Building a brand these days relies heavily on your ability to compete in the new digital era, over the last decade we’ve seen an uproar in social media stars across multiple platforms, which means not only are brands head to head with competitors but are now having to compete for the eyes of their audience with influencers as well.
Marketing professional and content creator, Zoe Marais is at the forefront of this new age of marketing, by natively merging brands into social media she’s been able to not only grow brands from the ground up but also increase conversions and revenue for companies across any industry. We had the chance to sit down with the leading social media expert to get insight into how she found success and how you can apply the same strategies to propel your social media marketing career.
Tell us a brief background about you and your profession?
Marais: I am a well seasoned, multifaceted social media manager, marketing expert, and content strategist, but it didn’t happen overnight. Funny enough, my career kicked off spontaneously when I was only 13 years old trying out Instagram for the fun of it. Through that, I managed to learn the ins and outs of social media, content creation, and marketing today. Back then, I would’ve never imagined what all that could amount to now. Social media has quickly become one of the most prominent driving forces in building the biggest brands and sustaining momentum in the ever-evolving digital world we currently live in.
This journey began with a selfie, followed by another, and another, and so on. I grew my personal account to 100,000 followers in what felt like the blink of an eye, suddenly I found myself working with businesses of all sizes, scaling online growth by 1000% regularly. My expertise and success is entirely routed in passion, hard work, determination, and of course timing. Being at the forefront of the social media boom allowed me to fully immerse myself into the future of marketing from a young age, and to grow with these platforms we’ve learned to love so much.
You speak of companies and brands, what work have you done through the years that stands out to make you the expert you are today?
Marais: All my past work has led me to where I am today, from the smaller local companies I worked with when starting out to the bigger world-wide brands that have trusted me and my vision to tell their stories globally. I learned more from these experiences than any education could have ever provided. I started working with small companies and then quickly scaled to bigger projects through proof of results and success. My work has always been extremely important to me, not only because I want to reach impressive heights, but rather because I want the brands I believe in to succeed beyond expectations. I’ve worked with so many different companies across a wide spectrum of industries, from tech and tourism, to apparel and beauty, and everything in between. Through the strategies and content I craft specifically for goal-driven campaigns and organic social growth, I’ve seen my clients grow their followings by over 1000% and boast an impressive increase in engagement.
One notable emerging technology company I worked extensively with was able to grow from just under 3000 followers to 30,000 in the time I was running the account. For an audience so niche and a topic vastly complex this is an impressive achievement and one of my favorite case studies to reference. As I mentioned earlier, another industry I’ve had a substantial amount of experience in is the tourism sector. Post-pandemic it was proving challenging to drive traffic to major cities that rely heavily on tourism income, the cities within Greater Palm Springs were no exception.
Through vigorous social media campaigns after the covid-19 pandemic, I worked with their tourism team, in partnership with airline companies to overcome these challenges and help save many crippling businesses. I’ve also assisted in onboarding an entirely physical company to the online world and watched it thrive while surpassing all their competition in under a year. I managed to do this through innovative creative design and strategic marketing efforts. In addition to these, to mention but a few, I’ve worked with a Hollywood based luxury rehab and recovery center, launching the business from the ground up, executing on-going social media and paid ads campaigns to ensure they are fully booked year round.
What is the simple formula for marketing experts and social media strategists?
Marais: There’s no simple formula, that’s the first thing you need to understand. The second thing, at least the way that I see it, is that you need to be lean and flexible enough to grow and adapt to the changes that take place daily on social media. This is an industry that drives at 200 MPH. What works one week, won’t necessarily work the next, and you can’t let that intimidate or discourage you. That’s the name of this game, it’s the exciting truth about our jobs. The pace keeps us on our toes and pushes us everyday to find something new and to dig deeper into understanding platforms and people.
How much of an impact does storytelling impact the brand output of your work?
Marais: Storytelling is crucial. Think about the brands you would follow, or better yet, the communities you are part of. These brands are not just fostering followers, they’re bringing likeminded people together, at least the good ones are. Most people want to see something of substance, whether it be funny, sad, raw, honest, it has to be more than a simple product on a pretty background. The stale content can only get you so far. Take a look at some of the largest global brands on social media, Nike, Redbull, Patagonia. All key players in the content game sharing one thing in common: incredible brand authority and deeply meaningful stories. I have this rule I follow with my content strategies, 60% story, 30% education or value, 10% product. The idea here is to tell people your mission, your values, your vision, the deeper meaning behind what you do and how it impacts them or their community.
That’s the story part. The education and value is your opportunity to expand your audience by teaching more people about what you may be solving with your business and why it’s a problem. Lastly, we have the product. You might think product is the most important part, but if you’ve already got an audience hooked on what you believe in and what you’re doing to combat a certain challenge, these people are equipped with an emotional connection and a profound enough understanding of what you do to then be interested in your product naturally. The product content can be anything from new launches, promotions, restocks, etc. At the end of the day, that’s the boring stuff. The story is what the people want, whether they are aware of that or not.
How have you managed to continue to grow brands in this fast-paced digital era? What’s your secret?
Marais: We touched on this a little earlier in the interview, how every industry is constantly evolving, specifically as it relates to the field of social media, things are always changing and you can never get too comfortable. One of the best ways to stay on top as a social media strategist is to know that as soon as you get in a flow with everything content and strategy related, it’s already time to anticipate what’s next. It’s been said time and time again that consistency is key, and don’t get me wrong it is, but being consistent doesn’t mean doing the same thing on repeat. It means consistently striving to create better content, to find the latest trends, to maintain a cohesive brand image and voice.
I think this is where many people fail, in that they try too hard to stay ahead of the game or to fit into a trend that they lose site of what story it is they are telling. It’s one thing to take part in a trend to hope for some boost in the algorithm, but it’s another to adapt these trends to fit what your story is, or better yet to set these trends. It’s almost a paradox, stay consistent but be original, do more of what works but keep searching to make something better. Things like online trends, algorithms, and audience behavior change so fast on a daily basis and if you’re not flexible or adaptable enough to tackle these head first, you’ll never make it in the social media game.
What do marketers need to do to keep getting clients in the current online climate?
Marais: That’s a fun question. I would say it’s important to prove yourself, to be excited about the brands you work with to enable greater results usecase after usecase. My goal is to always create the best content for my clients, and that’s a lot easier when I truly believe in and support them. I want to see them winning, thriving, growing, that’s what fills my cup and makes me proud to do what I do. This is how I scored and retained brand deals back when I first started out on social media as an influencer at 13.
It’s the same when working directly for a brand, be innovative, creative, and data driven. In some cases, as marketers, we’re still having to convince business owners of the importance in social media, show them numbers, do your research on their industry, competitors, potential content pieces, and when pitching make sure you include it all. The good thing is, once business owners can understand the value, they’re more than willing to invest in your services.
Zoe Marais seems to be soaring and she definitely has much more in-store