Robert Nissenbaum of Tactical Social Media joins Social Matters to discuss how taking an authentic approach to social media marketing can amplify your online efforts and deepen relationships online. We asked Robert to share his insights on better ways to weave authenticity into our content, social media posts and interactions.


There’s a lot of industry buzz about the benefits of authentic marketing. How would you define authentic marketing?


My simplest definition – be yourself. As an individual, how you interact, behave and ‘speak’ online should mirror how you interact in the real world. I will push boundaries, be a little controversial and voice my opinions – both online and in public forums. When you feel the need to control what you post on social channels out of a need to confirm or fear for your reputation, I see it as dressing in a suit and tie to impress only to always show up after that initial meeting in jeans and a t-shirt. The ‘real’ you needs to show up.

For brands, the trick is finding a social media manager and content writers who can bring its public persona into online conversation. Who you hire really does matter. When your brand posts or interacts with others, the message and tone need to be the same as if the conversation took place at an in person event or your store / office. This is a major reason why I tend to have an issue with outsourcing social media management. Authenticity comes from a more intimate relationship. Employees who have a vested interest and are part of the everyday culture can better speak in the brand’s voice than a 3rd party.

I prefer the content come from within and play the role of content manager – editing and creating the content posting schedule – then working with the employees on the how, when, where to interact. Long term, I see this as the best way to be authentic.


What would you say is the primary purpose of using social media?


To some degree, the primary role social media will play is based on your end goal. As a brand, you need to know what it is, then develop a strategy around it. Even deeper, each social platform can have it’s on primary purpose.

I use Pinterest simply as a resource or collection for my clients and followers. If you want my recommendations or advice on any given topic, it’s there.

I use Instagram primarily as a relationship tool. I predominately post about kayaking, living on the water, my family….to give others a sense of who I am (my brand is). It’s content designed to create connects and relationships.

In the end, however, I do have one overriding purpose – to be social; to establish, nurture and grow relationships.Social media is the only marketing channel outside of personal networking events which offers an ability to truly connect with your clients or customers. In the end, better connections (think why follow ups are so critical) mean more business, more consumer loyalty and a better bottom line.


Describe how you view content. I’ve heard you say content is more than what you post on your blog. Can social media posts be considered content?


Content is really anything you post. We get caught up in blog posts and social media posts as being content. We forget that every comment you post is a piece of content. It comes down to the TYPE of content and how it’s crafted.

When I hear consistency, I don’t think about needing to post to social or publish to my blog on a schedule. Yes, it matters but… being engaging and interactive is still creating content. And the power of content in the form of comments – they are far more visible- you are actually publishing content on someone else’s personal space. That gives you access to their audience. Do it right and comments will drive views of your profile / page and the long form content published there.

I have generated email signups from comments I have made on a colleague’s blog article. I have generated a following for my social profiles and even clients based on comments left on someone else’s post.

Comments are an amazing way to create visibility, build relationships, establish authority and drive action – maybe better than a blog article or social post – just be smart about how you add comments. If you come across as less than helpful, you’ll find yourself no longer welcome.


Many of us think we are too busy to do social networking. Tell us how you incorporate social networking into your daily routine.


Start with a plan! I work with my clients to create a daily action plan. The goal is to prioritize what needs to happen and get it done. The other key – not everything has to be done every day. It’s OK to let things go. If you find yourself out of time, pick up that list where you left off tomorrow.

One trick I use – my smartphone. I will not use it to post, but have found I can follow, like, comment, interact and just be social on any platform in those 5 and 10 minute blocks standing on line, waiting to pay… any otherwise lost minutes. And 5 minutes at a shot, 10 times per day – that adds up to close to an hour of relationship time.


Do you think social notification pop ups on devices are a good or bad idea? Why?


I love them. From a reputation management standpoint, I can be quick to respond. From a lead generation standpoint, I can be quick to answer a question. Same for customer service issues.

They also allow me to keep tabs so when back at the office I am not first checking in. I already know where I stand and can get working on it.

If you are the type who heads down the proverbial rabbit hole with every notification you check, it’s probably better to structure set times for the process. What you lose in a quick response you gain in better productivity.


How do you manage social channels? Do you schedule content to your channels, or do you only interact “live” on each channel?


I much prefer to post in real time. Nothing bugs me more than catching a new post by a brand I follow, posting a comment and not receiving a reply for hours. I know you are automating your postings and not being very social.

If you MUST automate, and to some extent it’s necessary, focus on posting times when you or your staff can actually be present to respond. If you post to when you core fans are online, or most of your audience is, or at the reported ‘best times’ but aren’t there to interact, you may see more reach but less engagement. Perfect. You reached 1000 people and spoke to no one. I’d prefer to reach 10 and talk with 2.

Scheduling does do deeper. Too much content scheduled too far in advance can bite you in the tail. I’ve gotten caught myself. I had a blog post on Blab scheduled as part of a recurring schedule. That tweet ended up in the feed AFTER Blab shut down… I was called out.

And if your content is ill-timed around a disaster?

Scheduling has value and may be a ‘must’ for some brands, but you need to know what is being scheduled and when, be prepared to respond ‘in real time’ when the post goes live and be able to alter your scheduled content on the fly.


How can B2B companies determine which social platforms to prioritize? Is a “be everywhere” strategy a good idea for every business?


It has to start with knowing your client. You need to have your buyer persona dialed in. Without that, you are still making assumptions. LinkedIn may seem perfect BUT if you know the buyer for that company is active on Instagram….you could risk not reaching them.

A perfect example is a very large B2B client who provided 3D laser scanning services and drone surveying, Large public utility companies, construction firms specializing in road projects, bridge builders and the National Forest Service are their typical clients. Facebook would have seemed less than ideal BUT they generated several large leads from it. Why? One was the spouse of the GM you saw the post and passed on the information (they reached the decision maker’s influencer). Another was someone following an infrastructure improvement project they featured and passed on their name to a friend.

I promote the idea of being everywhere – you never know where an opportunity may arise or where you many need to respond from a reputation standpoint. That doesn’t, however, mean you need to be overly active everywhere. It simply leaves you in a position to be active when necessary. And who knows… Maybe a little trial and error to see what works best will lead some interesting results.

The bottom line for me… Also, consider where YOU are most comfortable posting and interacting. Twitter may be the best for your brand but it you don’t like using it and cannot hire someone to do it, what value does it serve? You may generate less from Facebook but at least you will be present, visible and accessible.


Many companies struggle to cut through the social media noise to get to the conversations on social media. Can you tell us some of your favorite tools to use to help you get into the right conversations and build relationships?


My absolute favorite tool for social listening is Mention. It’s highly affordable, quickly catches monitored keywords, phrases, comments on Facebook posts, and name mentions (even when not tagged). I have used it to find leads, and interact in places and on content I would never have found otherwise.

I also love Feedly Pro. I use it to search for keywords, curate feeds from my favorite blogs and social sites and can even import all of my Mention alerts!  


What are your three biggest pet peeves when it comes to how businesses use social media?


  • Not responding or taking too long to respond. You would NEVER walk away and ignore me if I asked you a question, told you something, stated how good your service / product was in the real world so why would you on social?
  • Far too much automation – especially Twitter auto-DMs and other canned responses using IFTTT or Zapier. Auto responder or share something of mine, and I’ll chat back instantly. Fail to reply back (see #1) and I know you’re a bot… Not a good way to establish, grow or nurture a relationship – it’s simply not authentic.
  • The broadcast mentality. Social media is made up of two parts: social and media. Make sure you do both. Posting takes care of the media portion. You need to be social.



Are there any social media trends you predict will “be big” in during 2017?


I generally try to ignore trends. I have been at this for close to a decade and have found that when we focus on trends and react to them, we find ourselves back at square one when the trend fades and a new one emerges. I have approached social media the same way in my actions and postings since the beginning. That approach may not have me at the peak but when Facebook introduced a major overhaul in its algorithm in 2012, I saw very little impact on my results – in fact, the change actually helped me.