Running a business has its own challenges today. Even still, it’s so important to keep your social media accounts active and up-to-date so that followers will stay excited and continue to engage with you.
But who has time to run a successful business, while at the same time satisfying their viewers on Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube?
This ongoing dilemma has caused many entrepreneurs to take advantage of social media professionals to coach them along the way. These time-saving experts can help to generate ideas, show you how to get started, and even motivate you to keep on going.
But how does someone become a social media expert and then launch their own coaching business?
Join Hipcat Society’s Digital Marketing Director, Laura Foy, as she talks to Rania Abouyounes to find out how she did the damn thing.
Read the script:
Laura: Hey everybody. My name is Laura Foy, and I am your host for our weekly show called Do The Damn Thing. And every week, we’re going to be talking to solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, small business owners – anyone we can find out in the community who is actually doing the damn thing. And this week we have with us a very special guest, Rania.
Rania is the founder and owner of Socialize That… opens in a new window to Socialize That website…. You are a certified digital marketer. What does that mean? Because I want to be certified. I feel like I’m lacking.
Rania: So, the certified digital marketer is basically you get certified by the Digital Marketing Institute. And you just basically go through training for social media, for email marketing, for search engine optimization, for websites, for content creation.
So, everything that has to do with internet marketing and digital marketing in general. And you go into the details, and there’s a really hard exam. And you do the exam, and then, once you pass, you become certified.
Laura: Very cool. You know, it’s funny. I did go to school for marketing, but I went to school a long, long time ago. And marketing, back when I was in college, was a whole different thing. I mean, there’s a lot of philosophy and stuff like that, but it’s a different world, you know? I mean, Instagram wasn’t a thing. I’m not going to tell you what year it was, but it wasn’t a thing.
So, talk to me about your business. Let’s talk about Socialize That. You got yourself educated. You obviously found a passion or something inside of you that was drawn to social media and marketing. What is Socialize That?
Rania: So, Socialize That essentially started off as like a freelance kind of side gig. And then, in the beginning, it was like social media management. And then, with time, it developed into social media coaching because that’s where I found myself more passionate, giving out better information and more impacting people’s lives. And Socialize That is basically targeted to the solopreneurs that are really so good with what they do. And they have amazing products and services that they’re servicing to people, but they just lack the skill to work it through social media and to get the exposure and visibility that they’re looking for while converting people into sales. So, it’s not like all you do is like you collect followers, and then that’s it.
No, you need to actually convert these people into sales. So that’s basically what Socialize That is about. It helps people to go from not really converting the people that they have on social media, not really attracting the right people on social media, not really building the right connections with them – to really being able to leverage their business through social media and the platforms out there.
Laura: Right, because I find that as social media has an ever-growing presence in our lives, the old belief or way of thinking that, “Oh, social media is either something I do for fun or something extra. If I have time to do it, I’ll do it for my business.” It really is essential nowadays. So, your audience, in that sense, is limitless.
Do you have a particular area or industry that you target or that you specialize in?
Rania: So currently, I’m working with the knowledge-based industries. So, knowledge-based and service-based. I found that the people that have or are trying to market their actual knowledge were having the most difficulty talking about it, like: “How am I supposed to show people what I have in my head?” It’s hard for someone to wrap their head around. It’s not like you have a product. You just put the picture of the product. This is the product.
And I do agree with you. Social media is essential. And honestly, if you’re not leveraging social media to like the max, you are wasting money. You are missing out on so many opportunities because it not only gets you more clients – it gets you more opportunities, as in speaking engagements, more collaborations, more exposure. It opens the world up for you.
Laura: Yeah, absolutely! So, let’s talk about – since the show is called Do The Damn Thing – and people want to learn how to get started. Let’s talk about how you got started. So obviously, we mentioned a little bit – you have the certification, you have the education and the skills. But how do you transfer that into a business? Did you literally just take your own advice and start-up social media? How do you get started?
Rania: So, what you basically do is you need to decide first what it is that you want to do. So, for me, I actually started with social media management back in 2011. And when I started social media management, I got huge results for a big client. And I thought that maybe this is something that I could do when I did my MBA in marketing, then I did the digital marketing certificate. And then I started doing freelance and then found out that I’m going to have a thousand bosses, which I didn’t really like. So, I was like, “Maybe this is not it.”
And I continued to play with it. I went into network marketing. I went into teaching digital marketing. I went into selling clothes online. There were several things that I tried out. And then, seven years later, I was like, “You know what? I think this is where I need to go.” It took me a while to actually figure it out.
If you’re not leveraging social media to the max, you are wasting money. You are missing out on so many opportunities because it not only gets you more clients – it gets you more opportunities.
Laura: That’s OK. It’s not a race.
Rania: I was stuck for seven years. And this is why I’m very vocal about my journey because you can get stuck for so long and never really find the right way. So, I literally just started to implement, and I started off with something, and it turned out to be something else, which is completely fine.
Like in the beginning, all you need to do is to start and to decide like, “Okay, right now, at this present moment, I like this.” I think I can impact people’s lives with this. I think I can make money with this. And you move forward with that. And then if you don’t like it, you just shift, and you pivot, and you continue to start shifting and tweaking little by little.
But, you need to give it at least some time, right? It’s not like I’m going to try this for like one week, and then “I don’t think this is working.”
Laura: “I tried the keyboard. I don’t like it.”
We are streaming live on Facebook. So, if anyone has any questions for either our guest or for myself, please feel free to go ahead and just type them in, with a bunch of people giving thumbs-up, and then a couple of hearts. So, it’s nice to see people are enjoying it.
Now you mentioned something I want to touch on. And that is – people get blocked. And one of the things that we come across as an agency is that people are their own almost worst enemy. Like they’re afraid. There’s those such a giant list of things to do that they do nothing. You know, we’ve all been there, and I’ve been there myself. So how did you overcome that? How did you unblock yourself? And was it just the process of dabbling here and there? Explain that to me.
Rania: So, what happened to me was, I had a situation that pushed me into taking action. The situation was personal, and it was really negative for me to be like, “You know what? That’s it! I’m done with everything. I’m just going to try this because this seems to be the path I keep coming back to. And I need to try it.”
And what I recommend for the people watching is if you feel that you are stuck, that you are really not in the place where you want to be, you need to actually figure out where you want to be. Because if you can’t see where you’re going, you’re not going to get there easily. And when I was doing social media management at the beginning, I knew that I could create a social media agency and stuff like that. But I was like, “But I don’t see it for myself.” So, it wasn’t happening as fast as it should because I wasn’t seeing it.
But ever since I shifted into coaching, I’ve started to attract clients very quickly because I actually know how and where I’m trying to go, and how to get more people coming into my funnel. Everything starts clicking and making sense.
So essentially, to answer your question in short – you need to actually take action, and you need to know where you’re going.
Laura: Absolutely. Now, media is ever-growing. There are more platforms popping up constantly. Do you focus on one platform more than another?
Rania: Yes. And I recommend that for everyone that’s starting out. I don’t recommend that you are on all social media platforms. And the reason why is because you’re not going to be 100% fully present on all of the different social media platforms. And at the same time, you’re not going to be able to actually serve your audience and build relationships if you’re spread too thin.
So, what I recommend that you do is you pick two platforms – one that’s a primary platform and one that’s a secondary platform. The primary platform is, basically, you’re giving out that all this organic kind of content, the content that lasts long in the algorithm that you don’t have to pay ads so that people can see. So, things like YouTube, things like a podcast, things like your website – these are to be options for your primary content.
And the secondary content is where you would be putting social media platforms for where you can actually build relationships. So, on Facebook, it would be Facebook groups. On Instagram, as a relationship-building tool. On LinkedIn, it would also be in the groups. So, you need to have a place where you’re going to be able to build connections with your audience easily, and at the same time, have new people find you. So, I would pick two main platforms and put my entire focus on them so that I can actually generate the followers that I’m looking for.
But, I also recommend that you have your name set up wherever you think you are going to be later on. So, for example, I know that my audience is found on Pinterest. And right now, if people search at @SocialThat… opens in a new window to Socialize That Pinterest page…, you’ll find my name there, but you’re not going to find any content because I haven’t posted anything yet. But just in case in the future, I won’t have this problem of, “Oh no. Now I have to think of a different username.
If you feel that you are stuck, that you are really not in the place where you want to be, you need to actually figure out where you want to be.
Laura: Right! Like when we went and got our domains 20 years ago, and now they’re all taken up. We do have a question from the audience. So, Lexi wants to know how long did it take for you to see results? How long did it take to get your following to grow, to build the trust?
Rania: So, it’s actually a funny story. When I actually decided that I wanted to be a coach, it was by accident. A person in my following – I had a hundred followers at the time. She reached out to me. She was like, “You seem like you know what you’re talking about. And I think I want to work with you, but I don’t want you to manage my social media account. I want coaching.” And then me, being the psych person, is like, “What is coaching?” Googling it, trying to figure out what’s coaching. And I’m like, okay, let’s do that. I teach. And there’s content there. It’s easy.
So, we try it out. I like it. And then I was like, “This is the path that I’m going.” I shifted my content, and within a month, I got a speaking engagement, I got three other clients, and I continued to grow. So, it depends on your marketing message. The more clear your marketing message is, the faster the results are going to be.
If people are reading your content and they’re like, “I don’t know what she’s talking about,” or if they land on your page and they’re like, “I don’t know what you sell,” then that’s going to be a big issue for you to see the results, to see the followers, to see the clients from the social media. That’s essentially the biggest problem other than the blocks that I see a lot of clients have.
Laura: Awesome. We’ve got another question from Kelsey. He wants to know, “You mentioned not to try and be on all platforms right away. But for someone just starting out, which platforms do you suggest starting with?”
Rania: So, it depends on your audience. Wherever your audience is most active, that is where you’re going to choose the social media platform. So, for example, you need to think about how your audience searches for the answer. For example, for social media marketing, if you’re having problems with social media, you’re most likely not going to be searching on Facebook. You’re most likely going to be on YouTube or Pinterest, or Google. So that’s essentially where I would be putting all my content. That’s where I would be focusing. And then I would be, “Okay, where can I actually build a relationship with people in a way that’s not going to bring me down too much on a platform that I know more about it than the other platforms?” And it was Instagram for me.
So, you need to look at three things: Where your audience is, and how they’re using the actual platform. So, they might be on Facebook, but they’re not really there to buy stuff. Or they might be on TikTok, but not really there to buy stuff. And you need to look at if you know how to use this social media platform tips best.
And the third thing is you need to make sure that you’re able to impact and build a connection with your audience on that social media platform. The reason why I need to use YouTube and Instagram is that, on YouTube, you need to have 10,000 subscribers to be able to have the community feature. So I don’t have that yet.
It’s so annoying. If only I had that feature, I wouldn’t need to be in two places. But it’s a good thing to be in two places because you attract different people. Don’t you agree?
Laura: Oh yeah. In fact, so much of what you’re saying is really resonating and aligning with the HipCat core values when you’re talking about messaging, and authenticity, and serving the right people. In fact, we have our CEO, Shannon, popped in, and she has a question for you. She says that she loves that you listen to your people. You give them what they need now, right? Because it’s all about serving them and not just serving your own needs.
How do you keep checking in with them to keep serving the new products and services? What kind of communication do you have with them?
Rania: So first off, I love using Instagram stories because, or like polls on Facebook, any kind of polls. I love it because it is easy. It’s just like clicking “Like.” It doesn’t take that much effort from the person to engage with you. So, I would use the polls, any kind of polls on any kind of social media platform.
And I don’t just like post content for the sake of posting content. I post content strategically, which means that I have pillars for my content that address different pain points and objections that my audience has had. And these content pillars, after I post them, after 24 hours, I go back into the insights, and I see how many people viewed it, how many people shared it, how many people saved it, how many people commented on it.
And then look at that content, and I start comparing it. And what I find, for example, right now on my Instagram profile, there’s a post that didn’t get that many likes. It didn’t get that many comments, but it got so many website visits and so many saves; I was like, “This – I need to do another content piece like this.”
Having lots of likes is not what you need to be looking at. You need to be looking at: Are people saving the content? Are we re-sharing it? In the comments, are they saying, “Oh my God! You’re like sitting in my head. It’s exactly what I was thinking about.”
When you go back into your content that you’ve already created on social media, you can probably find different parts of comments that people have posted if you have an account active. And you can see that there’s a couple of posts there that people are resonating with more than other content pieces. And then you can take that content, take the concept of it, repurpose it, and create more content, and more traction will come with it.
Laura: Absolutely. Now we are actually looking at your YouTube page now. And you’ve got a ton of videos here. They look – and I’ve watched some of them. They look really professional. They look really great. So on that line, we have a question from Charlie, who wants to know basically, how do you create videos that are not so expensive? She said, “YouTube is so annoying. I want to build my following. Do you have any tips for making videos that aren’t super expensive?”
Rania: Okay. So, every time I do a Live, people ask me this, and it’s so simple. We have recorded the same quality that YouTube asks you for. So, you can film from your phone. On your iPhone, there are settings. And I can give you the size that I have per video so you can actually have better quality video. And you just basically take that setting – you increase it. So, if you want, I can walk you through it right now.
You basically go into your settings, and it’s the same thing for Android and iPhone. So, you go into your settings, and then you go into “Camera.” And then once you go into “Camera,” there is a part there where it asks you to increase the camera setting.
Laura: Does this live on your YouTube page somewhere? This is good stuff. You’re going to have to make a video about this.
Rania: Yes, it does. And it’s found in my video guide, so I can send you the link to that as well.
Laura: Yeah, send me the link. I’ll post it in the comments because my chats are just lighting up. Charlie wants the guide. She loves your thumbnails. She says, “Do you have any tips on making great thumbnails?” We have someone else who really loves the guide. So yeah, if you could send us that, apparently, it’s a win-win.
Rania: Definitely. And just to continue on the question. For video content, it is essentially, the most important element for videos is that you’re looking literally at the dot of the camera. You’re not looking at yourself. Honestly, you’re going to love yourself for doing this because when you’re looking at yourself, and you’re not looking at the camera, you’re going to start noticing things that you don’t really notice usually. So, ignore your face.
And at the same time, have a good light source and make sure that the light source is from the top so that you won’t be unflattering for the lighting. And at the same time, that people can actually hear you. This is very important. And it’s really important that we’re paying attention to this part because if no one can hear you and people can’t see you, you are not going to connect. And video is super important for you to connect with your audience. We don’t even get to be in the same room, and we’re already connecting right now. So, video is really important from that aspect.
Laura: Yeah. I think people are intimidated and afraid to put themselves on camera. But I mean, my advice to anyone in that position is you’re going to have to get over it really because people love to watch people on video. They love to engage with people on video, and it’s such a powerful platform. And I can see you’re fully taking advantage of YouTube.
We’ve got a question from Melissa here. She says, “I know TikTok is huge right now,” and her audience is on there. “Do you work with TikTok at all?”
Rania: So, I don’t have TikTok, but I have an idea of it. If your audience is there, you need to first assess: Is your audience there to buy? If not, you need to have a lead generation strategy in place. If they’re there to buy, you have a sales strategy there in place. So, what this means is if your audience is not there actively buying on TikTok, which most people are not, what you’re going to need to do is with your TikToks, you’re going to lead them back to your profile to click the link that’s there.
Tell them to get on your email list. Tell them to go to the next step that you want them to take. Tell them to go there because that is essentially what you’re going to need to look at. But for content creation, TikTok is a little tricky because the content that you create there takes a long time to create.
One 15 second video – the time it takes for you to think of something really fun, edit it, create it. It takes a lot of time. You can actually be investing your time on revenue-generating activities in your business while using social media. I want you to be using social media, but not to the point where you’re neglecting revenue-generating activities for your business.
Laura: Right. So, when you start with a new client, do you go over things at the foundation level? Like, let’s talk about your brand strategy and your brand voice, and who you are. What’s your method to really engaging with them and making sure that the content they’re putting on social media is the right stuff?
Rania: My method is actually I use my own formula that I’ve crafted over the nine years, which is the Create Social Ripples formula. And this is basically the formula that I use with all my clients. It’s what I use to get my speaking engagement within the first month. I used to attract people to me without me needing to put so much effort into getting clients because I have a full-time job as well. There’s that in the factor where you need to pay attention to.
When I work with my clients, we go over the foundational stuff. Most people say, “Oh, I already know who my ideal customer is. I already know that my marketing message is good.” But what I tell my clients is: You can never know too much about your customers. The more, you know, the better it is. We always have the foundational side. And then, within the coaching sessions, we go over mindset work. We go different parts of their marketing message as they get like the tutorials for like anything that has to do with social media.
So, for example, if you were on Instagram, let’s say, and you want to know how to do hashtags. I would be providing you with a tutorial for you to know how to do it so you won’t get stuck there so that you can actually take action and implement it. I do like to mix a couple like the marketing strategy and the intentional side of being on social media. But at the same time, I couple it with tutorials to make the law the client’s life easier.
You can actually be investing your time on revenue-generating activities in your business while using social media.
Laura: Yeah, absolutely. So now this is your side hustle. Is that what I heard?
Laura: You go girl! So, we are big fans of people with side hustles, and it all goes back to the name of the show. It goes back to everything we were talking about earlier, where you just have to start. And then eventually, who knows, your side hustle could become your main hustle, especially with the industry you’re in because, as we’ve already mentioned, everybody needs social media.
We talked about some of the strategies you use and some of the tactics. What are some of the things that you maybe didn’t know going into this, or maybe the things you don’t love so much about it?
Rania: What I didn’t know was that YouTube was so much work. Actually filming the content, ripping it, and editing it – I didn’t know that the editing process would take me eight hours when I first started to edit one video. That was like a shocker to me. And then down the line, every once in a while, you discover something new, like “Oh, I know that this was going to be in my way.”
For example, at the beginning, I had a lot of mindset blogs where I’m like, “Oh my God! What if no one hires me? What if you know, like I get hired and then the person doesn’t implement? And then they call to say that I didn’t do a good job. And it’s like, they didn’t implement.” So I had a lot of fear around that. But with time, with implementation, you start to believe in yourself, and you start to trust yourself even more, and you move forward with it.
Laura: Yeah, absolutely. So what would you say a typical day is like for you? What’s the split between work-life balance, a full-time job, being a kick-ass chick, and then doing Socialize That? How do you fit it all in?
Rania: So, I also have two kids. I have two toddlers.
Laura: God I love women. We just do it all.
Rania: First off, I believe that this is just a phase. This is not how I’m going to live my life forever. That is the first thing that you need to start off with. And you need to understand that this is going to be a phase. This is not something that’s going to be all the time, your working all the time or whatever.
So essentially, how my day actually goes: At the beginning of the day, I start with the kids. And then, during the day, it’s my full-time job. And then, after my full-time job, I focus primarily on Socialize That and my client work. And because I’m in a different time zone, it’s easy for me to take coaching calls because when it’s daytime where my target audience is, it’s afternoon time for me.
That way, I can actually work through it. And anyone who was in the same time zone as me, or close to the time zone as me, we do it Saturday or like on days off. So that is essentially how my day looks like. And at the end of the day, there’s always going to be like two or three hours where I just shut off everything and just chill.
Laura: Good for you. Yeah. It’s important to get your mind right. Get some solitude. Absolutely, some peace. Good for you!
We have about two minutes left. So, I just wanted to ask you because it is so relevant and timely right now: How has coronavirus affected your industry? Because I’ve seen a lot of people moving to remote employment, a lot of people going, “I need to start my own online business,” and more and more people spending more and more time on social media. So, has it actually benefited you, not from a health perspective, obviously?
Rania: With coaching, everything has increased. People are more into the business, and people are reaching out to more people. I’ve gotten several clients that have reached out to me. They’ve been doing everything offline, and they went forward online. And there was a huge portion of that.
But at the same time, there’s a huge portion of people that got unemployed, and those people came into this social media business. And those people came into the social media management business. And those people came into the coaching business. So, at the same time, I feel like it’s the same thing. I wasn’t really completely affected by it because I’m online. There is no issue for me whatsoever with it. And I think that there was a combination of more competitors and more clients at the same time.
Laura: Yeah, absolutely. That does balance it out. Okay, we are just about done. Before we wrap up, any advice you would have for someone who’s out there thinking about maybe getting started, but not sure? What would you say to them? Run for the hills?
Rania: What I would say is: Just do it!
Laura: Do the damn thing!
Rania: Just start. Whatever it is, you can delete it later. Just start, host, design. Don’t focus on the details. Just start it out because whatever you know, you’re one step ahead of your clients. I’m going to give you an example before we wrap up.
I teach at the University. And there’s this thing where us instructors talk about is where we are just one chapter ahead of the students. The students ask us, “What are we going to do in the next session?” We know the title, we can get there, but the details are not there yet.
So, you’re still one step ahead of them. You’re one chapter ahead of your client. So, you can still be ahead of them and still serve them. That is completely fine. So just start.
Laura: You don’t have to know everything. You just have to know a little bit more than the next guy. Awesome.
Well, thank you so much. This has been a really great video. I love your work. I love your messaging. Everyone who joined us live: Thank you so much. Otherwise, this video will live on YouTube with all of the links, all the fabulous things that we’ve talked about. And we’ll see you next week. Don’t forget to like and subscribe to our channel.
Thank you so much. Bye.
Rania: Thanks guys. Bye.
So please like us on Facebook… opens in a new window to Hipcat Society Facebook page…, follow us on Instagram… opens in a new window to Hipcat Society Instagram page…, and connect with Rania at socializethat.com… opens in a new window to Socialize That website….