London-based digital marketing expert James Russell, the founder of FloSocial, is focused on closing the gap between social media and sales.
James’ interest in digital marketing was first sparked when he created a website for his own personal training business. He soon found himself specialising in social media management and content creation, website development and SEO optimisation for lifestyle brands and businesses, helping to give them a holistic understanding of how their digital presence contributes to their bottom line.
“My clients don’t just need someone to manage their Instagram account,” James says. “They need to break down what they do, platform by platform, and learn how to bring all of the different elements together to maximise the potential of their business.”
Primarily, James instructs clients to use Instagram as a tool to establish brand authority and awareness – and that requires great content.
To make sure the expertise of his clients is reflected in their social media presence, James involves them in the creation of the content from the jump. Taking advantage of Sked Social’s unlimited team members for business accounts, he grants clients direct access to their scheduled content.
“The great thing about Sked Social is that it allows me to bring in other team members and the clients themselves to work on the content, and make sure everybody is happy with what goes out,” James says.
“Using the integrated workflow tools, one of my team members can schedule content, and then I can go in and vet it. I can make suggestions and make any tweaks I need, and so can the client. We actually have a couple of clients who add the content they want to their accounts themselves, and then I go in and tweak it and schedule it for them.
“Nobody can say it better than the clients themselves. Our clients have incredible projects to showcase, and I’m never going to understand the ins and outs of the business and their tone of voice to the extent that someone who is actually involved in the day-to-day running of the business is going to.”
By scheduling content through Sked Social, James and his team can see exactly how their posts will look in Instagram’s grid format, and make changes accordingly.
“Because we can preview what the grid is going to look like, we can make sure the posts flow properly,” he says. “If it doesn’t look right – if, for instance, one image is much brighter or darker than the others – we can use the in-app tools to add filters and edit the image. These are features we use quite regularly to ensure the overall flow of the grid is consistent.”
Instagram Stories, which can also be scheduled through Sked Social, play an important role in the agency’s campaigns – and help them convert brand authority and awareness into sales.
“Stories are incredibly powerful,” James says. “If you’ve got a business account with at least 10,000 followers, you can use the swipe-up feature to drive traffic from Stories to a particular product. In the last month alone, we sold £100,000 worth of product for a client through Instagram Stories – just by promoting the different elements of a sale everyday, with beautiful images of the products that made people want to swipe up.
“The real value of Instagram Stories is the engagement tactics you can implement through them, such as location tagging, polls and questions, and hashtags. For instance, we send everybody that hits ‘Yes’ on a poll a direct message that goes straight into their inbox. It’s a great way of connecting with people.”
Of course, it’s one thing to create great content – but it’s another thing to make sure that content actually reaches its intended audience.
“The challenge for us is not necessarily in creating or even scheduling content,” James says, “but in getting that content seen. That’s really what my clients are paying me for – to make sure their content gets the most engagement possible.”
Hashtags play a key role in this process. To assist with this, Sked Social allows users to save their favourite hashtags and create hashtag groups, so that they don’t have to be typed out each time.
James and his team use Sked Social’s first-comment scheduler to place all of the relevant hashtags in the first comment box at the same time as they schedule each post, leaving their clients’ feeds as uncluttered as possible.
“I love that I can put all my hashtags in that first comment box,” he says. “Essentially, that allows me to pre-plan everything. It has been an absolute game-changer, in terms of how I manage accounts on a day-to-day basis.”
Using Sked’s powerful analytics tools, James is able to tell his clients exactly what role their Instagram posts have played in their campaigns, and what they might want to do differently next time.
“It’s all about data,” James says. “What matters, ultimately, is what your posts are doing for you. Which ones are bringing you new followers? Which type of content is driving people to your website? Which posts are driving people to pick up the phone and call you, or to email you? Once you connect the insights you get from Sked with your Google Analytics, you can see how your content is really working – not just on the platform itself, but in terms of generating traffic to your website and sales of your products.
“When you provide them with that broader understanding of how the digital landscape works, and how everything they do online works together to help them create connections with potential clients, that’s when they say, ‘Okay, I’ve got it, I understand the value of social’.
“It’s not about vanity metrics anymore. It’s not about having 100,000 followers. Today’s clients know to ask, ‘Okay, but how much is that worth? What does that really do for me?’ That’s why social media agencies that really understand the metrics are doing well.”
By using Sked Social’s tools, James is able to maintain transparency at every stage of the process – from content creation to reporting – and demonstrate the real value of social media to his clients.
“Ultimately, social media is about real people,” James says. “It’s about how you connect with the people on the other side of that screen – that’s where the value is.”