This is the first in a series of interviews with B2B marketers. Today, we're talking with Trish Crompton from Communitech about social media marketing and the evolving category of brand journalism.
Tell us a little bit about what you do.
Hi, I'm Trish Crompton, I'm a digital journalist and social media manager at Communitech. It's a really long title that just says I do a lot of digital stuff. I went to school at Conestoga for marketing, I did the co-op program there. I worked at Quarry for one of my co-ops. I've always just been really interested in social media.
Communitech is a non-profit organization whose mandate is to help companies start, grow, and succeed. We help a lot of different tech companies in Waterloo Region.
You mentioned Communitech is a non-profit organization, but Communitech is also a B2B. How is your marketing strategy different from a typical B2B?
Communitech has multiple different audiences that they need to connect with, market to, and have conversations with. So we have startups, who are very different from our SMEs, who are very different from our enterprise partners. So it is a little bit challenging to make sure that your tone and your overall messaging is consistent but at the same time making sure you're appealing to those different audiences.
"Digital journalism is definitely an opportunity in this space"
One of the things you and I have talked about is how Communitech does digital journalism instead of content marketing. What can other marketing teams learn about that approach, and why do you take it?
Editorial is pretty authentic. We're very fortunate at Communitech to be able to have that kind of strategy. It's just more of an authentic way to communicate a brand's message and story. Digital journalism is definitely an emerging opportunity in this space, and people who are former journalists are jumping on that.
It's a little bit of a hybrid role – a little bit of marketing and a little bit of journalism. It's really putting your customers in the seat and letting them talk about you as an organization.
If you're used to writing thought leadership articles, or listicles, how does a B2B marketer go from creating that type of content to what you're creating, which is about growth of your customers, partners you're involved with, and interviewing experts?
Well, it all starts with people. You know, thought leadership is great, and we kind of do that by enabling other people to chime in. Communitech is not expert in everything, but we have partners who are. So it's good to just interview people and give them the opportunity to talk about what they're the experts in.
That's kind of how it changes from content marketing. It's less about what I think or trying to sell something, and rather just writing about people, which is what people want to read.
What's your audience like, and how have you been building it over time?
We'd love to have everybody follow us, obviously, but we really care about quality engagement. We like to see those in the tech community and the Waterloo Region community.
I do believe in the mirroring effect, so it's just taking everything – all the activities, all the conversations that happen in the Hub offline – and putting that online. Carrying on those conversations and giving insight into what's happening in the Hub. We look to increase our readership obviously in Toronto, across Canada, and internationally as well.
"There's no magic bullet for measurement."
You mentioned engagement with content as something you care about. How do you measure that?
There's no magic bullet for measurement. I've been trying to come up with the magic formula for what's good and what's not good in terms of the content we produce and the engagement we get on it. It's a really tough thing to do.
But we do look for the usual things for audience and engagement – do we have people constantly coming back and sharing our stuff? That's the biggest thing I'm picking up on. Who are our champions and making sure we're arming them with good content to be able to share that and all the necessary information.
And this is something that you're curating manually?
Yes, so... a lot of it is me just living inside my dashboard and just being very aware of who does what, who says what, and all the different engagements you see online. But a lot of it is numbers, especially around, you know, specific campaigns or specific themes we're trying to address.
When it comes to sharing your content externally, and interacting with people, how much do you automate and how much is real-time?
Maybe I should automate more. We use a dashboard like most social media people, so we try and schedule a lot of stuff. But because a lot of content that we do deliver is time-sensitive, and it is more news, it is very in the moment, in real-time. I will be live-tweeting at events or taking photos of important guests visiting the Hub, for example. I think it's a good mix of both.
We typically don't schedule weeks in advance, it's either that day or that week to create scheduled posts.
You do a lot of live-tweeting from events, sometimes it seems like you're on clock 24/7.
Yup! During our event season it's a pretty busy time. It's a lot of fun, you don't feel like you're working. I work with some amazing people, and a lot of the people in the tech community who I consider to be my friends, so as much as I am working, and it does make for relatively long days, it's always great to connect with everybody.
"Create relevant content, create good content, and be authentic."
And what do you look for during an event, what's your advice for people looking to be retweeted?
Just be relevant. Always be relevant. It's really, really important. Create relevant content, create good content, and be authentic.
I think the great thing about being a social media manager at Communitech is that the brand isn't boring. We're currently sitting in a meeting room that has sharks graffitied on it. So we don't have a boring brand and I really enjoy some of the stuff I get to post. So just be authentic and be fun.
What's the most fun thing you've posted in the last month?
There was the Summer Lights Festival with the giant balloon goat.
I saw that, that was great!
So not too often can people say that they had a giant balloon goat in their networking area or their common area, so that was kind of interesting.
How did you commission a giant blue balloon goat?
You know, our team here that does community relations on our marketing team, they have some crazy ideas for how to portray the brand. And for Summer Lights, Drew Ripley was going to be there, and it just came about.
The goat first appeared in an explainer video we put together last year. Now goats are on everything, goats are on laptops, goat stickers are everywhere. Everybody loves Harris the goat.
The last couple of questions I have are around voice. Where do you draw the line between your own voice and Communitech's voice on social media?
I think I say things differently on a personal level. For my own brand I just say it how I feel like it. A lot of stuff I say has to be within brand when I say it, being a communications person. I just apply marketing principles – a lot of people think social media isn't marketing, but it is. You know, you don't throw out the fundamentals. So I apply marketing principles and yeah, not be so corporate when I tweet for Communitech. But there is a professional line.
"Don't tweet stupid shit."
Do you ever worry about what you tweet on a personal account reflecting on Communitech?
Yes. Don't tweet stupid shit. [both laugh] It's in our social media policy, so we just encourage all our teammates, not just those who are externally facing, to share on their online channels. But at the same time to be aware not to tweet stupid shit, because it does reflect badly.
How do you involve other employees in Communitech's social media? Do they have access to the account, or do you curate what goes into it?
From time to time we'll have other people helping out, so we'll just give them access to all of our profiles in our dashboard.
Do you do anything like recommended posts that people should share on Twitter or LinkedIn?
We post it to Plasticity, which is our employee engagement site that also acts like an internal social channel. And we'll just send it out if there's news and get people to have a look and to share. It's usually news about the companies they work with and it's exciting news to share. We don't really tell bad news here.
And the last question we're asking everyone, what's your favourite retro dance song?
I really struggled with this one. Maybe Salt-N-Pepa's Push It?
That's a good one.
You can find Trish online as @aussieberry on Twitter (and also as @Communitech). This post was edited for length and clarity. Thanks to Melanie Baker for reviewing this post and for pointing out that Push It came out in 1987.