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Scaling Businesses with Social Media

An interview with Rachel Matos

In this episode of ECoffee with Experts, we sat down with Rachel Matos. Rachel is the Founder and CEO of Blue Lotus Collective, a digital agency that focuses on social media strategy and execution for brands and SMBs. During the conversation, Rachel gives us the lowdown of how to build successful social media strategies for businesses and the ways to ensure it contributes to an all round growth.

Be patient with Social Media. Think of it as a long term, community building process

Rachel Matos
Founder and CEO of Blue Lotus Collective
Hello everyone today we have with us Rachel Matos founder and CEO of Blue Lotus collective. Hello, Rachel, welcome to the show. I appreciate you taking out time for us.

Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Before we start discussing what you do and some social media strategies from you, it would be great if you could introduce yourself and your company to our viewers.

I’m Rachel Matos. I am the founder and CEO of the Blue Lotus collective, as you mentioned, it’s a digital marketing agency. We focus on social media strategy and execution for brands and small businesses alike. I’m also, which we’re not going to talk too much about today. But if it’s something that your viewers would want to look into a little bit more, I’m a partner in an E-commerce business as well. It’s a subscription box service called My Cajita and we feature artists and products from Mexico. So I’m very busy, booked and busy every day with but with both businesses.

That was going to be my next question. I did look at that, the other business you have. What exactly is a subscription box, if you could talk more about the model and that business of yours?

So for the Subscription Box Company so many people love to collect artists and products, or don’t have access to buy some of these artists and products. I mean, in Los Angeles, it’s a little bit different, but if you’re in other parts of the country, it’s not that accessible to you. And so, if you want to receive something authentically made by Mexican artists, every month, we offer packages. So you can get something delivered to your door every month, and we try to keep it very much like something that would be useful in the home, like glassware, trays, fashion, things like that, mostly focusing on things that you can use for entertaining and cooking. So, yeah, you would just pay a monthly subscription and our lowest one is 39.99. And every single month, we send out something and you’re able to skip if you’re not interested in that product and it doesn’t affect anything, and you can skip or you can replace it with something else that we would have as an option. And also something that we’ve been doing is that we’ve been offering like if you’re a new member may want to skip something and then if you saw something you liked that we sent out months ago or a year ago, then you can get that one to replace. That’s pretty much yeah.

Well, thank you so much for explaining that. Rachel coming back to Blue Lotus collective, like who is your ideal client?

Who was my ideal client or who would be my ideal client?

Who would be your ideal client?

I loved lifestyle home decor clients and fashion. I love anthropology. Whenever I think of who would be my ideal client that client would look like that. Would sell beautiful pieces like that. I think that would be because it’s just like a very feel-good place. I would love to be part of something like anthropology even though I know they have in the house. So something like that. I love boutiques, places that sell really beautiful home decor and textiles, and things you wouldn’t find in mass-produced stores.

When it comes to social media platforms, do you have a favorite?

 To consume, I think my favorite right now is Tik Tok. I have a very silly sense of humor. I get a kick out of watching it. It’s not exactly my favorite for creating content, because it is a lot of work  I feel but I do enjoy it. I think it feels good. 

As far as creating content is concerned, since you talked about Tik Tok, I think it's a tricky space. I mean, there are brands and niches where of course Tik Tok can be very, very helpful but then, creating the right content on Tik Tok is not that simple.

It’s not that simple. And it’s very time-consuming Tik Tok especially if you’re a business and you want to start producing content on Tik Tok. I have a lot of people that are like, yeah, we’ll do like a video a week. And I’m like, it’s not going to work with Tik Tok. When I write the strategies out,  it’s daily so we have to come up with how are we going to. Not all companies and brands have been able to do the original content. So how can we be creative so that they can have something every single day on Tik Tok, because that’s really how you have to use that platform. So it can be a bit tricky for some businesses and brands on how are they going to keep having something produced every day. We even have, because it’s such a small team that I hate that we have the same issue that it’s like, we have to keep producing content every day, you need someone who’s going to be just doing that for you, and creating strategy and coming up with ideas so you can prepare your editorial calendar. That way, it’s not so daunting that you’re like, what am I going to do now? What am I doing this week?

Tik Tok as for you would make sense if you're creating content daily. Tell us your favorite client story.

My favorite client story was an event, it was called nostalgicon. And it was like a huge conference summit of 80s nostalgia and retro products. I think I had just way too much fun at that event. Even though I was working in and we were doing all the marketing, just to kind of go back and relive some of that stuff. The best part of it was the concerts, they had like 80s Hip Hop people there, like Duggy Fresh. I mean I had so much fun. I was supposed to be working. But when the concerts went on, I was like I’ll be right back. So I had a lot of fun with that because I got to live through it every day, every time they were like, Oh, we got this person to join us. We got that person. I would say that was the most fun one that I’ve done. I enjoy the clients that are events clients the most. Yeah, because I love to see how you’re just building up to that day. And then that day comes and boots on the ground. And we’re all on our side, our team is just creating content everywhere. And then it’s just like adrenaline, it’s a lot of fun for me, and then you come down, put the report together. And it’s just like, wow, we did that? I enjoy those a lot more than the steady. The steady and the stable ones are great. But the events are a lot of fun.

Thank you for sharing. How do you leverage content marketing in your marketing strategy?

How do we leverage it for Blue Lotus?

Yeah, for Blue Lotus.

To be honest, I struggle like a lot of marketing agencies with that, because we’re so busy creating the content for the clients. So we do have an Instagram page that I haven’t been feeding content into it as much because of lack of time. That is something that this year I want to work on. I want to work on developing Tik Tok for the agency as well. I do have someone in mind who could do that for us. But I’m still figuring that all out. So right now, it’s a lot of emailing and letting people know, yeah, and sending out our decks and pitching ourselves at this point. But I want to get to a place where we’re doing for ourselves what we do for our clients.

Make sense to me, I think, that's one thing common in a lot of agency owners we don't spend the time that we should on our brand, your website that we should be.

Yeah, and then  I often wonder like, do I want to make it something where it’s providing educational content?  I want to be of service in some way and for me, it just takes a bit of time to come up with exactly what we want the company to say now that the platforms are pretty much open for us to do whatever we want with it. Maybe I’m overthinking it, but that’s where I’m at with it.

What does a typical content marketing team look like? Again this is from let's say the business point of view, not from like an agency point of view. If somebody had to do content in-house, what would be the typical team structure?

For content in-house. I mean, it depends on how big you want your team to be. I mean, I’ve seen it just start from the social media director, they also sometimes outsource some of social media strategists and work directly with the social media director. You have your social media manager and you’ll have your coordinator. You will also have your graphic designer, as well you’ll have a content writer. Even though you have a social media manager, not all social media managers for the most part are producing a lot of the content, but some agents and some businesses will have a separate content writer who’s also going to be producing content for the website. And so the social media manager would work directly with that person to take that content and disperse it into the different platforms. And that would just be the bare bones of a team. Depending on how big the business is, you’d have multiple people on the team, that would be a Senior Social Media Manager or junior Social Media Manager, it’s not as easy as people think it is, it’s a very time-consuming job. And then you have people who would be doing the customer service portion of the job, the community management, which is as important or even more so, than the actual posting, making sure that you’re staying engaged with everyone. And if you’re a service-based business or something that requires people to buy products, and they have questions, you’re gonna need a team for that.

What are your thoughts on AI-driven content?

I think everything should be but I’m not a fan of anything being automated in any way whatsoever. And that might have to change if the eCommerce business continues to grow because I think it’s a necessity in some cases. But I wouldn’t necessarily say that it’s something that I’m a big fan of, probably because I’ve been working so much all these years with being very hands-on but that’s not realistic. I’m not sure I have had any clients who have wanted that. They have all been like either not there yet or not something that they were interested in.

When it comes to social media, there's always this debate between the approach of using content as a trigger point to your nurture prospects. And then like, the fight between direct Bureau lead gen campaigns on social. What are your thoughts on that? I mean, what is the best strategy or route to take?

What, I didn’t understand what was the last thing, the route to take In which part?

So, basically there's always a fight between; should we kind of create a lot of content on social and promote that content and kind of create a funnel? Or should we directly use lead gen campaigns on social like direct ad campaigns?

 So right now what’s happening is I’ve had some of these issues with Facebook, where we were doing ads, and we’ve noticed that there’s been a bit of a decline on Facebook recently. I love Facebook, I love doing lead gen, we’ve done ads, everything on Facebook, but recently, I’ve noticed that there’s been a decline. There have been some changes in Facebook that are causing that which I’m sure you know of. So right now I’m encouraging clients to stick with organic content. It has to be valuable content, daily content, video, really pushing on organic video. We’re still doing the ads, but I push a lot more for authentic organic content consistently. That’s just me. I have the background where I have and again, it also depends on the business are you trying to build a community? Are you trying to build consumers? Are you trying to sell an event? It is just really all of those things would depend on what it is that the business is trying to do. Because I’ve worked with so many like I have some clients that are personal brands for them. I would completely suggest you need focus on authentic organic content every single day, primarily video. With someone else who’s a real estate agent, I would suggest something completely different. I would suggest they create some sort of funnel from their website. Change the homepage, we create ads, and that’s a different service. So it really would depend on who it is that we’re working with.

How do you plan your social media posts calendar? Is there any favorite scheduling tool you use?

I use Sprout Social, for sending that out. For actually preparing everything before it goes on there, we use Google Suite, we use Google spreadsheets to put everything in its place. We create the calendars there. So I’m a very visual person. So I need to see the content. And I need to see the images in the spreadsheet first, and how everything is going to look. If my client is a very visual client where the feed has to look very beautiful, we use Unum first, it’s called Unum.la and then we’ll set everything up there. So they can see what their images would look like, all pieced together. And I would use an app like planoly, we would use Planoly for something like that, and I’ve used later as well. And then that way, it’s more visual, and they can see if that’s like their focus. I have used sprout. One of my favorites and it’s the simplest is buffer.  I just feel like it’s just super, you just want to get content out. I think that’s one of the better ones that I like. But everything we do, we plan everything out first, and spreadsheets and Docs and create everything for several months in advance. And then we show the client and the client looks at over and you know, we make any changes that need to be made. And then we put it into the platforms for scheduling.

What is your mantra for responding to negative comments on social media?

Some of them are fine. Some of them are constructive criticism. If a client isn’t happy with something, I feel it’s an opportunity for the client to improve. If it’s something ridiculous, or if it’s political or anything like that, then the comments, we would hide something like that if it’s offensive in any way, then I don’t think that there’s a place for that. But I do think that you have to also understand that not everyone is going to enjoy the content or not everyone is going to be happy with the product. Not everyone enjoyed that event. And I feel like some things just have to stay there, they have a right to say if something wasn’t great for them. I mean, you see it all the time, especially with product-based businesses but that’s really good feedback for the clients as well. Like, unless it’s abusive, then there’s no place for that.

What are your thoughts on influencerl marketing? Does it help every business?

I’m bullish on chatbots. So the reason why I’m bullish on it is that they’re starting to get to a point where they’re highly sophisticated, they have great branching of your responses. Great tracking great engagement, if you think about chatbots they’re kind of like email but more interactive and with a much higher open rate. The customers are getting used to it.  A lot of customer service is run on chatbots now. A lot of fulfillment is now run chatbots, Hey, your package may be late, pressing me to cancel. So a lot of stuff that is the customer base is getting more trained to interact with chatbots and I think that’s going to be a good thing. I think one of the big misses is that I think Facebook should have paid more attention to WhatsApp and integrated WhatsApp as a chatbot into its overall ad ecosystem. But it hasn’t been paying much attention to that.

Any special tip that you would give our audience that they could use and benefit from?

It does not help every business. I believe in the power of influencer marketing, I do. But there’s also a lot to be said if you are a business that could create your content. Part of influencer marketing that would be extremely beneficial is to get eyeballs on other clients and what I mean by it’s not always beneficial is because many brands don’t understand influencer marketing and they want to just, I want that person that’s that has 3 million followers, that doesn’t necessarily mean that person is going to convert for you. That doesn’t mean that their audience is going to become your consumer, your followers, you have to be very strategic when you’re using influencers for your brand. They need to fit your brand. And I’ve been an influencer marketing since 2011 before they were called influencers and I’ve been able to see what works and what doesn’t work and how you are curating influencers to fit the brands it’s just such an important step. I’ve worked with a lot of people or didn’t move forward with working with some people because they wanted these macro-influencers that; one-  didn’t have the budget for. Two- didn’t have anything to do with their brand, whatsoever. I had one person who has their company focused on more like intimacy products and they wanted to work with this one influencer, who had high numbers, who was a makeup influencer? Like,  there’s a huge disconnect there. I know you like her content, but I don’t see how she can fit that into her content. So I think it doesn’t work for everyone if it’s not done properly. And if you’re looking to just think you’re going to go viral, it doesn’t necessarily happen that way.

Talking about looking at influencers, and, choosing the right influencers, for your brand you can look at the content, you can see what that influencer represents. But, apart from that, there's also this one thing where you have to be sure that the influencer doesn't have like fake followers. So what are the best ways of spotting fake followers of influencers?

I don’t have it off the top of my head, my team has it. There’re apps that some of them are free that you can look to see how many of them are fake or real. And you can also tell, I mean, it’s it I see, sometimes someone will have, like, let’s say, 50,000 followers, but they’ll have like to convince, you can tell it just doesn’t make sense, or you can see a lot of spam comments on there. So sometimes we don’t even need to investigate, we can tell when there’s truly an authentic audience. I mean, there’s a big difference between when you see an influencer, who has a very engaged audience, as opposed to someone who’s posting something, and I’m like, how did they get 1000 likes on that picture? Makes no sense and then there’s, there are no comments. So it’s not that hard to tell.

Also, how do you decide how much control to have over your influencers' content and overall control?

So the brand will say, I want to work with five influencers. And these are the messages that we want to send out, this is the campaign that we’re working on, or this is the new product, let’s find influencers for that, and then they hire us. I’ll send them some influences that I think would be a good idea, not having talked to them at all, just letting them know, these might be a good fit, then we would move forward. In moving forward, part of what our services are, or a big part of our services is managing that entire campaign. So once we do get the influencers, I send them everything, let them know, this is what it entails, this is the pay, this is what you’d have to do. Let me know if that works for you. And oftentimes, if it’s like a bigger campaign with a larger budget, I’d be working with managers. So back and forth with them negotiating like, Okay, well, they can do,  with that budget, we can’t do this, but we can do this. And so it takes a lot of negotiating back and forth to make sure that the influencer is also comfortable with what it is that they’re being asked to do. And then after that we prepare the contracts, we contract them, and I have a Content Director on my team that makes sure that they’re doing everything because some of these campaigns are a little bit more complicated. Like we had one that was 24 influencers within 12 months, and their content was on different days. And they had to do different things. So on one day, two people were doing stories on another day, this person. So I have someone that was just making sure that everything was buttoned up, and people were posting when they were supposed to and they were supposed to what they were supposed to do before either the brand season or they send it to us prior for approval to make sure that everything is what we had asked them to do. And then so yeah, that’s pretty much how it works, just kind of like doing a QA of everything and being in constant contact with them. Because some of these influencers have so many things going on that they’ll forget. That’s pretty much just managing the whole thing. But I’ve had such a long relationship with so many of them. And I’ve worked with many of them over and over again and it’s been pretty seamless so far.

One valuable super-secret tip that you would give our audience that they could apply and gain benefits from.

So if there’s someone in your audience who is looking to use social media marketing to build their brands, one of the things that I would suggest is to be patient to develop a strategy.  Think it. of this as a long term, process and building a community, and building a following. Coming up with something or working with someone who is going to be able to sit down and customize something for you. There are no one size fits. And don’t feel like you have to be on every single platform choose the platform that at first you feel will work best with your company and start building from there. One of the biggest problems I see when you don’t hire someone to do this job is consistency and getting frustrated with

At the end I like playing a quick rapid-fire round of five questions. Okay. Are you ready? Describe yourself in three words.

I guess I would say I’m lively. I’m smart. and honest.

If a movie was made on your life, what genre would it be?

Probably like a romantic comedy.

Last book you have read

The full book was power of now.

Are you a morning person or a night person?

Morning.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?

Back in New York where I’m from.

Thank you. Thank you so much for your time Rachel. It was a blast having you.

Thank you so much.

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