Editor's note: Rebecca Monash is a MBA student in the Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI and is in ISM 7505: Inbound Information Technology.
Advice from an Expert
Rebecca Monash interviews Monica Fineis, the Director of Social Media at Tommy John about her experience with social media. Learn more about Inbound Information Technology on the Mike Ilitch School of Business IIT website.
- Where did you go to school?
I went to Michigan State University, the best university on the planet.
- What did you study?
I majored in Advertising with a minor in Public Relations.
- What drew you to that field?
Growing up, I enjoyed writing and scored high on my writing assignments in school. I loved my marketing class in high school and was drawn to the creative side of advertising - so I came into college knowing that was what I wanted to study.
- What is your current position with Tommy John?
I’m the Director of Social Media.
- For people who are interested in getting involved in this field, what is your recommendation to them?
For those interested in social media or advertising specifically, I would highly recommend developing a skill set in an area that is applicable to that field and also to related fields, such as writing, graphic design, web design or video editing. There are schools and programs today that are dedicated to social media, but I find that problematic because the landscape is constantly evolving so the information could be outdated in 6 months. The best experience you can get in social media is not in a classroom, but by personally being active on the platforms. How you can stand out from other candidates is by being a great writer or having graphic design skills.
The best experience you can get in social media is by being active on the platforms
- Do you blog for Tommy John?
We don’t have a blog currently, but it could be in the cards in the future. I write a lot for the company as “acting copywriter”. It’s a small company so everyone needs to be a Swiss army knife and be able fill other roles (also another reason why having a background other than “social” is important!)
- What advertising / marketing projects do you enjoy the most?
The projects I enjoy the most are the ones where I’m involved in the entire process, beginning with the idea. In particular, my sweet spot is branded content. When you can collaborate with a like-minded influencer or publisher to create an experience that not only represents your brand, but is entertaining for your audience - achieving that synergy is a gold standard. It’s flipping marketing on its head - it’s no longer a one way communication channel, it’s about storytelling and relationship building.
Inbound Marketing is about storytelling and relationship building
- Was there a lot of technical know-how needed?
Somewhat. There is definitely some technical knowledge of the platforms needed, especially if your company is investing in paid social advertising - such as Facebook ads. You need to be familiar with Cost per Click (CPC) and Cost per Impression (CPM) models, how to employ the best bidding strategies and how to understand and utilize the data afterward. As a largely e-commerce brand, we’re steadfast about tracking and measuring everything. I use Google Analytics a lot, monitoring traffics levels and conversions of my social campaigns so I can understand what tactics are performing.
- Other than social media are there other inbound marketing strategies you use to draw in more leads?
Our company has a fantastic email marketing program - they’ve perfected it to a science and we see way above average industry standard open rates and click through rates on emails. We’re also working with an SEO company to help us improve our site ranking, and part of that effort is securing inbound links on other sites.
- What is the TJ Persona?
This is one of my favorite parts of my work - helping develop our brand's persona and be the guardian of our voice. Tommy John is a brand for men of substance, Men who come from all walks of life but aspire to a higher calling. They are hard workers and dedicated to their craft. They are comfortable in their own skin so having comfortable clothing is very important. They are practical and value quality. And the trickiest - but most fun - part of our brand, is our sense of humor. We talk about balls a lot. In a lighthearted, yet sophisticated way. Finding the balance is challenging, but exciting,
- How have you helped/improved your company’s brand?
Website and emails aside, social media is the main way to demonstrate your brand’s personality. I’m defining who we are to our customer, helping grow awareness for our brand, and providing education. Simply by addressing comments/concerns I’ve motivated a lot of purchases. For folks who communicate with us online, I engage them to deepen their brand loyalty. On a more tangible level, I also measure the sales that are driven strictly by social media, and since we’ve been more active, I’ve seen that number increase every month.
Social media is the main way to demonstrate your brand’s personality
- Were they using social media before you?
Tommy John did have social channels but they were largely neglected and not regularly updated. There wasn’t a strategy in a place or a person dedicated to it. In many ways it’s like I’m starting their social media marketing from scratch.
- How do you respond to negative customer reviews / FB posts / etc.?
My general rule of thumb is “we address criticism with confidence.” We got a lot of comments on price because we are a premium brand, so I’ve developed a way to address those comments using our brand’s sense of humor. We’re not overly apologetic but we are emphatic. If someone is unhappy, we have a great support team that I can quickly direct customers to where they’ll be given excellent customer service. There are the crazies of course, which we do not engage because it’s like adding fuel to a fire.