“When I got the bus today, everyone on my eye line had their smartphones out” says Adele Woodthorpe, founder of Woodthorpe Comms. “I guarantee you most of them were checking their social media”.
Woodthorpe is evidently a woman who knows where she, and her industry, is going. She founded her own PR agency after having the (dreaded, by every young adult ever) “10 year plan” conversation with her Father at age 25. Despite being on a steady career path she took the plunge, started her own business, and hasn’t looked back. Woodthorpe Comms has fronted campaigns for Quba & Co, Activ8, Hawes & Curtis and Champagne Laurenti, among others.
“Building a business and seeing it grow; watching it become as big and brilliant as it can be, that is incredibly satisfying” says Woodthorpe. “When my clients are happy I’m happy. I would never change it. You are nurturing the business like a baby, making sure that each decision you make is making it grow stronger”.
And social media, she says, should be second nature for the savvy communicator.
“We have to use it as a communications agency, and we use it heavily; twitter in particular” she says. “Just yesterday I reached out to a brand on Twitter, and we’ve acquired lots of new business through the feeds. It’s vitally important that everyone uses and utilises it as much as they can. It’s incredibly time consuming, I think people don’t appreciate just how much, but it’s an invaluable free tool which should be taken advantage of as much as possible.”
But, says Woodthorpe, less is so often more. She is quick to point out that simply barraging an audience with sales tweets is paramount to social media suicide. Content is king, and the internet is his kingdom.
The keen eyes of Woodthorpe Comms scour the streets of Twitter on a constant basis, searching for #journorequests and acting as the catalyst between product and consumer. “We do play the traditional PR game” says Woodthorpe, “but social media has turned that industry on its head. People are on social media all the time now; they’re looking at it on the train, before they sleep, it’s constant.
“We represent a sock brand, for example, so we might give a Marie Claire journalist a pair of socks as a gift. They will then Instragram a picture of those socks and tag the brand. That’s priceless exposure, because all of Marie Claire’s followers are seeing it. You’re interacting with the target audience in a really interesting manner.”
That, she says, it part of the secret of social media for any business: content with personality.
“Every day we read the papers, we see what’s going on. If we’re handling PR for a charity we’ll find a news article about a UK charity run and tweet them, wishing them all luck. We’ll start interacting with their target audience in a current way. We build up the following, build up the interaction, re-tweet what other people are doing. It’s being human and interacting with people as opposed to being automated.”
Which brings us to one of the dilemmas of social media – how to measure value. 25 re-tweets by human individuals who are part of the target market is worth far more than 250 by pre-programmed online bots. And, says Woodthorpe, her business is now very particular about which bloggers and journalists they choose to help promote their clients. How, in a sea of white noise, do you sort the artists and digital innovators from the freeloaders?
“It’s hard, but you’ve got to do it” says Woodthorpe. “There’s a good blogger and a rubbish blogger, and to be honest, who hasn’t got a blog these days? There are some blogs we just won’t deal with, because we know they’re only after the free stuff. We monitor as much we can.
“Every day we check journalist requests using TweetDeck. One of the girls recently saw a request for a piece on property development, we investigated and it resulted on a whole page in the Sunday Telegraph. It provides us with a tool for communicating quickly and broadly.”
“Don’t sell to your audience” is Woodthorpe’s final, and most crucial, piece of advice for aspiring business professionals using digital platforms.
“You can have some of the ‘2 for 1’ type tweets, but mainly it should be content your followers are actually interested in and want to engage with. And don’t do it half-hearted.”
Anyone who takes a look at @WalthomstowComms will see this certainly isn’t the case.