Hotfooting social media

Hotfooting social media
1 January 2017

It’s a fast-moving world in the social media sphere so what is it like to be a social media consultant, asks Oon Yeoh.

SOCIAL media permeates our lives. How many times a day do you glance at your phone to check on Facebook or Instagram updates or perhaps news updates on Twitter? Probably a lot more times than you’d like to admit.

While most of us engage in social media sharing, Teoh Mei Ying does it for a living. She’s a social media consultant who’s managed to carve out a niche little business for herself operating out of her apartment, or even on the go, depending on how you look at it.

Mei Ying’s foray into social media began when she was working for a digital agency several years back. Her motivation to start her own boutique social media agency was both a push and pull factor. Her role at the digital agency had changed and she wasn’t happy with that so she was looking for a change. At the same time, several companies who couldn’t afford to engage an established digital agency for social media work approached her to do work for them.

The thought of being on her own didn’t worry her. “I wasn’t nervous at all,” says Teoh. “I was extremely excited and everything happened so fast I guess I didn’t have time to get worried.”

As it turned out, there was nothing for her to worry about as business boomed. Her modest aim at the beginning was to simply generate the same amount of income as her last drawn salary. She doubled her salary within six months and doubled that again six months later. Business was so good she had to take on staff and freelancers much sooner than she expected.

Mei Ying talks to Savvy about her work and her fast-moving lifestyle.

What do you do for your clients?
My team and I take on the role of an external social media team for our clients. We manage their social media profiles by providing them with consistent, relevant content as well as manage the conversations that happen on the accounts. We will also brainstorm with our clients on social media marketing campaigns to run throughout the year to engage their fans and customers.

How do you scale your business without becoming a full-fledged agency?
I have one full-time staff and occasional interns. I also work with outsourced contractors who do certain things that I don’t do. Each person plays a different role the way an agency would have different departments. So different contractors would provide different services such as photography, videography, graphic design, website development and so on. As they are not permanent employees, my overheads are low. My clients are aware of this arrangement and they are not put off by it. As long as we deliver the results, they are happy.

You work mainly remotely. How often do you meet clients in person?
I meet new clients more often during the beginning of our engagement, however for long-term retainer clients whom I’m already familiar with, maybe only three or four times a year. Sometimes it’ll be for festive lunch or something like that. But we communicate almost every day though through e-mails and WhatsApp.

Do you do most of your work from home or coffee shops?
I work mostly from home as I have set up a cosy home office space to work from. I also subscribe to high-speed fibre Internet so the pages loads faster and downloads or uploads are completed faster. This really helps with efficiency and productivity. I work from cafes when I have meetings. The nature of my work allows me to work from anywhere as long as there is Internet connection.

What tools do you need other than Internet access, a mobile phone and a laptop?
That’s basically it. Other stuff needed would be software like social media monitoring tools, reporting tools, and file sharing services like Dropbox. Mine’s not an equipment-intensive business.

How do you keep up-to-date with latest developments in your field?
I subscribe to a few newsletters and I get updates on my Facebook newsfeed as I have lots of friends in the industry. I also purchase online courses on specific topics to increase my knowledge in the field. For example, when I expanded to include Facebook Advertising as part of our offerings, I took a course on it so that I could learn the tips and tricks in a fast and effective manner. I have also set up a Facebook Group called Malaysia Digital Marketing and Creative Network for digital marketers to share insights with each other.

What’s the hot trend to look out for in 2017?
I think we will definitely see more live videos in 2017. Live videos are performing better than normal videos as Facebook pushes such content on the Newsfeed more. So brands and personalities will most likely have more live videos in next year’s content calendar. Instagram has also launched live videos which will disappear once the live feed ends. This will feed the “fear of missing out” syndrome of our generation. Live video is where it’s at next year.

What do you like most about your job? And what’s the worst thing?
I’m most excited when brainstorming new ideas for campaigns and content. I’m least excited about managing complaints posted on clients’ social media accounts. Sometimes these complaints can really dampen your spirits and ruin your mood.

What’s the biggest misconception about social media marketing?
That it’s all fun and games. Try coming up with new ways to talk about the same products day in and day out, and managing angry customer comments on a daily basis. It’s hard work!

You manage social media for a living but are you personally active on social media? Ironically no. It’s sort of like how home renovators usually don’t renovate their own homes or chefs who don’t like to cook at home. I don’t want to be posting stuff for the sake of posting. I want to post things which are valuable and worth sharing. But being active on social media in a meaningful way takes a lot of effort and right now, my work takes up a lot of my time.

How long do you see yourself doing this?
I’ll probably be doing this for a few more years but I’m scaling back on taking on new clients. I want to set up a few businesses of my own and use my knowledge in social media to grow those businesses. So, I won’t be leaving the social media field completely, but instead of providing the service for clients, my team and I will be focusing on serving my new businesses. I’m passionate about health and wellness and I believe in living life in a holistic manner which is also good for the Earth. I’d like to build businesses around this area.

Are you a geek?
I think I’m less of a geek today than I was many years back. I was the president of my school’s computer club when I was 17 and I used to stay up to watch Apple’s Keynote Address online but now my passion lies in health and holistic living. So, I’m less interested in computers and more excited about things like new recipes using avocados.

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