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August 2, 2022
Interview

Q&A With Kieran Corbitt: Brand PR & Social Manager at The Alchemist

We sat down with Kieran Corbitt and asked him to share industry insights.

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Kieran Corbitt started his career within the Alchemist as a Business Development Manager, and after two years, was promoted to Social Media and Community Manager, working his way up to his current role as Brand PR & Social Manager of the Alchemist Bar and Restaurant Ltd. 

Known for his obsession with marketing, which started at the age of 11, he earned the 2020 RMI 30 under 30 award by merging this obsession with F&B and curating innovative marketing campaigns to ensure the brand stays ahead of the curve. 

We sat down with Kieran to find out his take on social media management, trends, favourite tools and his professional opinion on what it means to have a successful social media marketing strategy. 

Q: Can you tell us about yourself (background, current position)?

A: A school trip to the National Science and Media Museum ignited an unhealthy obsession with marketing at the age of 11. I eventually studied Social Media and Marketing at University, graduating in 2013. After doing placements in a few London companies, I decided I wanted to combine this love for marketing with my passion for hospitality by joining The Alchemist that same year.

I started my career within The Alchemist as a Business Development Manager and after two years was promoted to the Social Media & Community Manager role before moving on to my current role as Brand PR & Social Manager. 

My current responsibility is to oversee the PR and Social media for the whole brand with the assistance of our Social Media Executive. It can be pretty demanding but the cocktails help

Q: What is one thing to avoid doing when trying to grow on social media?

A: Pretty obvious but not knowing your brand and audience. 

If you don't have an in-depth knowledge of your target demographic, the people that are actually using your products/services then you'll be churning out content that you're not even sure they're interested in. As well as delving into your insights regularly, take notice of the profiles behind your comments and messages.

The same goes with your brand, you need to have a handle on what is on brand for you in terms of social media content and tone of voice or you won't be able to secure a loyal following and thus grow a fanbase.

Q: What are some challenges for influencer marketing in the next two years?

A: I think the biggest challenge is authenticity. During the pandemic, many people shifted slightly from a specific type of influencer marketing. Some celebrities and influencers were called out for how they navigated the lockdown and it came off as inauthentic. 

This meant that purchasing power moved into the hands of peers or followers in the form of user-generated content. We can see that influencers are being paid to promote something so we'd rather visit the places our peers are promoting on their social accounts.

Q: Which social media trends proved to be the most successful for your business?

A: The Alchemist's strap-line is theater served so any visual medium is the easiest way for us to convey our brand which is why Instagram will always be a key platform for us.

The shift to video content has been successful for us because we're able to easily spell out our brand through storytelling.

We were one of the first UK hospitality brands to tackle TikTok, securing the handle before the pandemic before we created a fleshed-out strategy. Ultimately fun is at the forefront of everything we do and TikTok's more tongue-in-cheek approach to social has allowed us to create a new audience of a younger demographic. We have since held an event with TikTok for food content creators.

Q: What are your go-to/must-have tools/programmes that you use? (1 only)

A: Later.com - We can ensure that each IG post has a call to action with trackable links we create to determine whether our social media activity is actually bringing in sales.

Q: What innovative techniques have you used to promote your business/client’s business?

A: We've used quite a lot of techniques over the years but the one that sticks out would be when we utilise Instagram Stories for new openings in cities we're not yet present in.

As well as paid content, To drive people from specific areas organically we would location tag The Alchemist (new location), save and upload with a hidden location of the area targeting and then add a link with the Google Maps location so that people were taken directly to the new venue. 

Simple but was really effective in leading people to the new venues.

Q: Which is the most important social media platform for your business and why?

A: Hmm, it's a tricky one as all of them are utilised in a very specific way. 

As it stands, I'd still say Instagram. As mentioned, our brand is a very visual one and we've managed to generate a loyal following on Instagram and it's constant evolution means that we're benefiting from a whole plethora of tools from stories to shopping to reels.

Q: Best campaign ideas that brought your business success and why?

A: One that sticks out for me personally would be our Hexes on Exes campaign around Valentine's weekend. We needed to increase sales in the bar specifically, as restaurant tables are always booked up. To tackle this, we created a campaign to drive single people into our venues who were looking to have fun in a location that wasn't so couple-heavy.

The tongue-in-cheek campaign allowed us to create a cocktail in which the drink started off red in colour and then you wrote your ex-partner's name on sugar paper and when you put it into the drink, it dissolved and the drink bubbled and went black. A hex was written on the menu to link back to the brand.

This whole campaign was received really well on social media as it didn't take itself too seriously and allowed light relief from 'PDA' online. This was successful as we increased sales in the bar exponentially from the years before.

Q: What is one secret to social media success that no one talks about?

A: I think the secret to social media success is constantly immersing yourself in popular culture and current affairs.

Some of our most popular posts have been memes we've created around trending tv shows, events and happenings (as long as you can relate them to the brand).

We've created content ranging from 'Alchemist Cocktails as Christine Quinn' around the 'Selling Sunset' boom which led to insane engagement and being shared by Christine Quinn herself, to 'When you suggest The Alchemist to the person who says 'my treat'' meme using an image of the 'Tinder Swindler'.

Q: Top tip for a start-up beginning their socials?

A: Honestly, just go for it. 

Work out your brand/tone of voice, audience and strategy and then go full steam ahead without any expectations.

At the start it's about trial and error, working out what generates good engagement and what doesn't. Don't stick to your guns too much something. Social media (especially the algorithm!!) changes so rapidly that it's best to switch it up and work out what fits best for you so that you can also evolve enough for it not to alienate your audience.

Q: Two companies you think have mastered the social game?

A: Looking at two separate platforms: 

When looking at TikTok for example, it's hard not to say someone like Ryanair. They have really understood that people on TikTok don't take themselves too seriously and have adapted to that incredibly well. Notorious for being a brand who are quite sneaky in a sense of their hidden costs, they've embraced this on TikTok and are part of the joke, in turn making the brand seem more relatable.

For Instagram, I personally love how Lazy Oaf have tackled social media. They know their brand through and through and all of their content relates to that flawlessly. They have collaborated with the likes of Crocs and Juno Burch to amplify their social content further and although they've utilised the shop function on the platform, they still churn out content that isn't solely sell, sell, sell. Their 'Daily Digital Dump' on InstaStories allows them to post shareable meme content to increase their reach but in a way that still links to the aesthetic of the brand.

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