John brings his experience of lead generation, marketing automation, and social media marketing to up Optessa. started out his career with New York, Community Bancorp as a marketing assistant and later worked for iCIMS and Hermetic Solutions Group and Versatile Roles, driving new business and elevating the brand within their respective industries. John holds a bachelor's degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing and advertising from Seton Hall University.
How do you determine the channels where you have a presence online?
So I always start with doing research. I think that there are no shortage of platforms that are available to anyone these days, and there seems to be a new one every week or new features so I think it all starts with doing your research. The other piece that a lot of people forget is that you don't have to be on every single one of them. I don't think anyone really has the time to do this effectively so you have to stick to the channels where you feel you can provide the most value, jump on, and start engaging. For myself, I spend the bulk of my time on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook because that's where most of my customers are, my communities are, individuals within the industries I serve are providing value, or have a robust presence if you will. Once you've actually joined those channels and selected them, you have to start building credibility, you have to start engaging, you have to start providing value and that's another piece where when you're online, it can't always be a sales pitch. I say that a lot in the chats and in the communities I'm a part of. I tend to provide thought leadership pieces, blog posts, reports that I come by that are relevant for my industry, and I have individual look to me and my company to kind of be that soundboard of what's happening or what's trending. Then I let pieces like my website or my social profile do the selling for me, and I make sure that where I drive them gives the opportunity to engage with me, get in contact with me or members of my team so I'm less spending less time selling. So I think once you're on those channels, you have to find your way of providing value without being too salesy. So get your research, don't join every channel, you will not have enough time to have a presence on each of the channels effectively and once you're there, spend a lot of time on they're building credibility, provide value, and don't sell people every minute you're on there. Have a nice balance between the value provide and what you're selling, as well.
Why are online communities vital to the success of a business today?
Communities were what I really started doing back when I was with Hermetic Solutions Group and it was one of those things again, going back to I just said like, I was just doing my research. I had to understand where my buyers were, where my audiences were, and where I can provide the most value and ultimately return to my business. So I started building communities online, and it started with just getting that profile. So when you're looking at Twitter or LinkedIn, specifically, you have the ability to create a profile, add images, add a bio, put links, and start engaging and having people go to these profiles as an extension of your website. So I was building those communities online and then I was struggling with what next? Now what? I'm on there now, how do people find me? I really gravitated towards the online communities and what people were saying about certain topics, topics using different industry hashtags, Twitter chats had been huge, events have been tremendous and always follow the event hashtag. I tended to shy away from what's trending topics, because to me, sometimes it feels like the brand, or the company or the person is trying to stretch their purpose or their tie back to the trending topics so I kind of stay away from those. But going back to online communities, they're vital. I mean, no matter the size of your business, you need to be online, take the COVID-19, take the pandemic out of it. I think even before that, I think there was a shift of going online where more people were looking to online forums, or online channels or social media, where they're getting their news where they were talking with family and friends, where they were doing more of their networking for business, I think it was all gravitating more online. I saw a stat where the adoption of social media in the last year went up over 13%, which is another 490 million people who joined a social network in the last year. Facebook has always been the leader, but there are so many other channels, microchannels that are starting to nip at the heel of Facebook, and they're starting to provide more value to their users because they're starting to do things differently and they're starting to innovate. I think the more that this innovation is happening with these different platforms, I think you're gonna see those numbers of the users online, jump and be consistently growing by 10% year over year. Now the use of the platform's you know, some people are on them very casually, some check it every now and again, but your users like myself use it every day. Every day you can find me either sending out a tweet or a post on LinkedIn or sharing something to Facebook. I'm very active on there and I make sure that I'm engaging with my communities so they know that they can find me, they know if they send me something on one of those channels I'm going to respond, or at least I'm going to see it. As a business you have to embrace the online communities, they're not going away. The tools that are on and available, are only going to get better and I think it is only going to increase in frequency, just look at the start of things like Clubhouse or Twitter spaces and the different stories and fleets and everything else. Every channel seems to be doing very similar things, but you still see pockets where people only still use Twitter, only use LinkedIn, or people will stay with Facebook, and that's fine. But you also get people that are on all of them who share across all the platforms. So I think it's vital that if you have a business, you're trying to sell something, and you're just trying to stay relevant this day and age, you have to be online.
How do you know if things are actually working? Is it just looking at the metrics, or is it engagement? What's your take on that?
I think the piece of it when you're doing your community and I would you just said him on touch upon is there's a lot of negativity on the social platforms and it's a lot of what people see is that people just go on it and use it to complain. I think if you're a business and a customer tries reaching out, or a potential client tries reaching out and you don't answer them, that's potential money left on the table, you have to be there. You have to understand that if you have a Twitter page or a Twitter profile, and you never check it, but someone that's researching your company is sending you messages or is interacting with you and tagging you in posts and you are dormant, they're not going to engage you and then potentially you can miss out on a business opportunity with them. I would say there's a lot more positive going out on the social platforms, I don't think it's all negative. I think the negative outweighs the positive at times, but I think it quickly snaps back like a rubber band and I think people get back to business, back to what they're doing. But your question related to metrics, and how to measure what to do here. Vanity metrics are good and need to be your obsession when you're first starting out with a new profile. So if you're just starting a new profile, you want to make sure you build a following base, get those subscribers, get that community around you because that bolsters your profile and makes you feel good. When you see those numbers go up, you get those email notifications, and you start seeing the numbers go up, and you're feeling good. You can also look at what I call the thoughtless actions in many metrics. Those are things like people that are doing simple retweets, liking your posts, or simple reactions to your story. There's no real engagement, just minimal, it's almost like the person wants to like acknowledge they saw it. It's good still, but I would rather see the engagement piece of it and I think after some time of you starting to build up your profile and get those numbers and you get a follower base, and I'm not saying you need to get to thousands of followers. It doesn't matter the size of your follower base because as long as they are fans, and they are engaging with you, and you're responding to them, and you're just consistently providing value to him, I think that's enough to say you have a presence online, and when engaging can kind of look like because there are certain people that have 1000s of followers, and they put a post up and they get no interaction, no engagement, there's nothing there. Like I said, sharing it just because this celebrity said it or whatever it is, isn't really engagement. How many times you see celebrities or politicians or anyone really taking the time to really respond to every single thing that person has said, or really going back and liking or doing something that you did. There's no real engagement there. But I really think vanity is good as you start, I think that you need to make sure that you don't see a dip in the vanity metrics. If you start seeing people not following you, or unsubscribing, or if you start posting on a consistent basis, but you're not seeing as many likes or retweets, or you're not seeing those things, you might have to rethink what you're sharing because there could be that idea that your content is getting tired. I'm not saying message fatigue in terms of repetition, because that's almost like repurposing your content. But if you're saying the same thing, if you're sharing the same white paper, like people don't want to see that, they want to see new, they want exciting, they want something that you're providing more value to them. As you are building online communities you get that engagement, you actually start having conversations with people and you have conversations about different topics. If it's a topic about a product or service that you're offering even better because now you're having almost like a sales conversation without even knowing it. So you're just engaging with them, you're going back and forth, they're asking you questions, you're responding. Or you could be responding to a gripe that someone has, or you could be just offering advice. If you can speak about something, you know, I'm in service and if I can help you or if I know a software that can help or I have experience with software, I'm absolutely going to give my two cents about it if someone asks, or they're in a community in which we engage on a consistent basis, because why not? I'm here to help! Everyone should be here to help and, and bring people up instead of tearing them down on the social network. So I think vanity is good to start. I think that you should pay attention to it, focus on it, but then you should quickly look at who is engaging with me? What do they do? What are the topics and subjects that matter to them? Then see where you can take those conversations to either help your business or also help build your credibility as well.
Can you share with our listeners one of your most successful or favorite networking experiences that you've had?
So I love Twitter chats and I think it's an absolutely unbelievable way to network. Usually, the Twitter chats are an hour each week so there's a consistency to it. I think you jump in and you engage, and you learn from others in these Twitter chats in these communities and your network. People are always looking for on social media that return and the return is what you make of it. So you can engage with people, and then you can say, "Okay, I engaged with you for an hour, now I'm going to go away." But recently, I've been taking the conversations a step further and I've reached out to a number of individuals that I've engaged with on a community or Twitter chat for about a couple of months now. I didn't do it after my first time there, but after some time you start providing value, engaging, and getting to know the people, you can research a little bit, you can understand what they're doing, their business is doing, and you learn from them, now it's time to take the conversation to a new level. You have to reach out, you have to network, you have to better understand what all those around are doing, how you can service them, it's pretty much how we connected and why I'm on with you, which is fantastic. You have to step out, you have to take it upon yourself to network and go above and beyond. You'd be surprised that a lot more people are open and receptive to it. People forget that behind the handles online are people and there are people behind the brands. You get to know their names, you can understand who they are. You see a lot of brands and a lot of social media managers now starting to sign their names on tweets and Twitter, for example, because they want to be addressed by name, they don't want to be at x company, they want to be @Lori, or like when I'm tweeting for up Optessa, I always say it's John, or my product manager, Alex will put Alex. There are others that are doing and as well because there's a person behind there. You have to understand who's tweeting because there could be multiple people, there could be different individuals that are taking different stances. There could be a salesperson on the other end, or there could be a social manager on the other end, it could be the CEO. So it's very important when you're networking or when you're online to go and look and see the opportunities that can present themselves with consistent engagement, and don't be afraid to jump in. I would say I've had more conversations with people in the last three months than I have in three years and it was just due to the simple fact that I started to engage with people outside of the normal channel and I use Twitter chats as that gateway. So I'm consistent with a number of them, there are about eight of them that I am a frequent member of the chat there on my Twitter profile. I'm able to speak intelligently about almost everyone that engages so I know about their companies. We've either had side conversations after the chats, or I paid attention and made my own notes about them during the chats. So you had to figure out ways to network and you have to do stuff that's not your norma. It's amazing, but you can still pick up the phone, and still call people and still engage with them or shoot them a text. So there are plenty of ways to network and I think the more people do it, and the more you do it, the more you're going to like. Like I said, in the last three months, I think I've had over a dozen conversations where people on the phone or zoom or whatever it is, that I would not have gotten in front of if I didn't utilize Twitter, and the chats and decided upon myself to say that I'm going to call someone and we're gonna have a conversation. It always comes from a genuine place of I want to learn more about you and I also want to tell you about me.
How do you nurture your network and your community?
I consistently engage especially on Twitter because it's so fast-paced. I think from the Twitter chat in the communities that I'm a part of there are unbelievable opportunities within them to consistently reach out to them. On a weekly basis, you have the chat, but then you're also able to follow them, you're also able to check out their website, or their blog, or the content they're sharing outside of the chat and I make sure I show up. Of course, life happens, and there are things that get in the way and I do miss a couple of chats because there are things that come up outside of my control, but I make sure that if I can be present, I'm present. I network with the teams, I speak with them and it's not all business. People are talking about what's happening in their lives, cool new renovations, or what happened over the weekend, it's beyond the business conversation. It's almost like you nurture it to the point where you become friends, just by your tweets, and you become friends by engaging them enough on social media that you know so much about them. You know so much about people and you haven't even met them before and that's the best thing.
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more or less of or differently with regards to your professional career?
I would definitely say I should have networked more. I spent more time focused on the tasks within the company and didn't dedicate enough time to go into events, or networking efficiently. I also think I would have done a lot more certifications and training as well because that's another huge area where you can network and grow. I've recently done a couple of marketing certifications, and I just learned so much in those times and there is an investment, but at the same time you always have to invest in yourself. So if I had to go back and kick myself when I was 20 I would definitely say, go to that happy hour, or networking event and really start making those connections. As I progressed in my career and changed roles, I've built relationships with the people I worked around, and I've always been able to go back to them and every time I've had the conversations if I was changing a career, or if I needed advice, they were always so happy to provide it. I like to say that to others, as well that if I can help you, or if we've crossed paths, please reach out to me, I'm very open. But yeah, if I had to go back and kick myself at 20, I would definitely say, network, and also spend more time investing in yourself from a certification and training standpoint, because those are the things that people can't take away from you and things that just helped build and bolster your professional profile.
Do you have any final words of advice to offer listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
Do your research and don't try to be everywhere. Like Tic Toc is great, but if you don't have a reason to be on there, please don't. Pick your platform, do your research, and engage meaning you have to be there, you have to be present, you have to engage. I'm very active, like I said on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook every now and again, but you can definitely find me on Twitter. I'm happy to answer any questions, happy to welcome into any communities I'm a part of, I'm also open to introductions into new ones as well. I think providing value, engage with communities you pick, and also taking part in more of what profiles you're sticking with is crucial. I think if you have a presence, be present on that channel and it'll make itself out and I think there'll be a lot of value in the long run for you.
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