Paul Andrews is the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief at Family Business United, and also the latest person to take part in our Content Marketing Heroes podcast series. You can find out more about him, and read his insights, here. Scroll down to listen to the podcast, or read an edited transcript below.
Claire Trevien: You live and breathe family business, and grew up in a family business environment – what would you say is your favourite aspect of that sector?
Paul Andrews: So it’s a good question Claire. For me it’s all about relationships: real people, doing real business. They’re passionate about it, they’ve lived it, they’ve maybe done it for generations, so there’s a human aspect of doing business together with their family members and there's a personal connection. I come from a family business originally, so there's a kind of an association I get, and once you get it, the power of that relationship comes through the business. So for me, it's all about the business and people.
CT: What’s the biggest misconception businesses have when starting to think about a social media strategy?
PA: Talking to the family firms that we work with, it's all about time and cost. I think there's a fear that it is going to be prohibitively expensive and they fail to understand that social media is all about time. And actually, it’s free, it’s a free resource, and you can get some fantastic results by doing something positive and proactive. I go back to the older days, when people used to send press releases that were signed off. The biggest challenge they have is actually making sure the messages and values they are communicating through social media are the messages they want to communicate. In the past, they would have had it signed off by maybe a PR manager or director, whereas now it’s instant so it's about communicating what you’re trying to do in a way that comes across quite quickly.
CT: Do you think they sometimes expect instant results?
PA: Yes I think that’s true of any marketing, people expect ‘I’m going to launch something, and it’s going to be the next big thing and go viral’. And it takes time and effort once you’ve launched something to put the strategic thought into how you’re going to get that to market in the right way. So using the right platform, the right timing, the right time zones, the right cost, the communication, and actually building up a community and network of your contacts that you can market it to because they’re your best advocates to start with. So it’s about building a process and making it work. You’re not necessarily going to get instant results.
CT: Which social media networks do you find most useful for B2B Marketing?
PA: As a publisher, we obviously publish content, but we are also an event company. The two we use most, that we get most success with, are Twitter and LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a community of advisers and professionals that are in the same sector as us. They provide us with thought leadership and content, and actually, relationships in terms of sponsorship opportunities, speakers at events, and that type of thing.
Twitter is just instant for us, we host Twitter chats, we publish, we engage. I rank number 2 at the moment globally as an influencer in the family business sphere on social media, and a lot of that comes from the interactivity we have on Twitter. It’s instant, it’s gratifying, it’s also real, family businesses understand Twitter I think more than they do the benefits of something like a Facebook business page or LinkedIn.
CT: Can you tell me a little bit more about those Twitter chats?
PA: Yes, we do one every month, we pick a theme that’s a constant theme for family businesses around the world, such as succession or engaging the next generation, or governance structures. And then we find some of our adviser community who are experts in the area, and we ask them some questions and bring in the community around the world. The last one we did, about six weeks ago, given the holiday season, we had people participating from India, Belgium, Ireland, America, Canada,… and obviously from the UK. They’re beginning to grow, and it’s a great way to learn, because these people share their best practice, but also share resources, and articles. So for a family business, they don’t need to put their head above the parapet, they can just listen and watch the chat, and access what they want.
CT: On a related note, you manage several social media accounts, as well as the Family Business United website, do you have a favourite social media or marketing tool to help you with any aspect of this?
There’s quite a lot actually. The family business field is quite new here in the UK, it’s grown over the last 20 years, but the media are quite family business friendly now, so there’s more content out there. I have a good network of family businesses sending me their press releases and content so that pings straight into the inbox which is great, and then we use that and share it on the right platforms at the right times, be it Pinterest, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter. I think for me it’s important that we get the right content and that we can add value to the content we get, so thought leadership pieces, insights,…. Passle is fantastic for giving us an opportunity to comment on things that we wouldn’t normally have access to. So articles in the Harvard Business Review, The Financial Times, newspapers that have proprietorial content that we can use and add value to and share which is fantastic.
Also, media alerts. I use Google Alerts on a regular basis, they ping in everyday and they’re a good back up. Then there are journalist alerts, and as a journalist, I get access to lots of journalist-friendly databases and resources. There’s always content coming in, it’s how you are going to use it and pick the relevant pieces that’s important. There’s almost always too much rather than not enough now.
CT: Definitely, you have to find the gem in the noise.
PA: Which is hard!
CT: Since starting to use Passle, almost a year ago, you’ve created 260 posts – where do you find inspiration for your content?
PA: My passion is family business and I have an obsession with providing a community with the right content to help them deal with their day to day challenges. So I love what I do, for me it’s not a job it’s a vocation, it pays the bills but I actually love the whole family business sector. The more I read the more it gives me inspiration to share. So it’s just finding content that I want to read. I don’t repost, or share anything or publish anything I haven’t found interesting, and that’s my benchmark. I don’t believe in deluging social media accounts with content for the sake of putting content out there. It has to have some relevance or be something better than the last thing we did. If you take something like succession planning – succession is written about the world over – the number of articles we get sent that say this is the best succession article ever and it’s just the same seven things over again, it’s just pointless, why bother republishing it? So for us it’s human elements, human angles, people speaking honestly about their journey is what people want to read. They want to hear about people who’ve gone through the same things.
Passle makes life easy, 260 posts is great but actually we use it in probably a different way to others. We have a Hall of Fame, we’ve created it for people who do something special in the sector. It’s small and people don’t get into it easily, we’re quite selective. Then we do the normal insights pieces in terms thought leadership on family business matters, and then we have what we call In the Press, to really bring the diversity and global-angle to what we do. So it really helps, it’s a tool that we use as one of many, but Passle has helped us create some really good thought leadership.