by Olivia Usitalo

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Most of Seed’s office is decorated with personally painted portraits by Jeff Johns

Jeff Johns is Senior Vice President of Creative at Seed Strategy, Inc., a brand strategy firm located in Crestview Hills, Kentucky. Having been apart of the advertising industry for more than 17 years, Jeff understands how to keep innovating as the world is changing. As an expert creative designer and a commander of social media marketing, Jeff believes immediacy and approachability are the two key elements to a successful social media strategy.

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Olivia Usitalo (OU): So to begin, why do you think social media is important to building consumer engagement?

Jeff Johns (JJ): It really just starts with technology, and how technology has really changed the way effective marketing is done; it’s all about right now, that exact moment in time, [being at] the right place at the right time. Social media allows your brand or business to be out there sharing useful content and engaging and driving awareness to current and potential clients. It’s important to building consumer engagement and build upon current client relationships by offering an online window into the company. Social media gives you a peek into what the company is internally and a feel for the culture of the organization on nearly a daily basis. Social media allows for meaningful interactions with your consumer while keeping your company top of mind. This could be a result from posting, observing others posts, and even responses to questions you’ve asked. Of course the more interactions you have with consumers the deeper level of engagement you can expect from that particular relationship, which can lead to more profitable and longer-term clients purchasing more services or products.

OU: What companies or organizations do you think are “doing it right” when it comes to social media?

JJ: There are so many companies that are doing it right, but there are two that rose to top for me. First, The Walt Disney Company knows what their consumer is after, and that is the movies this company produces. So rather than having one big page on Facebook for the entire company and all it’s movies, The Walt Disney company has a page for each of it’s movies to make these features much easier for consumers to find and engage. This also allows for quicker growth and more “likes” based on specific consumers interests. Take the movie “Frozen” for example. They have a single page for it and anything to do with the movie, like promotional items, the songs and this really cool content and its all about the people who want to see “Frozen”. Which is really smart because the same person who likes Frozen may not like another Disney movie. So they’re targeting specifically “Frozen” viewers and growing an emotional connect with those people.

Second is Starbucks, while it’s nearly one of the largest Facebook pages for consumer brand products it’s also one of the best companies at truly rocking social media. Starbucks is continually providing value to its consumers and building places online where these true loyalists want to hang out, kind of like how people want to hang out in a coffeeshop. Whether they want to find the next best flavor, or maybe a promotional offer, these consumers are continually coming back to Starbucks social media outlets. As far as company pages and followers, Starbucks is number two on Facebook [in popularity]…but they aren’t posting everyday. Whenever you talk about social media, people say that you have to post everyday. Starbucks may post once a week, but when they post, they get engagement, and it’s always really strong.

OU: What do you think will be the biggest social media trend for businesses in 2015?

JJ: One trend I see companies doing, like Delta is the first that comes to mind, is using social media to really drive and increase customer service, and it’s really prompt. You’re way better to tweet than to call customer service to have prompt reaction. Technology has changed how people want things, and they want things now.

OU: That’s definitely a big factor in advertising in general, the more immediate it can be, the more effective it can be.

JJ: Definitely. I think that social media trends for businesses in 2015 will be continued advancements in customer service, increase in advertising across both Facebook and Twitter, and an entirely new means that allows people who are more discreet to interact on social outlets that are smaller, more localized. Imagine an online café environment. It’s a place where people can hang out, but not as broad… think of it as a neighborhood. It’s more approachable. If this is the case, businesses will need to figure out how to drive awareness entering these individuals’ lives in a more approachable way.

OU: Lowe’s is a brand that comes to my mind in this instance. They do DIY Hacks and Life Hacks in the 6 seconds that a Vine video permits. They have a huge following because of how approachable they are. It’s like a friendly neighbor who’s sharing something that’s worked for them before and it really helps build that brand identity and brand persona.

JJ: For sure, and Vine is a great platform. Because if you can communicate something in that really short video that has the potential to be really strong.

OU: Seed Strategy is all over social media, but does the company have a preference or an outlet that seems to be most successful out of all of them?

JJ: For Seed, the first step of our social media marketing plan was to align on the outlets that we could leverage our messaging then prioritize focus on these outlets to generate meaningful content. For example, we weren’t creating custom recipes with beautiful photos everyday, so we didn’t put our focus on say, Pinterest. However, we did want to showcase our culture through photography, so we chose Instagram, which is now a visual representation of Seed Strategy. You can look at us and think “oh that’s a fun interesting place to work and to work with”.

OU: So how do you decide which media outlet is best to use in certain projects or for certain clients?

JJ: As far as where you can see success and review analytics and growing and driving awareness, Facebook is really fantastic. Facebook is definitely a little more casual, but you can track the analytics and friendships, what people are sharing, all of that. One cool thing that it does, from a business stand point, and if you’re asking yourself “how can I grow this brand?” you can go into Facebook and you can dive deeper into other companies. Like companies that are like yours, companies that you want to be like, companies you are competing against. You can see what content posts are like; you can see what is successful and what is not so successful. So you can look at say, Nike, and see what is working for them, and then ask “why wouldn’t this work for New Balance?” for instance. [Try out different] platforms, interact and see how they best fit into your life and your potential consumer. For example, to me LinkedIn is where business is done; it’s a bit more serious, it has more serious, business-like content than Facebook. Twitter is a place to connect with short, prompt and genuine content.

OU: Lastly, what is one piece of advice you would give a budding social media specialist?

JJ: I have four pieces of advice, actually:

One:  Figure out who you are targeting…It’s key to get inside their minds and just figure out where they’re going. This will help drive your social platforms. Focus at this stage is very important, it is much better to do 3 platforms very well than 6 platforms poorly. So you might not be doing everything, but you’re doing something with importance.

Two: Make sure your branding is as strong as possible and consistent across your select platforms. Notice that little square, your brand should resonate and be distinct every time someone sees it.

Three: Decide what your going to be sharing and the messaging. What’s the focus of the content? Put an editorial calendar in place to help guide content generation and posting.

Four: Set up guardrails. You want to know what your guidelines are so you can make sure people who are posting know what is safe to share.

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As a brand strategy firm, Seed Strategy is dedicated to helping company’s cultivate their brand and staying on top of leading trends among consumers. In his line of work, it is Jeff’s job to understand how to best innovate for advertisers and how to stay ahead of competitors. Social media has become a large factor in the marketing world, as it is the fastest form of consumer engagement and it’s the easiest platform to build brand identity and consumer loyalty. It provides businesses with a lot of information regarding what is successful with consumers and what is not. The interactiveness of each platform allows access to a full spectrum of consumer insights: emotional, analytically, and social. Most importantly, it gives companies the chance to be personable and approachable with their audiences. Social media allows companies to further expand their brand persona and how they represent themselves to the world. Create content quickly, personably and uniquely, and a company can implement a successful social media strategy.

check out these links to learn more about Jeff Johns and Seed Strategy, Inc.

Jeff Johns, LinkedIn

Jeff Johns, Twitter

Seed Strategy, Inc. Twitter

Seed Strategy, Inc. Facebook

Seed Strategy, Inc. LinkedIn

Seed Strategy, Inc. Instagram