Technology Talk: A Business Approach to Social Media

On June 19, Arby’s Social Media Manager Josh Martin sat down with Josh Hilimire, CEO of Dragon Army , at Atlanta Tech Village to talk social media best practices and the tweet that changed his career. As head of Arby’s social engagement, Martin was solely responsible for the brand’s most engaging tweet in history – A direct tweet regarding Pharrell’s fashion choice at the Grammy’s this past January which garnered over 80,000 retweets, nearly 50,000 favorites and media attention that was invaluable to the fast food chain.

Now with several successful social media campaigns under his belt, it’s hard to imagine Martin in a role outside of corporate social media; however, he wasn’t always head of social media at this restaurants headquarters.

Josh grew up in Lafayette, GA, majored in psychology at Kennesaw State and went to graduate school for psychology and business at Middle Tennessee State with the ultimate goal of working in human resources. He interned at Bellsouth during its merger with AT&T and went to work for a research team called the Digital Innovation Group (DIG) with Jeff Hilimire. At this time, the social media revolution was booming and Facebook and Twitter were transforming companies' marketing strategies. Josh was selected to head the Chick-Fil-A account, working heavily with social media, and in 2010, when he was offered a job as the head of social media at Arby’s, he took it.

Arby’s social media pages were not in good shape when Martin took over. Tweets were not published regularly and the corporate Facebook page was riddled with employee complaints. He had to start from scratch – and the first thing he did to improve the social media appearance and protect the brand was create a policy with the legal department to stop employees from posting negatively about Arby’s. One of his main reasons for success is that he didn’t rush into it, but instead worked on educating the company and legal department about the ways of social media so that they could reach an understanding and work smoothly together.

After three years of social media development, Arby’s properties were well primed and 2014 offered up the perfect storm for a viral story. During the 2014 Grammy Awards, Martin saw the attention that Pharrell’s hat was receiving and composed a light-natured tweet teasing the star about the likeness of his attire to Arby’s logo. –Within seconds, Pharrell replied “Y’all tryna start a roast beef?” and the eventual auction of the now-famous hat on eBay for charitable purposes launched a media frenzy of immeasurable size.

It’s hard to believe that such a simple tweet could have such a big impact on a company, but from his experience growing the social presence of Arby’s, Martin shared the following tips for any business, big or small, that needs to develop and maintain their social media:

  1. Educate your team. He says that educating your team and getting them on board with your ideas is the key to your success, and that creating good policies in the beginning will make things run more smoothly later on when issues come up.
  2. Identify which channels will be most impactful for your company, like Twitter and Facebook, and start small enough that you are able to stay on top of everything.
  3. Grow your channels, but because it is so difficult to grow, especially if you’re a small business, don’t go full-throttle. Take it slow and don’t force anything, he says.
  4. Focus on being consistent with your posts by pushing content and interacting with others every day to gain followers. By acting like a user and even developing a brand voice bit by bit, an account can develop and grow even more popular.
  5. Include coupons and contests as incentives for people to stay connected with you.
  6. Efficiency is key, and for the busier and smaller businesses that might not be able to dedicate that much time to social media, there are tools that exist where you can set up tweets for the week so that it will post on its own.

For more events in Atlanta, including future MAC Technology Talk’s, check out the Start-Opia calendar.

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