People Powered: An Interview With Nick Bennett, Managing Partner, STEEL


Nick Bennett is a man with a number of digital achievements under his belt. Managing partner of STEEL London; NMA top 100 digital agency, a client list boasting a string of high profile brands and blogger for SocialMediaToday; Nick has extensive experience in creative social media strategy.

It's not as difficult as it seems,” Nick says about this strategy, “'s about being human.”  He elaborates on this point; “social media is about people; it's not the channels, it's not the next fad.. it's about people and how people behave.

Not only does Nick believe that social media has heralded a new era, he also believes that it's making big changes for brands. “People [are] being a lot more engaged and vocal about products and services,” he says, “you can't hide anymore.” To deal with this shift, Nick emphasises the importance of basing your social media strategies on people, not brand objectives. It's important to listen to your audience first, to really get to know them. Only then can you start to build a strategy which incorporates those brand objectives.

Internal education is another aspect that Nick feels strongly about. He believes that it's only by building support internally that organisations are able to react socially. “To work with the social world you have to be quite agile,” he says, “if you're not able to be agile and react then things start to fester.” Flexibility in a campaign means that you can listen to your audience and adapt to give them what they want, therefore maximising your success.

A great example of this is the work Nick and STEEL London did with Greggs. They took on the baker's Facebook account with around forty thousand fans. In just over a year, they raised this to more than two hundred and seventy thousand. How did they do this? Nick talks about a “flexible strategy with some key peaks and constant activity.” Momentum, he says, is vital.

One of the 'key peaks' Nick refers to is the Great Sandwich Share campaign. Like all good campaigns, it mixed entertainment with incentive. “No one is in anything for nothing,” Nick reminds us; but it's not just about finding something that people want. It's also about “wrapping it with a bit of magic.” The Great Sandwich Share was based around a very recognisable incentive; the BOGOF voucher. But the real success of the campaign was due to the “magic” that surrounded it; it was marketed as “the buy one, share one voucher.” With just a little bit of humanisation on a traditional marketing mechanism – the campaign reached its target of a hundred thousand fans in just nine days.

You don't have to move far from your product,” Nick says, “there is an audience who loves [it], and as long as you know where they are, listen to them and... give them a bit of sparkle, a bit of imagination and a bit of incentive then I'm a firm believer that you can make social media work.

Nick promises to share further social media success secrets during his talk at SoCon2011. One of these is the importance of the number 4,170. All, he says, will be explained.

See Nick Bennett, Managing Partner, STEEL present at SoCon2011 on the 20th of October at The ICO, London 
Chinwag readers save £100 using the discount code CWAG100

Interview by Katie Anderson. Photo (cc) Frank Chan.