Social media shy? Tim Hyde, the million clicks man, shares some truths

Instrumental in LadBible’s meteoric rise to publishing and social domination, Tim Hyde chats to me about work and cliffhanger moments in my latest podcast.

A snippet of how he does what he does follows but hear the whole podcast here

So everyone pretty much is on social media today, but it’s only very few people in the world that can say that they’ve increased daily traffic on their website from 1 million to 5 million per day in as little as 10 months. Social media guru to the likes of Puma, Ford, Spotify, the list is endless. Tim how did you come to realise that your work could effect such a ginormous reach?

My first ever job was a writer at LadBible. I ended up interviewing one of the CEOs, I went from thinking that they were just a Facebook page to being almost overwhelmed by what they could achieve. When you really start to see firsthand the power of social media being able to engage such an incredible volume of people, at your fingertips from your phone or laptop to reach the world is pretty insane, especially at a young age. Over time from experimenting you learn specific tips, tactics, hacks, if you like to get the most out of that audience. And, you know, whether it’s cynical or not, I’ve kind of taken that with me into a marketing slant and using social media to specifically influence purchase decisions.

In terms of making profit from a service social media is not going anywhere any time soon so it’s a good way to go. Have you seen a massive rise in social media use during the past year with brands turning to ecommerce to survive the lockdowns?

Sort when COVID happened, a lot of the really big advertisers, the likes of Expedia, came out and said, they normally said spend seven billion a year on advertising and in 2020, they spent 1 billion. And so when you’re talking about those sorts of numbers, and you know, not all of that went into social by any means, but you know, a lot of retail and hospitality and sort of more traditional FMCG brands, pulled their advertising spend while they were figuring out what was going to happen. So a mass volume of traffic disappeared. However, because we were all at home, trying to keep up with the news that created a really brilliant time for consumer brands and anyone with an online presence, because that’s where people’s attention was. A lot of businesses have sort of continued to do very well from that.

Do you think that’s going to continue when lockdown lifts? Or do you think we may see a dip as people are going back onto the high street? Will all these brands continue to see the value in what they’ve done this past year and keep it going?

My kind of take on it is that it’s sped up the adoption of ecommerce and social media advertising within the UK, by a couple of years. The US were definitely ahead of us by a couple of years, whether that was, you know, people ordering everything on prime for next day delivery. So they didn’t have to go to the shops and things like that. I think in June when we all get released, there probably will be a little dip in traffic to certain websites and initially in online sales figures. But at the same time, I think that the trends and the ease of use and people’s relationship with online businesses has changed for the long term.

In retrospect has Covid made your business better?

I’d actually say that it has. I’ve always been working remotely, whether that’s sort of travelling around the world meetings in London and kind of getting work done on the train in, I’ve been very used to this cycle, so if anything Covid has enabled me to be a lot more efficient. There’s also no need for a giant office or kind of posturing on traditional senses, everyone’s on zoom and now everyone’s a lot more forgiving when there’s a delivery that you have to answer because everyone’s been in the same boat.

Yes hopefully, that sense of understanding within people working from home is now embedded in British culture. So I know from speaking to business owners that they kind of hold their breath when they go live with a social campaign. Do you still hold your breath and hope that you’ve predicted human behaviour correctly?

I’ve gotten to work with incredible clients with incredible people. I got to grow up in such an amazing environment, you know, people that were pushing each other, we were pushing the boundaries of what had been done in social media, we were all learning, we were trying something. Sometimes things worked. Sometimes things didn’t work. Okay, let’s double down on what did work. And to be honest, it was a great learning experience of what social really is. You have to try something, see what works, refine it, improve on it, and continue from there. And, you know, it’s definitely not rocket science. But I like to think of social media strategy in its truest essence, is all just about incremental improvement. Are we using the right posting times? Hashtags, right? Content, right? Amplification strategy? It’s never ‘we’re going to make this one bit of content that’s going to suddenly blow our social channels up’. It’s actually a lot more pragmatic and all about consistency, rather than these swinging for the fence tactics that, you know, some articles will have you believe.

I think our social media shy readers will definitely like to hear that. Because if you’re, you know, caught up in the day to day of running your own company, you know you should be on social, but I think a lot of people are just signed up for absolutely every single platform out there and then they freeze. They can’t post anymore. They just don’t know what’s right, or they don’t see the return on it. And then it just gets lost. Whereas actually, if it’s double down and strategised, then it can work incredibly well. What sort of platforms, what would you say to the SMEs, that are really worth looking at moving forwards into 2021 2022?

From a paid perspective, Facebook, Instagram, their advertising platform, although it’s going through a lot of changes is still arguably one of the most powerful marketing tools out there. Same with AdWords and Google and getting your advertising on pre-roll on YouTube, these can be absolutely phenomenal.

If you’ve got the right brand, you know, product, market, fit, budget, all of those things align, Tick Tok’s advertising is actually something that I think is very much worth exploring, especially if you have content that’s native to the platform. It really has to feel like content on Tick Tock, which is, which is very different than native editing style, maybe a bit more tongue in cheek and this probably segues nicely to talking about organic but I think certainly in 2020, what we saw was huge corporate brands, the likes of Walgreens and Doritos, throw away their kind of traditional brand guidelines simply for Tick Tock and then we’re getting you know, employees, having fun with the platform, you know, doing dances, doing routines, you know, whatever it was, which is very much native to the platform, but you know, you’d have never seen that on a corporate Facebook channel. That’s something that actually a lot of brands have really managed to leverage. So, you know, I think in 2021 it’s gonna be massive for a lot of brands. I’ve been speaking to the guys at TED Talk and in Europe they’re starting to see quite a much older demographic. But surprisingly, the adoption of the 30 plus in Europe is actually much higher than the US.

That’s really interesting to know, isn’t it? The days of portraying your company as being this perfect, component in the world are long gone. People want to see the authenticity.

In the early days of social media, ‘going viral’ was very appealing to people, you know, that dictated a lot of the brands that we got. I think, in those sorts of days, it was about pushing the boundaries, and swinging for the fences and seeing what crazy returns you could get for a specific campaign with either millions of comments, millions of views, and hopefully, therefore, millions in sales. As I’ve evolved as a marketer, I tend to be a little bit more pragmatic now, and focus on that relationship between organic and paid and how you can really just use social and digital as an acquisition channel. Be smart and build up that brand equity through putting out great content, engaging people, inspiring them. You need to educate them about your product and proposition. So yes, there’s times to be bold, but I think now, it’s about looking at that holistic kind of strategy.

So if it’s all about the holistic side of things and authenticity, is it better for an agency to design and manage the campaign, but best for the owners to interact with their followers so it’s genuine.

Yes, that can work really well. We did a little bit of work with Deliciously Ella, probably two or three years ago. They must have been £10m+ business, yet Ella spent two to three hours every day responding to people on Instagram because that was how she started it all. She was giving advice to her target audience, it was real, it was authentic.

LinkedIn has invested millions in their blogging platform and space in the past few years, is it a good way forward for brands to develop a presence and lead to sales these days?

So LinkedIn has been a pretty organic platform for probably five or six years, they realised that the more time that people spent on the platform, the more advertising they’re able to sell. So instead of rewarding the people that just looked for jobs, scrolled and got off the platform, they started rewarding people that actually posted, and you’re now seeing some really great uses of the platform. Brands are leveraging LinkedIn to generate millions and millions of views a month. Clearly, LinkedIn is still a phenomenal platform to get attention and connections with a vast audience.

Tim Hyde has also joined Business Matters as a regular columnist

Cherry Martin

Cherry Martin

Cherry is Associate Editor of Business Matters with responsibility for planning and writing future features, interviews and more in-depth pieces for what is now the UK’s largest print and online source of current business news.
Cherry Martin

Cherry is Associate Editor of Business Matters with responsibility for planning and writing future features, interviews and more in-depth pieces for what is now the UK’s largest print and online source of current business news.