It’s never too late. That applies to yearnings inspired by a mid-life crisis as well as more sensible but off-putting notions such as jumping into social media. This is especially challenging for inward-looking – aka introvert – business-minded entrepreneurs.
Winnie Sun, Bethany Bayless and Beth Staub each reluctantly stepped out of their company comfort zones and are now “slaying it” socially whether by Twitter, Facebook, podcasts and elsewhere. Collectively, they find social media good – and essential – for business.
Need a public speaker, emcee or podcaster? Contact Bayless. The co-host of the fun, upbeat podcast The Money Millhouse is known for her unique comedic style and high-energy presentations.
In the last year, each of the entrepreneurs has upped her game to promote engagement in ways they wish they had earlier in their careers.
“I should have used social media sooner,” Sun said. “I remember my husband telling me about Facebook right when it started. As an introvert, I resisted. However, better late than never.
“The best social media trick I learned is LinkedIn video and Twitter producer,” she said. “We are putting all our efforts on creating bite-size, educational content consistently.”
For Bayless, the more video, the better.
“We have a podcast and started doing Facebook Live to compliment the podcast,” she said. “We noticed a huge jump in engagement. We like using Ecamm when we have guests, which makes it smooth and seamless.”
Although uninhibited in person, Staub had qualms about going online.
“It sounds lame, but so brutally honest,” she said. “I wish I would have been more confident in my sense of humor and not so scared to ‘humiliate’ myself. ‘Just be you’ goes a long, long way.”
Much like a zombie catastrophe, people make huge mistakes that infect and deteriorate their social media game. This includes self-important persons who turn into broadcasters with no engagement. It’s only a short step from falling into the abyss of influencers.
“The biggest mistake people make on social media is not being consistent on a platform,” Sun said. “It’s something you need to devote a fair amount of time to.
“Secondly is the sharing of negative content,” she said. “You can survive by avoiding negative conversations and surrounding yourself with like-minded positive communities.”
The fundamentals are social salvation.
“That goes back to the heart of social media — authenticity and transparency,” Bayless said. “If your audience doesn’t trust you, they won’t engage. Always be you.”
Another no-no is putting selling before social.
“Folks desperately try to take my money,” Staub said. “You don’t get it that way. I’m about relationships and friendship equity. Don’t ‘sell’ me. Icky yuck!”
By contrast, some marketing trends are frightfully fun. That helps owners focus on their business.
“Marketing is more fun now than ever,” Sun said. “Thanks to social media and other technology, small companies can compete just as quickly and effectively now as the larger organizations do.
“For us, we are all about video and audio,” she said. “That could change next year.”
Bayless is less ephemeral about her prime passion.
“I am falling in love with video,” she said. “It is so fun. Whether through Facebook Lives, Instagram stories or YouTube, I love interacting with our audience that way.”
Social engagement can readily support the financial bottom line, although there’s a right approach to generate customers.
“I don’t believe in converting people,” Sun said. “I believe in sharing positive, helpful content, and letting individuals make their own decision on whether or not to engage. A forced client is a temporary client. I like clients who stay with me a very long time.
“We need to take responsibility of our businesses and actively reach out to people who we want to meet or do business with,” she said. “People can’t do business with you if they don’t know you exist. For that reason, you need to keep sharing your message alongside growing your business.”
Conversions come easier with enticements.
“Always have a call to action,” Bayless said. “Turn lurkers into engagers by asking them to comment, like, share and so on. Give them a reason to engage: discounts, contests, rewards, resources or free product.”
Staub does not share such optimism.
“If I find stalkers, I block them, depending on their ‘stalker-ness,’” she said. “If not too creepy, I find out what’s up and bring them into the web.”
With any venture into the unknow, the first step might be intimidating.
“The things that scare me the most about social media is the negativity and the 1 percent of ‘crazy’ people online,” Sun said. “As a parent and a spouse, I’m very mindful and protective about the privacy of my family on social media.”
Bayless admitted to fear of anonymity.
“Those low engagement numbers and being seen as insignificant can be scary,” she said. “But keep going.
“The best advice I received is, ‘Don’t compare your beginning with someone’s middle,’” Bayless said. “Just go out there and hustle. Every. Single. Day.”
Accept that social media might not initially be great for self-esteem.
“I scared myself into almost believing the negative self-talk,” Staub said. “Get over it. It’s not real.”
Done well, social media strategies can make your audience scream with joy.
“I try to listen to what our clients ask, what people want to know about business, money and entrepreneurism,” Sun said. “I craft content around that.
“We like to carve content around what our community is asking,” she said. “We also go to Google and Twitter to see what’s trending.”
Joint efforts hold great promise.
“I love, love, love working with a team to come up with new and fun ideas,” Bayless said. “Find like-minded people to collaborate with who stir up creativity.
“We’re all in this together,” she said. “I have weekly meetings with my team. I’m a part of Masterminds who meet once a month.”
Staub added that she bowed to talent, hiring a young person to take over memes and blogs.
“I try to stay ahead by just staying consistent,” Sun said. “Social media is easy to start, but hard to maintain long term.
“I do a ton of research and learn from some of the most influential people in the social media space,” she said. “They are my virtual teachers, and not in my industry.”
Words and pictures command time and produce rewards.
“I focus on putting out awesome content,” Bayless said. “Keep coming up with creative ideas and new things to engage your audience. Always focus on your audience by putting them first.”
She and Sun also look to other leaders for inspiration.
“There are so many people doing a great job in social media,” Sun said. “Numbers certainly matter, but positive engagement is the big winner.”
Bayless has an affinity for financial educator Tiffany Aliche who “is killing it.”
Drawing from their experience, Sun and Bayless have magic potions that work best at captivating their audience on social media campaigns, including long- or short-form video.
“As it pertains to video, both long- and short-form stay popular,” Sun said. “In my industry, shorter does better because it’s a heavier topic. People want quick and to the point.
“However, depending on the topic and audience, long-form is super powerful,” she said.
Bayless creates based on venues and where she has the most say.
“I love doing both long- and short-form videos,” she said. “It depends on your platform. I find I like short-form better for Instagram, and long-form for Facebook Live and YouTube.
“I have goals when it comes to numbers and getting more followers—who doesn’t?” Bayless said. “But that is often out of our control. I can control my consistency and quality of content. I have been focusing on always getting better when it comes to those things.”
Many persons online can offer helping hands.
“There are so many people I turn to for social media advice,” Sun said. “For YouTube, I go to my buddy Mike Chen. He’s crushing it there and on Facebook. Fair warning: Don’t watch his videos when you’re hungry.”
Bayless taps into a host of sources.
“I love watching entrepreneur and writer Nicole Walters and everything she is doing,” she said. “I also Google everything. Everything. All my questions and struggles, I Google it. I find so many good resources that will keep me coming back for more.”
Discarding her website would be difficult, but Sun’s fallbacks would be LinkedIn or Facebook. Bayless prefers Instagram.
“I see quite a few amazing people out there who run their entire business from Instagram,” Bayless said. “They are killing it. I also find it easier to connect with your audience on that platform. It is just so much fun.”
For her, enjoyment has combined with profitable business ties.
“One of the best business relationships I made through social media is with Chris Browning of the Popcorn Finance Podcast,” Bayless said. “Because we are both podcasters, I have learned so much.