Space & aviation is something that I love since my childhood. In today’s #ChampLifeSeries – I’m so excited to have Remco Timmermans who is also a space lover, along with that he is a social media and content marketing specialist for the space industry. He is also serving several clients around the world through his own company ‘Spaceside’.
It’s great a pleasure for me to have him here for an exclusive interview. So, without further let’s hear from Remco about his amazing journey.
Ashmal: Hi, Remco! It’s a great pleasure to have you on #ChampsLifeSeries. It would be great to start by telling our readers about your background?
Remco: Hi all! My name is Remco Timmermans and I am a social media and content marketing specialist for the space industry, serving several clients around the world from my own company ‘Spaceside’. I am a UK resident with a Dutch passport and an e-resident of Estonia, where my company is based.
I have two passions in life: space and social media. Several years ago I decided to combine these two passions in my work, so today I serve the coolest industry in the world, helping them benefit from the world of online and social media. I started purely as a social media specialist, but have broadened my horizon a bit towards content marketing in a wider sense. I now also write articles and blog posts and work with marketing automation tools to really allow organizations to use the full power of inbound marketing on all channels.
My educational background is quite varied. I have an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering and business administration, I have a master of arts in business sciences, and in 2013 I participated in the Space Studies Program of the International Space University, giving me a solid footing in the global space industry. I also regularly keep up my certifications in digital marketing, as this world changes very fast, and opportunities grow with ever-improving technology.
I often use this image to introduce myself on social media:
Ashmal: You’re a Social Geek – how did you start and what thrives you to be a social media enthusiast?
Remco: I started experimenting with social media from very early on. I was working in the IT industry, in a global team, where remote communication with my colleagues all over the world was an important part of my work. Within our company, we tested several collaboration tools, that became sort of the prerunners of public social collaboration platforms. I was an early adopter of Facebook and LinkedIn, followed in 2009 by Twitter.
I was quickly fascinated about how these online platforms brought people together that would normally not meet very easily. I found communities of interest that did not exist in my real-world networks. I very quickly realized the relevance and power of these new online communities and got involved in several of them, most notably the global space community. It became the start of my second career, moving away from IT management to space marketing and outreach.
Ashmal: How one can become a social media expert? Please share the trending strategies that all social media managers should adopt?
Remco: Everyone nowadays is a social media expert. The platforms are so simple to use that anyone with a computer or phone and access to reasonably good internet can use them to engage with family or friends, stay updated and contribute to the news, or see what celebrities and companies are up to. It becomes a different story when you want to use these platforms professionally, for organizations rather than just for yourself.
Social media tools for corporate users should be seen as tools to help you achieve your corporate objectives. Social media in organizations are very much part of a bigger ‘machine’. Social media managers should always have the company’s strategic objectives in mind when doing anything on social media. Every message, every blog post, every webpage should help the company realize its objectives. That doesn’t mean that every post should be about advertising, but you should always have a specific goal and a specific audience in mind when creating and posting content.
This is not a ‘trending’ strategy. This idea of marketing as a strategic instrument has been around for many decades. The best tip I have for social media managers is to learn about how social media fits into the bigger marketing picture. It cannot be seen as a stand-alone ‘thing’ that a company has to do. There are great certification courses out there, for example in inbound marketing, content marketing, or digital marketing, that will all help you see that context. Good providers of these courses include Hubspot and LinkedIn.
Ashmal: Do you think social media post engagement is difficult and how one can improve it for their business?
Remco: Yes, post-engagement is difficult. It is difficult because it requires you to understand your audience. For private use of social media, this is easy, as you personally know many of the people you interact with, like friends and family, or people who share your interests. For corporate social media use, this is a little more tricky, as you usually do not know most of the people you want to interact with.
How can you improve this? The most important thing you should do is use social media for listening. See what people are saying about your products or comparable products from other companies. How do they use these products? How are these products helping them in their personal or professional lives? What features are they most interested in? What are their key characteristics? Do they live in certain parts of the world, do they represent certain specific age or gender groups? Try to form yourself a picture of these people in as much detail as possible. These observations form the basis of your buyer or audience persona.
Once you have an idea of your audience, then share content that you think is relevant to their lives. Think about how your products or services can help them achieve their goals. Engage with them in person-to-person interactions, by answering their questions. Social media is all about SOCIAL, much less about MEDIA. It is the digital way to engage in conversations, just like you would do in personal conversations.
You will see that the better idea you have of your ideal audience, the better post engagement you will have, and the better social media will contribute to your company’s bottom line.
Ashmal: Could you please share some growth hacking strategies you have applied to unleash the massive audience?
Remco: There really is only one way to ‘unleash the massive audience’ as you call it, and that is to provide them with content that is relevant and engaging for them. If your content is engaging then your audience will engage. The difficulty is in making your content engaging. It depends very much on your audience. They can be looking to be informed, be entertained, be amazed, to be serviced, or – more likely – a varied mix of the above.
When your content is interesting and relevant to your audience, your accounts will grow in popularity. This usually is a slow process but can be accelerated with the help of your audience. You can ask your fans to create content about your products or services, by asking them to share their experiences or show how they use your products. User-generated content is the market’s gold! You can also increase your reach through paid content, as most social media platforms allow you to very specifically target your audiences.
Ashmal: What strategies do you and your team ensure to market a new feature or release?
Remco: An important difference between most of my social work and that of purely commercial company marketers is that the space sector is still very much driven by large government projects, funded with taxpayer money. Even though there is a fast-growing commercial space market, many of those companies still depend to a large extent on government projects.
The promotion of government projects, especially the expensive projects in space, has the tax-paying population as one of the key audiences, as they deserve to know what the benefits of these big projects are for them. I work a lot in this type of space outreach, where we bring the benefits of space exploration and exploitation to ‘the general public’.
So when comparing new space projects to new product releases, it is all about explaining how this project will impact society. I do a lot of work promoting the benefits of Earth Observation in Europe for example, where the satellites of the Copernicus programme generate 12 terabytes of data about our planet every day. This data is used to predict the weather, help farmers improve their crops, help cities stay livable, support natural or man-made disaster recovery, like volcanic eruptions, wildfires, and floods, and of course monitor global climate change. Social media are the perfect medium to tell these stories to the people who work in all these parts of society.
Ashmal: What’s the biggest motivation of your life? It would be great if you could also share success stories and awards?
Remco: My biggest motivation is to have a meaningful job and to add some value to society. I want my stories to inspire people, to help them make this world a better place, to find their dream jobs, to feel that they matter and that what they study and do is making a difference.
Hopefully, I am on the right way. I was elected #EUinfluencer for space in 2020 and 2021, being part of a group of social media influencers in the ‘Brussels bubble’ of the European Union. I was also selected to be one of seven Earth Observation ‘evangelists’ for a European project that brings the benefits of space data to society.
Ashmal: What sort of inspiration do you look for before creating social media content?
Remco: As a social media content creator, you have to be a content consumer. You have to know what is happening in your industry in the world. The space and social media worlds are two of the most exciting and fastest developing industries. Usually, I only need to spend a few minutes on social media to find new inspiring stories that I can relate to in my own content. There are new space missions, or space mission milestones to talk about almost every day. New rocket launches, new satellites in orbit, new space telescopes, new findings on the Moon and Mars, new discoveries about our solar system, and of course above all, new discoveries about our own planet. I am lucky to have no shortage of inspiration!
Ashmal: Is it possible to share your workstation with our readers?
Remco: My workstation is very modest. I work from my home office in Oxfordshire, England. I use a simple laptop, connected to a large monitor. I have a printer (that I use very little) and a fast document scanner (that I use a lot). Because of the increased amount of virtual meetings during the pandemic, I invested in a good microphone and high-resolution webcam. Good audio makes a big difference during those long and frequent online meetings!
As a social media person in a global industry, I can easily take my entire office (well, that is just my laptop) into a bag for travel to space events anywhere on the globe. Technically I can even leave my laptop at home and do all my work on my phone, which I often do too, although I am not a fan of doing everything on my phone. I like a bigger screen sometimes.
Ashmal: Please share the pro-tips that you think can create a difference for our social media community.
Remco: Things change fast and sometimes dramatically in social media. As a digital marketer, you need to stay up to date on what is happening. You need to assess new platforms and new features quickly, to see if you need to learn about them and use them for your clients. All of you have seen the rapid rise of Instagram (and Instagram influencers), followed by an even faster rise of TikTok. You need to understand the essence of those tools and assess if they are relevant for your business.
If your B2C company serves 10 to 25 year-olds for example, you have to be on TikTok. But if you are a B2B satellite manufacturer, perhaps LinkedIn and Twitter are better.
Ashmal: Stepping aside from work, how do you enjoy your free time? Any particular activity that might fascinate our readers.
Remco: I have had several jobs in the past few decades. I started in ICT and business process management in the financial services industry, before doing management consultancy. During that period, as sort of a hobby, I assisted in research in sustainable tourism and hospitality, about which I have co-authored three management books. I was also the co-founder and director of an expedition travel operator, where I organized several Arctic expeditions for groups. I am a professional Arctic expedition guide, having worked in Scandinavia and Greenland.
While traveling the world for business and pleasure I was a travel blogger for several years, and I still write travel blogs as a hobby.
For several years I have had my own social media agency for space. I am also the co-owner of Estonia-based Spaceagenda, an industry events calendar for the global space sector. Additionally, I have recently co-founded a new community for space outreach, communications, and marketing professionals called Powering Space. I am a faculty member of the International Space University, where I am a guest teacher in the fields of space management and business and space marketing. Finally, I am a member of the Space Education and Outreach Committee of the International Astronautical Federation IAF, where I support the annual Space Education and Outreach Symposium and other events of the IAF.
You may understand that I do not really have a lot of free time besides all that, but when your work is your hobby it feels like 365 holidays every year!
Ashmal: It’s time for rapid-fire!
Rapid Fire Round
|What’s your favorite social media network?||Definitely Twitter! Twitter got me in touch with the global space community, changing my entire life. It is also one of the most relevant networks in the global space sector. My biggest professional network is on Twitter, more than on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Instagram.|
|Speaker or Consultant||Speaker, although this one is tricky. But being actively ‘speaking’ on social media every day I guess I am more like a speaker. I am a new member of my local Toastmasters club, where I hope to also take my more literal speaking skills to the next level. Believe it or not, I am naturally shy and introverted, and used to be totally afraid of public speaking!|
|Tea or Coffee?||Even though I live in classic England, I am a coffee drinker.|
|Traveling or Watching a movie?||Definitely traveling! Just see my flight profile at Flight Memory.|
Alright, that’s a wrap-up! I’m thankful to Remco for his precious time and for sharing the detailed experiences with our champ audience. If you are interested in what’s going on in the world of satellite Earth observation, then please follow do daily Remco’s writings on Ground Station.