About our Digital Hero
Priscilla “The Social Media Scholar” Tan
Priscilla is a true social media superhero, having honed her social media marketing and corporate communications superpowers over 16 years!
Priscilla’s heroic feats:
- Former head of social media at Spotify Asia Pacific: led and built the organization’s social media marketing capabilities in Asia.
- Senior lead of social media marketing at Singtel: spearheaded the company’s social media marketing and content creation strategies.
- Head of corporate communications at Yahoo Mobile Asia Pacific: bled purple and managed Yahoo’s global brand presence across multiple social channels.
Priscilla has also been a digital hero at local and MNC brands like Microsoft MSN, Coca Cola, Cirque du Soleil and Nike.
Power Up: Answering your burning social media questions
1. What made you choose a career in social media marketing? Do you think your early career in PR helped you in your social media management roles?
I saw it as an opportunity to not only work with traditional media and analysts (which I was doing in PR), but also the chance to reach out to a new set of influencers and engage with consumers directly. It was a natural progression.
The years I spent in public relations definitely taught me important skills that are useful for social media management. PR professionals tend to be storytellers who understand relevant content creation/curation, expert communicators, and experienced in relationship building and crisis communications. This is knowledge that is important and useful in managing successful social media.
2. Which social media campaign are you most proud of and why? Was it the award-winning #Need4GSpeed real-time social marketing campaign or perhaps the Gordon Ramsay VS #Hawkerheroes brand campaign?
I am really proud of both campaigns and of being part of the amazing teams and agency partners who worked together in making them successful. The way I see it, both campaigns were created to address longer-term business and marketing goals and we had different approaches to meet the objectives.
3. You’ve created and implemented successful social media campaigns across Asia. How do you plan your social media strategies for such a diverse region?
Asia is such an interesting region. There is really no ONE Asia. Consumer needs and behavior not only differ from market to market but also within the same country. Cultural sensitivities, existing and emerging subcultures, consumption preferences, and language differences were all important considerations when planning social media strategies.
I often work towards ensuring there are guidelines for consistency at a regional level but empower the local teams / agency partners to adjust plans with considerations to the local nuances. I also strongly believe that for social media strategies to be successful, they have to be integrated into the broader organisation, especially marketing and brand.
4. What’s the best way to build a loyal and engaged audience on social media?
Be authentic. Tell meaningful stories
As individuals, authenticity is something we admire in others and strive to achieve in our own lives. We don’t feel good about lies or insincere connection. We all want to have a clear sense of who we are and what we believe and to feel confident. But that is not easy to achieve because people are constantly trying to please, to achieve, or sometimes, people hold back sharing their true selves in order to stay out of trouble.
Similarly, for brands to really build a loyal customer base and communities, they need to stay true to what they stand for. Each and every piece of message that comes out from the brand on social media has to be consistently authentic to the brand values.
Stop speaking in marketing messages. Stop trying to market to your audience.
Give them an authentic story to believe in. Give them something of value that they can’t wait to share with their friends.
In Jonah Berger’s book, ‘Contagious,’ he wrote about six key steps to get people engaged and to share. One of the steps is stories. People don’t think in terms of information; they think in terms of narratives.
5. How do you measure the ROI of social media marketing?
There are many on-going debates on this topic. Before the ‘how’, we should be asking the ‘why’. It is so easy to get sidetracked by typical social media metrics that don’t have much of a bearing on business objectives. It is also easy to become obsessed with ‘fleeting metrics.’ I have seen management obsessing over short-term changes like the number of brand mentions or Facebook comments daily. To me, measurement and analysis of data require context.
Brian Solis, the principal analyst at Altimeter Group shared that it is important to first understand what the “R” stands for in ROI. It’s a great point to make. Consider the kind of return you are looking for. Are you looking at using social media to change customers’ behaviour? Is it for branding, improving customer services, generating sales leads, etc.? Most businesses would say, all of the mentioned, which is why there is no one-size-fits-all solution to measuring the social media ROI. We need to first understand what the business really hopes to achieve with social media before we can talk about the return on the investment.
6. Which social media technology, trends or platform do you think will have the biggest impact in 2016? Why?
I am geeky and I love gadgets. Just by observing the news coming out of CES 2016, I am interested to see where VR (virtual reality) is heading. Facebook has already begun incorporating Oculus technology into its 360 video. We can probably expect to see innovative immersive content in 2016 (like the recent Star Wars promo) from more publishers and brands.
Wearable tech was huge in 2015 and I believe we will see more of that in 2016, hopefully at lower prices.
7. When recruiting someone for a social media role, what should hiring managers look out for in a candidate?
The candidate should already have all the basic knowledge of social media platforms, understanding of content creation and curation, setting up metrics and measurement, etc.
The key traits I think would be useful for a social media role (regardless of the level) are empathy and cultural awareness. Markets and communities are made up of people and people have different cultures, different consumption habits and different preferences on how they want to be connected with.
8. You’ve completed the University of Pennsylvania’s online “Intro to Marketing” Course and have devoured tons of marketing books. What other resources would you recommend to someone interested in learning social media marketing?
I love podcasts! You can find great material on podcasts.
I do consume a lot of content online – blog articles, videos and MOOCs (free Massive Open Online Courses), webinars. I would also encourage someone who is interested in social media to not restrict yourself to just social media topics. Broaden the scope and explore topics around branding, marketing, storytelling, consumer behaviour, customer relations, etc. Social media is constantly evolving and can be complex. We need to be lifelong learners if we want to stay relevant and add value to the industry.
1. If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?
I would like to time travel. I love the TV series Doctor Who and I want a TARDIS! Wouldn’t it be amazing to meet Picasso or Van Gogh in person or see what the world is like in the future?
2. Does your passion for painting help with the creative process as a marketer?
I have always loved learning and discovering new things. I was encouraged to read a lot and create art since I was young. What many people don’t know – I studied music for many years and have a diploma in design.
Studies show that the process of making art – whether that be writing, painting, dancing or anything related – has health benefits too! I believe people who create art (in any form) tend to try see things in new perspectives and are more willing to experiment. Designers understand that there are just so many different ways to address a problem. I would like to think that helps me in my work as well.
Painting is also a form of “therapy” for me. It allows me to positively isolate myself and enter a world of possibilities. This often helps when I feel stuck in some areas of life or stressed. It’s my form of meditation!
3. What was it like meeting Chef Gordon Ramsay?
He was professional and much nicer in person than his TV persona would lead you to believe.