On January 25, 2018, we hosted a discussion on using digital marketing and social media to engage with your audience as part of our ongoing Entrepreneurship 100 series.
The event was hosted by Charles Plant, Senior Fellow at the Impact Centre, and included panelists Erin Bury, Head of Eighty-Eight Creative, Michael Seaton, Principal at Level C Digital and Ashlee Froese, Principal at Froese Law.
Responses have been edited for length and clarity.
What do you see the role of social media as an entrepreneur?
Erin: I think in social media is the first time that businesses of all sizes had a chance to interact with their customers one on one in a two way conversation. To me the best ways to use social media are for community and for relevant meaningful conversations, not just to push out sales content.
Michael: I think the lesson learnt early on was to experiment, play with it, and find your niche. I happen to think that for entrepreneurs or big brand, it’s about story telling, it’s about amplifying your message, and it’s about connecting with your audiences.
What are your different options for social media and how do you determine what your objectives should be?
Michael: You really have to have an idea of what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it. The channels that you would choose to do that in, whether it’s LinkedIn or Instagram or any of the other platforms. Look to what they can do and where your audience is I think is the best.
Erin: I think LinkedIn is great for B-to-B. If you’ve been on LinkedIn it certainly was not to buy a shirt. Its to find a job, it’s to connect with people, find interesting articles, or join a group relevant to your industry. You need to find the platform or application that hits your brand and your audience.
Ashlee: For my clients, my sweet spot is heavily branded, consumer orientated product services and talent. So influencers, celebrities, fashion, marijuana, food and beverage, restaurants, hospitality these are all on Facebook, they’re using Facebook and they’re using Instagram so I have to be a part of that.
How do you start to build a following?
Ashlee: I think that is the most challenging and most time consuming part of social media. The most challenging part is not finding amazing content to share. It’s not crafting the perfect 280 character tweet. It’s building a following in a genuine way. I think a lot of really crappy people will tell you that you can buy your followers, but that’s the wrong answer. There’s no silver bullet to get you to get you to 10,000 followers overnight.
Michael: I think when you start to build a following, you have to actually provide knowledge and expertise to your audience.
So how do you manage your schedule of posting?
Erin: I think the inclination is to use something like Hootsuite to post five to seven tweets per day at well timed intervals, but I think you really miss out on the social part of social media if you schedule everything. For every one tweet your scheduling and putting out, make sure that you’re commenting or retweeting on 10 other posts, or else you’re just going to become that one way dialogue that might as well just be advertising.
In terms of frequency, again think of yourself as a consumer. Do you want to see a brand post 10 Instagram posts per day or would that be overwhelming in your feed?
How do you curate content for social media catches your target audiences attention?
Michael: You have to know your audiences needs and wants. If you’re interested in something and you are an expert in it, people will gravitate to you if you give that content away. The content has to be a blend of what I create, what my audience is interested in, and on our community.
Do any of you guys use email marketing?
Ashlee: We send out newsletters mostly to our clients. It’s more of a retention tactic than it is a customer apposition tactic, but yes, sparingly. That’s the format of my blog and newsletter every Monday.
Michael: I think that email is one of the most important channels that you can use.
What are you most proud of?
Erin: I would say that I am most proud of spending the last 10 years helping entrepreneurs tell their stories.
Michael: I’m really proud that I was able to take big brands into the digital space and then leave to work in a small company. Also, I am proud of my teaching and students who go on to become top marketers across Canada.
Ashlee: Clients come to you, they have their dreams, they have their goals then I help them put them down in tangible form and create a structure of a viable business. Also, I have an idea that I’m playing a part in flipping the script on the male dominated industry and redefine what it is to be a lawyer and to look like a lawyer.