Categorized | Top Interviews

Interview with Social Media Citizen: Mary McKnight

Mary McKnight is the Consumer Marketing Director at, one of the leading location based applications which helps three million users to discover the world around them. She is also an editor of Sacrilicious Marketing, the blog which has a bit different approach to social media. You can follow Mary on Twiter or  Facebook Fan Page.

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

M: I don’t really consider myself “in the social media” business. I’ve worked as a marketer since the mid nineties and regard social media as a new tool to add to my marketing bag of tricks. Social media and social commerce are most interesting when they can be leveraged to reach and engage an audience more personally in a brand or product. Those are the primary reasons I use social media in my marketing campaigns.

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

M: Consistency is key! But being consistent on social media is often at odds with being productive in my life and job. I don’t plan my life around Twitter or Facebook or Foursquare or any other social networks… I use smart technologies like and Friendfeed that take the information they aggregate from my entire social lifestream of Google Reader, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, blogs, Foursquare, etc and push it to my other social profiles so I can easily and automatically share what I am doing or find interesting at that specific moment. That helps me be consistent on each network while being efficient and effective at sharing. I would never plan my life around social media – social media just becomes a part of what I am doing at the moment and the technologies I use simply assist in sharing those moments.

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

M: I definitely consider Twitter a media source now and often hear news there first. I use it mostly as a discovery tool and have probably added 15-20 new blogs or sites to my Google Reader just from mentions on Twitter. It is also a great place to network up on and begin the process of forging new relationships. Conversely, Facebook, to me, is how I connect personally with my friends and professional peers. Because Facebook is built on the Small World Theory, I have found that strategically practicing the law of scarcity there is very useful in building a large but engaged network. I never over share there – I only post things that I truly find interesting or funny and I only comment on friends updates when I have something to say on the matter. I never want to be that creepy chic that comments on every update in her stream all day long. That behaviour is not how you build or maintain influence.

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

M: I am really focused on mobile location, social gaming and social shopping right now because those are the elements of the discipline that result in the most provable ROI for brands. The growth elements of social gaming theory as it relates to what Foursquare, Gowalla and Zynga have done fascinate me! The whole idea of integrating brands into a set completion algorithm to reward consumers for completing specific tasks related to those brands is brilliant and I consume everything on the topic! I also LOVE reading what big brands are doing in the space and how they are leveraging social.

What I’m Reading Now:

G: What are your favourite Social Media Citizens?

M: Let’s face it, without Ashton Kutcher, Twitter would still be a tool of the IT Crowd. And that is the reason some of my favourite follows in the social space are actually celebrities. I think there is a lot that we can learn from celebrities and how they use social media to engage, grow and even alienate or enrage a fan base. Consider how Facebook made Betty White hot again or Twitter chronicled the downward spirals of Lindsay Lohan, Courtney Love and Kanye West. I always recommend that anyone new to Twitter follow celebrities so they can see what works and what doesn’t on social from a personal and brand perspective.

So, here are my favourite 5:

Scott Monty – @ScottMonty

Ashton Kutcher – @aplusk

Lady GaGa – @ladygaga

Chris Brogan – @chrisbrogan

Alyssa Milano@alyssa_milano

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

M: My favourites are:

  • Radian6 – Measurement is critical to prove ROI and YES, ROI can be proved in social media campaigns! Radian 6 allows you not only to manage workflow in social media across your team but also measure the sentiment, reputation and overall mentions of your brand across the net. It gives you enough insight into your brand to help you make better decisions on what your market is interested in and how they should be managed and addressed.
  • WildFire Apps – While specific to Facebook, the WildFire Apps are extremely effective at managing, publishing and promoting contests, promotions, polls and coupons. Coupled with some strategic ad buys Facebook promotions run through the WildFire Apps are not only an excellent way to spark commerce and customer/prospect acquisition through social media but also a great tool for measuring results on promotional campaigns on Facebook.
  • Social Buying Sites – social buying is hot right now! Plugging small and local businesses into the location plus group buying phenomenon is a great way to spark immediate sales and engage new customers. Social buying sites like Groupon, Buy With Me and LivingSocial are ideal tools to use when proving the value of social to small, local consumer businesses like restaurants and shops. They allow you to immediately show sales and customer acquisition through social tools.

G: What are your favourite social media campaigns?

M:The 2 campaigns I have found most interesting in social media have been:

1. OLD SPICE: This was just a brilliant, well thought out campaign. They capitalized on a series of really funny yet not over produced television spots with another more personalized series of Youtube spots that targeted celebrity influencers like Alyssa Milano and Perez Hilton while also engaging with non-celebrity followers. They basically made television ads conversational on both a  group and personal level.

By targeting high level influencers in the celebrity world like Demi Moore they got re tweets from people with extensive spheres of influence on Twitter. Those high level influencer re tweets ensured their campaign would go viral. Then, by interacting with general fans – they were able to make very personal connections and show that they were a brand of the people that wanted to engage. The smartest thing they did was to treat the whole thing as a parody. Because we understood that the campaign was a parody, we never feel mislead by any inauthentic engagement. Overall, it was a very smart campaign which resulted in huge sales increases for the brand. A real marriage of basic sociological theory, marketing and advertising that combined traditional media with social media into an explosive and successful campaign.

2. GAP BLACK MAGIC EVENT: Location based marketing is so hot right now. What Gap did by offering a 25% discount to people who check in with Foursquare, Tweet or use the Facebook Coupon for their one day event was brilliant! While most people focus on the Foursquare numbers, recognize that Gap leveraged multiple social platforms in this one day campaign. Unlike some of their competitors who have only offered the deepest of discounts to Mayors, Gap offered the discount across the board to any shopper. The campaign was designed to boost in-store traffic (create an incentive to visit and buy on a specific day) and engage users with their social profiles so they can message them in the future with other incentives! The strategy was just as much about sales as it was about acquiring a means to communicate with their customers on digital platforms. Consider that Gap was able to silo their brand fans (those that did buy and those that did not buy) into their social profiles on Foursquare, Facebook and Twitter so they can offer similar incentives in the future. Just an overall smart campaign with provable ROI.

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

M: I wish there were a secret but to be honest, the only secret to marketing is being able to prove ROI! As long as you design campaigns that focused on a specific goal and result, you can measure your actual results against that goal to prove ROI. Generally I want to measure against sales or prospect acquisition/registration, but occasionally, you can set reputation management goals like increasing positive mentions of the brand across the net or sparking greater engagement with customers to improve customer satisfaction.

I guess my secrets would be:

  • Set a goal for a campaign.
  • Measure the results of a campaign with a quality tool like Radian6.
  • Quantify results of the campaign against the intended goal.

G: How did social media change your life?

M: Social media has helped to connect me with more of my professional peers around the world, create serendipitous meetings with local peers and establish new relationships both personally and professionally. Social Media is a lens through which I can get a more holistic insight into my friends, my professional peers, extended family and even the markets I target for brands I work with. I cannot tell you how many times I found connections with people I may have only superficially known or would never have known without this lens. These new found connections have lead to everything from business deals to new or deeper friendships.

If you consider that one of the first things you learn in sociology is that “people like people who are like them” meaning people with common experiences and interests gravitate towards one another, you can see how social media works to connect more people in new ways through common interests. With this lens into your family, peer or friends lives you learn more about their personal tastes and experiences than you could in common social interactions and because of that you can more fully connect with people both within your immediate social sphere and those on the perimeter to form deeper connections. For example, if I had not checked in at North Station on Foursquare, I would not have known that an editor for Cosmo Magazine was also there at the same time and I would have missed that chance meeting that has lead to new business connection.

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

M: While I use many check-in services, they do worry me. Because I work with a number of celebrities and I am a woman who works in a city, I guess the check in phenomenon has certain safety concerns and use case limitations. Check-in is showing great promise for advertisers but it creates security issues for consumers. For example, consider the much hyped, Please Rob Me site published people’s check-ins in real time to show when users homes were vacant. In the case of a celebrity, a check-in could cause a dangerous mob or paparazzi situation and for the average woman alone in a city, it could easily open her up to violence. So, for those reasons, I wrestle with the whole idea of check-in as a public stream of data.

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

M: When I was looking for a new job in Boston, I interviewed at and immediately loved it. So, I took to Twitter and asked everyone I knew to tweet @where with reasons to hire me. The result was the @where stream was filled with funny, poignant and outrageous tweets that made my now boss, Dan Gilmartin, call me in for a second interview. I’ve been working as the Director of Consumer Marketing for one of the largest mobile location advertising networks ever since!

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

M: Research shows that on the web, a user takes 7 days to make a purchase. Conversely, a mobile user takes only 1 hour to go from discovery to purchase! The combination of social and mobile could be the key to “accelerating intent to purchase”.

The combination of social, mobile, location, recommendation and advertising is where everything is headed. When you consider that Google and Facebook have both made very public statements about their commitment to social and mobile, it’s easy to extrapolate the continued merging paths of these technologies with their already successful ad networks. I feel really lucky to be working in this space here at WHERE and witnessing the changes where purely mobile and purely social companies are beginning to step into each other’s businesses. Monetizing the social/mobile combination is going to be really interesting for both consumers and local businesses. In short order, a mom and pop pizza place or shoes store will be able to instantly know who is outside their door at that very moment and message them with a coupon right to their phone to drive immediate foot traffic and sales. This goes way beyond the idea of mobile search and discovery being the trigger to coupons and incentives. By combining what we know form the social graph about your personal tastes, marries it to where you are and what your doing right now through your checkins and mobile location and what retailers are near you that match your interests, we can deliver an immediate message that will incent you to act. I, personally, can’t wait for the day when I am walking down Newbury St and my phone messages me about a 25% discount at Marc Jacobs just as I walk past!


Big thanks to Mary 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

Contact the author

Comments are closed.



        Alltop, confirmation that I kick ass       Social Media Informer
        Featured blogger at Social Media Today       Documents on Scribd

SMC “Like”

   Made in Shoreditch Magazine
    Social Marketing Forum