Transcript of the Interview
Mireille Ryan: Hi, I'm Mireille Ryan, and welcome to Social Media Insights, where we peel back the curtain and ask experts to share their experiences in the social media industry. Today we are joined by Roger Christie from the Propel group. I'm tongue-tied today, Roger. How are you?
Roger Christie: I'm very well, thank you.
Mireille Ryan: Excellent. Now Roger, tell us a little bit about yourself and your experience in social media.
Roger Christie: Yeah, sure. I'm the managing director and founder of the Propel group, and in essence we're an organisation that helps businesses get better outcomes with social. We have more of a business skew than say a content or a channel skew. We've worked with a wide range of clients, public and private sector. Everything from large companies like Commbank or Westpac or the ATO, right through into smaller agencies, boutique agencies, and helping them really surface business value from the investments they're putting in social.
Mireille Ryan: Awesome. Tell me, what do you love about social media?
Roger Christie: It's a good question. I think for me, the first thing that comes to mind when I think what is that I really love about social media and the industry, just the opportunities that it's provided. We've seen a massive change over the past decade in terms of how organisations communicate and interact with their customers or their stakeholders. If I look back to where that journey started for me, I was working in corporate comms at the time when social media was first rising to prominence in Australia, and it just presented this whole new range of opportunities to connect and communicate with people. That's really what started my own professional journey, going from an agency role into setting up Propel and we're now been in operation for over four years now. I've very thankful for the opportunities that's provided. I think that comes from the fact that it's such a new industry and there's so much growth and development still to come that it's a real leveller. It provides people with a lot of opportunities that perhaps you wouldn't otherwise get. We're seeing people who might be in their late 20s or early 30s, suddenly having a real voice within business and the real opportunity to drive credibility amongst their peers who may have been there for 20 or 30 years longer than they have. That can be a bit unsettling for some, but I see that as a real opportunity. I think for me specifically, the approach that we take with Propel, trying to shift away from social media channels and focus more on what we call "social capabilities," so helping organisations, helping the individuals within businesses build their capacity to manage this really dynamic changing environment that we're working in today. How we use these channels, how do we use the data, how do we use the technologies that we have to deliver business outcomes and to deliver business value. For me, as I say, the industry's provided a real opportunity to go and have some real meaningful business conversations with people.
Mireille Ryan: Absolutely. Now, the question I've been asking all my social media experts, which is awesome because we really want to help those who are getting started in the social media space to just have an understanding of where they can get started "Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to somebody getting started in the social media industry"?
Roger Christie: Yeah. Again, really good question. It's one of those things if you're going through university or you've done some kind of degree or academic pursuit leading into a practical vocation, you can't prepare in that setting. You can't prepare for what you're about to go into. You can't prepare for what you're going to experience when you're going into an organisation or chat to your first client. The three things I would say, more practical advice, if I was starting again. The first thing would be never stop asking "why?" I think with social media being such a new industry as I was saying before, you can fall into a trap where we just do things. We just look at what other people are doing and so we replicate, and we think, "Well, that's what seems to be normal, that seems to be what other people are doing, so I'm going to do the same thing." I'd encourage people out there if they're into this industry, never stop asking why. Why are you doing things? Why are we running that campaign? Why are we pursuing that particular angle, that message, or that content? Making sure that everything you're recommending and everything you're doing within your own work aligns back with organisational goals and customer needs importantly. That'd be the first thing. Just keep asking why. Sounds a bit silly, but you'll understand what I mean when you get into an organisation. Keep asking why we're doing things.
The second thing I'd say is to learn as much as you can actually about stakeholders and about relationship management within businesses. I think we go in with, or the risk we fall into in this industry is being technical experts, and a lot of businesses are looking for people who can use Facebook or use Twitter or use Instagram, understand how these channels work and the tools that sit across them. While that's absolutely important or while it's good to have that knowledge, I would argue it's even more important to understand how businesses operate and understand the importance of engaging people on that journey and being able to communicate your value and your knowledge in a way that they understand. Stakeholder management, stakeholder relationships are really, really important.
The final thing I'd say, I think this ties into that point, if you're starting your career, you can't necessarily have that knowledge from day one. You're gonna face a lot of challenges and barriers along the way because this is still an emerging industry. So the third piece of advice that I'd give to people is actually to build a network around you. Find peers, find external mentors or people that you can go to as a sounding board to bounce ideas off. Say, "What experiences have you had? What have you learned?" My dad always told me actually when I was growing up and first going into my professional career, never be afraid to ask someone for a coffee because you'll be surprised how many people say yes. I think today, with the access we have to people in our networks through LinkedIn, never be afraid, if you absolutely have a purpose and an intent for catching up with someone, even if you've never met them before, be very transparent about why you'd like to catch up, but I think you'd be surprised how many people are willing to give their time, particularly in this industry.
Mireille Ryan: Excellent. Three really awesome pieces of advice that I'm sure if people follow that, they will really get benefit from that. I love the idea about the coffee. I've seen that happen so much with me, in everything that I've done. Just asking, people are so generous.
Roger Christie: Yes.
Mireille Ryan: People are so generous, as long as we don't abuse it.
Roger Christie: That's exactly right. Always make, I know it's hard, particularly when you're younger, you might think, "What can I offer in return?" You never know. You never know. Someone might just get a kick out of having a chat with you about a totally new realm of thinking or way of thinking, so never be afraid to ask.
Mireille Ryan: Absolutely. Now Roger, if people wanted to find out more about who you are and what your business does, where can they go?
Roger Christie: The easiest thing, and on that note, I suppose the easiest thing to do would be to go to LinkedIn and drop me a note there, if you just search for Roger Christie. There aren't too many of us on LinkedIn.
Mireille Ryan: That's a good thing.
Roger Christie: Not an unusual name, but an uncommon name. The other thing I'd say is if you want to go to Twitter as well, @RogerChristie is my handle, keeping it nice and simple. You can drop me a note there. If you're trying to find advice, ideas, industry thinking, case studies, that sort of stuff to help fill your own minds and build your own way of thinking about this industry and the opportunities it presents, we've got a newsletter on our website that's great, you can sign up for it there. We put regular content out, not just from our own thinking, but also other experts in the industry.
Mireille Ryan: Awesome. Thank you so much for joining me today, Roger.
Roger Christie: Thanks.
Mireille Ryan: Okay, thanks.
- Holiday Marketing – Why a Content Calendar is Crucial
- Seniors are Finally Going Crazy for Social Media
- Social Media Trends for 2017 - What You Need to Know and How Not to Get Left Behind
- Social Media Spotlight - Coda Studio
- Using Hashtags to Increase Your Brand Visibility