Interview with Social Media Manager: Layla Sabourian-Tarwe from Yahoo!

DelaraiandMe4twitterLayla Sabourian-Tarwe is Senior Social Media & Online Community Manager at Yahoo! with 5 years of leadership experience, living and working in Europe, Middle East, Latin America and the US. Previously, Layla has been an International Community and Communications Manager at eBay , Community Manager at Logitech and Global Partner Network Community Rep at Oracle . You can follow Layla on Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook and her blog.

G: What are the key ingredients of successful social media strategy?

L: The ingredients of a successful social media strategy would vary based on your company’s objectives, just as the 3 main ingredients of a recipe would vary depending on what you are trying to make! Thus, I would find it difficult to narrow down my answer to only 3 key ingredients, however, if we take the example of Yahoo! where some of our objectives include driving engagement with our most active users, and providing new product education, I would suggest the following 3 ingredients:

  • Humour: Here is an example of a fun campaign we did here around Yahoo! Mail
  • Sharability: As fun as your campaign can be, it is no good unless it is easily shareable, so make sure the campaign can easily be shared via your most relevant channels. In order for your fans and followers to share your content, they must trust in your brand or the source of content, and feel motivated to share.
  • Clear Call To Action: Guide your audience as what it is you want them to do. Don’t just post a link, instead, share a short message that encourages your users to watch the video/read the article and highlight the benefits of watching, reading, or sharing.

G: What are your favourite tools which help to implement and monitor the social media strategy?

L: I have just begun using a trail version of SproutSocial and simply love this tool. It is perfect for enterprise settings where you can assign a Facebook/Twitter Post to specific individuals within your organization. I also like Netbase for sentiment tracking. PeopleBrowsr is another favourite tool of mine, it’s end to end social marketing solutions assemble the collective intelligence, identify its most influential people, and make them accessible for analysis and engagement.

G: What do you have to provide to a community to make it work?

L: You have to provide a platform to your community to gather and interact, and you must seed fun, interesting and useful content for discussions.

G: What strategies do you employ to attract new community members and keep them engaged?

L: Every day, I develop fresh, relevant content that is worth talking about. I remain active in our community, leveraging social media to connect with my audience and joining their conversations whenever appropriate. If the current members feel enticed to participate in the discussion or comment, they tend to share the discussion with others who might not be already a part of our community. I often ask our users what they think about current products, and what they want to see added to Yahoo! An example post could be : “In December 2011, Yahoo! Mail expanded to 27 new markets and 22 new languages. What is your favorite new Yahoo! Language? What language would you like to see next?”

G: What are the most common mistakes in social media strategy planning and community management? What should companies do to avoid them?

L: I think the most common mistakes companies make these days is to launch a social media strategy without having clear objectives—or launching a campaign just because they feel like they have to!Forming a social network presence takes more than simply creating an account on Facebook or Twitter, and just because you have presence on a social channel, doesn’t mean your audience will come. The other common mistake I see is by trying to save money, many companies hire inexperienced recent graduates who call themselves Community Ninjas and Social Media Gurus—and who might have had some serious time in their hands to learn how to best navigate the latest social media tools such as Pinterest, and schemer, but as the old saying goes: You get what you pay for! Just as you would not want your Marketing Strategy to be run by an inexperienced student you should take your community management seriously and hire someone with tact, experience, passion, diplomacy and the talent needed to create valuable content and nurture important relationships.

G: What are your favourite social media campaigns?

L:  I might be biased here, but the Travelling purple Yahoo! Mail box series generated a lot of fun and chatter on our social channels. Even though it did not specify a clear call to action, it reached our objective which was to showcase the fun, friendly face of Yahoo! Mail. Not a day has gone by since one of these videos is not retweeted or shared by our community.

Diesel’s 2011 QR Code campaign was a dazzling way of incorporating real world content into the community member’s virtual profiles! (Users would take a photo of the QR codes of their favourite jeans in the stores, and share them with their friends online).

Ignite Social Media Agency created a campaign for Samsung TV’s “Like It, Reveal It, Win It” The campaign featured a weekly product giveaway on Facebook that incentivized users to participate regularly and invite their friends to join. After liking the Page, users were able to enter to win Samsung products by unblocking pixels, and recommending the contest to their friends. The more pixels the members unblocked, the higher chances to win the hidden weekly prize! Apparently the company saw an increase of more than 12,000 new fans within the first week and a half of the campaign!


G: Do you think targeting influencers is overrated or is it an important part of Social Media Strategy?

L: Once again, this is really relevant to your overall objectives. In general, I am convinced that it should be an important part of any company’s Social Media Strategy. Here at Yahoo! we launched a campaign called “Yahoo! Insiders in which we targeted our influencers and asked them to post content regarding Yahoo! search for us. The results revealed that whenever one of our insiders (or influencers) shared a link, it received 4% more impressions than when we published the same link on our own social channels.

G: What are the key mistakes when targeting influencers and how to avoid them?

L: There are a few of them:

· Approaching the influencers without having built a relationship first. (First you should read at least 3 of their blog posts, follow them on their twitter, etc, and engage in conversations with them).

· Approaching the influencers with topics they might not be interested/in agreement with.

· Not highlighting the benefits for the influencers…focusing too much on what is in it for you, but not making it clear as how their participation can also benefit them.

G: How do you measure the brand influence (main indicators)?

L: I don’t think we have completely figured this one out yet. But there are various tools like Klout, Kred, and Peer Index that can help you measure your influence over time.

G: Who/What is influencing you the most on Social Media Properties?

L: I am influenced by many people J But make a point to read at least one or two articles/week posted by the following:

· Guy Kawasaki

· Ted Rubin

· Jeff Bullas

G: How do you measure social media ROI?

L: We evaluate what our original goals are for each campaign and track performance measured against our forecast. For most campaigns, it makes sense to track is visit-to-lead conversion. For some campaigns, (for instance Yahoo! Mail), our goal was not to attract new users who converted to Yahoo! Mail, but to engage with our most invested users, and thus the way we measured our success was to evaluate how certain campaigns increased engagement and activity with our current users. We watched site behaviours from our social media traffic, and tried to understand where the social media leads enter, leave, and spent their time on our site. We also analysed what type of content addressed their specific needs (example: tutorial videos regarding certain features).

G: What are the trends that you are following at the moment and feel most passionate about? Why?

L: I run a monthly meetup during which we discuss top social media trends, if you are ever in the bay area you should check it out:

  • During my January meetup, we discussed Location-based social media: The technology in mobile devices becomes more powerful and affordable as we speak. A large user base with geographic ties allows brands to target small, qualified groups of users with unique and relevant messaging.
  • Socialization of search: Search engines started using social signals in their ranking algorithms in the end of 2010. Yahoo!/Bing continue testing and perfecting their algorithms, the search results are bound to become more personal for us, based on our location and social connections.
  • Role of Video in Social Media: I am certain video is set to be one of the leading social marketing trends moving forward. With emergence of collaborative video editing tools such as WeVideo, I expect community generated video content emergence to be on the rise, and the launch of a new series of viral campaigns that will surprise us all.

G: How the growth of social commerce and location based services will affect marketers? Why is it important?

L: With multiplying of mobile platforms social commerce and location based services will increasingly become more popular on mobile devices—thus marketers will have to adopt accordingly. Unlike other forms of digital marketing, mobile marketing involves a layer of intricacy due to the difference in platforms, and thus marketers will have to work even harder to come up with innovative campaigns that address all platforms/devices.

G: Is social media integration becoming a quality standard of successful company?

L: Social Media is no longer perceived as the risky investment old-school CMO’s feared. More and more companies have successfully integrated social media in their marketing strategies, and judging from the number of recruiters that hit me on a daily basis for a Social Marketer role, I assume those who haven’t yet, realize they are behind the game and working towards it.

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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