Nikki Pilkington is one the founders of nikkipilkington.com. She has consistently managed to position herself as a leader in her field and is a major name in the world of Internet Marketing. Renowned across Europe for her innovative, experienced team of Internet Marketing experts primarily working with SMEs, she’s made her name by delivering results.
Nikki was responsible for helping me start my social media journey through her ‘tweetmentor’ programme.
For more details about Nikki go to www.nikkipilkington.com.
Remember to follow her on twitter at www.twitter.com/nikkipilkington
1. At what point did you decide the career path you’ve chosen and what drew you to it?
As a 21 year old single parent I needed a career not a job and the Internet seemed the obvious choice at the time. While Internet Marketing was in it’s very early stages in 1994, it became clear that it would become the way forward for companies with websites, so that’s where I focused my time. Before Google, before Social media and before it got so crowded
2. What excites you most about the growth of social media?
I love the fact that it’s changing all the time, and that anyone can do it with no previous experience. A lot of the so called ‘experts’ are still learning as they go along, and it’s an open market at the moment. Social Media gives the client and the customer the voice – it makes each and every one of us taking part up our game – business is more open than closed now and that can only be good.
Social Media has meant that the smallest of companies can compete with the biggest, because it’s not just all about budget anymore
3. Why do you think that so many businesses are fearful or are struggling to come to terms with the social media world?
It can seem time consuming and of course people can make mistakes. It’s a new thing to a lot of people, and there’s not always a tangible return right at the beginning. It’s a difficult thing to explain to a boss: “Yes, there’s this site called Twitter where I post 5-6 times a day telling people what I’m up to and occasionally I tweet out links to our website. It increases our website traffic, but it’s not all about our company, or people won’t follow me’ – it’s hard to understand. In a lot of cases the ‘proof is in the pudding’ and it does take a bit of a leap of faith to give it a go.
I think businesses struggle to see the difference between Advertising and Social Media Marketing – too many jump into forums and start touting their wares, then retire because they get slated for it. They jump on Twitter and start tweeting out links and ‘Look at my fab company’ type tweets, then give it up because no-one wants to follow them. They lose all their Facebook friends because they go in hard and heavy, so say that doesn’t work. No-one reads their blogs or articles, or comments on their YouTube videos because they haven’t thought it through. It’s a different discipline, and in a way it’s an education process as much as anything to get businesses to understand how it works
4. You’ve helped so many people understand social networks (including me) . What three pieces of advice would you give to those who are new to this brave new world?
1) Look at what others in your industry are and aren’t doing. Don’t copy them, but take the good bits and make them yours. Look at what they did wrong and work out how to do it better.
2) Jump in and give it a go. You might get it wrong, you might not get the results you want within a week, and you might feel it’s scary and difficult, You’ll never make it succeed if you don’t give it a go.
3) Track EVERYTHING – traffic to your site, clicks on your links, signups to your newsletters, referrals from social media sites, mentions of your company name – track everything for a month and then tell me Social Media has made no difference!
5. How much time do you feel a company should devote towards social media (per day/week)?
It depends on the company – some will spend an hour a day, some a day a week – like any other marketing, you need to put some time into it to make it work. How much time on an ongoing basis depends on how organised you can be, what systems and processes you put in place and how strict you can be with yourself! If you don’t have the time to put into it, then you need to either take someone on who has got the time, or look into hiring an outside company to help you out. The pros of doing it yourself – you have full control and can react quickly. The pros of getting a professional in – they’ve made all their mistakes and gone through their learning curve and should know what works quickly to get quick results. Do you have the time, or can you find the budget? Not many company owners have both.
6. Why do you feel Marketing departments are slow to adopt new online techniques, particularly PR companies who seem to be slow-adopters to change?
Are they though? Like in all industries, some people have taken the ‘online marketing’ world in their stride, and others have stuck with what they know they’re good at. I don’t think Marketing Departments and PR companies are particularly slow in general, it may just be that they don’t have all the skills in house to compete or try out the ‘new’ techniques and want to see how it goes. To my mind the best thing a traditional PR company can do is to partner up with a digital or online marketing company who has the expertise in the online and social media arena. Having experts in each field will make them stand out. trying to add ‘online marketing’ to a portfolio without taking the time to learn it would be as stupid as me deciding I’m suddenly a PR person as well as an Internet Marketer – I know the basics of PR, but I’m no expert. Stick to what you know you’re good at and bring in partners to fill the gaps
7. If a colleague (or client) was going to sum you up in 5 words what do you think they would say?
Loud, opinionated, hard-working, prolific, everywhere – apparently
8. What’s your vision for marketing, on and offline for 2010 and onwards?
I don’t have one, The world of marketing changes month to month, week to week. Even in 2008 people were saying Twitter was a waste of time – now look at its use as a marketing tool. Facebook was for kids – now look at the amount of business pages on there. Blogging was for wannabe journalists – now you’re considered odd if you don’t have a blog. YouTube was about amateur videos – now it’s full of corporate and moneymaking vids too. The great thing about the marketing world is that it is fluid and changes frequently – it’s up to people like me to ensure that my clients can keep up with it.
9. How should we be measuring success in this ’social’ world?
You can measure success in a number of ways, depending on your business, outlook and strategy. It could be visitors to a website, downloads of an ebook, sign-ups to a newsletter, contact forms filled in, phone calls received, number of mentions online – that’s up to you. To me, the bottom line is “Do I make money from my online activities that outweighs the time/money I spend on them?” The day that the answer is no, I’ll have to rethink
10. What’s your definition of social media?
Social media is what your clients and potential customers make it. It’s not controlled by you as a company, it’s controlled by your market and audience. Keep them happy, give them what they want and the business will follow naturally.
Your comments are welcome…