Multichannel Success Podcast series

Episode 3 - Social Media with Ben Muir - transcript

#### Mark Pinkerton

Hello and welcome to the Multichannel Success podcast from Prospero and the Multichannel Expert. I'd now like to introduce Ben Muir. Ben is the founder and head of marketing at an agency called Unsociable and also the sister agency Grow Digital, both of which are Glasgow based and I'll let him tell you what they do and about the success they've had so far.

We've asked him on very much as a social media expert, which is one of his core areas of expertise and because social media in terms of customer acquisition has become very important.

So here's Ben to introduce himself.

#### Ben Muir

Today I'm really excited to have a chat with you and what we do at Unsociable is we're very much focused on what's sitting at the forefront of social commerce and right now for us the key area of that is TikTok and there's a phenomenal opportunity for brands to grow and particularly with TikTok shop which I'm sure we'll get on to during the course of the conversation but yeah at Unsociable this year so far we've had 54 million views and counting for clients.

#### Mark Pinkerton

That's fantastic.

#### Ben Muir

Yeah and one of the ways I actually built up the business was through using TikTok as a B2B lead gen channel by creating content for our agency and that's had over 8 million views and it has 19,500 followers right now as well.. So yeah that's that's very much a focus and delighted to be here today.

#### Mark Pinkerton

Wow

Well thank you for coming. In terms of, the first question I want to ask is, in terms of the sort of approach to social and social commerce, is that fundamentally different from the sort of more traditional digital marketing stack that people may be using?

#### Ben Muir

Yes, 100%. Your ads years ago may have been very polished and refined, almost cinematic, almost like TV ads, and I know there's still a lot of that going on, particularly in the US. I've even seen, and I'm sure you've all seen, brands using TV campaigns and adapting them for social. I believe firmly that that's dying. The trends that we see now is that users want to consume content that looks native to the platform, that very much fits in, and that's coming from what we call UGC, which is user-generated content.

#### Mark Pinkerton

So slightly fuzzy, fast-moving, not slick.

#### Ben Muir

it doesn't need to necessarily not be like slick and polished there's a change happening just now even in that front where yeah you're right like about a year ago about a year ago ugc was very like fuzzy and unedited but the content creators with the tools available to them now the editing tools that they have that are super easy to use can actually make really slick polished content but it still looks like it came from a creator and not from a studio or an agency okay that's the content people don't want to see

#### Mark Pinkerton

okay and how is it big brands that are getting into this now or what's the sort of typical customer that you have client that you have

#### Ben Muir

Yeah so there are some big names in there for sure and there's a lot of big brands that are seeing the light almost and realising that this is the direction they should be heading in.

#### Mark Pinkerton

Mm-hmm. Because we were talking earlier and we were talking about how you should always be looking at new potential, new channels and maybe dipping your toe in and trying these things without necessarily betting the farm on them because we think people have been generally a little bit slow to adopt newer channels because you're trying to wait until they've proven their efficacy

before you dip your toe in, which of course then is probably a self-fulfilling prophecy. Yeah.

#### Ben Muir

Yeah, 100%. The great thing about a channel like TikTok or any kind of UGC content marketing that you do, it's really cost effective. You can get stuff made very, very cheap. I've seen videos made for £80 that have had millions of views and exponential numbers of sales back on that. It's such a cost effective thing to do it right, it's just the expertise that I think people are lacking.

#### Mark Pinkerton

yeah absolutely and that's why specialists like you are doing work so well at the moment. So in terms of the role of social and UGC and specifically in TikTok within customer acquisition you know what has that role been in terms of your experience and from your point of view?

#### Ben Muir

Yeah so I mean I haven't been in a marketing career for a particularly long time but even in the short space of time the three years that I've actually been like in the field I feel like I've seen a huge transition of social being more of an awareness piece like your Instagram almost being like this kind of landing page for your brand this like showpiece to then TikTok becoming a fully commercially viable channel that you can see the results on that you can attribute directly to TikTok and I believe that that's only going to continue to evolve

#### Mark Pinkerton

yeah and are all your clients using tiktok shop

#### Ben Muir

Almost all we still have some clients that we are focused on awareness for improving sentiment but the majority of them are using TikTok shop.

#### Mark Pinkerton

Yeah, presumably because it's easier than integrating back into their normal stack.

#### Ben Muir

Yeah and there's a lot of benefits to using TikTok shop. Obviously you lose customer data because it's a marketplace channel in the same way like Amazon would be. They take the customer data so there's that to consider but in return. Yeah so particularly if you work with an agency like us what you'll see is TikTok are very keen for merchants to be successful. TikTok wants to be Amazon. They see social commerce as the future and a lot of us within the space do as well. So they are offering merchants incredible incentives to be a part of it and if you know what you're doing then you can get the kind of traffic to your videos that you would normally have to pay say Facebook or Instagram. A lot of money to get. You can get that for free.

#### Mark Pinkerton

So what are the sort of top tips for being able to do that?

#### Ben Muir

Well, I'm going to say something a little bit controversial. If you're, sitting there right now and you're thinking about running TikTok ads as a brand, you're like, I want to just jump right in and do TikTok ads. Don't. Okay. Stop and learn the platform a little bit. Test it out with some organic content because the organic content that goes even slightly viral or slightly successful in any way, like the engagement's really good on it, is going to tell you all you need to know about how your customers on that channel are engaging with your brand or product.

#### Mark Pinkerton

Or whether your customers are actually on the channel at all, for a more traditional brand.

#### Ben Muir

Yeah 100% I mean I'm pretty firm in the belief that there's a space for just about everything on TikTok, some more than others and some are more obvious than others but yeah what I would say is start with an organic approach for at least a month and see what kind of results you can get back from that and then you can run what's called a spark ad so there's a similar thing in Facebook and Meta and some other platforms as well but a spark ads basically where you boost the post but you can add a CDA so and you retain all of the comments likes engagement and stuff like that which is obviously you get some data they are social proof for your customers as well so you can run spark ads to your DTC site or you can run them to your TikTok shop

#### Mark Pinkerton

Okay, that sounds definitely something worth experimenting with, and in your experience how, I mean you said run it for a month, I think when we were talking earlier we were saying maybe you might have to run things for three, four, up to six months to give things a proper go at these things, you know, maybe before you get statistically significant data or whatever, depending on the size of your brand, but are you seeing people dipping their toe in for a month at a time, really?

#### Ben Muir

So what I mean by a month is run organic content for a month to take lessons from that before you start paying the platform money.

So run organic content for a month and work with creators during that period as well and let them push your brand message out.

#### Ben Muir

See how people respond to that and then start putting money into paid advertising.

#### Mark Pinkerton

And are most of your clients running organic and paid at the same time?

#### Ben Muir

Yeah, so most of my clients are running organic and creators together.

#### Mark Pinkerton

Nice.

#### Ben Muir

That's the majority of the work we do and we see such incredible results from that that there isn't really a need to run ads. Although we are starting to do a bit more of it just because of scaling.

#### Mark Pinkerton

Yeah, okay. So what sort of commercial returns are you getting? So what should listeners expect for their brands if they're dipping a toe into the TikTok world or potentially other social, but let's focus on TikTok. What data do you have that you can tell us about?

#### Ben Muir

It's a difficult one to put a number on because we've had products go viral and when a product goes viral you'll see insane returns, to be honest, like 100 to 1 on what you've invested. But not everything goes viral.

#### Ben Muir

Clearly. So you should always set your expectations with that. And of course it's like, there's ways to do it that's sustainable that you're always guaranteed to get some kind of return.

#### Mark Pinkerton

Yeah, and I suspect most of the people listening to this will be in that sort of a camp.

#### Ben Muir

Yeah and that's the expectation you should go in with like every single client I ever speak to and anytime I do anything like this I always say like set your expectations low like you can make money on this 100% and you can make money from it but if something works it really works.

#### Mark Pinkerton

Okay, so effectively take that as a positive upside if and when it happens.

#### Ben Muir

Yeah, exactly.

#### Mark Pinkerton

But as long as the average that you're achieving is a positive one, then people will carry on playing in this pond. But if they're just having to invest money without seeing a return, I mean historically that's what's happened in brands I've worked with, is that they've tried it, not got a return, and then pulled back out again.

#### Ben Muir

Yeah and that still can happen because like you said like you need time like I always recommend a three month minimum and that's our that's our minimum engagement period actually because it's typically how long we need to show returns sometimes quicker sometimes slightly longer and so that's always my recommendation but ideally brands would be going for that period that you said of like up to six months and if you're doing it right that should be ample time to see results.

#### Mark Pinkerton

Mm-hmm. Okay, and what sort of frequency of posting do you typically have for

your clients?

#### Ben Muir

Yeah, so not as much, I know a lot of people used to advocate for in this space of posting every day. I would not recommend that at all. You will suffer content fatigue. Depending on the brand, there are some exceptions, particularly in fashion, where there's like new outfits and new styles and stuff like that, and they're not really looking for mass virality, they're just looking for a kind of consistent flow, but say you've got a unique product, like say you have a supplement brand that's new to the market or something people haven't seen before.

Posting every single day is not going to do wonders for your brand. You're better being strategic, I would say posting three to four videos a week of really good content that you think will do well. And you'll see better results from that than trying to get a social team or an agency to bash out seven pieces of content a week. Yeah.

#### Mark Pinkerton

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense because otherwise you're just going to annoy your audience potentially, particularly if you manage to focus and target.

#### Mark Pinkerton

I'm expressing my ignorance here, but how do you target? audiences within TikTok.

#### Ben Muir

Do you mean on organic content or through paid ads?

Either. Okay, so if you're on paid ads the targeting options are very similar to other advertising platforms. Okay. So there's like audience demographics, location targeting, there's interest targeting which is probably the most powerful tool I would say. So if you are running TikTok ads, think about interest targeting first and foremost. Always run a broad targeting campaign as well, because let the algorithm work its magic. When you're doing organic content, the algorithm tends to push stuff by the location. So if you're an international brand, then you want to try and stop that from happening from wherever you're posting from, wherever your account is typically seen from. So kind of avoid location hashtags. If you're in the UK or a local area or say the majority of your customer base is in London or wherever, you can use location based hashtags to show it to that audience, then again it's interest targeting. Yeah.

#### Mark Pinkerton

Yeah, and does that improve your, I guess, the efficacy of it because you're going to a more, a narrower target audience?

#### Ben Muir

Yeah I think it definitely can do and obviously some people are trying to achieve like mass virality for their content and they just want as many kind of views as possible which is all well and good but I would much rather that I had a piece of content that went to 20,000 to the right people than a million of everyone.

#### Mark Pinkerton

Yeah, so have you got any anecdotes of things that have gone spectacularly well that maybe you didn't expect?

#### Ben Muir

From my personal experience. Yeah, I did actually and so this was before we were fully focused on tech talk shop, but we basically had It was kind of a toy, but it's for adults. Yeah

Don't want to talk about the specifics of the brand just in case they don't want me talking about it But and basically we had a launch campaign for that brand where our job was to create tech talk videos Yeah, the limited run of stock really unique product and I wasn't sure how well it would do but Two videos just blew up and they sold out all the pre-order stock they ran out of stock and had to order more and we had to just stop selling. So that's what can happen with TikTok generally.

#### Mark Pinkerton

yeah yeah okay fine I guess then kind of moving on to the final question of this this segment is what's the next emerging trend in your world so you know this is certainly I've learned stuff from listening to you so hopefully the listeners will have done as well but where are things moving to

#### Ben Muir

So I've kind of got three parts that I'd like to focus on. I think it's a wonderful question and it's good to kind of reflect on where things are going. I firmly believe and I know I'm biased that social commerce is the future of e-commerce. I think that a majority of this generation will be buying on social platforms and I think that's why Amazon attempted it a few years back and it and I think that's why we're seeing TikTok shop emerge at this rapid pace that it is. There's brands on there that have millions of orders already.

So I think we'll continue to see it as a whole new kind of interactive way of shopping and it actually stems from that kind of human interaction that we've always wanted from selling that we kind of, I feel like we lost for a little bit with e-commerce. You know what I mean? Yeah. Like shopping on Amazon isn't a person to person interaction.Not at all. Whereas we always loved, and we still do, going to the car dealership. where we end up trusting the salesman.

#### Mark Pinkerton

Yeah, I mean, they have gone some of the way there in terms of having those guided video walks around the car and stuff where you're actually interacting with a human doing it for you. Yeah. But you probably don't develop a relationship with that person doing it.

#### Ben Muir

yeah exactly that and i think that's why social commerce is moving at such a rapid rate is because it's this person-to-person interaction like people that i had a conversation with someone the other day and they basically said that this tiktok creator was their friend and i said but you don't know her and she was like no no it's my friend and i was like how is it your friend and she was like i comment on her videos every single day like i follow her religiously she's in just outside glasgow and the girl lives in south manchester they've never met before and she's got a hundred thousand followers but she feels like it's her friend and this is not an uncommon occurrence by the way a lot of people feel like they know creators so well because they live in their daily lives yeah so why wouldn't we want that to be the person that gives us product recommendations yeah

#### Mark Pinkerton

Yeah, well completely, yeah. Then you're into the whole world of social influences.

#### Ben Muir

Yeah, 100% and it's just a natural evolution, I think, so that's why the other thing I wanted to talk about is live streaming and live selling is emerging so...

#### Mark Pinkerton

Yeah, we've seen that in China for a number of years though already and people have tried it a little bit, but not quite worked I've never understood why QVC haven't gone massively big into it into social space to try and make it work

#### Ben Muir

There is one of the shopping channels that's taken over our TikTok and they're doing really well. Okay. Ideal World, they do quite a lot. Okay. On it, just now, and then there's another-

#### Mark Pinkerton

I've got to check whether or not QVC actually do do it, but I don't think so.

#### Ben Muir

I've got to check- I don't think so. I don't think they're there, I've not seen them anyway. But yeah, you're right. It's been a trend in China for a long time, now we've got a Chinese platform with a lot of funding behind it that have seen how well it works in China and they're like, okay.

#### Mark Pinkerton

So it has the full capability, basically, already. Yeah.

#### Ben Muir

Yeah, and all the data and how people interact with it, how it works and they're hitting the ground running in the UK.

And trust me, as a bit of insider knowledge from my relationship with TikTok,they are pushing hard on live streaming. So brands should have the capability to be able to do this and focus on it over the next couple of years because it's gonna be a big deal.

#### Mark Pinkerton

Okay. Noted. Trying to think how that fits into the mix.

#### Ben Muir

Yeah, it's an allure element, isn't it?

#### Mark Pinkerton

It is, it is. As we've been saying, how do you free up some room in your budget to make sure that you can cover this off as well as delivering your day-to-day numbers. And at the moment where we've seen, certainly now we're back in the new normal world, e-commerce has been declining for most people for the last couple of years rather than increasing. Sales are coming back in popularity and therefore things are in a little bit of a melting pot. So with then throwing TikTok in particular into that mix and going, okay, so how do we make all of this work together? Which I guess is a challenge for our listeners, which is why we wanted to bring you along to try and give us some insights.

#### Ben Muir

That's definitely a challenge. Again, I know I'm biased, but the kind of holistic effect you can see from a really well-rounded TikTok strategy. So there's the direct commercial aspect of look at your sales on TikTok shop, look at the rapid increase in that. But if you get a viral video,

#### Mark Pinkerton

Oh, I think you have a-

#### Ben Muir

and I'll give you an example. So one of the biggest selling products on Amazon in February was a product that wasn't running ads on Amazon at all. And it was TikTok's most viral product. It's a hair growth oil. It's by a brand called Nature Spell. The founder is an incredible guy I've met once. Awesome. And like super tuned in with social, you won't be surprised a year. So I went viral towards the back half of last year. And then we started to see it on all other platforms. And now they have like a kind of multi-channel strategy that they didn't have before, just focused on TikTok. And then they realized, you know, we can sell this everywhere.

#### Mark Pinkerton

Mm-hmm. So were they selling it through TikTok shop and then listed it on Amazon?

#### Ben Muir

Yeah, exactly. When they first sold on TikTok Shop, I don't believe they had an e-commerce site, an Amazon listing, nothing. They were just selling on TikTok Shop. I'm pretty sure that's accurate, by the way. And now they have all channels. The brand's flying. I think it's done some insane numbers.

#### Mark Pinkerton

Yeah. Which as a start-up mentality is great because you're not, as you said, it's a cheap route to market. You're not spending the money to set up a⬆️website, albeit Shopify websites are not expensive to set up, but trying to get to the right level of Amazon engagement is expensive. But actually going from TikTok back the other way is interesting.

#### Ben Muir

Yeah, I think it's a super fascinating time. You've heard the phrase TikTok made me buy it? Yeah, so it's appearing everywhere. I've seen it in retail stores, I've seen it in Boots with a stand saying TikTok made me buy it and then all these TikTok viral products. I've seen this section on Amazon about it, although I think they're not doing that anymore.

#### Mark Pinkerton

That's a really nice TikTok strategy.

#### Ben Muir

It's a realised TikTok strategy.

#### Mark Pinkerton

Yeah. Wow. Okay. And just in terms of the data that you can get out of TikTok,what sort of granularity can you actually get?

#### Ben Muir

In terms of?

#### Mark Pinkerton

In terms of, because you're selling direct to the customer, you actually get the customer data.

And do you get any information from TikTok in terms of this customer spends so many hours on TikTok generally?

And do you get any sort of demographic data out of them at all?

#### Ben Muir

Hmm, not to my knowledge, not that we get anywhere we get

#### Mark Pinkerton

because typically in Facebook you can get some demographic data stuff out.

#### Ben Muir

I mean, there is when you're running ad campaigns, there is some data, but I must say like the attribution with TikTok, it just isn't at the same level as other platforms, more mature. So it's something that they're working on and I've seen improvements from when I started to now.

But I must admit that as a flaw and it's something that you need to realize going into it. Even like sales attribution is wrong sometimes from ad campaigns, like really wrong.

#### Mark Pinkerton

Yeah, which is why you have to pay attention to the details and make sure that it comes out right. Okay, so if there's one thing people should take from this conversation, what would it be?

#### Ben Muir

Oh, easy. Lets start TikTok shop and start making content.

#### Mark Pinkerton

Okay. Brilliant. Thank you very much, Ben.

Well, hopefully our listeners have found that interesting and have taken something that they can apply themselves from it. And we look forward to talking to you on the next one. Many thanks.

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