This week is a bit different as I bring you an interview with one of the UK’s most known and praised internet business personalities. Her name? Lilach Bullock.
Lilach was kind enough to sit down with me and introduce me to the life of a business owner, and social media leader at http://www.socialable.co.uk
If you are interested in content, development, and more importantly social media from a business point of view then please keep on reading. This is a must for all small businesses. She will really help you get your company known.
Hi Lilach, it is is great to meet you. So lets get this session under way.
Can you tell our readers a brief description of your past and what it was like starting in the media world?
I set up my first business back in 2006, when my daughter Emily was around 18 months old. I initially wanted to go back to my job pre Emily(I was a Training Manager in London) but my then company wouldn’t allow me to work part time which gave me the incentive to set up my first business which I sold back in 2009. I set up Socialable two years ago however I have been using Social Media since 2007/08.
Social Media has really evolved since it burst into our worlds. Initially the social media playing field was much less saturated than it is now, it was much less noisy and because it was so new it was also very exciting for me and I saw a huge potential in it. It was very exciting to be able to connect with anyone around the world, even in the remotest countries! Now it’s evolved so much, there are so many different platforms and tools and so many social media agencies and consultants popping up to deal with the increasing demand!
What was your first business and how did you know it was going to do well?
I set up my first business in 2006 as I mentioned earlier, it was a virtual office initially. It grew very quickly from me working on my own from my home to employing staff and having offices within 18 months. As the company expanded I also started to offer business mentoring and put on workshops to train others how to set up in business. I also started working with social media and saw the huge benefits it could give to other businesses, both in terms of reaching and connecting with others but also from an SEO point of view and driving traffic. I was also blogging back then.
The truth is when I first set up my business I didn’t dare think it would do so well and I was quite overwhelmed by the positive response, since it was my first business. Within 6 months I was quite overwhelmed with work, which might seem like the opposite of a problem for most businesses, but since it was my first time it almost felt like too much. Employing staff and moving into an office definitely seemed like the next big step for me. My biggest achievement was attending Downing Street for Best Mumpreneur of the year. It’s something that I am extremely proud of and if I’m honest it had a part to play in helping me sell my business shortly after.
Your current site socialable.co.uk is getting a lot of great coverage. Can you offer us some advice on how you source and write all of your content?
This isn’t a simple question to answer! It requires lots of hard work and I have learned lots of things about writing since I started Socialable. The saying practice makes perfect really rings true here!
What I recommend is that you spend lots of time researching and keeping up to date with all the latest news and developments in your field. One thing that I’ve never been afraid of is being controversial and I definitely would recommend that you never be afraid of speaking your mind, however controversial it may be.
It’s also important to find your tone and always keep your writing in that style/tone. If you change it, you will only confuse your readers! So if you’re guest blogging or simply writing for your own blog try and be consistent in the way that you write.
I learn a lot from reading the comments that I receive as well as look at other similar blogs’ and comments. This is how I know what my readers really want to learn about and what challenges them – I can then help them with my stories and my experiences! Probably my most important piece of advice is to write about what your audience really wants to read about, and not what you think they want to read about.
Whats been the best social platform to get your content shared across and why?
I personally think it’s all about using a plethora of platforms at the same time – this is how you maximize your social reach and get your content across to more and more people. But if I had to choose just one, I would probably choose Twitter. I can’t lie, I have a pretty big and engaged following on Twitter already, which definitely helps. But that doesn’t mean that if you don’t have lots of followers you shouldn’t use Twitter – anyone can grow a following in time, and I sincerely believe it’s probably one of the best ways to share content and generating traffic to your website, so it’s definitely worth the effort and the wait! Also it’s not always about the numbers, it’s more about haw targeted your followers are. 1000 targeted followers are better than 10,000 who aren’t really interested in what you have to offer. Of course it goes without saying that the more value you provide in content the more likely it is to get shared.
Do you have any special tools or tricks you could share with us for marketing content?
I’m a bit of a tools ‘junkie’ that’s for sure! I absolutely love them and I am always trying out new ones that come into the marketplace too.
To be honest there are so many it’s hard to mention them all here. One of my ‘tricks’ is using the StumbleUpon shortner. It’s an amazing tool that brings me a ton of traffic. It might seem like just a simple URL shortner, but whenever you use it your content also gets placed on StumbleUpon, which is the second largest social media traffic generator for websites, just behind Facebook. If you want to see some more of the tools that I use, take a look at my 101 Twitter tools list.
Are there any alternative social platforms you are using that are giving good results?
Definitely, I think it’s really important to not just focus on the big players. The small ones can be just as good if not even better sometimes. There are some great smaller social networks that help me generate traffic and drive my engagement, for example StumbleUpom, Digg, SlideShare and RebelMouse. I’m also addicted to using FourSquare and seeing some great results from it.
Have you ever tried a really crazy campaign? Something wild and different to attract users?
I don’t think “wild” and “crazy” would be the words I would use, but I did have one blog post that caused quite a bit of “buzz”: How I Got Over 80,000 Click to One Blog Post. I’m finding that the ‘rules’ of content are changing quite considerably: when I first started blogging back in 2006 I would write 300-word articles, now they are usually longer than 1000 words.
A good example of a successful campaign is when I launched my book. I knew from the beginning that it wasn’t the money that I was interested in (and I eventually decided to just donate all the proceeds to a wonderful charity in Uganda that pays for young girls education). What I really wanted to achieve was for my book to become no.1 Amazon bestseller, so I did everything in my power to achieve that. I decided to start by dropping the price of the book and I continued my ‘campaign’ by being extremely transparent about my goal. I was really honest about what I wanted to achieve and I was telling everyone – I literally ‘pimped out’ the book everywhere! And fortunately it worked – my book was no. 1 in Amazon for Sales & Marketing and also small business and entrepreneurship. It was risky being so honest with everyone – I literally told everyone my goal i.e. to become a No 1 bestseller and asked if they could help me achieve it. Which just goes to show the power of having a loyal and engaged online community can have.
Where do you see the world of online marketing in 5 years time?
Wow, who knows where it will be in 1 year, let along in 5 years? Not to mention that it’s not just about social platforms, but about technological advances (new gadgets, new types of smartphones, new computers…) and I couldn’t even begin to predict where we will be in 5 years from a technological point of view! But I’m sure social media will be even more mobile (if not predominantly, since probably everyone will have a smartphone and tablet by then!), there will be many more apps and tools, a new social network that will connect even more than 1 billion people (as Facebook does at the moment). I think Google+ has huge potential, as Facebook is desperately trying to monetize and driving users and businesses away, and Google+ might just take advantage of that.
I hope that there will be more education on social media, because lots of people still don’t know how to use it effectively and many still think it’s a passing fad! I also think that the visual side will grow even more, and services similar to Youtube will be even more successful than they are now.
Do you monetize your content at all? If so how? If not why not?
No, I don’t. All my content is free, however my blog does generate me clients, and mentoring opportunities. Plus I offer paid product reviews and get sponsorship/advertising opportunities due to the level of traffic/engagement So, I guess yes, indirectly it does bring in money, but I don’t sell my articles.
One last and random question – Your most commented post has 288 [note it’s now had 301] comments (and its about commenting) – HOW?? Do you think comment love for back linking is the reason? Or your natural finesse?
It’s my natural finesse, haha! Seriously though, CommentLuv definitely helped me generate more comments, but it’s not what got me to this point. I worked very very hard to build a community where people feel free to share and comment. Now I get on average about 30-50 comments on each blog post with many generating over 200. I’m extremely proud of Socialable and the amazing community that it has evolved, but I have to admit that I work really hard (and constantly!) to engage people and drive traffic.
I would like to say a very big thank you to Lilach for this interview and we wish her great luck in future endeavors.
If you are an individual business and looking for exposure, then be sure to check out http://www.socialable.co.uk where you will find lots of great information to kick start your marketing campaigns.