David Taylor is an expert in the world of social media. The digital management consultant and social media trainer is also the co-author of the hugely popular book 'The Business of Being Social'.
He also hosts events and seminars around the country on behalf of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and has passed on his knowledge to thousands of people.
1) What was it like being a press officer in the pre-social media age?
It was great fun and revolved around A4 envelopes and fax machines - I started working in the pre-internet age you see!
So most of the time was spent on the phone speaking to journalists and organising press trips. All that has gone now as most interaction is done by Twitter.
2) After a short stint as a journalist, did you find it easier to get coverage once you became a press officer again?
I was a journalist for two years and knew that I would end up in PR. After a very happy time on the Reading Chronicle I joined the Royal Town Planning Institute as their press officer.
I actually found the switch very easy – helped by the doubling of my salary no doubt. Back then, there was no doubt that being a press officer was made a lot easier if you understood the workings of newspapers.
3) How did your role change as the importance of video and the internet grew?
I worked in PR until 2009. As time went by, more and more work was done via e-mail, the importance of images increased and press officers needed to understand the marketing and media context in which they worked.
Video was nowhere near as prevalent 10 years ago as it is now so that didn’t really feature. The reason I left PR and set up my own business was because most of my clients didn’t understand online marketing.
I was generating coverage which sent people to websites which were at best uninteresting and at worst useless.
4) Could you even quantify how much the arrival, and growth, of social media has changed the way we live? How quickly did it make a massive impact on your life?
I first went onto LinkedIn in 2007, Twitter in 2008 and Facebook in 2009. Now I can’t imagine life without them. This is now true for the majority of the population.
It has fundamentally changed the way that human beings engage and interact and will continue to do so with innovations like virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence in the pipeline.
There are lots of positives but also many negatives including the rise of trolling, introduction of 'fake news' and people inhabiting echo chambers. We’re still figuring out how to deal with these.
5) What made you realise your knowledge of social media could become your job?
In 2009 I read the David Meerman-Scott book The New Rules of Marketing & PR. I finished it, put it down and realised my PR career was over.
Coupled with the realisation that my clients didn’t understand online marketing, I made the decision to become a PR and marketing consultant. At that time though, the social media element was fairly basic and it was really hard to quantify results.
6) What are the biggest mistakes businesses tend to make when it comes to marketing themselves via social media? And in general is there a particular type of social media that you would suggest works best for companies, or is it all down to a variety of factors?
This is a very simple answer. Most businesses do social media without having any precise business objectives they want to achieve using these channels.
They don't understand that it is a precision tool which needs to be used for a specific purpose. In terms of what are the best channels, it depends totally on their customers. It’s about fishing where the fish are!
7) Has the growth of apps on smartphones changed the way businesses have to think about social media once again?
I’d say it was the launch of the iPhone in 2007 which was the game changer. That heralded the start of the mobile internet and paved the way for today’s app-based communications landscape.
We’re now in a mobile, flexible, app-enabled world and businesses need to wise up to this.
8) How important is it for creative services to show their creativity on social media - rather than just displaying it to current clients?
Absolutely vital. Sites like Pinterest, Instagram, Vimeo, YouTube and Flickr are fantastic places to showcase what you do. They can even act as customer engagement tools.
9) Where do you see social media going? Is it here to stay? Will it die out? What's coming next?
The next step for Facebook is virtual reality and artificial intelligence. Twitter I believe will be snapped up by Google and incorporated into its suite of products. LinkedIn will see further changes under its new owners Microsoft.
We’ll see a continuing increase in the use of social messaging sites like Snapchat, WhatsApp and WeChat.
10) Talking of next, what's next for David Taylor?
My aim is to set up the UK’s first digital skills training company offering value-for-money workshops for business owners who have been left behind by the digital revolution.
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