Interview with Dane Cobain

Following on from my previous post where I interviewed Natalie Weaving about the changing role of the social media manager as part of my research for my branding unit, I also got a great interview with Dane Cobain which I thought would make another great addition to my blog!

Dane Cobain is an author and social media manager based in High Wycombe (my hometown coincidentally enough) who is also a poet and musician in addition to being a storyteller.

1. How long have you been a social media manager for?

I’ve been a professional social media manager for five years – I got my first job in the industry in July 2011. However, I was using social networking sites for marketing purposes before then as I’m a writer in my spare time. I always tell people that I actually got into the industry by using Bebo and MySpace to promote my music circa 2006!

2. How did you get into your job role?

By accident, pretty much! I studied creative writing at university and have always had an interest in computers and the internet. When I finished studying, I applied for any job role that I could find that would put me near London in a role that involved writing, and that’s how I ended up being interviewed for a social media marketing role. I initially started out as a social media executive, supporting a more senior social media manager, and then I trained up with a mixture of on-the-job training and by reading relevant books and online publications.

3. What would a typical day in your job role be?

No two days are the same, really! But the first thing that I do after getting into the office is to check my Twitter dashboard and my e-mails to see if anything has come in overnight. One of the interesting things about social media marketing which marks it apart from other marketing disciplines is that it never stops, which means that I come in every morning to a whole heap of new alerts, comments, posts, etc. Once I’m up-to-date with that, I spend the day with Facebok, Tweetdeck and YouTube up at all times and then work on what needs doing, whether it’s responding to current events or whether it’s planning ahead by creating content calendars and marketing collateral for known events that are set to come up in the next couple of weeks. It tends to be about a 50/50 split of planned activity, which we can do ahead of time and get signed off by the client, and reactive activity, which we carry out in response to a request from the client or a current development.

4. How important is branding online?

Very, and you don’t need to be a traditional marketer to see it – just look at successful YouTube channels and you’ll see that most of them do a fantastic job of branding themselves, even if they’re not necessarily aware that they’re doing it. One of the strengths of digital and social media marketing is that every click is measurable, but while some people only focus on quick wins – such as whether people are buying products after clicking a link on a Facebook post – it’s foolish to forget that social networking is a long-term approach. If you only focus on quick sales, you’ll fail to develop a community, and it’s usually the long-term approach, via a mixture of branding and engagement, that leads to the greatest results.

5. What platforms do you think are best to communicate your brand’s message?

It depends upon the brand and the message. LinkedIn, for example, is likely to work best if you’re trying to reach a business-focussed audience, while Facebook and Instagram are great if you’re trying to sell FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) products. The best bet is to determine what your brand’s message is, to identify your target audience and to determine what social media platforms they’re using, and then to adapt your message to suit the platform while still staying true to what the brand is all about.

6. Do you have any stories where using social media had a negative impact on the brand? Or a positive one?

Plenty – I actually wrote a book called Social Paranoia: How Consumers and Brands Can Stay Safe in a Connected World which is full of them. Off the top of my head, I’d say that Celeb Boutique’s misguided attempt to join the #Aurora hashtag is a good example of a negative impact, while Cisco’s product launch saving them over $100,000 is a great example of a positive one.

7. Do you think the role of the Social Media Manager is changing?

Yes and no. In terms of the day to day work and the social media sites that people use, that’s definitely changing, and it’s often hard for people to keep up. But the overall concepts behind social media marketing are still the same. The key is to have a strong grounding in the theory and then to apply that over time. At its simplest level, it’s all about reaching the right people with the right message in the right place at the right time.

Parting thoughts: I hope you enjoyed this second interview about the changing role of the social media manager!

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