“Branding is important. OR maybe not?” Tim Hughes argues (interview).

Tim Hughes is universally recognised as one of the world’s leading pioneers and exponents of Social Selling and

Tim Hughes is universally recognised as one of the world’s leading pioneers and exponents of Social Selling and he is currently ranked Number 1 as the most influential social selling person in the world.

We had a quick interview on emerging trends of the social media market, branding and more, and here is what he said to us!

What are the biggest social media trends for the next couple of years?

The core elements of “digital marketing” will wither and die. While open rates on email will drop, GDPR will kill the remainder of the email market as many companies follow the UK Pub group Weatherspoon’s and delete their customers databases.

Recent research stated that at least 40% of companies will just ditch email marketing, short term. Share on X

The high level of fines, will just not make it worth people’s while. Consumers will get more and more annoyed by “1930s style interruption” marketing and continue the growth to install ad blockers (currently at 30% year on year growth). Consumers have already realised that advertisements belong in the past and there are already a new set of applications being launched that allow “in the moment” engagement with consumers without resorting to interruption and broadcast.

These applications cut out the need for search engines, which is another trend as well as search switch to voice. Ask Alexa.

Social Media growth will continue exponentially, according to Hootsuite and We Are Social research average growth in social media in 2016 was 21% and platforms such as WeChat, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn are the places that people spend their time.


Why do you believe branding is so important?

I don’t believe that branding is important. While yes, companies maintain a brand, it is owned by it’s consumers or more importantly it’s community and they can make or break a brand.

Look at Samsung, the media turned on the brand after some phones caught fire and airlines stopped you flying with that phone. But while the company offered a free upgrade, people went onto social and told the world why they loved their phone. Samsung turned in record profits.

While in the case of Microsoft, the brand stopped being cool after users turned on them. It’s worth saying that Microsoft is cool again. Something the market controls.

What’s your advice for brands? How can they organically grow their audience?

Brands have to break away from “traditional” interruption and broadcast and start engaging and having conversations with their audience. Paddy Power have been doing this for years. What exactly have do betting shops have to sell? Nothing. But if I’m going to place a bet on the Grand National it will be with Paddy Power as I believe in their community.

This takes hard work and a change from the “silver bullet’s” of advertising and email etc, that will slowly get less and less traction.

What is your opinion on branding monitoring tools?

I think with all monitoring you can analysis paralysis. But that said, while some decisions should be made on “gut” instinct you need data to back up those decisions. As I mention above, brands have lost control. Well they lost control 5 years ago and the best way to find a path through the jungle of digital is to find out where you are, you need a strategy to know where you are going and the data to back up your chartered course.

We use monitoring to run our own business and while I may wake up in the morning with a “good idea” (well I think it is) and we might run with that, we found that our GDPR had a high level on engagement, so we wrote more of them. We call it our “tight lose” social media strategy.

More about Tim Hughes

He was responsible for a large-scale sales transformation within Oracle the result of which delivered in excess of $100m in sales uplift and he is currently leading the sales transformation programs at Avaya, Thomson Reuters and Pitney Bowes and is the co-founder and CEO of Digital Leadership Associates.

Digital Leadership Associates is a team of world-leading Social Media experts. We help you to understand your social and business goals and we help you achieve them through three unique programs: Social Strategy definition and implementation, Social Selling training and mentoring and Social Presence management. 

You can find him on Linkedin (Timothy (Tim) Hughes) or Twitter (@Timothy_Hughes) and also get his book “Social Selling – Influencing Buyers and Changemakers” on Amazon.

George Mastorakis

About George Mastorakis

George is a co-founder of Mentionlytics supervising Financial Planning and Analysis and our Cloud Architecture. He is an Associate Professor on Emerging Technologies and Marketing Innovation. His interests include Cloud Computing, Web Applications and Internet of Things.

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