'Make the customer the hero,' says Chris Kim, Director of Social Media at Airtable

Media 7 | March 10, 2022

Chris Kim, Director of Social Media at Airtable shares some of his best practices to creating engaging and customer-centric social media marketing campaigns, and the impact that community and influencer marketing have on strategic marketing strategies. In this interview with Media 7, Chris speaks about the development of the role and importance of the social media professional to become a key contributor in strategic marketing conversations within organizations. Read on to find out how marketing teams can leverage different social media channels using data-driven insights to understand what works on each channel.

A vibrant user community, if understood and nurtured properly, is an invaluable resource for any brand.

MEDIA 7: In your 15+ years of experience in the marketing industry, what are some of the most exciting developments that have taken place in the space?
CHRIS KIM:
For me, one of the most exciting developments has been the emergence of Creators and Creator communities. Creator content has evolved over the years, from basic photo sharing and lifecasting, to more sophisticated (yet still easily consumable) content that can help individuals and organizations solve their real-world problems. This applies directly to my work at Airtable, where our mission is to democratize software creation for anyone using our no-code/low-code platform. I’m blown away by what our customers are building every day to solve their professional and personal needs.

Another encouraging development I’ve seen in social media is regarding the profession itself. Specifically, I’ve seen social earn the right to have a seat at the table in strategic marketing conversations within organizations. It is no longer viewed as a one-way megaphone where your goal is to “go viral”. Ten years ago, a lead social media role might have been a part-time or junior-level job in many companies. Today, startups like Airtable are hiring seasoned professionals to lead social media from the ground up. For anyone working in marketing or communications over the past two years, I think the pandemic and other social events have validated how critical social media is to all parts of the business.


M7: According to you, what are some of the best methods of creating original and customer-centric social media marketing campaigns?
CK:
My mindset is always to "make the customer the hero" when developing social media campaigns and tactics. Whether it’s generating a pull quote, a video clip, or a longer-form piece, the voice of your customer is the best way to rise above the noise. Be sure to partner closely with your customer marketing team, keep an eye out for potential stories in your social listening, and think of creative ways to showcase your customers. I actually wrote an article on this topic last summer which provides specific examples.

Another effective (and underutilized) source of original content is your own employees. Your organization likely has a number of experts and micro-influencers whom you could feature on a LinkedIn Live broadcast, a blog series, or you could partner with to create UGC  (user-generated content) to support your campaign. Don’t just think of your executive team, but other customer-facing departments such as Marketing, Customer Success, Sales and Support – all of which have a unique and valuable perspective on customers which your audience would highly value.

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M7: What’s on top of the list of your social media goals for Airtable this year?
CK: 
Last year we established the foundation for social at Airtable, as I joined the company in June 2021 – and this year we're poised to grow and scale our presence. Because we’re in hypergrowth mode, a top priority is to raise brand awareness through social-first activations, integrated campaigns, our always-on calendar, community engagement and employee advocacy. It’s going to be an exciting year and we have a lot of interesting campaigns and programs planned, so stay tuned!


Be sure to partner closely with your customer marketing team, keep an eye out for potential stories in your social listening, and think of creative ways to showcase your customers.



M7: A common customer-centric strategy is community marketing. What makes a thriving community around a brand a viable method to get ahead of the competition?
CK:
A vibrant user community, if understood and nurtured properly, is an invaluable resource for any brand. It’s one of the few sources of unfiltered, ongoing feedback about your products and services. By supporting communities through humble listening, providing real value to its members, and connecting customers with one another, your benefits can range from improved customer experiences to word-of-mouth advocacy, to product enhancements, competitive insights, and even crisis management. Brands however must be fully committed and appropriately resourced to participate in or potentially host these communities, which like any relationship is a long-term investment.

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M7: What channels do you think are the most relevant for Airtable? How do you use each channel differently?
CK:
We’re constantly evaluating our channel strategy because we have a broad customer base - from individuals to small businesses to large corporations across all industries. We let the data tell us where our audiences prefer to engage, and what content and conversations resonate best on a given channel. For example, on LinkedIn, we’ll have more elevated discussions around thought leadership and business value which leans towards our enterprise users. Twitter and Instagram are where our Creators and other power users are active, so we’ll emphasize product-specific content such as tips & tricks as well as our newest features. Twitter is also where you’ll find industry thought leaders, journalists and other influencers where we can build relationships through real-time interactions. YouTube is where we’ve standardized our education video content, as well as host a weekly live stream series called Table Talk. Finally, on all these platforms - and others like Reddit and TikTok - we listen daily for conversations, feedback and insights about Airtable. It takes ongoing listening coupled with action, but it's the best way to optimize for each channel.


M7: The COVID-19 pandemic made businesses take a turn towards newer strategies for creating brands awareness, such as using influencers to promote their products and services. According to you, what makes influencer marketing still relevant in 2022 and why?
CK:
I feel that influencer marketing will always be relevant if framed properly. If you expand the definition of an “influencer” to micro-influencers, partners and other non-celebrities, this group - in aggregate - can be a force multiplier for your brand – not just in terms of total reach, but in reaching your specific audiences. Industry studies like the Edelman Trust Barometer have long shown that people (not celebrities) are more trusted than brands. The Creator movement has also provided a platform for people to become influencers within their own industry, profession, or subject matter. Most influencers tend to be active on social and maybe talking about your brand at this moment. Fortunately, we have the tools to identify these individuals and potentially partner with them as advocates. One of the most fun parts of my job is that on any given day, another potential influencer and/or Airtable fan may show up on social, which is a new relationship to be explored.


The pandemic and other social events have validated how critical social media is to all parts of the business.


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M7: According to you, what is more important on social media? Is it quantity or quality, or a mix of both?
CK:
When growing your social media presence, always establish quality first. Not just the quality of your content, but the quality of your followers. If your follower base is growing fast but not engaging with your content, I consider those like empty calories. But if you have a foundation of quality content - using data-driven insights to understand what works on each channel – you’ll be able to iterate more quickly and increase your post-activity while maintaining or even increasing engagement. Over time you’ll see a kind of virtuous cycle, where good content attracts more followers, who engage with your other content which attracts even more followers. The key is to have the discipline to maintain both strong quality and quantity over time.


M7: What type of social media content is likely to be the most effective this year?
CK:
Native video (short form) and live streaming will continue to perform well, so long as your content strategy and execution align with your audience needs. UGC can also be highly effective if you’re able to mobilize your internal and external advocates as Creators. And don’t forget the power of simple formats like polls, which can have strong virality if executed well. Finally, remember to monitor your performance data (I recommend weekly) to identify content trends, so you can iterate quickly, double down on top-performing topics, and take advantage of any algorithmic updates from the major platforms.

ABOUT AIRTABLE

Airtable’s mission is to democratize software creation by enabling anyone to build the tools that meet their needs. People around the world use Airtable to do everything from cattle tracking to filmmaking.