The Crowd Goes Wild: Create a Social Media Fan Base with ATAG’s Lauren Gilbey

In this week’s interview with B2B marketing professionals, ATAG’s Marketing Executive Lauren Gilbey shares her experiences of rising through the industry.

There are lessons in most things, if you stop to hear them. With two degrees, one in broadcast media and another in marketing, Lauren has learned many of those lessons in the classroom. That hasn’t stopped her absorbing a feel for marketing stadium-side, when watching her favourite team play, or from simply growing up with Instagram in her pocket. 

Lauren is a marketing executive at ATAG, whose award-winning boilers are recognised as being the most efficient in Europe. The company operates in traditional industry with a split focus on homeowners and installers, challenging even seasoned marketers to think creatively about how to attract, engage, and form lasting relationships with their buyers.

One year into her first marketing role, what have Lauren’s degrees taught her about how to achieve this? How has her love of football helped inform the way she approaches social media? And why have her experiences growing up on Instagram given her a head start? 

Lauren was kind enough to spare 20 minutes of her day to talk me through all of it.


Thomas Brown: How did you find your way into marketing?

Lauren Gilbey: I've always taken an interest in social media. I was a teenager when social media was skyrocketing in popularity. Growing up, everybody was on it. I was particularly interested in Instagram. I used it every day, and those habits haven’t gone away. I really liked the social aspect of it. Following my favourite football team and seeing the engagement around their posts, it was always in the back of my mind that I wanted to be the person who creates those images and videos. The one managing a platform and building a following. Substitute football for boilers, and now it's my job.


What was it about social media specifically that you found attractive?

Knowing what it felt like to be part of a fan base, I wanted to create opportunities for other people to have that feeling too. Spaces where people with shared interests can interact. That’s really important for any brand. If your audience isn’t able to interact with you, you’ve no way of nurturing it. At the same time, those interactions increase your visibility and drive word-of-mouth referrals, boosting your marketing prowess across your social platforms. For a brand like ours, where digital channels are so important for attracting new customers, that’s really powerful. You’ve only got to watch one football match to witness the passion of an engaged fan base first-hand. There are so many upsides.


How has that informed the way you approach social media for ATAG?

It’s been fundamental. As early as the planning stage, I’ll ask myself “does this idea, or post, or video invite an interaction? Will this trigger comments, likes, shares, and bookmarks? How can I get people talking about us and our boilers?” You could call it a fan-base-first approach. For installers, we use a branded hashtag. This helps drive measurable interactions because it’s simple to track how the hashtag is being used – where, how often, and by whom. At the same time, it helps the installers to feel seen because their posts are reposted to our company page as well.

I love it when our audience gets excited about us. We've just launched our 18-year warranty and the support behind it has been really motivating. You can see the difference your product or service is making to people’s lives, and you get feedback. I think that’s very important for businesses so you know where to revise your offerings and what you're doing well. Taking on feedback and listening to our customers is a big part of our approach. We’re constantly reviewing our operations in line with what our customers are saying. Our new, extended 18-year warranty is a great example of that. 


What else has influenced the way you think about marketing?

I learned a huge amount at university but no amount of classroom time can prepare you for putting your knowledge to the test in a live working environment. I definitely walked into this role thinking I know what I'm doing. You don't! [laughs] You've got to adapt to the role, and I could easily imagine the job changing all over again if I was ever to move to another industry. I’ve learned more than I ever thought possible from Nicola Smith, who is an incredible manager and mentor, and everyone here has welcomed me with open arms. I’ve had some of the best months of my working life here and I know 2024 is going to be an exciting year for ATAG. I’m super excited to be a part of that.


Can you tell me more about your university courses?  

As a general rule, I think the length of the courses means that by the time you’ve graduated, lots of the industry has already moved on from the course content. When I did my marketing MA, for example, TikTok wasn’t as big as it is now. It wasn’t actually considered a marketing platform at all, at the time. Now it’s one of the biggest. I know several people who search TikTok for answers instead of traditional search engines like Google. And I’ve found myself using it that way, too. It might be generational, but I feel like you get the information more quickly because it's a video format, and it’s a better, more engaging experience than having to dip in and out of several search results.


Is it a platform you've been able to experiment with in your current role?

When I first got this job, the basis behind it was that I'd manage all the social platforms, and TikTok was on the job description. It’s still something we want to delve into but it’s early days. My main background is broadcast media, so I'm very much a perfectionist when it comes to video. The challenge is looking at how to prioritise all the ideas we generate as a team around our goals and the wider business needs. I never thought being under so much pressure would be fun. But it's so creative and I love it. Going into the new year I’m excited to focus much more on video content.


What else is on your radar?

We have an online learning platform called the Academy. There, installers can find instructive, educational videos on everything from taking a boiler out of its box correctly to fitting one on the wall, and every step in between. Our installer base gets really excited about them. We also do live sessions, inviting attendees to sit in on a video call and speak with members of our tech team, all of whom are gas safe registered engineers. 

It’s also important from a marketing perspective. All our new products are showcased on there by our head of technical, so prospects and customers alike can understand what our boilers — and our brand — are all about. It's important for the installers to understand what the product is before they consider buying one, so we use it a lot.

Growing the Academy would be fantastic so more people can learn everything about our brand and how to get the most out of our products from the people with experience.


What’s it like to finally live your dream of managing the social media platforms for a company? 

I’ve always wanted to manage a brand’s social media, but it’s fair to say I never thought I’d be excited about boilers. It turns out that I am! My first year in the role has been a huge learning curve, and it hadn’t crossed my mind that I’d ever work in this industry, but I love it. I’m learning every day and through my social media strategies and initiatives like the Academy I’m doing what I love most, which is helping the company to create that same feeling I get in the stands, cheering with the crowd, watching a game.


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