Cair Lerion Blog #10: An Interview with Virginia Zuloaga

Give us a brief Twitter-sized history of your career so far. 

I’m a digital marketer with a focus on industrial B2B companies. Since I opened my agency, Brieffin, five years ago, I have been helping brands overcome the challenges of digital marketing through conscious strategies, well-thought-out content plans, and consultancy.  

You’ve spent your career working with companies in the heavy industrial space. What’s your experience of marketing in unfashionable or unfamiliar industries?

Funny that you mention the words ‘unfashionable’ and ‘unfamiliar’ because they match the look on people’s faces when they ask me what I do for a living. But I love challenges, so I’m happy to have ‘niched’ after so many years of online experiences with industrial engineering companies.

Industrial communication can look scary from a content development perspective, but the truth is that there is a lot of room for creativity. Engineering is the basis of the modern world. We are surrounded by it and almost nothing works without it. And we constantly take it for granted.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a total geek when it comes to TV shows such as Discovery’s “How It’s Made”. For me, the main purpose and the focus of industrial companies should be precisely that: in addition to tapping to the needs of the clients, engineering can appeal not only to future engineers but also to general audiences.

How important is social media for heavy industrial companies?

Industrial firms still have a very traditional way of doing things, but you see them moving steadily towards the digital side. And that’s important. Having a solid presence online sends the message to newcomers, to your loyal customers, and returning costumers alike that you are keeping up with the times. Influence, or thought leadership, also plays an important part in the way people engage with social media so it’s important to remain active and share your expertise.

Whether small but steady, or huge and viral, it’s important to make the leap. The sooner the better. Far beyond the benefits in cost reduction, amplified reach, and data benefits that social media brings compared to traditional marketing tools and practices, it’s important to note that the remains of ‘analogue’ media will themselves experience a radical digital transformation within the next decade.

In your opinion, what social media platforms have most value to the heavy industrial company?

Social media have always been and still is, subject to relatively quick transitions by trends and users’ behaviours – and this is not going to change! That said, to define what social media platforms offer more value to B2Bs, such as heavy industrial companies, I would start with LinkedIn, which provides more quality engagement, compared to the rest, for business-focused connections in this industry.

The growth in popularity of Instagram for brands is also proving to offer benefits not only for the food, fashion, travel and people-focused industries, but for the heavy equipment industry as well.

And last, but not least, I believe Twitter is a key platform due to its news-broadcasting nature. Although the interaction is not as close as LinkedIn, for some, Twitter works well for driving traffic to websites and increasing brand awareness to the mix. It’s the most demanding platform in terms of content creation, but it’s worth the investment of time.

What are your top tips for creating engaging social media content on niche and technical subjects?

In my experience, heavy industrial companies’ communication is based on their expertise and technologies, in addition to a branding approach that highlights the company’s mission and values and, of course, the people behind the brand.

Nobody in the social media world can move as fast in terms of content creation as an around-the-clock news broadcaster, a personal brand or a celebrity. It is why I always recommend working on a content strategy beforehand that will bring a level of consistency at its own pace and according to the amount of content that is available.

Competing to reach a sweet spot is becoming harder with the over-production and over-sharing of content and can become an overwhelming situation for some companies and social media managers, who face the challenge of what to create to stand out. My recommendation is:

Use what you have.

Start where you are.

Be who you are.

And keep it creative.

Do you have a favourite campaign that you have helped develop?

Yes! The idea was inspired by a Facebook community member, who sent us a selfie from a cement plant with one of my client’s vertical roller mills, so we saw it as an opportunity to create something fun and change the machine-focused profile into a people-focused adventure.

For the past three years, engineers around the globe have been sharing their selfies and on-site photos to be published on my client’s social media profiles. With this amazing collection of photos, we thought it was a great idea to open an Instagram account to showcase all these experiences. And we haven’t looked back since then.

What has been the biggest influences on your career?

Books… and a lot of writers. I’m committed to learning everything I can about everything.  As a content developer, an ongoing learning process is what keeps my mind active.

Coming up with demanding content calendars require a lot of thought flexibility. Industrial profiles can be a bit more challenging when looking for creative ways to tell brand stories and feature products and services. It’s why I also look for inspiration in other industries.

If you could recommend one book, what would it be?

It’s very difficult for me to stick to one single book! I usually read four to five books at the same time, as I look for different perspectives on a specific topic to make the best out of the learning experience.

I also recommend 30-day challenges, as it’s a fun way to spice up daily routines, while improving an aspect of your life or work in the process. There are a lot of resources out there for creating challenges about anything you can think of – and content is one of the most popular nowadays, right after diets and exercising.

How you turn off from the day job and relax?

I create small moments to unwind throughout the day. I like to meditate at least three times per day but, when I can’t, my morning and before-to-bed meditating sessions are a must.

I also practice yoga, four to five one-hour sessions per week, usually in the evenings, as it helps me clear my mind before going to bed, in addition to the muscle strengthening and stretching benefits it has on the body.

I keep up my 30-day challenges and I take short breaks to read between work time blocks.

I discovered that keeping my head and body active with different activities that I enjoy throughout the day helps me to be more productive and reduces the mental exhaustion that can come with long hours of work.

Virginia Zuloaga is the founder of Brieffin and a digital marketer, who specialises in helping B2B industrial clients build their online and social media presence.