A Marketer (& Cartoonist) Talks Drawing Your Way To Social Media Success

A Marketer (& Cartoonist) Talks Drawing Your Way To Social Media Success

B&T caught up with veteran marketer, cartoonist and founder of Marketoonist, Tom Fishburne (main photo), prior to his talk at this week’s Engage Bali (by Socialbakers) Social Media Summit. Here, he talks “content traps” and the dangers of chasing the “next shiny thing”.

You’re speaking at the Social Media Summit, what can the audience expect? 

I’m speaking as both a cartoonist and a marketer. My topic is “everything I needed to know about social media marketing, I learned by drawing cartoons.” While working in marketing for brands like Haagen-Dazs, Yoplait, and Method. I drew a weekly cartoon about marketing, which grew in popularity largely because of social media.  Along the way, some of the lessons I discovered as a weekly cartoonist made me a better marketer in my day job. Eventually, I started working with brands on custom cartoon series and ultimately transitioned to do that full-time. I realised that there are some timeless characteristics of cartoons that can help any form of social media communication.


What’s been the most exciting thing to happen in social media over the past 12 months?

We’re in the midst of a reckoning on content marketing that I think is very healthy.  P&G CMO Marc Pritchard diagnosed their company’s marketing as haven fallen into a “content crap trap”. Last year, Marc raised a siren call on a number of issues in marketing, some of which included a mandate to raise the bar on creativity. I think we’re seeing an important social media shift from a firehose approach to more crafted and higher quality creative.

What works and what doesn’t?

I think that marketers frequently fall prey to “shiny object syndrome” and misjudge an exciting social media channel for a strategy. I sometimes hear marketers talk about their “Snapchat strategy”, for example, but that puts the cart before the horse. What’s of primary importance is the strategy behind the brand, and secondarily, how particular social media tactics could bring that strategy to life.

There’s a HUGE issue around trust in all forms of media at the moment. What’s your view on that in relation to social media?

Social media has long provided a litmus test for brand trust. It shifts the balance of power away from brands in how brands present themselves. Brands need to have a clear compass on what they stand for. Brand trust takes continued long-term investment to build and can be extinguished in a moment. Social media is an important tool to build that trust and can also be a catalyst to extinguish it.

 How are brands still getting their social media wrong?

I think that brands invest too much focus on virality instead of continuity. I still see that bias in creative briefs.  What’s more important than a piece of communication going viral is continual investment in building a relationship with an audience over time.

Where should social media fit in a brand’s overall media/marketing mix?

Diageo CEO Ivan Menezes once said that “it’s not about doing digital marketing; it’s about marketing effectively in a digital world.” I think the same is true for social media.  It’s not about doing social media; it’a about marketing effectively in a social world. Social media should be integrated into all aspects of media and marketing planning and not treated as a standalone silo.

What’s your advice to CMOs confused about investing in their social media strategy?

I believe we’ve evolved beyond the question of whether to invest in social media as part of an integrated marketing plan. Given that we’re living in a social world, our customers expect to engage with our brands through social media. Yet, I also think that social media has matured enough to have a seat at the table, and that means talking about social media programs with a P&L mindset. Social media marketers need to have more of a general management mentality.

Who’s a brand (not yours) that you think is nailing its social media and why?  

Betabrand is a clothing brand in San Francisco that has described itself as “1% fashion, 99% fiction.”  They’ve developed a brand built on continuous sharable stories. Social media is not a bolt-on for Betabrand, but is instead in the DNA of every item of clothing that make. This allows them to compete against far bigger brands with deeper pockets.   

Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc – what’s your platform of choice?

Cartoons as a medium are agnostic, so I experiment with all platforms. Most of my cartoon work is designed to reach business audiences, so I’m a particularly big fan of LinkedIn. Its not only a good audience fit, I find it very well-suited for thought-leadership pieces and higher caliber engagement. 

Looking deep into your crystal ball, what’s the next BIG thing coming for brands in the social media space? 

My hope is that brands can ultimately move beyond always looking for the next big thing, and instead focus on maturing the programs already in place. That said, I think that increasing role of paid media versus organic reach will continue to shape how brands invest in social media.

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Engage Bali Marketoonist Social Media Summit SocialBakers Tom Fishburne

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