Anthony Mcloughlin

I am pleased to introduce a fellow and well experienced digital marketer to the Tone blog today, Mike McGrail. Mike’s been immersed in marketing long before Tone was even an embryo and is now the Managing Director (and founder) of Velocity Digital; an agency based in Edinburgh who specialise in social media and content creation/marketing – not too dissimilar to us.

As digital marketing agencies, Tone and Velocity Digital both face the same challenge of educating (and selling) the benefits of social media and content to SME’s. Type “benefits of social media for business” into Google and 512 million pages of content are returned.

google search: benefits of social media for business

So why do so many SME’s still struggle to see the value? I spoke with Mike to gain insights into how he deals with such challenges…

Do you still find that it can be hard for some businesses to understand the benefits that social media can bring? How would you go about explaining it to a doubtful managing director or executive?

Yes it can still be hard (I’ve been facing this sort of issue since 2007) and I usually put it like this – Mr Boss, why wouldn’t you want to use a channel that can teach you about your customers/prospects, allow you to build relationships from the ground up, help you keep an eye on your competitors, generate leads, create new sales and retain existing customers? That tends to do the job! I also have a whack of data that I can deploy at any given moment to give my claims some rigour!

What is the most common problem(s) that businesses face when they come to you? (i.e. traffic acquisition, converting traffic, content creation, social media management etc..) Why do you think this is?

Understanding the data and creating conclusions from it is a common issue. Time and resource for running digital marketing activity is also a big one – that includes content creation and platform management. Why is this the case? It just comes down to a lack of having the right knowledge and experience operating ‘client-side’, but that is understandable, especially as things still aren’t great for many businesses and sectors.

When a social media fail occurs (see RyanAir, AskBG, etc) do you think there’s ever any positive halo effect after the dust has settled? Or to reword that, do you think the old adage “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” still applies to social media?

The social media #fail is a strange beast, and one that I believe has shattered that very adage! The damage that can be done is huge and rapid and public forums like social media only accelerate that. However, the best way for a brand etc to recover and potentially start to shift the issue towards ‘good publicity’ is their response to an issue or a furore – they need to be swift, helpful, humble and apologetic. That approach will save them a lot of face, and may well turn a massive negative into a massive positive. This is all relative to the reason for the fail of course, and there are cases that irreparable damage can be done – for example, the Amy’s Bakery debacle!

You do a lot of event speaking which I can imagine can be quite nerve wracking. What steps do you take to prepare for event speaking and how do you settle those nerves?

I do get nervous, but as soon as I’m up there talking it fades away! I do a lot of prep, however, I don’t like to have a script – I prefer to keep things natural, and I do often change things at the last minute, in-between sentences, which I wouldn’t be able to if I was learning my talk word for word. I try to have a laugh too; it puts the crowd at ease and often gets your points across in a more impactful way.

Let’s end on something fun. You’re asked to make a ‘Vine’ for a client who sells digital cameras. With very little budget and time, what would you come up with?

I’d do a #howto, that showed viewers how to take great photos. The twist would be that the first couple of frames would be showing them how to take a great pic with a smart phone (the biggest threat to camera makers), the phone would then be thrown in a bin, and the client’s latest compact would appear, with a simple ‘use this’ message.


Thanks to Mike for taking part in the short interview and for his intelligent responses. The Vine idea is ingenious!

One final note… without Twitter this interview would never have taken place. I’ve never actually met Mike in person, although I one day hope to! I guess the takeaway I’m leaving you with here is that social media can open up doors you never knew existed. Social media isn’t necessarily about driving sales; it’s much, much more than that and this interview is proof in the pudding!

chocolate pudding with twitter bird logo in the middle

Apologies if I just triggered your sweet tooth! 😉

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Anthony Mcloughlin

Posted By Anthony Mcloughlin

Anthony is a key member of the digital team at Tone, helping dig deep into stats to further understand user behaviours. Follow him on Twitter @anthony_mac85 and on Google+