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EPISODE 7 – Luan Wise

Clear Strategies & Measurable Goals On Social Media – With Luan Wise

Failure to plan is planning to fail, and research by this week’s guest shows that most marketing teams are doing just that when it comes to their organisation’s social media. 

In this episode, I catch up with Luan Wise a marketing consultant specialising in social media where, among other things, we discuss the need for clear strategies and measurable goals to ensure that social media aligns with business objectives and the different approaches and outcomes to expect when posting from your corporate profile vs your personal one.  

In this episode, we discuss:

  • The importance of strategy in social media and why it’s often overlooked
  • Understanding your audience beyond demographics
  • The differences between corporate and personal content on social media
  • How to get non-marketing spokespeople involved in your social activity




Luan’s books:


In “Breaking Through,” a bestseller in The Wall Street Journal, Pfizer’s pioneering head of communications, Sally Susman, shares her strategies for cutting through the clutter to deliver impactful messages and foster positive change in today’s complex world. Faced with unprecedented challenges like a global health crisis, economic fluctuations, escalating political strife, and eroding social manners, leaders find themselves under immense pressure. Communication, Susman argues, is not just a supplementary skill but a crucial asset in these tumultuous times. Drawing from her extensive experience at Pfizer, especially during the critical period of COVID-19 vaccine development, Susman provides a compelling narrative on navigating the intricate landscape of public communication. She emphasizes the importance of clear intent, the power of transparency, and the need for empathy and humor in establishing genuine connections. Susman offers unique insights into authenticity and inclusivity in leadership roles. Her book is not only a captivating account of her professional endeavors but also a guide filled with wisdom and practical advice for leaders striving to make a meaningful impact through their communication in today’s fast-paced and often chaotic environment.

Buy the book from Amazon.



Episode Transcript
Episode transcript

  📍 This week on Marketing Freed, I’m joined by Luan Wise, a marketing consultant specializing in social media. Luan, great to see you again. Welcome to the podcast. Thank you for having me. Great to see you. Look, Luan, just for everyone who’s listening, it’d be great if you could give a bit of an introduction to who you are, background to your career, how you’ve ended up working as a consultant.

Thank you. I’m a marketer. I have been for over 20 years, probably one of those few people that studied this topic and have stayed in it rather than making a switch throughout my career. And I’ve worked across all sides of marketing. I think I started off working in advertising agencies as an account manager, full service at the time, social media didn’t exist early in my career, left Agency World, back in 2006, 2007, took the opportunity to go client side to an organization which was a relatively new business in a new sector, a newly established marketplace, worked with them for another five or six years, and then had An amazing conversation and opportunity with my directors there to stay working for the business, but to set up my own consultancy with them as my first client.

And that was nearly 12 years ago now. So almost. Seamless transitions, I think, into the world of consultancy, running my own business that has shifted over the years from perhaps being a real outsource marketing manager to being more consultative and less hands on, although that did shift slightly during the lockdown years in terms of what people needed support with to very much now having a mixture of work in terms of consultancy, but also training and teaching as well.

Great. And also in your spare time, you publish books. Spare time hobby seemed like a good idea at the time. No, I actually published my first book self published back in 2016. It was called relax. It’s only social media. That was a bucket list thing. And I loved doing it. Then it became on my list of this needs updating.

This needs a version two, which at the time I thought it’s an edit it’s take out Google plus it’s But it became something completely different for a couple of reasons. One, I decided that I wanted to include some research of my own, which I did in collaboration with Warwick Business School, which was amazing.

The timings of the research project, it was ready to go in March, 2020, which as we know, some other things happen. So we started the research, but things got put on hold, had to do some other work, shift things around. Came back to the research in November 2022, which actually meant we had a really good snapshot of data and then a comparison of data.

And 2023 started writing again, wanted to get the book out there. It turned into this new title as well, planning for success and mid writing in 2023, I started having conversations with Bloomsbury business and got signed to write two books for them. Brilliant. It would be great if you wouldn’t mind just touching on some of the findings from the research that you mentioned.

Yeah. So the research was trying to confirm or change the thoughts that I was having from my consultancy work and my training conversations to see how real they were or to expand on them and, or just, test and be robust about the thinking that would lead me to the chapters in the context of the book.

So we did an online questionnaire. I think in 2020, we had about 250, 260 respondents, slightly lower in November, 2022, but the same questions, online questionnaire, the audience was, people working in marketing in SMEs in the UK. Those findings were then supported with qualitative interviews. And some of the key questions that we asked were, it was an online questionnaire, so it was all scales, agree, disagree, or ranking things in order was around areas such as, I know how social media fits with my business plan.

I know how to set the right objectives. I know what to measure. I, this is how I measure ROI. And, I think I wasn’t wholly surprised by the findings, which were, I would say, not far off a 50 50 split on, on, on a scale of kind of seven, strongly agree to strongly disagree. It meant that there’s still a lot of work to do in this area in terms of using social media for business.

we absolutely should know what our business plan is as a marketer. We should know how to set objectives for things. It gave me that focus on the content that I then needed to include. Yeah, that’s fascinating. And if I’m totally honest with myself, the example questions that you’ve just given, I think I would be scoring myself very much to the left hand side of that scale.

I’m happy that everyone was very honest about it, but it’s, what can we do? And those questions really came about when I was delivering quite a lot of training at the time of I still do, but the training pre COVID where I would have people in a room and I would say, so what’s your business plan and what’s your objectives and what have you been asked to do?

And I hate to say it, but the marketers didn’t have the answers to that question. They either hadn’t been given it from top down, they weren’t asking it up. And if they were given a brief, it was around things like how many likes do we get, or how many posts have we done this week? quite. Vanity meaningless, which isn’t really good enough.

I wonder why that is. I wonder if that ties back to just how challenging it is to actually measure the real ROI that a business might receive from building a solid presence on social media. Yeah, I think, in part, it shouldn’t still be new. some of these social media platforms have been around for 20 years now, but in a way it feels that this is still something new.

We’re trialing, we’re making errors, we’re allowed to experiment, that’s still quite risky in a business to not have, some robustness behind it or some validation into why are we spending all our time on this? So I think it’s slightly new. I think there’s also challenges with social media around it being free and so easy to access.

We can download, we can dive in straight away and Again, that doesn’t make it right, but I don’t know, David, if you remember, back in the very early days of building websites, there was also the conversations of we need a website. Oh, I know someone’s son or nephew or someone that can do this in their, attic.

And it was seen as something that didn’t necessarily need to be a specialist skill, dare I say, we work as marketers. It’s an unregulated industry. Lots of people are doing this. And so people are just diving straight in going, Oh, my friend is on TikTok and they’ve got millions of followers.

We can do that too for our business. And so I see this real gap between knowing how to use social media in your personal world. And how we translate that to a business purpose that’s focused, has direction, and will get results. Yeah, and there’s the great saying, isn’t there, that failure to plan is planning to fail.

And I think that neatly sums up the issue there. I’ve read through planning for success. It was a very enjoyable read. Thank you. it’s, obviously, aimed at people who, starting out as the, is covering the fundamentals and giving people enough to get started on their social media journey.

but I also found it really useful. just to actually have certain concepts broken down and spelled out is a useful exercise. And the one that stood out to me was, you, there was a diagram in there that was, it was just a Venn diagram. Illustrating the differences of the content that you might be putting out.

Broken down into really nice, simple terms of stuff that you want to be putting out. Stuff that your audience wants to hear. And the stuff you should really be putting out is the stuff that crosses both barriers, right? Yeah. I thought that was a really nice thing to be reminded of. Because so many brands and people forget about that.

Thank you. I think, one of the things about teaching, training, writing, and almost like getting to the stage of your career where you’re imparting your knowledge back to others, and yes, that’s why I wanted to do it for early career marketers, because this book didn’t exist when, I was early career, is getting those fundamentals right, because otherwise we skip over them very, quickly.

For example, I’ll Venn diagram, but How many business books do you read that just say, have in mind your target audience and then they carry on. And it’s then you’ll speak to someone about who’s your target audience and ask them to define them. And they can’t. And unless you know who’s that behind that screen or who you’re talking to, it’s going to be really difficult to get it right.

So trying to get those, that basic thinking, whether websites or email marketing, We have to know who we’re talking to. And it’s not just at a demographic level either. It’s not, okay, we’re speaking to men aged 45 to 55, et cetera, because that doesn’t really tell you anything about what makes them tick.

it’s the really it’s the insights about the things, what keeps them up at night, what gets them excited, what are their hopes and fears and aspirations and all of that really helped your marketing messages to stand out. Yeah. And I think as a marketer, and I found this, when I was, employed in corporate, you have to speak to your clients, your customers, you can’t have a sales team in between you or something else.

the best days I ever had were going out with a salesperson and actually meeting the person who would have been in reading the email communications or the tweets or something else. it’s so important that you have these people in mind. And again, I’m slightly digressing from your Venn diagram question, but, I, saw a post on LinkedIn yesterday that was like, I got started in marketing and I write posts that I wanted to see and I wanted to learn about.

And that really struck a chord with me around the thing is, as a marketer, you are very rarely your target. customer for the organization that you’re working for, the client that you’re supporting. So we can’t think about ourselves. We have to put ourselves in the shoes of other people. And that’s absolutely got to be beyond demographics and age.

And so that Venn diagram to come back to it is a mix between what do you as a business want to tell someone, your audience, and what do they want to know? and there’s so much noise either side that if we focus on that middle bit, We’re going to hit the spot, but we can only do that if we understand our audience.

Yeah, absolutely. I want to dig a little bit deeper into a point that you touched on a moment ago about a lot of businesses and a lot of even marketing teams are going through the motions of maintaining their social media activity, but without a real strategy or plan or even an objective in place.

if we think about linked in specifically, what? Would you describe the values, or sorry, the value of having a corporate profile on LinkedIn is? Yeah, so LinkedIn, I’m a huge fan of LinkedIn, have been for many years. Found it hugely valuable for myself, for learning, for developing my business and with the clients I work with as well.

But it presents a huge challenge in the structure of it around having company pages. and having personal profiles. Company pages don’t really get interaction or engagement from people because we connect with people, we do business with people, we exchange business cards, we meet real people at networking events.

So that’s who we connect with as personal profiles on LinkedIn. By virtue really, our personal profiles are really only connected to a company in that experience CV part of a profile. Of course, the company page exists as like a place to curate the people together and as a place where the marketing team, comms team can share content, but I very much see the company page as like a content hub, a central resource.

The power comes from personal profiles and you really have to think about how those two things interact. Yeah, absolutely. And I think as well, there’s a danger in marketing of only ever thinking about. new potential customers as the audience that we’re trying to reach through any channel, including social media.

But there’s different stakeholders, there’s existing customers, there’s employees, there’s future employees, there’s people who might be applying for a job, there’s investors. And by the way, all of these stakeholders, they’ve got their own networks as well. So it’s, definitely worth doing completely.

And I’m smiling to myself because the next book, that will be out in September, 2024 is about how to grow your business with the support of social media marketing. So as I was working on this and researching this, absolutely there’s different stages of growth. How do you grow? It can’t all be about new customers.

We all know how difficult it is to get a new customer. It’s got to be about retaining your existing customers, getting more out of your existing customers. And I don’t know about your business, David. Most of my work has come from referrals. From my existing customers and network as well. So you’ve got to look after them as much as you possibly can and not just be focusing on acquisition.

That is, I would say probably say the hardest way to grow a business and products and service sales. Yeah. Totally agree. and your point about, getting spokespeople involved and, the personal profiles and the content that they’re putting out, certainly in my career when, I was working in house, that was always a challenge because the C suite, they’re busy, they don’t have time to be thinking about what content that they should necessarily be putting out on social media channels.

And there’s certainly not going to be writing long form content. or certainly the last company I worked for that, that definitely wasn’t the case and they’re not going to be producing. How would you or how have you got, spokespeople involved at some of your clients to produce the content? Yeah.

So this, it is an absolute challenge and this is where I often get pulled in to bridge that gap between what the marketers know needs to happen and supporting the rest of teams, sales, business development teams to make that happen. And I believe the first thing you have to do is tell them why it’s really important and only it’s As a marketer, I can’t do this by myself. This isn’t how the ecosystem works. And, I need your help. And this isn’t about, I think there’s the illusion that LinkedIn is about recruitment and careers and explaining how that is actually separate in how we want support within the business. So almost like we need your help.

We, can’t do this by ourselves. We, we, need you and giving all the, you loveliness around it, but then actually Once you have got, that in their minds and okay, we realise we have to help this, then it’s how to do it. And what you can’t do is just ask people who this isn’t their job.

This isn’t their world. They have other responsibilities and, areas to focus on. You can’t say, we need you to give us blogs, because they won’t know what that means. That’s not their skillset. they will see it as being set a school assignment that they’re going to get assessed on and leave to the last minute and not want to do.

Break it down for them either. I want to write a blog on this topic because I know lots of people are asking about this Can we have a coffee? Can I record the conversation? I’ll write it up for you and get you to approve it or Here’s three things that I need you to do or when you’re all out on site with clients Can you all take a photo?

Get permission for that photo some tips on taking it straight and things like that and then tell me what the project was Like, break it down, don’t make it a chore or a big thing for them, help them do it and, you are the curator and the manager of it, but Yeah, make it easy to get their involvement and once you’ve done it a couple of times and then they see the results and what happens, they’ll get the dopamine hit from it and want to do it again.

Yeah. I love the point about just trying to make it as simple as possible and if that means that instead of getting somebody to write something, actually the marketing team, you’re the experts in communication, right? You’re the experts in what sort of content, what sort of post, the style of writing that’s going to fit the brand messaging and tone of voice, et cetera.

Don’t expect the head of product development or the techie team to be able to do that. That’s not their skill set. But by having a 15 minute conversation with somebody, you can get 1000 words from that easily enough. And then it’s just golden content that’s out there. I think that’s so so valuable. And would you expect there to be a sort of different style of content that’s published on a personal level versus the corporate?

And I think there needs to be a mix. And this comes back to almost like understanding your own hierarchy of how. Your corporate page can work versus personal profiles. And this does depend on the size of the organization. So I work with some really large organizations where we’ll use the company page for like team newsletters and CSR employer brand activity.

But anything that’s like individual specialist subject area content would go on a personal profile. And, so it’s working out your own hierarchy and how that works and who it’s best for. coming from supporting them, but also that layer above the, kind of the corporate voice as to what people are working on.

Are they running a marathon at the weekend? Are they, participating in another fundraising event? Are they hosting a team, event or networking? It’s okay to share personal content as well because people are people and we want to know about people. Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s a bit of a personal gripe of mine with LinkedIn is that I feel often it’s gone too far that way, though, and from many different profiles.

And I totally agree. By the way, it’s definitely an opportunity to share your authentic self as a human being and people connect with people. What I think happens a lot of the time is that there are certain groups of people who are publishing on LinkedIn who they actually lack The credibility in their role and experience to be talking about something that adds value to the sector they’re trying to speak to.

Yeah. And so they fall back 100% of the time to talking about, I dunno, their latest ailment or their latest marathon run or whatever it is. And that’s fine. But if that’s all you’re ever putting out there, I think you are missing a trick. I think this comes back to a question I always get asked of, like, how personal do you need to get with your content?

As, as much as I do like to get to know people. Through a platform like LinkedIn, it’s also really important that you set your own personal boundaries around what you’re comfortable sharing and what you’re not comfortable sharing. I don’t share too much personal content. I will share what I’m working on and where I am, but I don’t really share much else beyond that.

But you’re right. There are plenty of people that will talk about their morning routines or, how they did this and how they do that. And at the end of the day, There’s enough people. There’s enough opportunities. It’s about us getting to know the people that we love. Connect with and want to work with and I’m presumably and by the way, I know I sound like a miserable old kid now, but I presumably LinkedIn and other social platforms are smart enough to work out what style of content resonates with individuals So I’m not seeing exactly the same content as everybody else who’s connected with an individual, presumably linked in serving up content that they think will resonate with me.

and if it turns out that I’m not the sort of person who cares that you ran under four hours in the latest marathon, maybe they’ll stop showing me that sort of stuff and show me more fact based stuff. but by the same token, I do totally agree that it is worth, putting out that more authentic personal content because that is what builds the relationships.

And I’ve definitely found myself. Feeling like I know an individual just from the stuff that they’ve been posting on LinkedIn, despite never having had an actual conversation with them. So it’s an effective way of getting your personal brand out there as well as your corporate brand and building a connection.

just want to touch, say touch. It’s a massive, it’s a huge and rapidly changing topic, but how does AI fit into all of this and where might it be taking us? AI has been in our worlds for a lot longer than I think we, we realize. yes, I think, we’re what, 12, 18 months into chat GPT, being part of everyday conversation.

I’m glad we’ve been through everyone being a chat GPT expert and these are the prompts that you need to do. but I don’t know about you pre that I’ve been using Grammarly for a long time to support, copywriting. I’ve been using, Transcription tools. I mentioned, recording a conversation.

I’ve been using Rev. com, Otter. ai, Capra, all those kinds of tools for a long time. So I think it has been here and it’s not going to go away. I think we have a new skillset to learn about how to embrace these tools and make them work for us. We are also needing to think about our transparency of using them.

The social media platforms absolutely are adding features, AI features, into them. They are also adding, labeling into letting people know when they’re using AI. And then there’s the other tools around, around helping you write posts. But, I can spot a chat GPT post a mile off now. you’ve got to add some human element to it.

There’s definitely a style, isn’t there? You can even set it to sprinkle some emojis in if that’s your style as well. Which, again, I’m gonna sound again like a really grumpy old man. That’s not how I roll. No, I’m, emojis aren’t natural for me. It’s almost I have to write something and then go, Oh, I should probably add one in and have to think about it.

It’s not a natural language, but they do work. But also just to touch on, we have to be careful with them because of accessibility and screen readers find them a real challenge. Yeah, that’s a great point. I think with AI being used more and more, it’s undoubtedly. incredibly useful for a whole variety of different things it speeds up the content that can be produced I think it has the potential and i’ve seen it actually Where it increases the quality of the content that’s being produced So i’ve seen examples of videos which are pretty ropey in their raw format and you whack it through Some kind of video AI solution, and it turns some pretty pixel y, grainy, you can’t really make out some of the detail in it, into something that’s really crystal clear and it looks really professional.

And similarly with audio files as well, I’ve seen, in fact, using this podcast as an example, I’m able to submit a sort of echo y, tin y audio file into an AI program and it can make it sound like it’s been recorded in a studio. And that sort of thing is really valuable. With the bit that The greats against me is where it is 100 percent obvious that it’s all been written by an AI and it’s missing the point of what social media is about.

It’s not building a human connection at all. It’s building, it’s not probably not even building any relationship, but if it is, it’s building a relationship with an AI. Yeah, I think we need that human element. And as I said, it’s a new skill set that we’re having to learn of how can we use these tools to our advantage?

yeah, absolutely. changes to LinkedIn that a lot of people won’t be familiar with. I know we’re skipping around a little bit, but in one of our previous conversations, you mentioned there was a new style of thought leadership post that I wasn’t familiar with. It’d be great to understand what’s going on there and any changes that other people might not be aware of.

the world of social media changes on a daily basis. Some of them are things that it’s useful to know. I wouldn’t ever say you need to lose sleep on, identifying every single feature. That’s something that I do keep up to date with and share. Absolutely. Some of them are just, Oh, okay. I didn’t realize that, or this is something new.

So don’t lose sleep over these changes. but there is a new advertising feature in LinkedIn, which I’m quite a fan of. And it comes back to that relationship between the company page and individual profiles. So in terms of advertising, you can’t advertise from the personal profile. But from a company page, you can select the post of an employee and advertise with that.

So basically put money behind it to get more reach and engagement and to a wider audience. As an employee, don’t sweat, you have control over this. So whoever is running your ads would go to their employees page and their content, select the post that they might want to Put some effort behind it would then send a notification to the employees saying your company page would like to boost this Do you accept that?

and then you could run the ad I haven’t seen too many of these But I did spot one a couple of weeks ago where it was basically a new chief exec Had done a post on his own profile saying i’m a new chief exec. This is what i’m doing This is my aims and my goals with working with the organization And then the company promoted that Through the company page, and I thought that was a great example.

Yeah, it’s really interesting example. Thank you for that. I did notice in your LinkedIn feed just before this call, that you’ve recently been named as one of the judges for the UK Social Media Awards. Yes, that’s exciting. It is exciting. It’s actually my second year of judging, those awards and I love being a judge.

One, because you get to read all the entries and learn from the entries. Obviously complete confidentiality, around what and learn, but you get to, to read all the entries. these ones are, you do an initial round of scoring independently. against criteria. And then we meet online and have a discussion with other judges.

Sometimes that can change how we felt about things. Sometimes we’re collaborating on, what would be gold, silver and bronze. So that’s great to debate that with other people. And then last year I did get to attend the ceremony and actually present on stage some of the awards as well and just seeing how happy that made people and being part of that was brilliant.

Brilliant, that sounds great. What sort of things are you looking for? I, you look at the entry form and the criteria are quite strict, it’s very clear there’s a set of questions and scores against each question. But I’ll say what always look for is objectives. what were they hoping to achieve?

And I’m a stickler for an objective being smart. And if I can’t tick off those five criteria, I’m afraid it downgrades with me. I want to know. Exactly what you were trying to do and also going back to our earlier points. I want to know who the audience were for the campaign as well. Yeah, that’s a nice loop that we’ve formed throughout this episode of starting off with most marketing teams don’t actually have objectives or a plan in place for their social media activity and then tying that back Thank you.

thank you very much for that. Before I let you go, I am asking everybody for a book recommendation and it can’t be one of your own ones, unfortunately. So that narrows it down a bit. Oh, it doesn’t. And actually, I’m glad that you asked me in advance because I’m a really good reader. avid book reader and get through my books and to try and pick one out.

So I tried to go for something that I thought maybe one of your other guests hadn’t picked and it’s one about communication. So it’s called Breaking Through, Communicating to Open Minds, Move Hearts and Change the World. And it’s by Sally Sussman, who is the Chief Corporate Affairs Officer for Pfizer.

And in this story, it’s almost like a diary of her work during the pandemic. The pandemic of how she had to communicate to us vaccinations, overcome the barriers and the fears that people had around vaccinations, talking about when there were media stories that could potentially impact people’s acceptance of the work that they were doing, in terms of, trying to help us come out the other side of this with their treatments.

And it’s just such a heartwarming story. You can learn so much from just reading what she did and how she did it and how she brought her team along and the conversations that she had to have in the middle of the night to do what she did. Amazing. I will go and check that one out. That’s one of the few examples of the books that have been mentioned in the podcast that I’ve not already got on the bookshelf behind me.

So thank you for that one. I’m going to be sure to go on to Amazon straight after this. Luann, look, thank you so much for your time. You’ve been a wonderful guest. Before I let you go, how can people connect with you after the episode? I will say having a unique name, which I hated when I was younger, because the teachers could always remember your name at the beginning of every school year before they could remember everyone else.

but it has been really useful in, in having my own business. So I’m Luan Wise. I can manage to get my handle. You can find my website or find me on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, X stroke Twitter. And if you’re searching for Luan, it’s L U A N. But I’ll include links to social media profiles and book links on Amazon, etc, in the show notes.

Luan, great to see you. Thank you so much. It’s been wonderful having you on here. Thanks, everyone. Thank you.