Spike Jones Interview: Breaking All the Social Media Rules

On September 20, 2017, Spike Jones, VP of Strategy at Spredfast will join MIMA for the discussion “Breaking all the Social Media Rules” at the MIMA Monthly Event.   Spike is a results-proven communications professional who specializes in digital and social media marketing.  His background includes his work with Brains on Fire – a creative company that believes in the power of human connection – and co-writing the book Brains on Fire: Igniting Powerful Sustainable Word of Mouth Movements. His work at Spredfast is informed by the concept that word-of-mouth remains one of the most successful methods for brands to reach their customers.

MIMA: What are the social media rules brands are adhering to, which you think should be broken and why?

Spike: The biggest thing is we go chasing after the wrong metrics, the wrong things. We go after likes, and shares and comments and we forget the human connection – we need to connect the dots online and off.  How do we connect with that human being that is behind the computer screen who is sometimes not the same person face-to-face? We say things on social we would never say in person, for example.  From a marketing perspective, it is, “who do we market to?”  However, the important part is connecting the dots from online to off.

The second thing are the influencer rules. Everyone is chasing after influencers and they serve their purpose but they are not the end of it all.  They are like billboards, to me – if I want someone to broadcast that I have this service or product – and make everyone aware — I will talk to an influencer, give them some money and they will talk about my stuff.  But as soon as I quit paying them, they will stop talking about my stuff.  They are like advertising.

I think there is so much opportunity with the everyday common person, the person who is not a social media influencer, to connect with them – find the people who are already passionate about your brand and hand them a megaphone. We are using it with our customers.  We call it social care – not just helping them with a problem but the positive social care that is brand love.  Going out in the world, on social and looking for people who are saying great things about your brand and engaging them on a one-to-one basis.  The customers may not have a lot of followers but the positive response from the brand, can go a long way to further word-of-mouth recommendations.

MIMA: You talk about needing to not lose sight of traditional marketing.  How do you create that balance between tried and true marketing and social? 

Spike: We suffer from shiny object syndrome.  What is new and shiny, especially in social, everyone wants to chase it.  Snapchat is the latest.  We are already starting to see usage of Snapchat from the user perspective is shrinking.  We easily forget how effective things are like in-store marketing and point of sale and real-life outdoor – connecting the dots between social and non-social – is ultimately important.  One is more effective with the other than without.  And it is one of the things we forget.

MIMA: Tell me a little bit about the “Word of Mouth Movement” and how does it apply to “breaking the social media rules?”

Spike: It goes hand-in-hand.  Word-of-mouth marketing is the oldest form of marketing.  One person asking from another person, “where did you get that?” It is built on trust and knowing that person who gives you the recommendation.  90% of word-of-mouth recommendations about brands still happen offline. It happens with your friend over a beer, “you should go see this movie. It’s awesome!”  It happens when you think of buying a car, and your neighbor has that car – you might read reviews but you will also visit the neighbor and ask them how they like it.  You know this person. You trust this person.  You can relate to this person.  User reviews are great to gather information but if you can have validation from the family member or friend, from someone you trust, you will go to them.  We need to give people the experiences, knowledge and opportunity to share those opinions online and off, as brands.

MIMA: That happened to me! My neighbor stopped me in the parking lot to ask me about my Ford Escape because he was thinking of buying one for his daughter.

Spike: Exactly! As brands, it is “look at me, look at me, listen to me” when they should be, “look at this customer, she loves her Ford Escape and thinks we’re awesome.  Listen to her, she can tell you what you need to know.”

MIMA: It seems as brands, people might say, “they are just selling me something. Of course, they will say they are good.”  As a loyal customer, who isn’t paid, I have nothing to gain.

Spike: Giving people who love your product, just little brand love, would go a long way.  The number one reason people share branded content online is it makes them look good to friends and family.  Why not give them a piece of content that doesn’t talk about your brand but talks about that person and makes them look awesome to their friends and family when they share it.  They will never forget you as a brand and they will also tell their friends and family how this whole thing came to be.  If Ford, for example, created a cool interactive map for you, their raving fan, which you could share with landmarks or photos on a road trip.  Or even took a photo of you next your car, and it becomes Ford’s Facebook banner for the next week, whatever it is, there are missed opportunities for us to celebrate the people that love us as brands.

MIMA: How do you apply rule breaking to the work you do for brands?

Spike: I challenge our customers to break their own rules and question why?  Such as the customers that come to us and say they want “4 million likes,” and we challenge them why?  They say their competitor has 3.5 million likes, and they want more. We let them know that those likes just won’t help them sell their stuff.  It is asking them to challenge their own rules and why they have done things.  Let’s have them ask a bigger business question.  We take our mindset into meetings with customers who think they just want likes and get them to look at this in a different way.

MIMA: What is something people don’t know about you?

Spike: I grew up on a cattle ranch in East Texas but I don’t look like it because I wear a suit everyday and work in a software company.

You can see Spike Jones and ask him more about his work in word-of-mouth marketing, social media and his beginnings on the cattle ranch, this Wednesday September 20th.  Get your tickets HERE.

Written by MIMA Marketing Committee Chair and Volunteer, Gina Micek