Over the last decade, thanks to social media, I have had the privilege to meet a variety of amazing leadership and marketing experts. A new connection with a shared passion for social media is Troy Sandidge from Chicago, and I'm thrilled to welcome him to my blog in a Q&A. Highlights of our discussion follow below his introduction.
Troy Sandidge is a Growth Marketing Strategist (aka, The Strategy Hacker) that skyrockets business growth through his C.L.O.V.E.R. Business Framework. He has 10 years of experience creating pathways and roadmaps to achieve next-level success, maximizing revenue, increasing brand authority, and developing social communities through cutting-edge growth marketing strategies and digital marketing solutions. His work portfolio includes Entrepreneurs, Thought-Leaders, Startups, Small-Medium Businesses, Nonprofits, and Fortune 500 brands. Troy is the Chief Strategy Officer at Vult Lab, the Founder & CEO of Strategy Hackers, and the Host and Executive Producer of iDigress Podcast. He is also an international speaker, a Twitter power user, and loves connecting with other people and learning about their zone of genius! He can be found on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube with @FindTroy and his website is www.FindTroy.com.
QUESTION: Your pinned Tweet on Twitter was shared in April 2015 and states, “#Imagination is the engine. #Content is the fuel. #SocialMedia is the highway. #Marketing is the roadmap. #Sales is the destination.” Please elaborate why it continues to be relevant today, nearly six years later.
TROY SANDIDGE: Yes, it’s amazing how that tweet still amazes and connects with people when they stumble upon it for the first time, even in 2021. I think it continues to remain relevant because the correlation doesn’t change even though the platforms, tools, terminology, and mediums change in popularity or out of necessity.
You will always need to have imagination to bring something creative to life. Any campaign, content piece, narrative, and so on stems from this. In the same way, whether it’s video, audio, articles, the content will always be the fuel to push a brand forward. And whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or the new kids on the block like TikTok, Clubhouse, and Twitter Spaces, social media will always be the most effective way to distribute your content to your desired audience at scale. Marketing is always the driver to attract, nurture, and compel people to achieve the goal being sales. And of course, the end results of all of this is sales, dollars and cents, getting adequate outcomes from all of the outputs.
And since 2020, I’ve added: “Culture is the GPS” because cultural trends and behavioral economics push what’s popular or in high demand. I also think when you look at this entire illustration as a whole, it suggests always being in a constant state of momentum, and to do so each of these things has its place to ensure you maintain that.
SHARE ON TWITTER: The content will always be the fuel to push a brand forward. ~@FindTroy #MarketingTip #SocialMediaTip #BrandTip
QUESTION: What is your favorite social media platform or platforms for brand-building, and why?
TROY SANDIDGE: I still think in 2021, all personal biases aside (since this is also my favorite platform), and looking at this from a pure growth marketer perspective, Twitter would be the platform of choice. You can connect more quickly and efficiently with desired individuals and brands you would like to work with, not including the same for PR and collaborators. It’s still the most public-centered platform where you can get a lot of exposure (coupled with the right timing, trends, attached media, and what audiences you’re entertaining). Plus I truly do believe that Twitter is the bridge to LEADS. You can even get your tweets indexed by Google to help with your brand search visibility by being consistent with posting on topics true to you and your brand, making sure your Twitter profile and bio match your website and other resources, and diligently providing value.
QUESTION: What three brands use social media the best when it comes to “social listening” and “engagement” with customers, fans, and stakeholders?
TROY SANDIDGE: Three are Domino's, Agorapulse, and Kleenex.
(1) Domino's is a brand that sets the bar pretty high when it comes to social listening and engagement. Domino's provides no less than 15 different ways to order their pizza and other items from their menu, ranging from voice command on home assistant devices like Google Home to sending an emoji over social media. The diversity and distribution of how they really want their customers to “have it their way” are taken literally with their preference to make their order. They were definitely ahead of their time by launching it as a campaign - and ahead of their competitors.
(2) Agorapulse is one that comes to mind as well. They do a phenomenal job using their literal audience as guests on their various shows, being part of groups to ask questions, educate, give value, and serve as a networking hub. So not only are they utilizing social listening to drive more sales, they are using it to be of service to their audience to help them acquire more leads and grow their brand authority.
(3) Kleenex is a good example of a brand that used social listening to make an impact on its community. I’ve been studying some of their campaigns and wanted to echo a source (YtC Studios) praising the brand about some of their campaigns during 2020: “The company used social listening to increase brand sentiment. Perhaps, the most unique initiative is its “Feel Good” campaign, in which Kleenex scoured Facebook for statuses from users indicating different degrees of sickness. Upon identifying these status updates, Kleenex leveraged the users’ online connections to obtain their addresses and send them specially prepared Kleenex Kits. Fifty lucky people received kits, and every single one of them posted about this special surprise. The result? Kleenex garnered over 650,000 impressions and 1,800 interactions between the brand and social media users.” This demonstrates how well they used/are using social listening to give their audience what they need most, which also serves as a powerful series of campaigns too.
QUESTION: You recently participated in a podcast hosted by @MakeAMarketer, where you discussed the importance of a marketing strategy for all brands. (A link is provided at the end of this Q&A.) Please provide a few highlights for those who missed the podcast.
“Likes, comments, and shares don’t pay the bills.” These are byproducts and secondary goals of a good social media strategy and should not be the main goal of one. Knowing how to decipher what such metrics are telling you as far as measuring how effective your campaign is doing, is key to hitting the goals you want like a higher click-through rate to your landing page for your product or service, a more engaging community, more traffic to your website at a lower bounce rate, more subscribers to your newsletter and so forth.
“Strategy isn’t over the moment I give you a blueprint.” A strategy is a living, breathing document or series of processes that need to have results/goals reassessed, direction and vision realigned, style and process evaluated, and so forth. As we experienced all through 2020, what worked yesterday, may not work today, and be irrelevant by tomorrow. So you must always be nimble and adjust your strategy the best you can.
“Get the right people in the right seats on the bus.” Make sure you know everyone’s capabilities, roles, responsibilities, and who the decision-makers are to make an adequate process that makes sense and maintains constant flow. You don’t want a good campaign to fail and a strategy not to be successful because you had the wrong people managing the wrong things. Over-communicate with everyone involved in your campaigns and marketing strategy will make things so much better and efficient.
The best and most effective marketing strategies and campaigns follow my C.L.O.V.E.R. Business Framework: Clarity. Leverage. Optimization. Vision + Value. Execution. Results. Make sure you have clarity around your goals, timeline, and audience. You have to leverage all of the resources you have at your disposal (internal team, external team, budget, audience insights, etc.). Recognize your marketing strategy is in a constant state of optimization. Have your vision and give value to your audience every step of the way. Execute. Execute. Execute. Execution is necessary to have success. So many get lost in getting everything perfect and never start making progress. And as everyone knows, what is all this work for you if you don’t get results? Results are necessary to know if your strategy and your campaigns are working. Make sure you have benchmarks that are relevant you can track to know you’re going down the right path.
SHARE ON TWITTER: Get the right people in the right seats on the bus. ~@FindTroy #BusinessStrategy #EmployeeExperience #EmployerBranding
QUESTION: Lastly, what’s your favorite marketing campaign, and why?
TROY SANDIDGE: Brand awareness campaigns are my favorite type of campaigns. They are the most meaningful and can drive multiple things: brand authority, brand exposure, drive CTA (call to action), drive visitors to the website, gain more followers, increase community, lead to more PR opportunities and collaborations, among other things. It’s always necessary and needed for brand awareness. On top of that, brand awareness is typically aligned with your mission, your purpose, your story, your why, and how you help others. It doesn’t have the complication of a full-blown sales campaign and never feels like one. It’s fun and fulfilling as well. Not to mention, you can get positive ROI (return on investment) from brand awareness campaigns with or without paid media as long as the quality of the organic is of high quality and authentic.
An example I would like to highlight is Apple’s ongoing brand awareness campaign series “Shot on iPhone” which is to promote obviously their line of smartphones but through the lens of their consumer. One of the big things to realize is that the content is 100% derived from their target audience base for their target audience base. A plethora of original content (much of which that doesn’t make it as part of a commercial collage), serves as UGC (user-generated content) for the brand to repurpose and reshare using its own community to create as well as magnify.
Their Instagram account is a living case study of how effective a brand awareness campaign when tied directly to a community. The #ShotoniPhone hashtag has over 18 million posts. Keep in mind, this is mostly an organic campaign with their community doing most of the work creating and distributing, and their social media marketing team is spotlighting and highlighting various ones on their grid, in their stories, highlights, and reels. It is quite powerful. This goes to show you that some of the most successful campaigns aren’t necessarily through paid media but simply by connecting what you do to a feeling, an emotion, or a result felt by a community.
My gratitude and appreciation to Troy for sharing his inspiring perspective about marketing, social media, and effective brand communications.
Image Credit: Quote by Troy Sandidge.
Here's the link that Troy referenced in Question #2:
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