Photo by John Goldy
Q. What makes Twitter so appealing?
A. What I love about Twitter and what I think makes it so unique is the fact that it’s a completely open platform. That just means that you can communicate with anyone who has a Twitter handle. You don’t have to have a reciprocal relationship. The other thing is that, for whatever reason, people who are on Twitter really do read their tweets. It’s a wonderful way to cut through the noise, and it’s a great place to listen to what people are saying. You can hone in very precisely on certain conversations and hear exactly what it is that any particular group is talking about, whether that is people in your local area or competitors or potential clients or whomever, simply by putting them into a list. You can tap into real-time conversation, and that’s incredibly powerful.
Q. Samantha Kelly, the internationally recognized “Tweeting Goddess,” lauded your Twitter skills from her homeland of Ireland. How does a woman here in Shaker Heights get noticed all the way across the Atlantic?
A. Ha! I love this story. Sam and I found each other one day on Blab.im, (a livestreaming app that is now defunct.) We recognized a shared passion for the magic of Twitter and have stayed in touch ever since, sharing ideas and opportunities. In fact, I will likely be traveling to her social media conference in Dublin as a speaker this March.
Q. Does this exemplify the power and reach of social media?
A. My friendship and collaboration with Sam is but one example of the power and reach of social media. Social media erases all borders. I network every day with people all over the world from the comfort of my office. We all have high-definition screens these days and super-fast internet connections, so meeting virtually with someone in Norway or Johannesburg feels as effortless as meeting with a local person at the nearest coffee shop. Actually, I don’t have to park, so it’s even better. In fact, I have a colleague who I met on Facebook who will be visiting me from Denmark in a couple of weeks. It’s truly remarkable.
Q. You’ve been a globetrotter most of your life. How did this force the issue in terms of using technology?
A. That’s for sure. I moved almost every year as a child, and as an adult, my family and I moved seven times before my oldest son was in fourth grade. Social media and technology helped me so much in each of those scenarios: I scoped out playgroups when my kids were little before we ever moved to the next location. I was able to get the lowdown on the neighborhoods and schools before we ever went to the next town to shop for homes. I would say that I always had a few friends and connections in each new location before I ever even arrived. Then, once settled in, I used social media to further connect with neighbors, find resources, and to just generally plugin to the happenings of the city.
Q. You even met your future husband online in 1998. What a great testimonial to your marketing efforts!
A. Ha! Yes, I walk the talk, don’t I? Back then it was a very unusual thing but now it’s so commonplace. I think the reason it makes sense to so many people is this: When you meet someone online, the next step is usually a phone conversation. You have an opportunity to sort of get the important stuff out of the way. You are vetting them, really. Next step is to meet in person to see if there is chemistry. In “real life” this is usually the other way around, right? It’s like, you see someone in a bar or wherever and think “he’s cute” and then, after three or four dates you realize that he is missing some very fundamental quality that is really important to you. Or maybe you share very different long-term goals. Honestly, I highly recommend online dating! All I know is, I found the best guy for me.
Q. What made you decide to base a business around your social media expertise?
A. It evolved, actually. First, I started a community service project to help support local businesses, called Flash Cashers. Essentially, it was a highly organized cash mob. Citizens would vote for a business they loved that they wanted to support, and we would show up at the business on a specified date to spend money there. The way I got the word out about these cash mobs was via social media, mostly. And it worked really, really well. At about the same time I noticed that there was a real need within many of these businesses (and other businesses) for a social media marketing strategy. So I began consulting, and the demand was great. I never really had to advertise for new clients. But after about eight months, I knew that unless I grew my business into an agency, which I didn’t want to do, there was no real way to scale. That’s when I decided to start creating online courses. And that’s what I do now. In fact, now I show other professionals how to turn their knowledge and expertise into an online course, into an actual PRODUCT that they can sell an infinite number of vs. trading dollars for hours. It’s a wonderful thing. Also, I was recently hired as the professor of digital marketing at Notre Dame College, and that satisfies the need I have to work with people in “real life.”
Q. You stress to clients that these are still the “.“early days” of social media. Would you expound on that?
A. A lot of times I meet business owners who feel like they’ve missed the boat with social media. But the truth is the landscape of social media and digital marketing is changing daily. New platforms pop up out of nowhere, and suddenly the playing field is leveled all over again. But more importantly, digital marketing is still in its infancy, and there is still plenty of opportunity for everyone. Loads of opportunity!
Q. So, where should business owners be at going into 2017?
A. Headed into 2017 the question we should ask ourselves is, “How can I bring value to my audience?” Because that’s how this all works. You provide content via social media, to your audience. Your audience grows to know, like, and trust you, and then they do business with you. And there are so many great ways to do this but nothing as powerfully as livestreaming. You can now pick up your phone, click a button, and broadcast to the world. Facebook live, Periscope, YouTube Live … these are free tools that anyone can use. I can’t think of a single business that can’t benefit from livestreaming. And beyond that I would say pick two channels that you enjoy and become excellent on those channels. If it’s Facebook and Twitter, then make sure to be consistent and engaged on those two channels. There are lots of growth hacks, but the truth is it’s a long game. It will pay off for you, big time. But it’s not an overnight thing. You have to nurture it.
Q. From a business standpoint, aside from Twitter, your current thoughts on… Facebook?
A. Facebook is king. Sometimes my clients will tell me, “My customer isn’t on Facebook. I’m a B2B business.” And my answer is there are over a billion on Facebook, and some of those people are your potential customers and clients. Even if they aren’t on Facebook during their workday, and maybe they just check in at night from their couch in their pjs, who cares? The point is there is still a good chance that your ideal client will see your content. And Facebook ads are, in my opinion, the single most important thing any business can use to grow business. The targeting potential to get in front of exactly the right people is mind-blowing. For instance, if I want to show my ad to women, aged 25-55, who live in a certain area, who drive a Mercedes and have a Saks Fifth Avenue card, and have kids between the ages of 9-14 and like yoga, I can reach them. Or, let’s say I’m a small local grocery store that sells organics. I can show my ad only to people who have “liked” the Whole Foods Facebook page. It is worth it to learn how to use Facebook ads really well.
Q. … Instagram?
A. Instagram was recently purchased by Facebook and added “Instagram Stories” to rival the popular channel, Snapchat. And because they are connected to Facebook, we can now advertise on Instagram. It’s a great platform, especially for businesses who have a lot of “eye candy.”
Q. … LinkedIn?
A. LinkedIn is a must for everyone. At the very least, everyone needs a complete, great looking LinkedIn profile. The reason is when someone Google’s you, and they will Google you, often times your LinkedIn profile is what comes up first. And making a great LinkedIn profile does not mean pasting your resume there. Write it in the first person. Make it interesting. Take advantage of the fact that LinkedIn allows you to use all sorts of multimedia and include video, slide decks, and photos. And make sure to take advantage of LinkedIn’s “Publisher.” This is different than just posting a status update. This is a word processor built right into your profile. You can post an article (or copy and paste all the text from your recent blog post), add a couple of relevant tags, and ALL of your connections will be notified that you published. Plus, if it gets enough initial activity, LinkedIn will send it out to its online publication, Pulse, and deliver it to thousands of users who it deems relevant.
Q. … YouTube?
A. YouTube is another favorite of mine. In fact, if all you did was focus on YouTube and nothing else, you could create a powerful asset for your business. The key, like with everything, is to publish consistently, make sure the content is brief (under five minutes), and most importantly, helpful. There’s a real estate agent in Tacoma, Wash. (her YouTube handle is TacomaJones), who is a great example. She started making YouTube videos that discussed all sorts of topics that would be helpful to home buyers and sellers. Not the obvious stuff like videos of houses for sale but really helpful information like “how to stage your home” or miscellaneous things about the Tacoma area. It’s a great way to differentiate your business.
Q. Any other platforms worth mentioning?
A. Snapchat. This one took me a while to warm up to, but now I love it. Not only is it incredibly fun, it’s also wonderful for marketing. You create stories with little snaps that show your audience a glimpse of your business they wouldn’t see anywhere else. It’s more relaxed. Completely different context than the others.
For more info: jenlehner.com