforms to use because different audiences use different platforms.
What would you say to seasoned social media marketers who want to up-level and/or improve results?
Come back to the basics, pay attention to your analytics, avoid complacency. Always remember, those are people following you, not just numbers. Focus more on meaningful relationships than sheer numbers.
About the Authors:
Sharmin Attaran, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Marketing, designs and teaches hands-on courses in digital marketing and uses innovative teaching techniques to provide students with the skills to be leaders in this dynamic field. Attaran led the design and development of Bryant’s Digital Marketing program launched in 2019. She also runs a successful consulting business aimed at developing and implementing strategic digital marketing plans for nonprofit organizations and small- to medium-size businesses.
Stefanie Boyer, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Marketing, is the Co-Founder of RNMKRS, a virtual platform for training and assessing sales talent. She is Executive Director of the Northeast Intercollegiate Sales Competition, linking organizations with top talent, and is the recipient of the American Marketing Association Sales Educator of the Year Award. Boyer was recently included in the Top 100 LinkedIn sales thought leaders. She brings valuable experience to the classroom and to organizations that want to build their client base.