Today I had the pleasure of speaking with Erin Avery, Sr. Product Marketing Manager for BMC Software. Her approach has evolved over the years. Erin brings a lot of herself into her daily social marketing and because she really enjoys social (a surprise to her) and it shows in her light-hearted approach. You can find Erin on BMC communities or via @ErinKAvery on Twitter.
How long have you been Social?
I think my family would say since the day I was born…
I have been actively using social platforms for my job for the past six years. Initially I was admittedly leery about social media in general. What I realized over time is a bit opposite from most people—meaning that I got comfortable using social platforms when I really began to use them professionally. For me, once I started seeing the value of social connection though my work life, it then made me more conscious of how I could use social platforms to create deeper connections in my personal life.
How do you get started in Social Media?
I was at another company and got my budget whacked. When that happened, I could no longer afford traditional marketing communication vehicles so I looked at what’s available in Social Media to help me tell the story—because I had a great story to tell, I just lacked the money to tell it using traditional marketing vehicles.
We had just launched a customer community, so I started blogging, knowing it was a way to tell the story. Writing is not my favorite activity. I was the kid in college who hated to write, so it was hard at first. I committed to blogging once a week and put time on my calendar to condition myself to do it. I blogged for 18 months and shared the blogs via social platforms. So, I would write a blog; and then post it to Twitter and LinkedIn; and coordinated to get it posted to the company Facebook Page. Then something amazing happened, people from around the world started dialogues with me based on what I’d posted. Those dialogues came in the form of tweets, email exchanges, impromptu phone calls from colleagues on other continents and messages over LinkedIn. I admit, the fast, meaningful responses and instant gratification fueled me to keep blogging and engaging. Writing wasn’t such a challenge anymore.
It was the perfect storm for me. My budget money was gone so I couldn’t use traditional marketing platforms and at the time, my employer was dabbling into an online customer community, which meant I had a place to tell my story and an audience. Social was a free platform to distribute my story and I started sharing. Because there was no barrier, I didn’t have to wait for an interview or development of a story with a reporter to get the information across. Once I got responses from people, it pretty much spiraled.
How do you find “Inspiration” for social content?
I am so fortunate to have great customers. They are clever and brilliant and they fuel my inspiration. One of my social mistakes early on was that I thought I had to have brilliant thoughts every day or I couldn’t post them. What I discovered was in my daily connections with amazing, talented people, I find a constant flow of inspiration.
The second inspiration?...,(lol) the rambling thoughts in my head.
At BMC, I have met this diverse group of amazing technology and business professionals. This varied group of gives me inspiration as well because it’s the people that you interact with that make you better. I believe it’s incumbent on us to share those conversations.
How do you approach content development?
When I was first getting started I knew I had to condition myself to do what was out of my comfort zone.
I have a content calendar for myself. Because when I want to post, it gives me inspiration and content to draw from. A lot of times I write based on a conversation that I had with a customer. For instance, I was writing on a napkin last night after a customer meeting in Minneapolis. The conversation was inspirational, so I want to blog about that first, and will go back to the calendar another time. In absence of those inspirational moments, having a content calendar helps give you a frame of reference.
My content development has changed over time with different forums to tell the story including webinars and videos. Plus now there are lots of other bloggers out there. I still have time on my calendar to write, but now blogging is just one of the ways I share my thoughts and stories socially. In the beginning I focused on writing content, tweeting it and posting it on other social outlets. I have evolved to be a more social person who will tweet statements or thoughts that I have--verses thought management.
Do you have a Personal Rule/Mantra?
I have a few…
- 1) I endeavor to be myself. If you read a tweet that doesn’t sound like it would come out of my mouth, then I failed.
2) Nothing you say is wrong. It’s your opinion. A lot of people are worried someone will criticize what they say. So what?! It’s your opinion. They can agree or disagree.
Be authentic, be yourself, and be true to who you are. Write, post, Tweet, Blog, but make it a reflection of your personality. Don’t be scared of getting it wrong. I told something this the other day--- nothing you say is wrong, You won’t get it wrong. It’s your opinion.
Would you share your Biggest Win/ Achievement?
On a business level, to this day, I have the most read blog post from my previous employer. It had a clever title about a topic that wasn’t interesting. I still check it occasionally to see if the count has gone up. ( I am a geek like that.) It was an early post, and it was a big win.
On a semi-personal level, I have a twitter friendship with a customer that I met virtually years ago. After some Twitter activity, I figured out his real name and ironically we went to the same college. So I connected with him on LinkedIn to say I was also an alum to thank/ acknowledge that he followed me. To this day, we banter on anything from technology, to football. Because he is a technologist at heart he totally challenges me. I have had some awesome back and forth discussions with him. Realize, it goes back to, “nothing you say is wrong—it’s your opinion.” And that is the power of social … 6 years later, someone I might never have connected with otherwise is a social friend.
How do you approach Time Management?
I am a little bit Type A – (others would say I am a lot Type A.) I like to be organized and pragmatic on how I approach things. The content calendar was the first step in conditioning myself to blog. A year later I added a meeting reminder daily from 8 - 8:15 am to check community blogs, twitter, and my Linkedin groups– again, conditioning myself. It took about a year. NOW, time management isn’t an issue because social is part of my everyday approach to product marketing, not something I do after all the other work gets done..
What are your biggest Challenges with Social Media?
(silence) I am not going to give you a great answer here because at this point, today, I don’t see a challenge. Social has become second nature to me. Why? Because it’s FUN. That was so unexpected to me—looking back over the past years. Because there is stuff we do every day that is not fun. I have met so many authentic and cool people who have made me better—and this is because I developed an interest in something new-- that was unexpected to me.
Do you have a Parting Thought to share?
One of the biggest objections I hear from others is: “I just don’t have the time to do this.”
I would argue, “You just don’t have the time NOT to do this.” Social is one of the most effective ways to connect with people today. However else you are connecting may not be worth it.
At some point the process tipped for me from being a time management issue, to being a participation issue. I realized I would miss those interactions—completely miss connecting with certain people—if I wasn’t engaging in social platforms.