Fi Shailes puts the A in Q&A


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Last week, the one and only Fi Shailes from Digital Drum joined us in our Content Planning Facebook Group for a live Q&A to answer all of our social media marketing and content related quandaries. With over a decade of experience in the digital marketing industry, it was a real treat to be given exclusive access to Fi’s wisdom-filled brain.

Missed the Q&A sesh? Not to worry, we’ve gathered up all the best bits below.

Q: What would be your best advice for someone wanting to build their social presence from scratch? Where would you start?

Fi’s A: In terms of starting off, ensure that a) your social platforms are branded in a consistent way that will enable users to find you more easily across different social channels, b) make sure that your social media accounts are optimised, and c) create some great content to drive traffic to your site, boost follower growth and prompt engagement!

Accept that it will take some time and that it won’t happen overnight (unless you’re a celebrity, reality star, etc.). Building a presence online is a bit of a ‘slow burn’ especially when you’re not investing any money to promote your posts. If you’re going about growing followers and engagement organically, my best advice is to stick with it, and eventually you will begin to notice a positive shift in momentum when it comes to your stats.

Q: How can you / do you, ensure that your target audience is being reached?

Fi’s A: There’s no point doing anything if you’re missing your target audience. First of all, identify your audience using persona work to really nail down your targets. I think this exercise can arguably be carried out with slightly more ease for B2C – but if you’re working in B2B, you should try to understand the tone of voice that your audience resonates with, their behaviours, which platform/s they prefer over others, etc. You’ll probably need to work a bit harder and ‘play detective’ to establish some of these details. From here, you can start composing your posts, preferably centralising them all through one social media publishing tool, so that everything can be monitored and measured in one place.

Next, you’ll need to go back and look at the results regularly. It could be that you learn more about your audience on matters that you couldn’t figure out initially. For example, if most of your engagement is happening between 4pm and 6pm everyday, herein lies the opportunity to refine and revisit your posting strategy to fully exploit these peak times of traffic.

Q: In regards to Content Marketing, what is the best way to generate leads in the current climate?

Fi’s A: The climate is, in some ways, more difficult than ever. There’s so much content out there, and everyone’s a writer; not just your digital marketers, but also your client-facing employees, and members of your C-Suite (who are often attracted by the thought of having their name in digital lights). I think the approach is basically still the same as it was a few years ago though – give your audience a good reason to visit your site and leave their details.

This is where you unleash your most helpful content. Downloadable thought-leadership pieces like reports and papers, set up behind forms (gated content is the key phrase here) can bring high volumes of visitors to your site with some strong related promotion. (It’s not just about downloadable documents though, as it can also include things like webinars.)

Write something good, and they will come.

You could say that capturing details through forms is the end of the lead gen process, but the beginning bit is equally important. To reiterate – there’s no point publishing a cracking bit of insight if no one relevant to you knows that it’s there. Pick the right channels for your audience and fully optimise your posts, so that each and every one has the best go at drawing people in. Following that through, your landing page will also need to be spot on in order to help convince people to fill in the form in the first place!

Q: How do you go about turning inspiration into social media marketing content?

Fi’s A: Personally, and because I’m a content marketing junkie, I am always thinking up new ideas for my own content and work. I am one of those people who wake up in the night and have to note something down because I’m worried I’ll forget that idea in the morning. I wrote a whole blog about analysing the marketing power of a single Nero takeaway coffee cup once. Inspiration for content can come from literally anywhere.

Q: What do you see as a meaningful new trend in Content Marketing for early-adopters?

Fi’s A: The first thing that comes to mind is voice searches – Alexa, Siri, etc. I can see this causing content marketers a bit of a headache because how on earth we are going to optimise our content, not only for those searching through typing keywords, but also for the content being searched through spoken keywords?
Another thing (though it’s not a trend as such) is the growing acknowledgement of ‘Content Design’. It’s now fast becoming a recognised part of content development where you strip everything right back to the end user’s needs.

To sum up, I’d say think about future challenges in SEO due to new user behaviours, and look into content design.

Q: You write so much content around digital marketing in particular, and I’d be really interested to know if you ever feel like the content becomes repetitive. If so, I’d love to know how you mix things up, give old ideas a new lease of life, or even if you don’t think repetitiveness is necessarily a bad thing.

Fi’s A: I guess, on my own site, I try to not cover the exact same topic or same angle more than once, but it’s quite a common problem for organisations who have a niche and are rather limited in what they can write about – it’s a trap I could easily fall into, myself.

I do my best to avoid repetition within individual articles; ensuring I include as much essential info as possible, and less waffle. I used to write longer pieces which often started with me having a rant about something, but I decided to reign myself in on that because it’s not necessarily helpful to the reader sometimes.

When it comes to mixing things up, I think there’s a number of things you can do…

If you’ve got a seasonal article, don’t write a new one and release it. Update the original and re-publish it as a new piece, applying a redirect. This both enables the user to view the most recent version if they’re searching on Google, Bing, etc. and removes the risk of duplicating content (bad for SEO).
If you’ve got a meaty bit of content like a paper or a report, think about how you can repurpose this content in another format. Could you create a smart infographic with some of the stats? A handy toolkit? Or even an animated video including the main highlights?

Q: How would you go about keeping a channel looking consistent, yet post varied content when planning social?

Fi’s A: I think it’s important to ensure the overall branding looks the same across channels, and when it comes to your posts, try and incorporate any appropriate elements of the branding style into your visuals. It depends on how much freedom you have with your brand assets, but generally things like the font and the tone of any captions / headlines should be consistent through the images on your social posts, if nothing else.

When it comes to words, try and stick to the same general structure when you’re writing a Tweet or posting on Facebook so that users recognise the tone and style of this content. Try to arrange the info in a logical way so that it makes sense to your followers. For example: Title of blog, format in brackets, url link straight after, followed by relevant hashtags.


We owe Fi one heck of a thank you for her time and undeniably brilliant advice. For those of you who just can’t get enough, head over to Digital Drum to read more from Fi on digital marketing.

Sad you missed the live Q&A? Join our ContentCal Content Planning Facebook Group for access to more exclusive and exciting content here.

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