8 valuable business lessons I learnt from Ottawa Bossbabes

As I wrap-up the first half of year three in my business, I could not help but to look at some of the lessons I learnt from the bossbabes around me over the last years. Some are doing amazing things and achieving great success. To be honest, this post is more for me, as a reminder to keep doing what I love doing in hopes for this to be my full-time business one day (*plants dream seed).

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Bloggers & Businesses: Why we love brands who engage

I was just in the shower, and of course got inspired to write my next blog post. For the amount of ideas I’ve generated in the shower, it’s worth more than the money we spent renovating it!

Disclaimer: I’d like to say that any time I come up with an idea for a topic that has most likely been covered, I don’t research it first. I want my article to stay original, authentic and true to my personal experiences.

So here goes.

You have to be living under a rock to not have heard that Twitter isn’t doing very well. The word on the street is that over the past years, although the platform hasn’t changed, user habits have. Twitter has become polluted with spam and bot accounts that fill our streams with garbage. Gone are the days of online conversations and true engagement, the cornerstone of social media. And engagement my friends, is threatening to become an endangered species. Now, let’s fix that.

What is engagement

Engagement is an activity on social media, generated by an audience who is paying attention, typically in response to content shared by a business. It can consist of a “like”, “comment” or “share”. This is why businesses need to create valuable content for their community of followers and present it in a way that sparks this conversation (a.k.a engagement).

Engagement is a two-way conversation; it’s one of the greatest benefits of social media. You no longer just post static information on your website for folks to read. You are there to interact and provide the means for your customers to build a relationship with their favorite brand.

The quality of engagement counts, not the quantity

Stop obsessing about the number of followers you have and start connecting with them. You’ll be spinning your wheels if you simply want to reach the masses. Remember, it’s all about your targeted audience, your loyal fans.

If you are analytic, like me, focus on what type of content gets your fans going. Do they like pretty pictures? Maybe they enjoy top secret behind-the-scenes info. Perhaps they want to connect with you on a person level, after you shared a story. Regardless of what you’re selling, tune into the way your customers connect with you.

If you already have a small following, make them feel special. Turn them into a repeat customer, rather than saying “Thanks for your business, but I’d rather make friends with someone who doesn’t care about me”. See how ridiculous that sounds when you put it in real life context?

Be gentle

Engagement can be used to respond to your audience, but it can also be used proactively to create new business. This can get tricky. Think of it as a sales pitch. Always play something in your head before you do it on social media, think about what it looks like if it were a real person. How many times have you received a spam-like message “Great lipstick! You should buy my amazing products (insert business here)”.

Is that what you do in real life? Maybe, but true business relationships start as just that, a relationship. Your goal is to build awareness and trust, you want your audience to like you, not be annoyed of your cheap sales tactics. Make them love you’re brand with minimal effort. Make them think it was their idea to buy your product. They need you, not the other way around. Does Tiffany & Co bombard you with spam? Precisely.

Engagement on social media goes both ways

Regardless if you’re a giant brand with hundreds of thousands of followers, or small mom-and-pop shop with a humble thousand, what truly matters is how you engage with your followers.

Your followers are a community of like-minded individuals that also have the power to connect to one another, online or in real person. A blogger on the other hand, has the capacity to influence not only your followers but the community of followers they have built.

At this point in my blogging career, I’ve had the opportunity to experience a few situations that, for me were missed opportunities for the brand who did not engage.

I understand that small business owners either don’t have the time or the expertise to navigate social media channels, let alone have an engagement strategy in place. So take this free nugget of information, and use it wisely.

The following is my golden list of how to become a kick-ass brand online who nails engagement every time:

  1. I don’t care who you are, how cool you are, how busy you are, or how new you are to social media, respond to absolutely every piece of engagement on your social media channels. Have you ever been left hanging on a high-five?

    That’s the equivalent feeling online. Unless your National Geographic, you’ll be surprised how irrelevant you’ll become if you’re known as the brand who doesn’t engage. Even if it’s a negative comment, have a communication strategy in place that allows you to take control of the situation. Create canned responses for different scenarios and copy paste! Show people gratitude by thanking them, staying polite and positive. I’m not saying have a full-fledged conversation with each person, but respond in a way that is equivalent to be interaction from your follower. If someone tagged you in their photo with your product: like their photo, write a small comment, and if you’re feeling really bold (especially if they are an influencer) repost it! They essentially just gave you free advertisement, the least you can do is show appreciation.
  1. You’re too busy to create your own content? Then curate it! Engage with your community of followers to be the creators of your content, we call that user generated content. When you’re ready to post and share it, don’t forget to tag the creator and give kudos to them. Not only will they be grateful for the exposure, now other followers will be compelled to do the same. Look at that, you just became a favourite brand to engage with online!
  1. Play fun and nice. Social media is your chance to shine and to give your brand a personality. You can be quirky and create a sense of humour for your brand too. It’s one way to attract more followers and keep your existing followers happy.

Recently, I was tweeting with Flare Magazine and really appreciated how much they engage with their readers. It’s so lovely to see and reminded me why I fell in love with engaging in social media in the first place. What was your best Social Media engagement? What brand is your favourite to “play” with online?

If you enjoyed this article, you may also like “Bloggers and Businesses: Ways we can work together”.

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Bloggers & Businesses: Ways we can work together

Some of you know that I am a Marketing and Communications professional and am immersed in the Ottawa Networking scene. I love supporting small businesses and only want to see them thrive. What kills me though, is when small business owners are not fully taking advantage of modern opportunities to do business. Specifically, I have noted that Ottawa businesses are skeptical of working with bloggers and have no clue what we do, or what to do with us.  After a few times of having to explain myself and the value of my services, I felt compelled to write a post and help these fellow business owners learn about different roles bloggers can play. I want to show that bloggers are flexible, affordable and are a crucial aspect of getting businesses more exposure online.

Oh, you’re a blogger? What exactly is a blogger?

I am an entrepreneur, just like you! As a digital strategist, I have the knowledge and experience that helps me promote myself (or your stuff!) online. I know how to take advantage of the web and leverage the power of social media to get (your stuff!) noticed (Instagram, Facebook and Twitter). Think of a blogger as an independent and modern day journalist.

I love to write and share my compelling stories online. In fact, I get paid to write these stories! I am creative, strategic and know how to integrate your products in my everyday life. I am not a model or magazine, I am a stylist which mean I have a voice and will want to choose what I promote. I have loads of people who follow me because they like my style and can relate to my lifestyle. When I talk about new products, ones that I love and endorse, odds are they will like them too! I can offer you a truly targeted audience, which is why it’s crucial that your product is a good fit.

Bloggers offer a new way of advertising; but good bloggers have the skill to do it softly and remain authentic. Bloggers can also be called influencers or brand ambassadors.

I can’t afford it.

Never assume that everything is too expensive. Again, like you, bloggers are running a business and offer a variety of services that can accommodate your budget. Just remember to offer a fair exchange; whether it’s in the form of product or payment.

Also remember that each blogger will have different prices based on their audience size, desire, experience and availability. You will pay more if a blogger has a large following, is not crazy about your product, has been in the game for a while and is extremely busy with bigger fish to fry.

How do I work with you? What services do you offer?

Again, prices may vary from blogger to blogger, but generally, here is what you can expect:

  • Event promotion (FREE)- You can invite bloggers to your event and comp their ticket in exchange for a blog post before or after the event.
  • PR event ($/$$)- You can host an intimate event, exclusively for bloggers, and  have the opportunity to talk about your new business venture or product that you are promoting. Typically, this involves a meal and gift to encourage the bloggers to write about your initiatives.
  • Product reviews (FREE/$)- You can give a blogger free products to review. Only do this if you want authentic and honest feedback for your products.
  • Banner ads ($/$$)- You can pay a blogger to advertise your product or business on their blog.
  • Newsletter or Social Media Mentions ($/$$)- You can pay the blogger to post your product on their newsletter or social media channels like Instagram Facebook Twitter Fitbay Pinterest YouTube, and  LinkedIn.
  • Sponsored blog posts ($$)- Writing takes time, so it will cost more money for a blogger to write about your product. If you want nice photos of your product integrated in the bloggers lifestyle, this may also come at a cost.
  • Brand ambassador ($$$)- Building a longstanding relationship with a blogger and having them represent your brand or use your product exclusively (includes being a spokesperson or doing TV appearances or hosting an event around the blogger).
  • Coaching ($$$$)- Business coaching is your one-on-one opportunity to work with a blogger and learn about digital strategy, marketing and how to blog for your own business.

If you have any more questions, I am happy to answer. Leave them in the comments bellow.

XOX Chantsy

PS- Stay tuned for my “9 Ways to illustrate your brand story: Instagram Workshop” for small business. I’ll be launching this in mid April and I can’t wait!

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What to Wear: Celtic Christmas on The Farm

The Celtic Christmas on The Farm is on November 29, and fast approaching! This celebratory event is filled with local taste makers and holiday enthusiast. What I love most, is that your ticket purchase allows each car to leave with a Christmas tree! How original is that?!
Celtic Christmas on The Farm is the birth child of none other than the leading voice of Ladies Who Lunch Ottawa, Catherine Landry. With exciting partnership between local Ottawa businesses, Catherine’s events also incorporate a humble philanthropic surprise initiative. I can’t wait to see who will benefit this time around!
So please make sure you BUY YOUR TICKETS HERE!

These events are jam packed with activities and so much fun for the entire family. The trouble is, Ottawa socialites are wondering how to dress their best attending this family affair, while embracing our cold Ottawa climate!

Worry not, I have pulled a few inspirational looks that are sure to impress!

Pretty in plaid

Chantal Sarkisian Ottawa Curvy Style Blogger

Wellies for wetness

Current #mood. #toocold New sage green #veromoda pants from @thekindexchange

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Blankets and scarves

fabulous finds from the #nwsottawa! #woolscarf #woolblanket #madeinUSA #pendleton #picnicblanket #intheville #Toronto

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Leather all the way

Tutus and boots

#tutu in the snow! This is how we get #galaready in #ottawa #nordstromott @nordstromottawa #uggs #ootdottawa @ootdottawa

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Fur is purfect

Boot, Hat, Shawl, check!

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