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Interview with Social Media Citizen: Gemma Went

Gemma Went 2Gemma Went is the Director of Red Cube Marketing, a communications agency integrating Marketing, PR and Social Media. With 10 years experience in Marketing and PR, Gemma is working collaboratively with businesses, large and small, to ensure their communications activities help them to achieve their business objectives, engage with their communities and build brand awareness. You can follow Gemma on Twitter or Linkedin.

G: How and why did you get into social media business?

G: I’ve been in the comms game for over 10 years. I started my career in-house, heading up the Marketing and PR at a number of businesses within the creative sector (an industry I simply love) and later as a consultant. My grand plans to set up Red Cube started in the summer of 2008, originally as traditional comms agency. That plan soon changed as I became immersed in social media. By the time I launched in January 2009, I had started to integrate social media into my offering. Being a bit of a social animal at heart, it seemed a natural extension to me, plus the opportunities it offered my clients excited me, particularly SME’s who get the chance to level the playing field. The transparency and ‘realness’ of social media appealed to me greatly, it works perfectly with my own values and Red Cube’s ‘no fluff, no jargon, just common sense’ focus

G: What is it like to be a real Social Media Citizen?

G: Well, being social is as easy as being ‘me’. However keeping up with social media as part of a daily routine can be tricky to manoeuvre when client work takes over. I start the day by browsing Google Reader, digesting posts that keep me abreast of news and developments. When I find great content, I schedule it to be published on Twitter throughout the day through Hootsuite. My primary goal for social media is to help people, so this content tends to be around Brand, Marketing, PR and of course, Social Media.

I tend to check in on Twitter throughout the day, responding to people, answering questions and retweeting anything I find interesting. I also pop in to LinkedIn and Facebook once or twice a day and engage there. As I run a blog, The Cube, I regularly work on my editorial calendar (which usually runs two months in advance) and know what posts I’ll be writing and publishing that week. I tend to publish 2 per week and book in 3 to 4 hours once a week to write and edit those and any other guest blogs I may be doing. Doing it this way is the only way to keep me consistent (otherwise I’ll just forget).

G: What are your favourite social media hang out sites?

G: Twitter is my main hang-out, I find it easier to share and connect with people there, plus the 140 character limitation means you can easily dip in and out without having to commit too much if time is short. Behind that would be Google Reader, LinkedIn, Facebook and Foursquare. I choose Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook purely because the people I want to connect with are there.

G: How are you keeping up-to-date with social media environment ?

G: As I mentioned earlier, I rely heavily on the blogs I subscribe to in Google Reader and I get the rest from Twitter. I prefer not to jump on new developments straight away, instead I sit back and observe how people react to them and read their reviews. Otherwise I’d spend a large proportion of my time trying out new tools that may not be relevant to me or my clients.

G: What are your favourite Social Media Citizens?

G: This is hard, I could list so many people that inspire me, daily. But I’ll narrow it down to those that really stand out for me. These are the people who make me think. The people with balls (particularly the ladies). The people not caught up on their own ego. People like Amber Naslund, Valeria Maltoni, Chris Brogan, David Armano and closer to home Neville Hobson and the guys at 1000 Heads and Fresh Networks.

G: What are your favourite Marketing/PR tools on social media?

G: Well I use so many, let’s try to narrow this down too:

  • Hootsuite – To schedule the links I want to share each day, it also gives some great stats on what links people love, which helps guide me when deciding what to share. It also provides a handy monthly round up blog post of top links.
  • Tweetdeck – I still prefer this dashboard to manage my Twitter streams, accounts and searches. I think it’s an UI thing.
  • Echofone – I was using Tweetdeck on the iPhone but since that stopped working I’ve moved to Echofone which has a few nifty tricks up its sleeve.
  • Google Reader – for my daily read.
  • Social Mention, SM2 Alterian for some handy, free monitoring and Scout Labs for paid monitoring.
  • Google Alerts – do I need to explain that one?
  • Addictomatic, BoardReader, Technorati, Alltop, Blog Rolls and good old Google for blog searching
  • Google Analytics to help me understand how people get to my website (for me understanding the digital journey and how people wind up at the end destination is fascinating).

G: What are your Top 3 secrets of social media marketing?

G: There are no secrets. If you’re asking what three key things help businesses succeed in this thing we call social, they are thus:

  • Social media isn’t a tool, it’s a new way of doing business. The sooner businesses embrace this, the better results they’ll get.
  • Be true to yourself or your brand. Words like honestly, transparency and integrity are bandied around a lot and I’m not a fan of buzz words. But those businesses or brands that demonstrate these values do well. Those that don’t are more likely to fail.
  • Be open to the unexpected. I’m a big believer in developing the right strategy before adopting social, however I’m also a big believer in being open to the new, unplanned opportunities that regularly show themselves through social media. They can be astounding.

G: What do you see in the future for the social media?

G: Well in 5 years let’s hope people will have stopped seeing it as a fad. By then we will have seen proven results and have better tools to allow us to measure, monitor and make the most of social media to ensure better business results. I don’t think it will actually be a term, social will simply be a part of our business strategy. How we connect with each other and how brands connect with us as consumers will simply be through the tools that allow us to do it socially. People are already connecting wherever they are to whatever they want and this will become more targeted as they browse, read, learn, listen, engage, chat and purchase this way, seamlessly. Those businesses that don’t get on-board with that may be left behind. Advancements in mobile technology will play a huge role in this, allowing more targeted and personal interaction with our favourite brands or businesses on the go.

G: Describe yourself in five tags?

G: Far more than 140 characters.

G: What’s your favourite hobby?

G: Horse riding, it’s the best stress buster around and sets me up for the day.

G: What don’t you like about social media?

G: I’ve come across a few people creating a ‘persona’ on social media that doesn’t match who they are offline. I find that a little dishonest and, to me, isn’t what being social is about. I’ve also observed the same types of social behaviour you find amongst groups offline, such as cliques that make it hard for people to ‘break in’ and engage. But I also find this hugely interesting, social behaviour is a favourite subject of mine.

G: What is the funniest/most unexpected thing that happened due to social media?

G: Well, as I mentioned earlier, some amazing opportunities can come your way through social media. My most unexpected ones have included writing a chapter of a book for the design industry on using social media, being asked by the Design Business Association to run a series of social media workshops across the UK and winning a “Local Entrepreneur of the Year” award for both establishing a successful agency through social media (I only use social media and SEO to market my business) and integrating the social media service as part of the offer.

G: How did social media change your life?

G: It’s connected me to people that would never have crossed my path previously. People who have enriched my business and personal life. It’s also become a huge part of my business, both as a communications and sales tool (much of my fee income comes directly from social media) and as a core service (much of the work I do at the moment is either integrated with or focussed on social media).


A big Thank You to Gemma for her great insights!! You can find the rest of the interviews with the Social Media Citizens at Social Media interviews category

This post was written by:

- who has written 111 posts on Social Media Citizens – Interviews with social media influencers from around the world.

Giedrius Ivanauskas is the founder/editor of Social Media Citizens and co-founder of Social Marketing Forum. He also blogs on Social Media Today and Giedrius is a managing partner at Nearby Digital - location focused social media marketing agency and is passionate explorer of Augmented Reality, Startups and anatomy of Inspiration. He curates inspiration database - Inspirisimo.You can follow Giedrius on Facebook or Twitter

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