One of the biggest challenges she faced when starting out was convincing potential clients to invest resources in social media. While today, it is somewhat easier to determine the value of social media with more sophisticated lead tracking software, it can still be difficult to quantify relationship building and varying buying cycles that start with social media engagement and eventually end up with a conversion. Stephanie still asserts that adding massive value to your visitor and building a “know like and trust” relationship with them is key…. “It’s less about pushing yourself out there…more about pulling them in”
James: Welcome back, my friends to yet another edition of the Big Value Big Business podcast. I am your host, James: Lynch. I am really big big big big time super-stoked about a very special guest today, Ms. Stephanie Frasco Clegg. Stephanie comes to us from convertwithcontent.com where she is the vice-president of social media marketing. Stephanie specializes in helping businesses both large and small develop highly targeted social media strategies to allow them to attract and engage and convert more customers. I would like to welcome and say hello to Stephanie. Hello Stephanie!Stephanie: Hello! How are you?
James: I’m doing well, how are you?
Stephanie: Good, thank you.
James: Good, good, good. We talked a little bit before we jumped online and it was really good to get to know you. I appreciate you taking the time out of your day to come down and be on my podcast. So let’s just dive right in. I’d like to get a little bit of history about you, where you came from, like…what brought you to the place you are now and what brought you to the place to realize that you wanted to help people to create killer content?
Stephanie: Yeah, well I guess I got started by the right place and the right time, which is always a good place to start, I think. I graduated college in 2004, so now you guys all know how old I am. Yeah, and I studied journalism and the internet and social media was just coming about, I mean, that was a time when blogs were just about the only social media out there and then we had MySpace and stuff like that, and I just- I started experimenting with things and I find that as a social person, you know, it just came naturally to me and I started my own website called “What Celebs Wear” and that was my first entry into alright, I have no money, I need to figure out how I can market this thing, how I can get in front of people, and do the best I can without any resources.
So that’s how I got started and from there I just worked my way up. I was- I’m always an entrepreneur and working in offices wasn’t really my thing, so I went that route and, you know, did different client work. I worked at Atlantic Records, I worked for Oprah at one point. I’ve just built my name for myself and kind of just kept doing it and getting out there and experimenting and here I am today, so it’s been a real fun journey and I love it.
James: Fantastic, fantastic. And I’m going to go where everybody goes and say, “What did you do for Oprah and how did you get that gig?”
Stephanie: I was- the company I was working with at the time um, I did a contract deal with her and it was really exciting because I got to organize a blogger campaign around Eckhart Tolle’s Skype educational series that he was doing with Oprah. So, they wanted to get out there in front of bloggers and like a community management type of thing before community management was even a word, so I went about it- I went about it by looking up bloggers on all different topics and kind of creating a course for them that they could follow along with the Oprah course. So, they were speaking to their own audience, but…um…also following along with this Oprah, um, series that was going on. So, it was really exciting. We got to go to the Oprah show, which was really cool, so-
Stephanie: So a lot of the bloggers were very happy with me that I got to pull that off, but it was a lot of fun.
James: Nice, nice. And I have seen some of her work with Eckhart and Eckhart is pretty awesome himself. Is “What Celebs Wear,” is that still, um, is that still around?
Stephanie: No, we stopped that awhile back. It was…it was a searchable database for fashion and what celebrities are wearing. So, yeah, it’s not around anymore, but it was definitely my first entrepreneurial venture.
James: Cool, cool, and is it safe to say that you could be a social media pioneer?
Stephanie: I’d like to say that. I’m- I’m from the West, so pioneering is in my blood.
James: Awesome, awesome. I love it. Ok, so big steps from when you graduated college going through and working with Atlantic Records and- and working with Oprah Winfrey. Tell me about some of your biggest challenges and how you were able to overcome those.
Stephanie: Trying to communicate to clients the value of social media before it’s, you know, kind of hit where it is today and- and trying to explain, you know, how this works and why it’s important and where it’s going in the future has always been a challenge. Of course, now it’s all about the ROI, and that’s very challenging, and trying to communicate that to different clients and, you know, show them that there is a lot of value in it even though it’s not…right away and it does take time. It’s all about building relationships and that’s where you’re going to see the most bang for your buck in the long run.
James: So you consider that a challenge then and it’s still a challenge now and I know you’re not the only one that has that challenge. It’s the instant gratification that people are looking for and be able to quantify it like they can…you can count “likes,” but you don’t know who is buying.
Stephanie: Exactly. Well, we use actually infusion software for that. So there are ways about going about it now where we can track all our leads and really figure out the- the value of that customer over their lifetime, so that’s really a real benefit of using infusion software and lead tracking software. So we can show it a little bit, but you know, the sales period and the time it takes from getting in front of someone to actually having them buy takes one minute for some people, but it could take, you know, a couple months for others and it’s really about…showing your clients…you know, that there is a process, but the more that you communicate with them, and the more you share with them, and the more you, you know, really connect with them, the better off you’re going to be in the long run.
James: Okay, let’s take that communicating and share, because that’s really what Big Value Big Business is all about. It’s about creating as much value as you can in your communication. As a business, how do you create that value proposition on your website with your brand and how do you talk to people and how do you coach them into doing that with your clients?
Stephanie: Well, I think it’s all about adding value, and once they have all this value and they know you what you’re talking about, then they’re going to want to do business with you because they’re trusting you, you have more authority and, you know, hopefully you’ve built that relationship and they like you.
So, it’s all about adding value, and I mean, that’s the one thing that I think everybody should be doing when it comes to social media, when it comes to marketing, and all their communications. It’s not so much about pushing yourself out there, it’s about bringing people in to you because you’re giving them all this stuff.
James: Do you work with smaller businesses? I am affiliated with an agency. We have a lot of service clients, like lawyers, and plumbers, and restaurants, and obviously everything- every business or every vertical is different. How do you say, for instance, give me an example of a small client, if you could, and how you teach them to get as much value out there as they can to attract-
Stephanie: Well, at Convert with Content, we love small business. That is our motto actually. It’s on our coffee mug, it’s all over our website, so we do work exclusively with small businesses. And, what I love about it is we can provide a service for them that puts value out there onto the internet in front of their customers, you know, roams and in their world, by…at such a low cost, too. And so we can blog for them and blogging is probably the best way that you can add value because one, it’s on your website, so you’re always bringing people back to your site. Two, you can answer so many questions that people have and it stays out there, so when you post something on social media or like Twitter or like Facebook, your post doesn’t last as long, but when your blogging, you can keep that value out there forever in essence, as long as your website is up and people are searching for these terms.
So that’s the number one thing that we kind of want to give to our customers is really show them the value of blogging and blogging is a social media and people seem to forget that.
James: Yeah. Yeah, I totally agree. When you have a client, how do you arrange their content? I guess I’m trying to get to the meat of what you consider value, say, even if you could give us an example of a client that you have and how you would- what would you blog about for them, even if you did the blogging for them?
Stephanie: Well, the first and foremost thing to think about is who your audience is and we always want to blog to the audience. We want to connect with them. A lot of companies I see kind of blog to themselves, in a way, and there not really talking to their audience. So everyday people are asking you questions as a business. I mean, your salespeople are probably getting tons of questions. These are all things that can be formatted in blog form, or put into a blog form, and that’s a really great way to start blogging if you don’t know what to blog about. Just think about all the questions people ask you and write down your answers for them and that’s a perfectly good place to start.
James: That’s beautiful. That’s what I was looking for. So you got to dig in, you’ve got to create your avatar, you have to know who your avatar is or who your perfect customer is, and you got to engage them to ask these questions. Fair enough?
James: Awesome. You do a lot of social media. I see you on a lot of platforms. At what point is automation okay to use? I mean, social media is supposed to be social, so back and forth. What are your thoughts on your automation of offers, the scheduled posts, and stuff like that?
Stephanie: I use them. I support them. I wrote a blog post about it, actually. You don’t want to become a social media ghost, so you don’t want to just schedule, schedule, schedule, and never return to it. Your scheduling should really act as a way to save you time, but so that you have more time for engagement, and that’s really where you’re going to get the value. So, you need to share stuff, and that’s normal, so you want to schedule that kind of stuff. But when people are talking to you, you need a response. When people are asking questions and you can add value to that question and conversation, then you need a response. So you need to be active, but finding the content and sharing the content can be automated.
James: Cool, cool. And I totally agree, because I do automate some content myself as well. What’s the mission statement of convertwithcontent.com? What is your- or if you were asked is your elevator pitch. But I like mission statement best.
Stephanie: We empower small businesses to grow. We love small business. We want to see you grow because that, in essence, helps us grow. So, we’re all about small business. We want to add value to your customers and your clients, and allow you to grow on the internet and teach you all these ways you can grow and utilize all these tools and new technology and really help you. We want to help other small businesses grow as well.
James: Well said. If you had a close friend or family member say they started a website or they had an existing website and they were trying to grab more traffic, and get that traffic to hang around and maybe get them to convert into customers. What would be the first thing that you would suggest that they do?
Stephanie: The first thing I’d suggest that they do is blog, obviously. I’m a huge, huge fan of blogging because I’ve seen the value of it to myself as a personal brand and to our company, Convert With Content. It gives you authority, it gives people something to share- which is really important because that goes to the social world- and it gives you something to share. So blogging is the first step.
The second step is really looking into your website and finding who your customers are and how they are coming to you, and spend more time there. I think a lot of people get overwhelmed and they know that there’s 100 million social networks out there and they have to be on all of them! You know? So I think it’s really more important to hang out where your audience hangs out. So, if that’s Pinterest, then you should be devoting a lot of your social media time and budget there. If it’s Facebook, if it’s Twitter, if it’s Google+ (which I love Google+), if it’s LinkedIn if you’re a B2B company. I mean, you really need to know the demographics of these different social networks and allocate your time there.
James: Alright, so blog, find out who your customer is, and get in front of them.
James: Where they’re hanging out.
James: Cool. I was going to ask you about…I see you guys are pushing Google+ pretty hard. How do you think that’s going? People say it’s a fad, it’s in, it’s out, Google’s not really paying that much attention to it, and not only Google+, but the Authorship as well. Tell me your thoughts on Google+ and the Authorship.
Stephanie: I- well, the authorship is a little bit because…they are really cracking down on it, what I’ve noticed. At one point, everyone’s face was coming up, which didn’t really verify who is more important and who is adding more value and who’s more popular, whatever it is. So, there’s been a lot of discussion around the Google authorship. I think definitely having your face attached to the Google search helps click-thrus, no doubt about it, but when it becomes saturate, how much is it going to help, I’m not sure.
I’m not an SEO person, personally, but I know that Google is obviously Google and you need to play the Google game, and that’s obviously Google+, but I love the social side of things, so Google+ is actually a really, really strong community. It’s 75% male or 70% male, I’m not really sure on the exact number. So, and, it’s growing and I see more and more females there everyday and I just love to be on there. I think that the people are very smart. It’s key word heavy, so you know, longer form content works well there and they have these communities which are really thriving and, I don’t know, I’m just really enjoying using Google+. But on top of that, I heard that they were going to add Plus Post ads, which are in essence, you know, promoted posts. And they’re going to show them throughout the Google display network, which is going to be huge. They’re going to be tied to Adwords. So this is going to really open up social media conversations in a way that we’ve never seen before outside of a social network. So that’s really interesting and I can’t wait to see how that plays out.
James: I think we’re going to see more and more of these two worlds colliding. The content and the paid advertising are going to come together nicely and I think that is the next step. It’s going to boost content and it’s also going to give the paid advertisers something else to focus on rather than just sell, sell, sell.
Stephanie: Yep. Exactly.
James: Tell me about the tools that you use, your toolboxes as far as, and again, let’s get back to maybe somebody that’s just getting into the game; Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, and the automation tools, maybe like Hootsuite. Can you just give me any overview of what first and foremost is that the top of the list?
Stephanie: Yes. This is what I call the “big five.” It’s Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest. And these are the top five strongest social networks, I think, that you should have in your arsenal. I don’t know necessarily if you need all of them, but at least three of them is a good place to start. I use all of them because I am an addict, but that’s just me.
Yes, so those are the big five. It really depends on where your audience is again, so you kind of need to know who your audience is before you create any kind of social media strategy. For automation I use Hootsuite on an everyday basis and I also use Buffer. I love Buffer because I can use it on my phone and I’m always looking at content and that’s a huge part of, you know, social sharing. So when I find an article that I love, and I read a lot on my mobile, I can just send it over to Buffer and I can analyze it, which is really cool and that gives me insight into what works best for my audience and my fans and followers. In that way I can create more of that because then I know my audience is interested in that, and that’s really how you grow.
James: Beautiful, beautiful. I appreciate that. On tools and resources, tell me about Stephanie and who does she listen to and you does she get inspiration from? Do you belong to any masterminds, do you subscribe to any podcasts, do you have any favorite authors. Tell me a little bit about where you come from there.
Stephanie: I think that my husband is a genius, so I learn a lot from him. I really do.
Stephanie: He’s great. You’re really going to love his- what he has to say. So, we’re always talking about social media and always about content marketing. I mean, we work together and we live together and our conversations, as you can imagine, are always marketing-focused, which is fun.
Stephanie: Come over to our house. We’ll have a dinner party and we’ll talk all about content marketing, I’m sure. So I talk to him a lot, obviously, and my network is great. I follow really interesting people. My Google+ network I have it really tailored to content marketing and social media. I write for Social Media Today, so I’m always checking theirs out. State of Digital is a great website. You know, I’m all over the place. I like to search for key words and whatever I’m interested in, and then I also weigh what my friends are sharing on Facebook and on Twitter and all over the place as a way to gather information.
So, I’m not a loyalist to anyone, but I do consume a ton of content.
Stephanie: I mean, I’m loyal, but I’m not crazy.
James: You’re a window shopper.
James: That’s a perfect segway into the mindset. Obviously you’re not tied into any one source where you get your inspiration, but what gets you going? What drives you? Do you do anything that helps you move forward?
Stephanie: I’m always scouring the web for new content. I do subscribe to a bunch of stat stuff, so when I see new reports coming out I always like to look at how small businesses can use that information, because there’s a lot of articles out there that are focused on Snapchat was hacked, or…to me that doesn’t really resonate with my audience. So I like to take that and see how I can twist that so it’s adjustable to my audience. So that’s where I get my inspiration really, just being on my phone, which causes my eyesight to deteriorate every day. Oh well. It’s worth it!
James: It’s cool. You’ll get to the glasses stage there soon enough.
Stephanie: I have them, I’m just in denial.
James: Awesome, awesome. So Stephanie, tell me a little bit about what the future of social media and content marketing will be in 2014?
Stephanie: Well, it’s a really exciting year that’s already off to a bang, so I’m excited. I think video for small businesses and using it, you know there’s so many different video platforms from Vine to Instagram’s doing video, Youtube, of course, and on your own website. So I think video consumption is going to increase and as a small business, it’s important to find a video presence. Behavioral targeting is one of the things that I think is really important. Again, we use Infusion Soft software for this. Really being able to analyze your website visitors’ behavior and target messages accordingly, and same with social media. I think that’s going to be really important there as well. And brand ambassadors I think is a big thing, and connecting with your influencers and allowing them to share the word of your company and refer you, you know, to their audience, because their audience is going to trust them more than you and so it’s always good to have these people who love you and you have to love them back and work together.
Yeah, and I think one thing to point out is that everyone is always influential on something, so it’s not always so much about how many followers one person has and whether or not they’ll be a good brand ambassador for you, it’s really about looking at how targeted their audience is. And so you can have an ambassador influencer for your business with only 150 friends, but if those 150 people are super, super influenced and super engaged with this person, then you’re going to get a lot of benefit out of that.
James: I totally agree. I know guys that have 75,000 subscribers to their RSS and they do okay. I have friends that have like 25,000 and those fans are rabid fans and they’ll scoop up anything or consume anything that this person puts in front of them, so you’re so totally right about that.
Stephanie: Thank you!
James: Alright, so as we wind this puppy down, do you have any parting shots, any projects? This is a time to plug your business, to talk about your handsome and super, super smart husband. Tell us about Convert With Content and what you guys got going on.
Stephanie: Yeah, well this is a really exciting year for Convert With Content. We are really focused on blogging and social media for small businesses, so if you don’t know what you’re supposed to be doing online and want to make an impact, please talk to me. I’m always open. I’m very social. You can tweet me, you could Facebook message me, deep blast, whatever. I’ll respond. I have like 100 inboxes, so yeah, let me know and I would love to talk to you about it.
James: So Stephanie, tell us what’s the best way to get in touch with you?
Stephanie: You can always email me. My email is email@example.com or you can find me on social media at Stephanie Frasco most places, at Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, I’m all over the place. And, of course, you can always follow Convert With Content on Twitter or @ConvertContent and on Facebook, it’s Convert With Content, and on Google+ it’s +ConvertWithContent, so I look forward to seeing you there.
James: Beautiful and we know where to find you. Thank you very much. It’s been great talking to you.
Stephanie: Thank you for having me! It’s been a lot of fun.
James: Yes, and I thank you very much. We’ll talk to you soon. Thanks, good bye.