Learn Why Your Social Media Content Strategy Isn’t Working
Interview with Social Media Strategist, Sarah Olea

Sarah Olea

Sarah Olea has had the opportunity of working in customer service, sales, public relations, and marketing. With my experience in these different fields, I have created a marketing agency that encompasses all these areas. I have had the pleasure of working with a variety of clients and help ignite the careers of artists, authors, medical professions, and more. I have worked with small to large brands and have executed creative marketing campaigns to capture engaged audiences.

I have a passion for building Social Media strategies and growing my clients’ following. I love collaborating with my team and clients to create engaging viral content. I am a fact-checker and google is my best friend.


Read the Interview Transcript

Hugh Ballou: Greetings, welcome to The Nonprofit Exchange. Today we have on the show Sarah Olea. Sarah, tell us a little bit about yourself and why you do this kind of work.

Sarah Olea: Thank you so much, Hugh. As much as I love the internet and social media of course, there are some glitches. Sometimes my internet can be spotty. One of my four dogs is behind me, so if you hear some barking, I promise you it’s not me.

That’s one thing I love about social media. You get to be social. You meet so many different people, so many walks of life, different journeys. That’s really what got me here. I remember as a young teenager throwing parties and events, and I loved to be social and meet new people. Then it moved into management. I loved to manage and build teams. Then I got into PR because I love to talk. I love to talk about people and edify people. It turned into PR. Quickly, I realized that my experience in sales and marketing and PR all came together where I was results-driven and people-driven. That is where social media landed right in my lap.

Five years ago, my business partner and I started Social Light. It has been one crazy, fun, exciting ride. I will tell you the reason I do it the most is not only do I get to connect with my clients, but I get to connect with my client’s clients and audiences. It’s amazing what you can do with a social media platform. There are so many times where I redirect messages from my clients’ pages where someone says, “I heard your song, and it stopped me from committing suicide.” “Hey, I saw this recipe you posted about helping with diabetes, and I am off my medication.” This is all from experts sharing their knowledge with the world and impacting people. I get to do that every day.

Hugh: You make everything fun. This sounds so much more fun. There is a mystery to this. I never thought about social media being a PR function, but it is. Social media is social. Even people who are not extroverts like us can be social on social media. What’s it about? Is it about sending out a message and wondering if people will respond? What is the angle that makes it work?

Sarah: That’s such a great question. It’s authenticity. When you come out as authentic, people resonate with that. They know, “This person is really being them, and that feels like me.” That’s where you get to connect with people. Yes, social media is social, but you don’t have to be an extrovert. I know so many introverts doing well on social media. They are not filming videos or posting selfies; they are just putting out information. They are doing smart things. They are looking at what are the questions that people are asking.

Hugh, you and I talked about this. What do people ask about social media? If you can think about that, put yourself in the shoes of your audience. What do they want to know? What are they asking every day? What are they seeking? You get to look at that information and write the response for it. It’s so cool.

You said it’s a marketing tool, an awareness tool. There are so many ways to use social media. It just becomes part of your day. If you think about social media as, “I get to be on there” instead of “I need to be on there,” if you look at it as, “I don’t have to post every day. I get to post when I want to, when I feel like it’s the best,” when you have the approach of “Let me test and try and be authentic and put out stuff I know people are searching for and I have the answers,” it makes the pressure of, “I need to post every day at 9:00 and 12:00” away and allows you to be a little more you, more flexible, and a lot less stressed.

Hugh: Sarah, I see a lot of people doing things that are about them. I see a lot of what I think is an improper use of the platform. I don’t care what platform it is; there is improper use of it. We will talk later about what platform would be better for what kind of messaging. But if we are just talking about us, come try this, what is the result of that without any reciprocal conversation or relationship-building?

Sarah: The interesting thing is I see a lot of people talking about themselves, too. I have a lot of conversations with people that say, “How do I get me out there?” There is nothing wrong with that. But when people are looking for answers, it’s not always found in the person, but in the person’s journey or what they are sharing.

When I talk to my clients about social media, I always want to bridge a gap. You have a podcast; there are listeners. What has to happen in between for the listeners to reach your podcast and subscribe? Same thing with blogs. When we think about showing up on social media, the first thing is what is it you want people to know about you? What do you want people to know about your journey, services, and offers? Create those bridges. There is a sense of solution-providing, which is what people are looking for. Everyone is looking for a solution right now. Even if it’s entertainment, there is a solution for that, a platform for that. I will definitely say we can’t make it all about us, but we do have the opportunity to be in the equation, of course. For example, if I am an influencer and want to talk about mental health awareness, I can talk about my journey and experience. But I should also look at what are people searching? What are people looking for? Provide that solution for them.

Hugh: SocialLightLLC is an impressive site. I was saying there is a PR function to social media. There is also a marketing function and a relationship-building function. It all comes under this big umbrella of communications. Like leadership, people have different ideas, but that is a very misunderstood word. People say, “We don’t communicate,” but there are a lot of pieces to that, one of which is building relationships. People care about what you’re saying.

Sarah: Rapport is so important. I’ve known that, but I’m learning even more now. When you have rapport with someone, you can communicate on a different level. There is trust and value there. That is when you can have a great conversation. How do you get rapport with followers? How do you get rapport with tens of thousands of people, if that’s who you are in front of? That is where showing up authentically with solutions, with advice, with your expertise, that helps to build rapport. Just like you said, social media has so many different facets. We haven’t even started talking about the actual platforms themselves.

We are just talking about the idea of social media. When you start to talk about the individual platforms, how you build rapport and communicate with people on those platforms also changes based on how our mind is working while we’re on those platforms. There is definitely a science behind social media just like how there is a science behind all the different marketing tools.

Social media is a great place to build your brand awareness and your voice, and it is a great place to market your brand because there are several opportunities for calls to action. My team will always tell you that every caption has to have a call to action, even if it’s just drop a comment, like my page, click this link to learn more, download my free e-book. There are so many choices, and every time you post, you should offer one.

Hugh: Every time you post, you should offer a call to action.

Sarah: Absolutely.

Hugh: Give us an example. I find that is lacking severely in most every presentation I see.  A very clear call to action. People want to know what to do.

Sarah: People want to be told what to do more than we think they do. We want to know what to do with the information you’re giving us. Here’s the thing. It doesn’t matter what your brand is. It doesn’t matter what you’re promoting. We should always ask someone to partake in it.

For example, if I am on YouTube right now and go to any channel, 90% of the time, they are going to ask you to like and subscribe. As an avid YouTube watcher, that’s what I do. If I like the content and they have asked me, I will subscribe. Most of the time, we don’t get something because we haven’t asked for it. In a call to action, that’s what you want to think about. What do I want to ask people for today? I am giving you something, and I want to ask for something in return. For example, if you are putting out a recipe, you can simply ask, “Share this to your friend you think would really enjoy this.” Share this to a vegan.” “Share this to your favorite meat-eater.” You are asking them to do a simple share. When you read that, you think, “Oh yeah, I do have that friend who is a vegan who might like these cupcakes.” “Oh, their son is looking for a private school right now.” Just by asking, it allows the reader to take initiative on your post.

Here is the cool thing. That is the communication and the rapport part, the PR and the marketing part. There is also an algorithm part. If Facebook or Instagram sees that someone has taken an initiative on your post, by liking or commenting on or sharing it, Facebook sees, “People are interested in this post, so we should show it to more people because we want to keep more people on our platform.” For showing this content to more people, more people will stay on the platform. It rewards the user and the technology behind it.

Hugh: I never knew that. There is a subtlety to the language that you use that I would like to highlight here. If I want to bake a cake and share it with my wife, you use “share to”. It’s a function that you share to someone. That is a very important distinction in social media, especially with Facebook and the share function. It’s a promotion of sorts.

A lot of us say, “I don’t want to toot my own horn.” You have to toot your own horn. Nobody else will.

Sarah: Edify yourself. There is nothing wrong with saying, “I am great at this, and this is why. I have seen the success and want to share it with you.” There is no problem with that. Obviously, if there is a little ego behind it, people are going to read that. You want to put that aside. Having confidence in what you do and what you offer, that is the whole reason you’re doing it.

If you’re working for a nonprofit, same thing. “We are providing this service, and it’s helped tens of thousands of people, or 15 people.” That alone speaks volumes. This has helped people, and it can help you, too. That’s a great thing to say.

Hugh: We have a group of students watching you who are in a communications class, and we are likely going to entertain some questions from them under the topic of communication. One of the great speakers George Bernard Shaw said, “The biggest misunderstanding about communication is that it actually occurred.” We can send messages out. This being active, being transparent, having conversations, being social is a big part of communication. You alluded to it a few times.

Let’s get to it. I’m not a fan of Facebook. I don’t really get it. But I get Twitter and LinkedIn. I don’t get Instagram. I use some bookmarking sites and microblogs like Tumblr and some of those to have it out there as more presence. People have more than one platform that they look at. Different combinations. Sort out the multiple platforms available. Suppose we have some platform but not really a robust one. Do we need a business platform or a platform for our nonprofit in addition to the personal one? Talk about the different platforms and how you show up.

Sarah: I want to start where you started. The different platforms you are on. Hugh, my question for you is are you your own customer? When you look at your customer, do you see yourself in the audience as well?

Hugh: I never thought of that. Duh.

Sarah: I would say yes because you’ve run nonprofits, you help nonprofits, and you have a business that supports nonprofits. It’s natural that you are gravitating toward those platforms because that is where you live and thrive, and that is where your audience lives and thrives. I get the question so often, “Do I need to be on everything?” There is a million ways to slice this, so let’s dive into that.

You should have a presence, as in own the username on every platform. The way technology changes, you never know if Facebook will end up launching this new LinkedIn part of it, and the next thing you know, that is the platform to be on. So you at least want to own your name there. You want to own your personal name, your business name, and your nonprofit name.

Where you are going to spend your time is where your audience is. Facebook pages, personal and business, are very different from Facebook groups. I like to push nonprofits, businesses, and communities, if you feel like your business is a community, the place to be is Facebook groups. That is where you want to spend the time. It’s like a personal page with a business feel. You can add rules, pin things, have different events. Facebook Groups, be they private or public, is where you want to spend your time as a business.

For all of the other platforms, Pinterest, Twitter, TikTok, it just comes down to where your audience lives. Are you willing to experiment? I remember when TikTok came out, and I said, “I’m not creating a TikTok. 13-year-olds are dancing on there. I don’t belong on that platform. “I told myself that for a while. I even remember when quarantine hit, and I said, “I’m not dancing on TikTok.” I saw all my friends getting on there with their friends, kids, and dogs and making videos. All of a sudden, I realized everyone is on TikTok. The audience is getting older and older. Plus their algorithm is genius. It will put the right content in front of the right people because it wants to keep you on the platform.

The rule of thumb is to own your business name and your personal name on every social media site so you have it. just in case. Find the platforms where your audience is. Build your audience there first so you can gravitate to your audience, customers, and clients. Start building your ROI.  Then experiment on the other ones.

I remember I never experimented with Pinterest. I spent a lot of time on Pinterest. I loved getting inspired, finding different quotes and nail ideas. You name it, I was finding it on Pinterest. When I started to work with more holistic and wellness businesses, folks putting out designs and creating stuff like that, moving away from the entertainment side, I realized, “Hmm, Pinterest is the platform to experiment on.” I’ve had clients who have hit thousands of impressions. They are averaging around 400,000 impressions a month on Pinterest alone. It’s a great place to drive traffic from one platform to any call to action: website, blog, podcast, you name it.

Hugh: There is a lot of noise. A lot of people are expressing opinions about certain things today. I don’t want to get sucked into that fray of the elevated anxiety because it just makes me angry. I don’t think anybody holds all the secrets to any topic. It’s good to hear contrasting points of view. Cutting through the noise, I have tried as a lame nonprofessional in social media posting and hoping people see it about events. I have also tried running some Facebook ads, and I don’t think they have gained much traction. I’m not sure who sees my posts. I’m not sure if the algorithms are disfavoring or favoring me. I’m not sure how to measure that.

Sarah: They favor your content based on how many people are interacting with it. They make little tests and are the rule of thumb. When I say “they,” I mean the science and technology behind a platform. Let’s take a selfie light for example. This selfie light pops up on my feed. I have the opportunity to continue to swipe past it, like it, share it, etc. If I don’t do anything and swipe by, they see that. If five more people swipe by, they see that. Facebook or Instagram says, “This content is not interesting. We’re not going to show it to more people because they’re not interested in it.” If I liked it, and then shared it, then saved it, and the next person liked and saved it, and then the next person liked it and shared it, now Facebook is saying, “Wait a minute. People like this content. I need to show more people this content.”

The question is how do I get those five, six, seven, 100 people who first land on my content to do something? That is where the call to action comes into play, and asking. So many times, I create graphics. At the bottom of the graphic, I will include an arrow that says, “Like” right here, “Save” right here, and “Share” right here. It gives you something to do. That works better on Instagram than it does on Facebook.

On Facebook, just ask someone to leave a comment. Ask a question. That’s my #1 hack. Ask a question that encourages the user to leave a comment. When they leave a comment, it notifies their other followers that they are engaging in this. The algorithm is somewhat hacked. For example, if you’re posting an event, maybe you ask a question of, “What are you doing on Friday night? Tell me your plans. This is what I’m doing.” People might say, “I’m ordering a pizza. I’m watching a movie.” It’s completely unrelated to your event, but it is driving traffic to that post, where more of your followers who may be interested in your event will see it. This is the same thing on Instagram. It doesn’t work so well on Pinterest, but it does on YouTube.

Here is the other thing. If you’re not interacting, why would other people interact with you? This is one thing I have learned from my friends. If I am not going to drive out to their birthday parties and baby showers, how am I supposed to expect them to come to mine? It’s the same concept on social media.

There is a nice trick that my team does that I love. It’s another hack. What we do is before we post for our clients, we engage for 30 minutes. I post some stories, like some posts, respond to some comments, look up some of the hashtags, interact with those. I am active for about 30 minutes. Then we put out the post. Then I am active for another 30 minutes. We call this the power hour. You can also do this for 30 minutes. 15 minutes before you post and 15 minutes after you post. What it does is you are engaging with people, which is telling Facebook and Instagram you are active. Then those people who you have just rewarded by engaging with their content are saying, “Hugh just popped up on my timeline.” Or, “Hugh just commented on my post. I will comment back.” Instagram will say, “These two people know each other, so I am going to share to them their content.” Now you are showing up on their feed naturally just because you engaged with them. There is a little bit of you reap what you sow going on in the social media algorithms as well.

Hugh: How would someone know that? You have a blog and post and do social media stuff and tell people this stuff.

Sarah: I am in a large community of other social media managers and agency owners. We always chat about this stuff. We test it. My team likes to call ourselves glorified fact checkers. Google is our friend, and we love to be myth busters. We will see something that says, “This girl is getting a ton of views saying this works, so let’s try it,” and it doesn’t work. Or we try it and it works. When it works, we implement it. I never like to call myself a social media expert because things change so rapidly that if I don’t stay on top of it, I can lose that expert title because what I am using is old and they are not current algorithm hacks or tricks. We have to stay on top of it.

Just in my phone, I have my team chat here. But then we also have this little bomb there. That is just for social media hacks. Even at 1am, someone will be watching a YouTube video and send it into the chat. We’ll all watch it and start to debunk it or figure out if it works by testing it on our clients’ pages.

Hugh: That’s fascinating. It’s like the world in general. It’s changing. Why do you watch the Weather Channel? Because it’s always changing.

Sarah: I love that.

Hugh: It’s always changing. It might not be the same as it was. About nine months ago, I was getting 20,000 visits a month for my SynerVision website. One day, Google changed their algorithm, and it went down to 8,000. Significant difference. The algorithm makes what people are looking at and for. You have opened up a whole new topic of you get what you give. If you are out there and active, you gotta go to the baby showers and birthday parties if you want people to reciprocate. That includes social media itself. The technology, and algorithm and automated stuff. What is scary is when you are on there and look for something, all of a sudden, you see a bunch of ads. They pay attention to what you’re doing.

Sarah: It’s quite scary. I get that all the time. Since we run over 80 pages in our agency, we get a lot of different things. I am searching recipes for clients, essential oils, baby formula. Facebook thinks I’m a holistic social media entrepreneur, mother, dog lover. They put all this stuff in there. Half of it is not me; it’s my clients. They are actively searching for a way to get in front of people and get the right content in front of people. If you are talking about a topic a lot, you are going to start seeing it on your social media because social listening is happening.

Hugh: That’s fascinating. They are paying attention.

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We talked about the character of platforms and how they are a fit or not. I have 250,000 followers on multiple platforms. The majority of that was on four Twitter accounts for different niches. My main account @HughBallou, I have lost a lot of people who followed me that Twitter didn’t like, so I have lost 60,000 followers in the last year. Twitter cleans up. There is a distinctive character for Twitter. It becomes volatile if there is something happening in the political arena. It has a 20-second shelf life. They look at it and respond to it. I have met some incredible people on Twitter and made some incredible connections. It has come up as an anchor.

LinkedIn is the next anchor, but there are a lot of people shoving things they buy down people’s throats. I don’t even know who they are. It’s zap, zap, zap. People misuse it a lot.

There are different characters to different platforms. If I was just starting to develop a social media strategy, how do you sort out which one to start out with?

Sarah: We will revisit some things we said a while ago. Have your name on all the platforms. When I say all the platforms, I mean the bigger ones like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Twitter, TikTok. There are some other platforms popping up. There is Clubhouse and others. Start there as well. I have had great success getting active.

When we think about those different platforms, we think about the analytics behind those platforms. What are the age groups on there? How do people digest content? If you are someone who is going to create longform content like docuseries, videos, clearly YouTube is where you need to be. That needs to be a focus. Put the videos there. Optimize them. That is where people want to see 15-minute, hour-long videos. I have tons of podcasts I listen to on YouTube. That is a great place to share longform content.

You can then repost that same longform content on your Facebook page or group and your Instagram. Instagram allows up to 15 or 30 minutes on IGTV. It’s their version of YouTube.

If you are someone who is sharing short motivational speeches or quick content, TikTok and Instagram are great places to be. When people indulge in those two platforms, they are typically looking to be inspired or entertained quickly. They want quick updates. They are swiping by quickly. Not a lot of longform content going on there. There are niches that do have longer, more informative posts. That is a particular audience. Definitely want to focus on those platforms for those specific reasons.

When you think quick updates, 150 characters, you just want to say a comment, maybe you’re commenting on a show while you are watching it. Twitter is the place to do that. Twitter is a sound board. Just say it and leave it. You won’t know what happens there. We don’t grow Twitter accounts. We don’t have methods for hacks. We just use it for cross-marketing. We will tweet out a motivational quote or a quote from a podcast. We will screen shot that, turn that into a graphic, and post that graphic on Facebook and Instagram.

There are great ways to use your content that you put out. Regardless of the platform, you can repurpose on other platforms. It’s important to understand how are people digesting content on that platform? If you’re on Facebook, you think family, connection, friends. It’s more of where you get to be you. You don’t care if you get 100 or 500 likes. You just want to update people with what’s going on in your life. Business pages are similar. It has that community feel.

Instagram is where it’s almost like there is more selfies. People want to see what happened in the last 24 hours. You keep up with people there. The mindset on Instagram is different than when you’re on Facebook. When you are creating or posting content, creating our brand and marketing strategy, you always want to consider what is the type of content I am putting out? Where am I putting it? Then repurpose it on the other platforms.

While you are thinking about repurposing it, keep in mind as to how people digest content when they are on that platform. Where is our mind when we are on Twitter? It’s those quick updates. TikTok? Quick entertainment. Facebook? Connections, information.

When you think about how the platform works, think about yourself. What do you do on those platforms? Create the content to apply to that audience. It will encourage them to engage. That’s what you want to keep in mind.

Hugh: Encourage them to engage. SocialLightLLC.com is the website for Social Light. It’s a brilliantly designed website. You practice what you preach. You create high-quality content. When they go there, will they learn about different platforms? Or what will they learn?

Sarah: We have an amazing blog. This is an opportunity for a shameless plug. My business partner is an incredible writer. We also have an amazing content writer who helps with those blogs. We share everything. What’s it like to become an influencer? What are things to stay away from? What are the newest trends? Every year, we list some projections and forecast what we think is going to happen. We have a blog that typically comes out every week. Sometimes we will wait a week if we have a really big one coming up or a series coming out.

The blog has tons of helpful, free information, and we keep it current. If we write an article where some of the information on there is dated, we will redo the article and repost it with new information. You are not searching something and reading it, thinking, “This is so helpful. I love all this information.” You spent 30 minutes reading and digesting this article. It was written in 2016, and none of this applies to 2021. We make sure that everything we’re posting is current data, current things we are testing.

One time, I remember reading a blog and talking to my team, thinking, “This is an older blog. We don’t do this anymore.” That’s what made me realize that we need to stay on top of it and share what we’re learning as we’re learning it because it’s always changing and evolving.

Hugh: You show up as someone who is a serious student of social media because it’s changing all the time. I like to show up as a student of leadership. I have made enough mistakes that I ought to be an expert. My world is changing, but not as fast as social media. The blog is free, and you get the latest tips from Sarah and her team.

Let’s talk about some business principles. You have a team. I’m quite amazed by your team. I don’t know why because you attract high-quality people. You have a really on point strategy. This is a learning time for nonprofit leaders who want to do it all. No, you just need to possess the vision, get the team together, and guide the process. You happen to be a subject matter expert, but how many people do you have on your team right now?

Sarah: We’re either 12 or 13. It goes back and forth. We also have two interns popping up. At our highest, we will be around 18. Sometimes we have seasonal projects, so I will bring on videographers and editors. Our core team of managers is myself; my business partner Malena; our project manager Allese; Bethany, who is in client relations and account management; and Julia, Karina, and Steven. That is our core. Our clients meet them. Underneath them, they have awesome content creators, graphic designers, more account managers, assistants, and an intern program underneath them.

Hugh: This is a definitive moment. You have a team for a very good reason. People on your team know things you don’t know about how to do things. What would you say to a nonprofit leader about how important it is to have skilled people on your team and be very clear about where you want to go with that team?

Sarah: Hugh, you said earlier that you made so many mistakes that you should be an expert in it. I have made similar mistakes in even just hiring people. Today, just this morning, I had a call with one of my account managers. I had this epiphany, this revelation of a new way to run the business. I’ll share it with you because I think it is so perfect for this moment.

I was talking to her, and I realized everyone on my team thinks and learns and teaches a little different. That’s what I love about my team. Everyone is so different. When we have a client, they think and talk and communicate and learn different ways. Before, I used to have this account manager work with all the artists, and this one will work with the holistic brands because it’s in the same niche. It’s changed over the last several months. This account manager communicates extremely well, overcommunicates, writes perfect emails, has processes in place. I am going to match her with a client with the same types of programming, learning styles. If I have someone who is more visual, they like to talk and get on the phone and collaborate, I am going to connect them with the client for that.

The key is not just to hire the right people; it’s to hire the right people and put them in the right position. If you hire the right person and put them in the wrong position, you will think you hired the wrong person. If you hired the wrong person, that’s different. Sometimes you can’t hire the wrong person. You find where their skillset is and put them there. I get to be a little more flexible on social media of course. Some people are creative, so I put them in the creative space. Some people are more analytical, so I put them in an analytical space. Not every nonprofit has that opportunity. If you hire someone in the right position, you will see a lot of success from them.

Hugh: I know the class in Dallas taught by Bob Hopkins has been thinking of hard questions to stump you. Before that, let’s do a case study as Hugh Ballou and The Nonprofit Exchange. We are streaming this live on Facebook. As you are talking about this, I’m thinking we should maybe be streaming it live on YouTube. I do put the edited version on YouTube. The live piece is on Facebook. It’s not on Hugh Ballou; it’s on SynerVision Leadership Foundation’s business page. I have this good content with smart people. How do I expand the reach of this? You talked about hashtags and different promotional methods. Somebody has something they do with a live stream. They want to get some traction around it. Where do we start? How do we get some traction?

Sarah: That’s such a great question. I love taking one piece of content and using it for multiple purposes. If you are streaming on Facebook and have a recording, I would definitely stream to YouTube as well. Then you put an edited version. You have a live and upload an edited version. By the way, YouTube loves this. The more content you are uploading, the more consistent you are with uploading content, they reward you for that.

Then the next step to go further would be to take the key points out. You asked the question. I answered the question. You snip that into a one- or two-minute video. The YouTube video is that question. How to stay relevant? How to repurpose your content? How to know what platforms you’re on? It’s just that slice of information. One person who is a big podcaster and does this well is Joe Rogan. We will give his team credit. He has his podcast. Then he slices that bad boy into 50 pieces of content. This video could in turn land on all your social media platforms exactly for that audience.

Hugh: One more thing. Hashtags. I know how they work on Twitter. I mastered how to find them. I don’t know how they work on any other platform. You can use them on LinkedIn and Facebook, but do they work across platforms? Are they as effective on every platform?

Sarah: They are not as effective on Facebook as they are Instagram and Twitter. YouTube has its own place to insert tags. We have tons of blogs on hashtags, and we are writing a new one on a new tool we just found that we are using for our clients that we love.

There are three key things to remember. One is you want to have branded hashtags, which is #SynerVision or #TeamSocialLight.

The second one is a niche hashtag, #nonprofitsupport or #socialmediamarketing. They should be smaller, like 10,000 or 20,000 or 50,000. Not these mega ones because you won’t show up there.

Then you can add some of the bigger ones that are relative to that piece of content. If it’s a dog, #dogsofinstagram or #puppylove.

If you think of three categories when you are posting your hashtags, one of them will perform for you. You have your brand-specific ones, your little niche ones, and your mega hashtags that are relatable to the post.

Hugh: Let’s see if we have any folks who want to share some questions with us. Bob Hopkins is a good friend and thought leader. Bob, you’re with your class today. Do y’all have any questions for Sarah?

Bob Hopkins: Yes, we have a lot of them. Thank you very much for letting us be here today. By the way, Hugh, I am not in Dallas. We are in Collin County, which is Plano.

Hugh: Okay.

Bob: We need to give credit to where credit is due. Thank you for being here. I would like to know first of all what about age-appropriate? I tell you that because we have a student today who is 11 years old who happens to be a daughter. We have parents here who have younger kids, too. What does age-appropriate mean about Facebook and social media? What would you advise adults and children about these platforms?

Sarah: That’s such a great question. There is a good thing to do. Start with reading the rules. There are a lot of platforms where if you are 11 years old, you shouldn’t have an account. I believe it’s 12 or 13. That is one thing to keep in mind.

The other thing is that if you are posting adult content, and when I say adult content, I mean content that is for users 18 and over in the sense that it’s graphic. Maybe it’s a surgery being performed, maybe it’s a motivational speaker with a few cuss words. It’s good to make sure you have included that in the caption somewhere. Maybe it’s “some explicit language is used here.” Facebook and Instagram do a good job of putting a filter on it that says, “This is explicit content.” By explicit, I mean surgeries and things. I keep bringing that up because I am a fan of Dr. Pimple Popper. She pops cysts and pimples. There is always this thing that says, “This is graphic.” It’s good for you to know what you’re entering into. I also follow a lot of chiropractic pages. They will have a warning, “Don’t try this at home.”

When you think about creating content that may not be for children or creating content that is for children, there are ways to add in descriptions or key words to notify people on that.

On the other hand, if you are on the other end and want to keep your child safe, there are tons of privacy settings on there. Go through the settings. Find out what you want there. YouTube has the ability to mark something as 18 or over, or this is made for children. You want to make sure that you use those tools when you are a content provider.

If you are on the other end as a user and just want to keep your children safe, go through the guidelines. There are tons of things set up to protect our children. Things will get out. They are going to see things in the world of social media. It happens. It’s something I deal with with my team all the time. There is no perfect solution for it. But if you read the guidelines and look at some of the privacy settings, that is a best way to keep an audience safe and be a content provider that lets people know what they are going to see on your page. I hope that answered your question.

Bob: That’s great. We have another question here. This is McKenna, a student, who asks a good question every week.

McKenna: Howdy. With social media’s newer censorship and actions of distancing posts further down the timeline if they have opposing agendas compared to the political and general platform’s agendas themselves, how can people be genuine influencers with this resistance?

Sarah: That’s such a good question. We deal with this a lot. It comes down to your community. Look at the different platforms popping up right now. There is a man named Dave Rubin who has the Rubin Report on Locals. There are platforms that are safe places to have communities where you don’t have to worry about censorship.

I will say this. America is divided in how we think about this. Facebook is being pressured to serve everyone. Right now, what we just went through with politics, the elections, post-election, there was a lot of censorship happening. There is less censorship now because there is tons of pushback happening. Right before we went live, I was talking to Hugh about Faith.Facebook.com. They are being pressured by people of faith to create a safe place for us to have a voice, too. Same thing with politics. If you go to Faith.Facebook.com, you can read more about the tools and services you can utilize on Facebook. There are also community groups where you set your own rules.

The reality is that someone else owns Facebook. We don’t really own our content. When you post it, you don’t own it. Facebook at any time can take us down. That’s why it’s important to create email lists, your own website, your own blog. Look at platforms like Locals where they are not treating people that way. On Facebook, you weed through it. it’s difficult.

Every day, I am challenged with that with some of our clients. It’s something we are going to learn. A lot of people are boycotting Facebook. I was upset, and my whole business is around social media, so I have had to come up with creative ways to do it. Community groups are safe. You set the rules. Facebook is less involved.

Also, don’t be afraid to apply pressure. When you get something censored on your page, there is an Appeal button. Take the opportunity to appeal. If you look up on YouTube “I’m suing Facebook,” you can see the people who are standing up and saying, “This is not right. This is taking away our freedom of speech.” There are communities finding different resources. I am not an expert in these things coming up, but I am staying on top of it as much as I can. Faith.Facebook.com is a new one that has popped up.

Hugh: Bob, let’s have two more short questions.

Bob: This is Tori.

Tori: Hi, Sarah. What are the most important things for someone starting out an online business to include in their social media page? What tips do you have for someone just starting to get their page out there to consumers?

Sarah: Love it. Make it simple. Then short, sweet, and to the point. When you are designing your logo, make your logo and your content as clean and simple as possible. People can learn quicker that way. There is not much clutter. We are talking about the design here.

Then when I say short, sweet, and to the point, when you write your bios on your pages, some of us like to get lengthy and talk about our services and what we love and all of that. The reality is people’s attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. Do bullet points in your bio. Do bullet points in your content. That way, people know right away if they like it or not. If people feel like they are being sold or it takes too much time to digest your content, they are going to wipe right past it. Those are great things to think about right from the beginning of the launch of your brand on social media.

Hugh: Just like in person conversations. Bob, one more.

Bob: This is coming from me. I ask a lot of people after I meet them, and they are in a brand new relationship. They say they met online. What is the best online platform for people to meet the most qualified person for their relationship?

Sarah: LinkedIn pops into my mind first. There is a professional approach there. Facebook community groups. When they say community groups, it really feels like a community. I am a part of a group that has over 500,000 people in it, Women Entrepreneurs Supporting Women Entrepreneurs. I can’t tell you thousands of comments are being written on people’s posts that are asking for help. “Hey, I just started my business. I have no idea if I should form an LLC or a DBA.” Thousands of people will comment. Find community groups for yourself. You will find so many people. I have met so many power partners from joining communities and finding people who are like-minded.

Hugh: Thank you, Bob. J.E. Rash has run Legacy International for 40 years and three other nonprofits down the road in Bedford, Virginia. Quite an amazing operation. We are running short on time, but I wanted to know if you had a comment or quick question.

J.E. Rash: Yes, sir. Thank you. Sarah, nice to meet you. Your enthusiasm is infectious. Your knowledge is comprehensive. I’d like to comment on the use of social media. It’s obvious we use it for transactional reasons for our businesses and nonprofits. We serve people all over the world. Today, I gave a talk to 105 young women in our tech girls program from 16 countries. Of course, we are using social media for transactional reasons. But talk to me if you can about how you look at social media as a modality for social transformation.

Sarah: Good question. I will try to make this short, Hugh. This is the thing to remember the most. There are people searching for the answers that you have. Avoid getting lost in the noise or chatter or communities of people who are not looking for the answer you have. Look for the people who have the questions that you have the answers for.

Think about social impact. What is the impact I want to put out? What do I want to bring awareness to? Who is asking those questions? Find those people. Who are they? When you are writing your captions or descriptions for your channels, make sure to include those questions. When people search on Google or YouTube, they are typing, “How to,” “What to wear if,” “Home remedies.” It’s always searching for the answer for their question. When you are creating your content and brand, always think about who the audience is, who is asking the question to the answers that you have. If you focus on the opposite, what other people are saying that go against it, you are going to spend more time going up against the current than with it.

Hugh: Love it. Thank you. Sarah, what we put out on social media we can take down, but there will be an imprint out there forever. There is a liability when we are looking for a job or applying for a grant. We might have said some things that would upset somebody, so they won’t fund us or hire us. What is your advice about putting filters on what you say?

Sarah: Be very intentional with what you say. Remember that what you say could last forever. Is your future self going to be okay with what you’ve said? Is your future child going to be okay with what you’ve said? Think about it from that perspective. Always think about it from a solution-minded instead of problem-minded. Be intentional.

Hugh: Anyone can whine or complain, but can you come up with something that is hopeful? Let’s think about this. You have given me some new insights on having a conversation with people who are not sitting in the room. If we have learned anything during the pandemic, it’s how to leverage digital communications in a way that we hadn’t really tried much before. Now we know which meetings we can have on Zoom that we didn’t need to have in person, and we have learned how to save time and get rid of some stuff we were doing. You have opened my eyes to new opportunities here. SocialLightLLC.com, you will find a wealth of information. Sarah, there is a Contact Me place on there. If people want to talk to you, they can find you there, right?

Sarah: Absolutely.

Hugh: What is a thought or challenge or idea you want to leave us with today?

Sarah: I challenge all of you to trust yourself. When you are thinking about social media, what are the first things that are popping into your mind? Trust yourself. Avoid trying to be anyone else. Just be yourself.

Hugh: That works well. That’s a good leadership principle. Show up as the leader you are. Authenticity reigns. Sarah, thank you so much.

Sarah: Thank you. I appreciate it.

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