Claim Your Brand Online And Create Your Own Fame
In this interview, I chat with Laura Roeder about how she got started in social media and how she has built multiple online businesses based around social media training. Laura has an energy about her that is infectious and as a result, her clients can’t help but praise her for her teaching methods and fun approach to social media.
For those of you that are feeling overwhelmed by the idea of starting in social media, Laura has a message for you that will ease your worries! It’s simple, you don’t have to know everything and you shouldn’t feel stupid about just getting starting in social media. We all started with zero experience, so, the only step you need to worry about is jumping in and getting started. And, don’t worry, she offers a number of great resources that will help you along the way!
Meet Laura Roeder
Laura Roeder is a social media marketing expert who teaches small businesses how to create their own fame and claim their brand online. She is the creator of the Creating Fame Classroom and Your Backstage Pass to Twitter.
She resides in Venice Beach, California where she video blogs about social media, entrepreneurship and personal branding.
Laura has been a speaker at numerous influential industry conferences including, The South by Southwest Interactive Conference, Online Marketing For Women Entrepreneurs, The Social Communications Summit and Blogher 2009 in Chicago, discussing online marketing, social media, personal branding, community building, and making authentic connections online. Laura has been quoted in the Los Angeles Times, CNET and has contributed to many influential online publications such as ProBlogger, Eben Pagan’s blog, The Launch Coach and The Wealth Spa.
Social Media Interview
1. Can you tell everyone how you got started in social media?
Ya, so when I first started my business, I did web design. Kind of your typical web design and development for local businesses that needed a website. But, I grew up on the internet, you know, I just turned 26. I’m kind of that first generation that got AOL and Compuserve in the 4th Grade and I’ve always communicated with people that way. You know, I taught myself to code websites in Jr. High School.
And, so, everything we call “social media” today has existed on the modern web in different forms. We haven’t always had blogs, but people always had, we used to call them just “personal sites”. A place where you’d keep your diary and info about your life. So, I’ve just always been fascinated by that stuff. I’ve always loved all that stuff. It’s something that came natural to me, which is using these tools and connecting people online. And, I’ve always loved marketing, I studied advertising in college.
When I was doing web design, I would advise my clients about, why does your site exist? And, how are you getting people there? And, what are they doing once they are there? Which I thought was what you are supposed to do and what you should do. But, I found out later that most web designers are not doing that for their clients. And, people started telling me that this “social media thing” is a really hot topic. Twitter had just come out and people were really interested in how you might use it for business. Facebook, at that time, was opening up more and more. First, it was just colleges and then high school then everybody. And people started wondering how this could be a marketing tool.
So, people would ask me about that all the time. And, finally enough people kept telling me “You could charge money for the social media stuff. And, you could just do that”. And, I was like WHAT? Who would pay for that….that’s crazy! You know, everybody knows how to use Twitter or Facebook. But, I found out that’s not true at all and there are a lot of small businesses that are definitely willing to pay for these tools that can really help their marketing. So, that’s sort of how I got into this whole world.
Trevor: Ya, and I think you are a natural at the teaching side of things. There is a lot of feedback that you display on your website with a Twitter tool. I know you put together a short little video on how you can post your testimonials to your website. And, there are tons of responses from people out there saying how much you’ve helped them and that is obviously a testament to how you approach the teaching methods around social media. Making it simple for people.
Ya, thank you. That’s a big part of what I do is encouraging people, making things simple. In the tech world, there is a lot of snobbiness and there’s a lot of “ohhh…you should know this already, this is so easy.” And, a lot of people that are interested in exploring online marketing get turned off by that attitude of kind of the “Web 2.0″ world. So, I try to be the antithesis to that and say there are no dumb questions. You can ask me anything.
I remind people that we all have to start somewhere. I started doing this stuff really young so it’s very intuitive and natural for me. But, everybody starts out with Twitter feeling really weird and having no idea how to talk to people. Everybody starts from the beginning, even though people say “I’m too old to learn this.” or “I feel dumb”. And, I say, no your not too old, you can do it. Everybody had to start out. So, ya, that’s a big part of what I do is encouraging people to jump into these things, even if it feels a little scary. And, making things really really simple and easy to understand.
Trevor: Ya, and I think the other thing about social media too is that it’s changing so much every single day. So, for somebody to say that they feel awkward, well, I think you can probably say this as much as I can is…..I feel overwhelmed some days. There is always something new to learn. So, people that are starting out shouldn’t feel that kind of fear. You have to start somewhere, right.
2. With regards to online branding, how do you go about separating the personal from the business, or is it one in the same?
Ya, I brand as me. So, if you go to my website, it says Laura Roeder at the top. People ask me what my company name is and I’m like, it’s just sort of my name, it’s just sort of me, I don’t really have a company name. I have found that people really identify with that personal connection. They want a human being that they can have a relationship with and a connection with that teaches them.
I think personal brands are really powerful for so many businesses. I think it’s a great way to market and brand your business because people are really craving that human connection. So, as far as the issue of blurring the lines between a personal brand and a business brand, I’m very casual and very open online. Especially about my business, I’m pretty much an open book. You can ask me anything, I’ll tell you how I do things on the inside of my business. But, I don’t share everything about my life online just because, you know, I do have a real life outside of the computer. You can still share personal things about yourself without letting everything hang out, you know. I have a newsletter that I publish every week where I often will publish a picture of me on vacation. I just put a picture of me when I went to Lake Tahoe, so I’m sharing my personal life, but not sharing every detail of the trip or every person that was on the trip. I guess that’s a way to look at it, I’ll share everything about me, but not necessarily share everything about the other people in my life. And, I think that can be a good guideline to go by.
3. So, with regards to all these tools you can use online. A lot of people tell me that they use Facebook for personal only and Twitter is a business tool, or whatever it might be. Which tools do you use most frequently and how do you try to separate that from the personal and business side of things?
It’s a hard question, I find Twitter to be the best business tool, I find it to be most effective for business. And, the reason is, it’s normal on Twitter to talk to new people all the time. That’s kind of the point of Twitter is to meet new people and meet new friends. And, of course, in a business it’s key to always be bringing in new prospects, always be talking to a new audience. And, Twitter does that very naturally.
Facebook, a lot of people don’t use it that way. And when you are talking about being friends with someone on Facebook, there has to be a mutual agreement which is a huge problem from a marketing perspective, right, you need to be able to reach out to new people.
There is no perfect solution. The way that I use Facebook is I use my personal profile just for friends and “quote/unquote”, real people that I know. And, I use my Facebook Fan Page, which is called “The Dash” for business. But, you know, I probably absolutely lose leads. I probably lose people doing it that way because people do try to friend me on my personal profile. You can write a message but nobody reads it. So, there is no perfect way. I do that because the spam gets out of control. A lot of people find friending on Facebook. It makes it really hard to use because you log in and you see all these people who you have no idea who they are with the updates. And, that’s what turns a lot of people off. They try to use Facebook, or Twitter the same, they will say it’s just a bunch of spam and I say, well don’t “friend” those people, don’t “follow” those people. You have control over your experience. So, that’s what I do, but there is definitely at this point, with Facebook, there is not that perfect solution.
Trevor: And, filtering the noise I think is a great point I think you bring up too. Because that is one of the challenges that I think delays people from getting involved in social media. It is overwhelming, there is so much. Especially with Twitter, there is a constant stream of noise coming at you, how do you actually filter through the good stuff
4. Is there anything in particular that you do to manage all of your accounts efficiently?
Well, for Twitter, the biggest thing is that you don’t have to follow everyone who follows you. This has always been a big controversy in the Twitter world. Do you have to follow back or not and from day one I’ve said, just follow who you want. And, a lot of the people that were advocates of following everyone back found that it wasn’t scalable and found that it didn’t work. That happened with a lot of the big name people that were following everyone. They said I have to stop doing this because obviously it doesn’t scale, right.
You can’t keep up with 50,000 people and, again, it’s imperfect. I’m sure there are people who’s feelings are hurt because I don’t follow them and because there is a limit to attention, there are a lot of people that I want to follow but I’m already at like 500 and I just can’t handle anymore.
So, it’s imperfect, but the top thing is just engage with people who you are interested in. Follow people who you want to, because what’s so cool about Twitter is you can still talk to everyone with @ replies. I talk to everyone who talks to me, it doesn’t matter if I follow them or not. And, that’s a good way for me to still interact with people who want to interact with me for a marketing perspective or just for a relationship perspective but not fill my tweet stream with stuff that I’m not really interested in. Which makes it a really not fun and interesting experience.
Trevor: So, the summary on that is stick with quality vs quantity when it comes to Twitter.
5. What do you use for information resources? There is a lot of stuff out there, both blogs and more traditional news sources. Is there anything in particular that you could give advice on for other people to check out?
It’s kind of funny, but the advice that I give businesses is, you don’t need to keep up. Because the thing is, as a business, you don’t want to use anything until it hits mainstream. I mean, there might be some sort of niche site for your industry, right. If you only target steel companies, there could be one site for steel companies that you want to be on. But, as far as the general social networking sites, as a business, why would you want to be an early adopter, right. You want to be where everybody is, you don’t want to be “cool” in this situation. You don’t want to brag like “oh, I’m on this site that nobody has ever heard of”, what’s the point, there is no customers there because it’s so new. So, I actually encourage people not to stress about keeping up. You don’t have to know about the latest and greatest site.
The big ones are the ones that most people have heard of. Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, YouTube (if you consider that a social networking site). You don’t have to stress about anything else. I say, when you hear about it on the local news, then you know it’s time to use it for your local business. By then, it’s reached that critical mass. And, people get themselves really stressed out and really overwhelmed reading too much news, trying to keep up with every little latest and greatest thing. So, you can subscribe to my newsletter and I’ll tell you the ones, it’s free, and I’ll tell you the ones you need to know. If it’s not in my newsletter, don’t worry about it, that’s what I usually tell people.
6. For myself and other people I’ve interviewed, everyone always seems to have a interesting story around social media, that WOW moment, where you realize this is a game changer. Either in the way you do business or even just on a personal level. Do you have a moment like this that you can share with everyone?
Definitely, I mean, I’ve met so many people through social media. So many people that are business people that I really admire and I want to connect with. And, one person that I met through social media, who has become a good friend and an amazing mentor to me, is a guy named Cameron Herold. He’s a little bit more famous in Canada than he is in the States, he’s a corporate coach.
He lives in Vancouver like you do and he had a TedTalk recently that was really popular talking about raising kids as entrepreneurs. He was the COO of 1800-Got-Junk and a bunch of other impressive companies and he is someone who, I had seen him write articles in magazines, so I was following him and I was following him on Twitter. And, one day on Twitter, he posted “I have a long drive coming up, put your name in and I’ll do a 20 minute call with you for free, I love talking to entrepreneurs and I want to entertain myself on this drive”. Usually he does really expensive corporate coaching.
So, I jumped on it as soon as I saw it. He had a little Google form that you filled out and put your number in. And, it was funny because when I hit it, you know on Google forms, when it’s a public one, you can see there is “this” many people on the form, so there were time slots and I was frantically typing my name in as they were filling up. But, I got a time slot with, we had a great phone call where he gave me really good advice and I kept in touch with him after that. He was in LA and we had lunch and he’s become someone who has become really important to my business and someone that I really admire. And, if I hadn’t followed him on Twitter, if I hadn’t jumped at that opportunity, we never would have connected and that’s how I meet most people now is through social media. And, I’ll just find somebody who I think is interesting and I’ll say let’s have lunch, let’s meet up. It’s a great way to meet people and a great way to connect with other people that might otherwise be hard to reach like Cameron.
Trevor: Ya, I actually hear that a lot from people, it’s the connections that you make online that end up converting into offline relationships that really become game changers for people. It’s like WOW, before, I had to try to email this person and randomly or phone and try to get through the gatekeeper, and it just didn’t work like that back in the day. And, now I think a lot more people are accessible. And, not to name drop or anything, but I know you’ve done some stuff with Eban Pagan lately too. And, that’s another great example of just reaching out. I think you wrote a blog article for him or something, did you not?
Ya, that’s another great social media story. So, he had just started a blog, I didn’t know who he was at the time. Someone sent me over to his blog and he had a post that said “I’m having a little contest, I’m new to social media, tell me how to use it for business and the best one wins”. So, I was like, ahh I know I can win. So, I did, I wrote a post about how to use social media and I won the contest. And, at that time, again, he had just got into social media so he was using Twitter. And, because I won the contest, he followed me on Twitter. So, he knew who I was so I just sent him a message and said “Hey, you’re in Santa Monica, I’m in Venice, let’s meet up”. We ended up going to some networking event.
People are so scared to approach people, I don’t know if you know if you are listening to this call, but Eben is a very important person in a certain circle. And, I’m just like, I like to meet interesting, smart people, let’s hang out. If he says no, who cares. And, a lot of people are afraid to take that next step. So, that’s how I became connected to Eben. Now, I’ve been a guest teacher on some of his programs. He’s another person that I’ve learned so much from that I met through social media.
Trevor: Ya, you don’t get what you don’t ask for, right. The fear of rejection is what, I think, stops a lot of people sometimes. But, ya, it’s amazing how much people are willing to open up and really want to be connected with, right. No matter what their stature is, they are still people at the end of the day.
7. So, last question, do have any advice that you would give to small business owners that are thinking about getting started with social media?
Again, don’t worry about being on every site. You don’t need to be a cool, cutting-edge person, you are already cutting-edge because you are using social media at all, compared to most businesses. So, I would say don’t worry about being on every site. And, the big hump that most businesses need to get over is just jumping in. You know, I talk to people all the time that say “I’ve been thinking about starting a Twitter account for 6 months” or “I started a Twitter account but I was too scared to say anything, because I didn’t know what to say”.
You know, you can check out my site and my blog and there are lots of other amazing blogs with good advice about social media. But, the most important part is, like we were saying, just having that courage to reach out and talk to people and ask. And, on a tool like Twitter, I always tell people, you don’t have to know what to say, just respond to other people. People feel all this pressure about what should I tweet? It has to be really smart and it has to be really impressive. Don’t worry about it, just respond to what other people are saying. You are just making conversation, it doesn’t have to be profound, it doesn’t have to be amazing. It can be “Cool link, thanks for sharing that”. It’s a totally valid thing to say to someone on Twitter. That’s how those relationships are formed.
So, my biggest advice is just jump in and give it a shot.
Trevor: That’s great advice, and I think to add to that, when people are first starting on Twitter, I know for myself I started sharing other people’s content. That’s how I got involved. Instead of trying to think about what the heck I’m actually going to say, just start following people that are of interest to you, that you value what they have to say and the info they are providing and share it with your network. You will just naturally see it start to grow from there and the relationships start.
Connect With Laura Roeder
Current Occupation: Social Media Marketing Expert
Laura’s Website: http://www.socialconnectblueprint.com/Laura-Roeder-Home
Laura’s Blog: http://www.socialconnectblueprint.com/Laura-Roeder-Blog
Laura’s Newsletter: http://www.socialconnectblueprint.com/Laura-Roeder-Dash
Your Backstage Pass to Twitter: http://www.socialconnectblueprint.com/Laura-Roeder-Twitter
Zero to Site: http://www.socialconnectblueprint.com/Laura-Roeder-Zero-To-Site
Creating Fame Classroom: http://www.socialconnectblueprint.com/Laura-Roeder-Creating-Fame