Telum Talks To: Will Lee, Founder and Managing Director at That Marketing Guy

Telum Talks To: Will Lee, Founder and Managing Director at That Marketing Guy

Boutique integrated marketing agency and consultancy, That Marketing Guy, was founded by Will Lee in Singapore in 2012. Telum spoke with Will about how brands can leverage social media to strengthen their image. 

What new marketing communication trends are you keeping an eye on at the moment?
Trends come and go. I’m more interested in keeping an eye on tools and catalysts that have the potential to create long-lasting, tangible shifts in the marketing communication landscape. For instance, how we look at marketing will transform with the inclusion of artificial intelligence.

There are moments in history when the fundamental tools we use for commerce transform, like when we migrated from a barter system to using money for transactions.  We’re at the brink of a similar exciting shift in the world right now, where AI will revolutionise how we deliver and crystalise ideas, but how we create those ideas will still have to stem from us.

What opportunities and challenges come with developing a strong social media presence for brands that you represent?
My challenges are not unique to myself or the brands I represent. One of the biggest hurdles for us all is the fragmentation of social media. When mass media started, there was TV and radio, but now there are multiple channels splintering into hundreds of audiences.

The same is true for social media. Back in the day, the really successful one was probably Facebook, but there was also Myspace, Friendster, and Orkut before that. Then Facebook hit the home run but started to fragment and branch out.

Now there’s TikTok, X, Snapchat and so many more. With these channels, audiences are migrating to newer social platforms. The main challenge is to keep up with that migration. To build audiences repeatedly when we move into the newer platforms.

The most significant opportunity social media presence is the most obvious one: to be social. Brands often forget it’s not just about sharing their thoughts, products, and services.

To truly leverage the power of social media, brands need to develop processes and protocols that will enable us to respond and react more effectively. The clearer a brand’s narratives and values are, the more efficiently teams like mine can engage with their customers to create a genuine community, and the value and power of that is immense.

What advice would you give established brands that want to boost their engagement with Gen Z consumers?
I’d start by saying don’t. Don’t try too hard. Keep it real, be authentic, and stay true to your brand values. Gen Z consumers tend not to buy from you based on what you sell, but rather based on why you sell it. If you have a cause and you fly your flag high for it, then Gen Z consumers will start to gravitate towards your brand.

The parameter isn’t about having the best or the fastest product, it’s about the narrative around how your brand can help change the world or make it a better place. That’s why Apple is striving to be net-zero. So if you’re a brand that wants to connect with Gen Z, jumping onto TikTok isn’t the solution. You need to be real, authentic, and stand for something.

How should brands respond to negative coverage or comments on social media?
It depends on the kind of negative coverage or comments we’re talking about. If the comments are slanderous or false, you should address them head-on.

If it’s some dude trying to sell bitcoin, sure, just delete or hide the comment. But if it’s a critique on your service or product - like if someone comments on a food chain’s social media saying their food gave them diarrhoea - they should find out what happened and course correct.

People want to see you be authentic and own it if something goes wrong. For instance, KFC owning the fact that their fries suck and literally hosting a funeral for them. Now that’s cool, that would gain respect for the brand.

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