February 18, 2020

Episode #223 // Social Media Marketing for Online and Local Business with Ellen Matis

Boss friend Ellen Matis joins Emily in this episode to talk about creating boundaries for social media, the impact that local community involvement can have on your life and business, and why it’s important to invest in your community and neighbors.

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"It doesn't matter how many people follow you. It matters how many of those people are actually qualified buyers that are actually going to walk in the door of your business."
- Ellen Matis

TOPICS DISCUSSED IN THIS EPISODE:

  • Why Ellen quit her day job, started her own businesses
  • Why Ellen decided to still pursue her graduate degree
  • The best pieces of advice that Ellen has gotten on her journey
  • The love/hate relationship with social media
  • Time and life balance with social media
  • Getting involved in the local community
  • Learning the names of your in-person neighbors
  • The advantages of "focusing on local"

RESOURCES DISCUSSED IN THIS EPISODE

MORE FROM Ellen Matis

MORE FROM KATHLEEN

Braid Creative

MORE FROM EMILY

Almanac Supply Co.

Episode Transcript

Intro:

I'm Emily Thompson and I'm Kathleen Shannon and this is Being Boss.

Emily:

In this episode of Being Boss, I'm joined by my boss friend Ellen Matis to talk about trading boundaries to keep your relationship with social media healthy. The impact that being involved in your local community can have on your life and work and how focusing on local will not only serve your business but all the businesses around you. As always, you can find all the tools, books and links we referenced on the show notes at www.beingboss.club.

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Emily:

For a very long time. I've seen the disconnect between today's online entrepreneurs who are really today's small business owners, what business looked like before the age of the internet and what I hope and perhaps foresee for businesses in the future. Before the age of the internet, businesses operated in their local communities. They sold local, hired, local, supported local or even if they were let's say a mail order business. They still hired local and therefore we're supporting local. That's how business happened for hundreds of years though maybe not that mail order part, but that happened for a long time. Do it all happened with a focus on local. It's easy to forget, but make no mistake. There were booming businesses and economies a well before social media. Then you enter today's world of small businesses. There tends to be two main kinds, local businesses and online businesses. I'm sure there's definitely some overlap, but those who are doing both well tend to still be relatively few and far between.

Emily:

There is no shortage of local businesses that are still refusing to bring their businesses onto the internet or are at the very least heavily struggling with it, and there are plenty of online businesses who are refusing to prioritize and nurturing a local community of clients and customers, either subconsciously or consciously, but in the future, I anticipate seeing more of a move to the blended model of doing business online and off because that's where real sustainability and impact happen. You tap the larger network that's made accessible by the internet, but bring it home into your local community. In fact, I see magic in the flip of that build a local business that's supplemented by the access that you have to people around the world. Why? Because it's good for the bottom line of your business and the entire community of businesses in your area. This concept of a blended business both online and offline has been a priority for me from the start and perhaps that's because I did own my first business back when you'd only heard of Facebook if you were still a student at Harvard.

Emily:

Even as I moved my endeavors and to the online world, I've maintained my prioritization of doing local business, selling at local markets, working with local clients, nurturing my local community, and that effort has paid off again and again and at a much more promising rate than any online tactic I have ever tried. But I also know that I'm probably offering up some crazy talk to many of you online business folks out there, but I promise you the impact is real. And to show you what this can look like today, I'm joined by my boss pow, Ellen Matis. I got to know Ellen when she joined my mastermind group where we quickly started referring to her as the most interesting person in the room. She seriously has some of the best stories and an interesting approach to marketing. And I've seen it in action. I've watched her sell out hundreds of tickets to an event in the matter of hours to a local event. I've watched her grow her team and her business endeavors. Ellen calls herself a community connector through work life and volunteerism. She's the owner of a coworking and community event venue called studio 1795 and Bellefonte Pennsylvania and the owner of social media marketing agency, hello social co or the agencies focus on local approach drives the work that they do with their clients across the nation. And that last piece that focusing on local is aware. I'm heading with this conversation today.

Emily:

Hi Ellen. I'm so glad you're here.

Ellen:

Hey, thanks for having me.

Emily:

Awesome. Let's get started with this because there are so many things that I want to dive in on with you today. Um, but to get everyone properly introduced to you, I would like for you to begin by telling us about yourself and how you landed where you are now.

Ellen:

Um, so I would say like many bosses before me, um, just hit a breaking point. I got hired to work or scheduled to work new year's Eve. Um, the last year that I worked my full time job and that evening I was just livid. So I got home about two in the morning and I just sat down with my husband, my boyfriend at the time, and just was like, we need to make a change. And almost immediately we started researching where we could start a business with the skills that I had. Um, so we thought about Pittsburgh for a long time, um, but we're a little worried about, you know, the competition because marketing agencies exist in big cities. And we started to look at central Pennsylvania because it didn't look like there was anything that focused in social media here. So by March 1st I opened hello social co and um, we moved to that area. And also on the same day that I launched the business, I started my master's degree little, it's a little bit of craziness all at once. And um, yeah, three years later, here we are. Um, and then also this past year I realized there was a need in my central Pennsylvania community that for a space that fostered really community connection. So a, I opened this past January studio 1795, which is a coworking space and a community event venue one.

Emily:

I love a good quitting story. I love when somebody's like, let me tell you about my last day of work. That's always, that's always a good story. Um, too. I love that you and your now husband then boyfriend sat down and were so purposeful about you starting a business. You saw that there was a problem and needed to be fixed. A way to fix it was for you to take the skills that you had. And what were those skills like? What did you like write them down on a piece of paper? What did they

Ellen:

I um, I dabbled in a lot of different kinds of digital marketing. So at that point I was working for a full service digital agency. Um, and I was, I was really the doer there. So we had a sales team and then I was tasked with making sure all of those things happen. So, um, everything from SEO to building websites to social media management I was doing, um, when we started live social co I did dabble in all of those things but eventually, uh, we kind of honed in on social media alone.

Emily:

Hmm. How long have you been doing hello? Social co.

Ellen:

It'll be three years in March.

Emily:

Three years. Oh, when I love to, I'm going to just keep counting off all the things that I want to say about what you're saying. Number one, uh, bosses are the doers. Of course you are the person at the agency who is doing all the things. That's how it works. Um, and also going back to what I was saying about you and your husband's sitting down and being so conscious about you see having a problem and wanting to solve it. Let me be an entrepreneur. Let me start a business and do my thing. Using the skills I already have is quite a boss move if I may say so. But I also want to talk about that masters. So you were going back to school to get a master's in what and why?

Ellen:

That was actually, um, not totally planned. So, you know, there was a point where I applied for my masters and I thought that I was going to be working full time for someone else for the rest of my life. I thought that this master's was going to be really important to help me level up my career. And um, I got accepted very shortly before I decided that I wasn't going to work there anymore. So, um, you know, I still pursued it and I actually, I took a lot of breaks in between so I'm not graduating until this year, but um, it's been really valuable to, um, you know, just have that, that extra knowledge that comes with it. So the master's is an integrated marketing communications and that's from West Virginia university.

Emily:

Hmm. Five. Congratulations. Get it done. It's interesting that do you continue doing your masters even though you weren't going to be using it in the same way? And I bring this up because I often think about continued education. Um, most bosses who are probably listening this have a degree that they don't use, probably have like higher level degrees that they're not using. Um, I'm also in a, in a place where I have to start thinking about my kid going to college soon. So I'm often thinking like, do I want to send her to school? Cause David and I for a long time were like, we're not going to make her go to college. Like are we going to weird those like hippie parents. But now that a little further into it, I so see the value of getting those higher learning experiences. I don't think it's the paper.

Emily:

I think, I think the diploma, the actual like having it is, it has some credit for sure. But the experience of it is something that you cannot trade for anything. I have a degree and I do not use or I don't professionally use, but I love that I have it. It took me a long time to come to terms with it for sure. Um, but once the student loans are paid off [inaudible] I decided that I really liked having it. So I love that you continued committing to growing your own knowledge in the subject matter that you decided to start a business in as opposed to just quitting it, doing the work as an entrepreneur and you know, calling it, calling it with that.

Ellen:

Yeah, and I would say that that was a really conscious decision because going into the master's program, it was, it was honestly about the paycheck. It was me saying, okay, I see that people in my field get paid more when they have a master's degree. And when I started working for myself, it became not about the paycheck because who knows, but more about what can I use from this program that can really help my clients moving forward.

Emily:

That's why you do it right there. That's why you learn for personal betterment. Okay, perfect. This is not a conversation about higher level, even though I could totally go there for sure. I feel like you'd be, if I wanted to talk about, um, regarding that, I want to dive a little bit more into your journey and we have a good place where we're going with this and I'm very excited. Um, so looking back at you deciding to quit your job, starting your business, continuing your masters, um, I have to ask, what is the best piece of advice that you received along that windy path of yours?

Ellen:

I cannot pick one piece of advice. There are two that I love and the first is very simple. The first was from my dad when I told him that I was going to be doing this. Um, he's a retired entrepreneur and the thing that he just drilled into me was always pay yourself first. That has driven many of the decisions that I make for my business. The second one is to not get caught in the comparison trap. Um, when I first started the business, I was so worried about what other people were doing. Um, you know, especially people in the social media and marketing realm, it really hindered my ability to hone in on what made our agency unique. And by kind of on following those people and not being about what other social media professionals professionals are doing, I'm able to really kind of shine the light on the focus on local aspect of what my agency does.

Emily:

Agreed. 100%. I was thinking of it as like putting on my blinders or I'm just going to like put my head in the hall, do my work, you know, decide how I'm different and more amazing than everyone else. In that way, I am more amazing. Um, it's really important to do that and I think we're going to be talking about this a bit more, but especially in the world of social media where, you know, all of us social media users are in it enough, but you being a social media marketer are even probably a little deeper than we are. I mean, it's literally your job to compare. I could see it being easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself or what it is that you're doing in a way that's not helpful.

Ellen:

Yeah, and I, you know, the, I think the biggest thing for me was that I got so hung up on hello social, not having the, you know, the most amazing social media presence. And I was comparing myself to these people that were putting up 20 Instagram stories a day and had very consistent content. But at the end of the day, I just realized that I needed to make a decision about what was more important to me, the work that I was putting out into the world for hello social, which yes, is important to me, but I know that I need to focus my time on my clients more than that. So that's what we focus on.

Emily:

Agreed. Agreed. I've started seeing someone's activity on social media as a potential red flag as to whether or not they're just as bossy as they say they are. And there are, this can go either way. So don't you dare anyone's in meaning nasty emails about this. I've seen it go both ways where you can be on social media ton and be a total boss. But what I also find quite often is if you're on social media a ton, you're not doing your work. Um, and this is even a conversation that's come up with the community you previously or very recently where a boss in there, um, decided to pose the question of how it is that everyone is balancing the blend of or the differences between sitting down and doing the work and whether that be serving your clients or practicing your craft or whatever it may be.

Emily:

Balancing that with sharing the work. Because I think a lot of us have fallen into this trap of thinking that sharing the work of being on Instagram, creating and curating that beautiful feed, doing 20 Instagram stories a day, showing up for Facebook lives. All of those things like people think this, that, that that is doing the work and that's not doing the work that's sharing the work. Um, unless you're in social media marketing or in some cases, you know, branding and things like that. But for the rest of us, for the rest of us, we need to spend more time doing the work then sharing the work. For sure. So that actually leads me into a couple of fun little questions that I have for you around social media. Um, because a large part of your work is on social media first. Do you love it or hate it?

Ellen:

I do. I truly love it and I've always loved it. I, you know, I have always been an early adopter of like every social media platform that has launched ever since. I'm not on Tiktok, but I watch other people.

Emily:

You're an early adopter.

Ellen:

But you know, like as, as a teenager, like I was the girl that was making my space themes for other people so that they could, you know, bling out their profile. But I didn't know what social media marketing was at that time. So there's, there's never been a time that I haven't loved it where I haven't used it. Um, and I think that if you use it for good, it can be so effective and so meaningful. It's when we get on our Facebook feeds and we start to hate our neighbors because of their political views that we start to go down Hill. So it's just about, you know, making, curating your social media feeds to be the content that you want to see that you want to consume personally and professionally and conveying that as well.

Emily:

Hmm. It's a good rule of thumb. I love that. Okay. Question number two, do you spend a lot of time on social media?

Ellen:

Sometimes? Um, I do spend too much time on social media. Yeah. But that's more of like a, a personal thing that's a, you know, if I have a day off, maybe I spend a little too much time scrolling. Um, I do think that I have really good boundaries with it and he, you need to because, um, when you're doing this all day, it's, it's easy to get sucked into your feet, your feeds and, you know, figure out what's happening around in, in the world around you. And, um, you know, those boundaries are really important. I think the, the biggest change I've made though to not spend too much time on it is that I've unfollowed almost all of them.

Emily:

Ooh, though, cause I have to tell you, I recently went and unfollowed everyone from my Instagram account to which, and we've talked about this on the show before, so I'm going to give a slight update. I stopped using my personal Instagram account in I think may of last year and didn't sign into it for a really long time. I've recently started creeping again, but part of creeping is I went in and unfollowed basically everyone except for, you know, so my closest friends and a couple of meme accounts. Um, okay. I want to hit back on this, um, on this thing you said I'm going to go around boundaries and you just sort of gave us one, but what boundaries do you have in place? Um, or sort of mindsets, like any sort of triggers perhaps that you, that see when it comes to balancing being on social with, you know, being active in real life.

Ellen:

It's, it's less about the boundaries I would say. And more about never trying to be someone on social media that you're not. Um, I think that we went through a phase in social media where people just wanted to have the perfect feeds. They wanted to have these, you know, perfect white rooms with cute white things. And it's just not realistic. You know. And I, I think that, um, the biggest change I've made in my life is on social media is just being real. So my personal account has always been an extension of my real life. It's me out in the woods. It's me getting muddy with my dogs. It's, you know, nothing, it's not a coffee mug for the sake of a coffee mug being on the feed.

Ellen:

Um, and it's, it's, it's important to kind of set the standard for what your content is going to be. And, um, I think the most important thing I do for my work and for my personal life on social media is later gram. So you will never, ever, ever find me at a conference, like live posting from a conference or live posting from something that I'm at. I'm taking a lot of photos but it's when I get back to the hotel room later that I am putting up an Instagram story saying that I've been there today. Um, I don't waste the time that I have in real life to enjoy something posting on social media.

Emily:

Oh ma, I'll drop a mic for you right there. How about that? Agreed. Agreed with this I think. I think that's a beautiful boundary for sure. To create one where you are engaging in short capturing, I think, you know, taking photos for me I'm like capturing where I am so I'm not getting lost but really just taking photos is the real capturing I'm thinking about and taking photos and engaging is what you're at places to do. It's whenever I'm sitting there, I, the summer I went to Greece and there was a moment we were sitting, you know, in some ancient ruins and some guys just sitting there like typing away on it. Like I saw him taking some photos and there's typing away on his phone and I was like, dude, you are surrounded with the coolest stuff. And I get maybe his like dream life is for sure like Instagramming from some ancient Greek ruins like in which case high five buddy. Um, but it did make me think, I wonder if there's as much self-aware newness there, um, as there is me being aware of him.

Ellen:

Right. And you know, did he at that point enjoy the thing he went there to see because you know, one of the most beautiful things that I've ever seen in person is horseshoe curves and I felt like I went there and so many people were just standing there like taking selfies on the side of the ledge and like their backs were turned to it so they can take photos with it. Did you see it?

Emily:

I think a lot of people are getting caught up in capturing and sharing more so than enjoying, which also mirrors what we were talking about a moment ago with people with the bosses wondering if they're capturing and sharing more than they're actually doing the work. I think there's a common theme there.

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Emily:

All right, let's dive in to what's happening next because this is what I have you here for Ellen. You have one of the most refreshing yet not novel at all, ideas around marketing and around using social media marketing. And that means being really involved in your local community what like so refreshing but not novel. So as we dive into this, I'd love for you to share a bit more how it is that you are involved in your local community and what impact do you find that having on your life and especially your business?

Ellen:

Hmm. How am I involved? That's a big question. Um, so like I said, I just moved here three years ago. Um, and I think that one of the reasons I was attracted to this community and really just attracted to moving in general was because I, in the community that I was living in before, I never felt like I could get involved. It was always, you know, these same people created events and they, you know, ran things and you were the crazy 22 year old that wanted to do something different. So you weren't invited. And here I got to this community in central Pennsylvania and you know, just like bounce some ideas off of people and they were absolutely, let's do them. How do we make it happen? And I love that. Um, so that's on the personal side. Um, something that I'm really passionate about.

Ellen:

You know, I'm the, I'm now the president of the board for our local economic development association and I'm just doing a ton of fun community related projects including my coworking space. But on the work side, through hello social, I've really made, um, what we call the focus on local approach, the entire basis of our business. So, um, whenever we are working with a client, focus on local plays into how we do that work somehow. So basically focus on local is our little micro movement, I would say to just get people to engage more with their local communities using social media. It's, it's the idea that if an entire community thrives, then the business with businesses within it do as well. And if we can empower business owners to use their social media accounts in a way that gets people excited, um, then the entire economics of that town thrives.

Emily:

I think this is such an important perspective to have on running a business. All too often I'll see a boss who, you know, gets super bent out of shape, but whenever Instagram algorithms changed because they haven't bothered growing a business outside of Instagram or, um, or I often hear of bosses who will say that, um, you know, they don't have a local community cause they just move there. So thank you very much for completely debunking that excuse cause you showed up and made yourself useful, um, and injected yourself into, into a community. Granted, sounds like it may have needed someone like you.

Ellen:

And so small communities especially are, are the ones that kind of benefit from these approaches more than anything. Um, I think that, you know, just as there, there's phases for everything. And, um, living in a small town was not for a while. And I think that people, people are finding that they're create, they're craving that kind of small town connection. Um, the connections that you have with your neighbors, the connections that you have with business owners, there is nothing I love more than that. I know the names of everybody on my block, um, that I can walk down the street and grab a coffee and they know what I'm going to order, um, that I can walk into any store. And, you know, there's a store across the street from my space here that, um, I walk in the door and she's like, Oh, here's 10 items that are in your size that I think you're going to love. And I love those personal relationships in a community like this. And that's the kinds of things that we use social media to talk about, um, to leverage that kind of small town life in a way that not only makes people want to live in places like this, but also shop in places like this. And, um, you know, go out for a drink and places like this and you know, hopefully buy a house in a place like this someday.

Emily:

Yeah. Okay. My brain is going off with like 18 different directions that I want to take this first and foremost, I want a side tangent, just a hair, because you've talked about something that's come up in my real life many, many times and that is knowing all the names of your neighbors. Can you walk some bosses step by step through what it means or how it is that you introduce yourself to your neighbors? And I asked this question because I literally have people ask me this all the time because we know all of our neighbors names too. And everyone's always like, that's insane. How do you know them all? And my answer is I have a Lilly, my daughter is the most outgoing, personable human being on the planet. She knows everyone's name and their entire backstory, if she can get it out of you, um, you don't have a Lilly, how do you do it?

Ellen:

I, it's kind of weird cause I never even thought that I did....

Emily:

It's something. Trust me.

Ellen:

but I, I guess, um, you know what, thinking back to just the week that we bought our house, um, so the, the day that we closed on the house, we started doing renovations on the house. Um, our neighbors on the left of us, they happened to be in the backyard while we were walking in. So we just went outside and we said, Hey, you know, we're, we're going to be moving in in a couple of weeks. You know, this is what we do, this nice to meet you. Um, and that was, that was just kind of second nature to us, I would say. Um, as for the rest of the street, they came to us in many ways. Um, I think that you find things to bond over with your different neighbors. So, you know, the guy across the street from us has the cutest beagle. Um, you know, we have dogs too, so we went over and pet his dog one time and we know, Hey Romo, what's up? So, um, you know, it's, it's just about finding the things that you have in common, which one of the biggest is the street that you live on and having something to say to them. Um, and now that we've made those connections, you know, I don't think twice about, you know, asking my neighbor to check on our cat if we have to go out of town or watering their garden for them when they're out of town. It's just something that happens here.

Emily:

Either a small town charm or simply living with or living as an embodiment of small town charm. I don't think you have to live in a small town. Do talk to your neighbors. Um, I think it definitely helps but not necessary. Absolutely not. I love that. I love that you don't even think about it that you just do

Ellen:

Same thing. No matter where you live, you live, you know, in a high rise you can find, figure out who lives on your floor. It's, this applies absolutely everywhere.

Emily:

Yeah. And I that this is also a perfect example of how you bring or it is an example of the ethos that you bring to social media. This idea of everyone is your friend more or less like what content are you wanting to see and can you share, um, the sort of do unto others as you would have them do unto you if it were, I can't believe I just said that out loud, but it works here. It totally works here. Um, and that you've brought that into your real life, but you're also doing that for other companies and showing other companies how to do that and social media as well. Um, so whenever it comes to focusing on local, this is something that I've loved talking to you about because as we created when a week redid Almanac supply co, the idea of that company is to create and curate goods to help people live with the seasons and embrace nature.

Emily:

And I think neither of those two things can happen unless you are connecting with where you live because both your nature are both the nature and the seasons are different depending on where you physically are. As such, we have also always made it imperative to include Chattanooga very much so in the marketing that we do. Even as an online company, I've been an online business for a really long time. I know how easy it is to talk to everyone. Like I can just shout out on Instagram to the whole world quite easily. But to focus it in on local was always really important to me. And then whenever you came around you were like, Oh, I do this thing called focus on local. I'm like, girl, birds of the same feather. So I completely agree that this focus on local is very important. It's something that I felt very ingrained in me and something that I thought was going to be important when building Almanac. I didn't want to just be an online business. I didn't want it to be a slave to the Instagram algorithms or whatever it may be. I wanted to, you can think if it is like diversifying your marketing touchpoints also in a lot of ways. Um, but I would love to hear from you what focus on local means practically. Like you talked about in general what it means, but when it comes to doing it, how do you focus on local and what are the advantages of doing that? So

Ellen:

it's, it's mainly about the content that you write and it's about the, the way that you engage with other people. Um, so obviously engagement is a huge part of, you know, a great social media presence you can't have engagement with, or you can't have great reach without great engagement. Um, so you need people to see your posts. And the best way to do that is to actually give them prompts and, or, or ideas that they are interested in engaging with. So, you know, we talk...

Ellen:

I think that as business owners, we think a lot about like the questions that we can ask other people, you know, where's your favorite place to grab a coffee? I accidentally made that a local one because my brain doesn't even sink. Non-locally at this point. I can't think of it like a non-local engagement question on the spot. Favorite book. Yeah, exactly. So that's a question that tons of people on your Instagram feed my end up answering. Um, we like to just spin that though too. How do you incorporate what's happening in your community into that engagement? So we recently grabbed a coffee at this place in town, you know, where's your favorite place to grab a coffee while you're stopping at our local business? You can also stop it these other places. Have you been to one of them before? And then you're creating these conversations not only about your business but about others as well. And what that does is turn your community into a destination. So it's a place that I'm going to come, I'm going to get a coffee in the morning, I'm going to stop by the boutique, I'm going to walk into the bookstore, I'm going to grab lunch at a downtown restaurant. And then at the end of the day, I become a brand ambassador for this community. Because I'm going to share with the world all of these things I did in this downtown today, so by one business asking one inspiring question, the entire community has gained traction.

Emily:

I hope that everyone listening to this, it feels the power in that like that is that's big and important and much more tangible and almost digestible than this idea of I want a million followers and to be the world's greatest influencer, which so many people are. That's their life goal, which I get, but imagine if you could just relatively easily make your community hot or become a local celebrity if that's what you want to do. A friend of mine who's actually been on the podcast, Shawanda Mason Moore runs a, we'll include links to her episode. She runs a nonprofit and came to talk to us about running a nonprofit and being boss. She also runs a side project called eat, drink frolic where she, the whole purpose is not the whole purpose. It actually has multiple purpose. A large purpose of it is highlighting local restaurants and bars and things.

Emily:

And she's not only bolstering the community with the platform that she's built for herself. Um, but I was talking to, I actually had dinner with the other day and she's telling me stories about how now she can walk into restaurants and have people, have the waitresses just bring her some extra cocktails because they recognize her and want her to try their new cocktail menu or whatever it may be. Um, that is so much more tangible and helpful and important, I think in these lofty goals of whatever it is that you have in your head that you want to do. Another thing that I really love about this is hashtag support local because how many of you are using that expecting your local communities to support you who may not be actually turning it around and supporting your local community and any and all the ways so you can, and whether that's sharing them on social media or actually giving them money or including them in your roundups or highlighting them on your podcast or whatever it may be. I think that, um, I think that a lot of times we can use things like shop local support, local whatever as a way to get us help. Well, we should be using it to help everyone in our local communities.

Ellen:

Yeah, absolutely. And there's, you know, there's, we could talk all day about like how to use hashtags in a way that's going to engage your target audience rather than your fellow business owners, because I..

Emily:

What's your number one tip?

Ellen:

Don't use hashtags that engage your fellow business owners...

Emily:

Amen to that.

Ellen:

Yeah. Anyway. Um, but I, so I want to tell a little story real quick. We had a kind of awkward moment during a consultation the other day. So me and my team member, Katie, we go into almost all of our consultations together and a woman said to us, why would I hire you very matter of factly? Why would I hire you to manage my social media accounts if your social media account only has 1400 followers? And I said, 1400 people are buying my services at my rates. I'm retiring at 30. It doesn't matter how many people follow you. It matters how many of those people are actually qualified buyers that are actually gonna walk in the door of your business. And you know, if you only have 500 followers, it doesn't matter because 500 of those people could actually be buying your products. They could be coming into your boutique, they could be grabbing a coffee from you every single day. And it's those little things that mean way much more to a local business.

Emily:

Okay, I have to press pause on this conversation for just a second for some extra sharing because did you hear that? Is the little things that matter, not the big follower numbers. And do you know who sees the little things? Yes, it can be your customers who are supporting you from around the world, but those little things are more easily seen by those closest to you. It's your neighbors, it's your friends, it's the people that they refer to you. It's your local boss. Pals. Here's a fact. At Almanac Supply Co, we recently did a review of our top customers and here's what we found. I hope this blows your mind a little bit. With the exception of one, our top eight customers is made up of people that I have emotional or geographic connections with, be it that they are local family or friends. Those top eight people made up 25% of our revenue in 2019 and they're a mixture of wholesale accounts, retail customers and folks who use this to do client gifting.

Emily:

Want to hear a more shocking stat? Another 50% of our revenue came from local events, local popup shops and local markets. If you add on top of that, all the local people who purchased online, well, I think you're beginning to see maybe how important focusing on local is for Almanac because that means that less than 25% of our revenue came from just random folks who stumbled upon us from the internet or saw our Instagram or whatever it may be, and if you need more convincing, that local can easily win over online. Over that same year that we blew up our local community with of customers. I also put way more effort into building our social media presence for Almanac and because of changes to user habits and those damn algorithms, we saw less conversions from Instagram than we did in 2018 the spy, a growing following and more posting and despite the fact that our true metrics for Instagram growth fell flat, like totally flat, we tripled our revenue from 2018 to 2019 how?

Emily:

By showing up at local events, be it networking events or markets by nurturing relationships with local bosses, by focusing on local. If we had done none of those things, we would have not triple our revenue. We probably would have kept our revenue about the same, maybe added a little bit if we had stuck with just online marketing and all the easy tools that we have there because we focus more on local, we tripled our revenue. The payoff on online marketing and engagement is becoming more and more hit and miss. The pay off of local marketing and engagement is where I continue to see favorable returns on investment. And this is not true for just physical products. I personally have focused on local here because I remember the impact that it had back in my web design studio days before I went whole hog into being boss.

Emily:

My design studio had a local presence that still makes me proud. We hosted the local industry nights where creative business friends would come around for a drink and to talk about life and work as a boss and yes, this was before being boss was a thing. We design the branding for many local businesses. I can still ride around and see design work. My team and I did on businesses around town. We founded a local art crawl for the area of town that our studio was in and it's still an annual event to this day and you see what that is? It's not just me building my business, it's me supporting my local community and it's me adding value to my community and in a way that I myself get to enjoy every day.

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Ellen:

And I think a lot of, a lot of business owners, I don't want to say this about all business owners, but many, many business owners that have locally based business, they often don't think about the community around them. Um, and your community really needs to be thriving economically to be able to support your business. So if every store on your block is closing and you're the only one left open, that's very detrimental to you whether you're thinking actively about it or not. So by using the focus on local approach to the way you market your business and it doesn't even have to just be through social media marketing. If you're thinking more locally, then you're going to ensure the longevity of your own business

Emily:

And of your community. I don't even think gesture business cause I will say there's a flip side of this where let's say every business on the block goes out of business, but you're able to stay because you've tapped into the online sphere. Like that's also a very powerful thing to keep toasts were bring out, bring in outside economies into yours, like have that sort of entryway point for, you know, that money from Vancouver or whatever it may be to make its way into your local community. I think. I think there is something in there I do not want to by any means, diminish the awesomeness of that for sure. But I do think you're completely right with this idea of of creating a, creating a local, creating an engaging in a local community and economy that can make such, um, much more almost concentrated impact. Then getting money from everywhere. There's like there's, there's something really good that comes back when that comes up when you go back to fostering local community and economies. Yeah, absolutely.

Ellen:

And you know, every, every little thing that you can do to help your community as a whole thrive is just going to help everyone around you.

Emily:

Agreed. Um, I would love to hear from you any results that you've seen with customers or clients, your clients who have begun adopting this, focusing on local approach. What does, what does that do for, what does that do for a business?

Ellen:

I think the, the biggest thing I see, and I mentioned it a little before is, is users becoming Brandon Basadur is for their favorite businesses and for the communities that they like to hang out in, um, because of business has made the switch to actively focus on local people are buying into what they have to say and participating in that. And that's when you kind of spark, um, you know, the idea behind the micro influencer or the community influencer, they don't have to be a big internet sensation, but if there's someone that makes an impact in their community, then they're sharing that with the world for you.

Emily:

For sure. And I will say too, in my own experience, whether that be selling websites back in the day or selling jewelry way back in the day or these days, um, gaining podcasts, listeners even or at Almanac selling candles or crystals making the sell to someone in person and your local community is significantly easier than convincing someone who lives States away who's never going to see your face or like hug you in person, um, or understand the impact that happens whenever they buy your product. There is so much more ease, relative ease. Online businesses at all is also very easy and it's in this whole other way, but there is a real ease that comes from engaging in that local community. Um, when it comes to positioning yourself and selling what it is that you do, it's much more easy for me to sit amongst a group of people, um, in here in Chattanooga and tell people what I do and then get really excited that I run a podcast called being boss that's, you know, talk charts of iTunes, all of those things like, you better bet if I'm sitting amongst 12 people who have never heard of it, 12 people are about to go listen to a podcast.

Emily:

If I do the same thing, not in my community. Let's say I'm in like, you know, San Francisco sitting around a table with some people, I may get five or six out of those 12, but it's significantly less not, but it's just not as impactful. Impactful. I think that's a, that's a good or relatable. Actually, I think that's even the word I'm looking for. It's not as relatable. Um, then someone who lives in your neighborhood who's doing something cool and making something awesome and of course you want to support them because they're doing cool things for your, for your local community. I love all of this. I'm thinking like Q high school musical over here. We're all in this together.

Ellen:

You know like that's what you think about with your, with your local businesses because although your businesses are very different, you all are sharing the same struggles and the same things are going on around you. So yeah, you're definitely way more relatable to your neighbor than you are to some random person at a conference.

Emily:

Sure. And when it comes to actually needing like real support, like let's say there's like, I don't know, a rain storm and you know, your studio floods or whatever, you're like top follower who lives a couple States away is probably not going to be falling in to help you, you know, get the water out of your front room. Your neighbor's going to be.

Ellen:

Yeah, absolutely. Although my studio is on the second floor, so if our studio floods, I'm calling you for help.

Emily:

I'll be there. Second floor for sure. I'll come in with my boat, get you out. Oh man. I so appreciate you coming to chat with us about all of these things. This has been something I've been wanting to bring to this space for a really long time because as much as we talk about social media and as as click baity as it is and this idea of like growing these huge followings all over the world, it's very like glamorous and exciting and all of these things.

Emily:

But I can even tell you from my personal experience, if you focus on local, and this is both, you know, online businesses being boss podcast or physical like product businesses like Almanac supply co, whenever you are engaging your local people, there is so much more juice and energy that comes into play. Then if you are reaching to anyone and everyone, regardless of where they are geographically, there's magic both ways. 100%. I'm not discrediting anyone who does not live in Chattanooga. Trust me. Um, but it's different. It's totally different. And I think if we can bring it back to that local community a bit more, we can all tap into that, um, and reenergize everyone's community. Like what if, what if every community is as supportive and um, and jazzed up has all of these like little online communities that we have. Imagine that for a second. All right. All right. I have a couple more little short questions for you. One is what tip or tactic do you have that bosses can start right now to focus on local in their own social media marketing?

Ellen:

So I would say to pick five users in your community using your geolocation function right now. Um, so this is, this is mainly an Instagram thing. Um, these can be businesses or these can be people, but make sure there are people that you don't regularly communicate with. Just see what they had to say. Um, if it's something that you resonate with, like just being in the same community, comment on their post and some kind of meaningful way. Now you've got five potential customers that might not have known your business existed and you just created that little interwebs connection.

Emily:

Mmm, I love that. I will say do this, this like a, a big brand tactic as well. Um, we have a local hotel chain that recently reached out to a whole bunch of local people to have chats about stuff to see how they could support this like circle of support. Guys. It's a beautiful thing. Um, I love that. And can you tell us where everyone can find you around the internet?

Ellen:

Yeah, so a super on-brand @hellosocialco, across all of the internet and hellosocialco.com.

Emily:

Perfect. Next question. What makes you feel most boss?

Ellen:

I'm just sharing what I know. Um, there's nothing I love more than doing private strategy sessions or getting up during our focus on local retreats. Um, I just, people I think think that we love to manage social media, but in my perfect world, I'm helping other business owners handle social media on their own. Um, we're sharing our knowledge so that they can, they can make an impact in their own way.

Emily:

Hmm. You're not lying. From what I know about you, you are definitely like a, let me gain all kinds of knowledge, distill it down and share it with as many people as I can kind of person. I love that. Love it. Awesome. Thank you so much for coming to hang out with me, Ellen. I appreciate you sharing all of this good stuff.

Ellen:

Yeah. Thank you so much for having me.

Outro:

Thanks for listening and Hey, if you want more resources, we're talking worksheets, free trainings in person meetups and vacations, and more. Go to our website at www.beingboss.club. Do the work. Be boss.

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