This week’s interview is Morgan Barnhart who hails from Oregon, but became a Texas gal. She is a small business social media consultant and owns Social Boost, a company dedicated to giving small businesses the tools they need to be successful in today’s online community. And on August 28th, she released her first eBook, “How to manage your online reputation” available on Amazon.
Miss Barnhart is passionate about social media, helping small businesses succeed and staying abreast of everything related to communication. Let’s check out what she has to say about managing her own business, online reputations and living in Texas.
Tell us about yourself, Morgan – what brought you to Texas?
Originally I am from Oregon, but moved to San Antonio, TX back in 2008. I love my Oregon home town, but needed a change. San Antonio has definitely given me the change and inspiration I needed to get my business thriving.
How long have you been working in social media?
I’ve been involved in communicating online and building websites and communities for the past 12 years. About 3-5 years ago, I started helping businesses and individuals with their social media needs when I saw a real need for it.
Where did your interest in social media originate?
Honestly, I just fell into it. I was really passionate about it as a hobby in high school, so I decided to get online, meet other people and build my own community. And in turn, I became the go-to gal when it came to the hobby I loved so much. I didn’t know it was ‘internet marketing’, it was just doing what I loved most and building a community around it. I quickly learned that is what social media is all about.
What is it like to have your own social media business, Sociable Boost?
It is really time consuming. I love it, though! I meet great people, online and off, and have fun doing something I’m passionate about, while teaching people at the same time.
How did you adapt to working for yourself? Do you have any advice for fellow entrepreneurs?
It’s been tough – I am the worst procrastinator. I have goals, aspirations and eBooks to write, but for some reason, I put them off. And it’s usually to chat on Twitter, Facebook or a forum somewhere. In theory, it is what I am supposed to do, but I also have a business to run.
One piece of advice: Set timers! I set timers on my phone and calendar, and it helps me remember what I’m supposed to be doing and reminds me to get to work. Music also works to get me motivated. So find what motivates you and stick to it!
Why did you choose small businesses as your target audience?
I’ve worked with all sizes of businesses, but small businesses are my absolute favorite because they’re hungry for an audience and willing to do what it takes to build that audience. Businesses are not social by nature, so social media is a very foreign concept. They look for the sale, not for the conversation. But there’s been a shift over the past 10 years where customers want more out of the businesses they purchase from – they want a real connection and to know it’s not just about the sale.
What social media/marketing tools do you rely on the most with managing your clients?
I use Google Calendar (for setting a social media schedule), Seesmic Desktop (to communicate through Twitter), Camtasia (to create video tutorials), Dropbox (for sending files) and Gmail (for general communication).
How do you set yourself apart from other social media professionals?
I don’t discuss ROI with clients until we’ve been at it for at least 6 months, sometimes more. We talk about how to build, listen and talk to their community first and foremost. ROI occurs when people realize they can trust the business. I have one client who does not ever ask for a sale. We talk about and introduce products in a creative way, but in general, we talk more about everything surrounding the purpose of the business. And because of that, people trust and love the company and are happy to buy the products.
You just released an eBook titled, “How to manage your online reputation.” Why did you choose this subject specifically?
I felt it would be a great topic to write about because a lot of businesses don’t even know they should be managing their reputation online. Not only that, they don’t even know how to go about it. When I sent the eBook out to beta readers (some of whom are marketers), they said it brought a lot of insight into what tools to use and how to manage the time to use those tools.
Your book offers a lot of information on reputation management tools – do you have a favorite?
I love Google Alerts. I don’t recommend using all of the tools suggested, but choosing which will offer the best results. For me, Google Alerts and Twitter Search give excellent results.
How do you stay up on the newest tools?
You know, unless the tool is reinventing the wheel, I stick with the good ol’ fashioned ones. I hear about new tools through sites like TechCrunch and other various sources, but rarely try them out unless I see something unique about it.
What is your advice on how often a business owner should monitor their reputation online?
Schedule a time to do it and then actually do it! It can take some effort to get into a new schedule, but if being online is important, you must make the time (even if it’s 10 minutes a week) to monitor who’s talking about you.
What is the one thing you wish you could tell every small business owner about social media?
Find the time to incorporate daily communication within your audience! Even if it’s for 10-30 minutes a day – that’s better than nothing.
Why can’t people live without, “How to manage your online reputation?”
This eBook is filled with useful, straight forward information anyone can read within 30 minutes, max. It’s short but will benefit any business if the information is followed. Since we are all busy people, I write without the fluff so a small business owner can begin implementing it right away.
Many thanks to Morgan for being a great interview.