I’ve gotten to know Nipa Shah over the past year and have greatly enjoyed our growing relationship. Even though its only been through Twitter, I’ve learned a lot from her expertise as a social media practitioner and online marketing expert. Not only is she an Internet Marketing expert but she is also the founder of Jenesys Group, LLC. I am a big fan of her work as a marketer and also her work within the Indian American community in Detroit, Michigan.
She networks via Twitter, she educates through her blog(s) and she engages via social networks. She is a true social media practitioner who has had a direct impact on her clients and her own business. I wanted readers to benefit from her expertise and experience so I asked for an interview. Between working on her business and managing a score of other things on her list, she was kind enough to send me her response to some questions I sent her. Enjoy:
1. It seems like many traditional marketing agencies are now offering social media services as a “me too” strategy. You’re different in that you’re an early adopter. What advice would you give agencies that are seeking to move into the brave new world of social media?
NS: Thanks for recognizing me as an early adopter. What advice can I give the newcomers? First, they should create a robust offering that is all-encompassing rather than just focused on one aspect of social marketing. Our advantage is that we implement Social marketing with Search engine marketing. Traditional agencies may not have the capability. They should partner with companies (like ours) to integrate that component for their customers. Second, they need to balance quality with quantity. Customers aren’t going to be happy if they only focus on quality messaging and the number of followers (Twitter), fans (Facebook) or contacts (Linkedin) remain low. How to build a network to influence while also posting quality messages is key. And finally, showing ROI is always difficult in marketing but it is important to establish criteria to measure campaign success and provide robust reports to demonstrate performance.
2. Can social media be out-sourced? Meaning can you blog or tweet on behalf of clients?
NS: Sure it can be outsourced. We have a team of bloggers, twitter experts, facebook experts, and people who are trained in social media marketing to help our clients. We write weekly blogs for them, we tweet on their behalf, we create and manage their facebook profiles, etc. etc. What makes this work is making sure that the resources are trained in doing this function. A key necessity for the success of outsourcing is ensuring that the resources are good at written communication.
3. How do you answer those that say social media takes too much time and is a waste of time?
NS: Marketing is a necessary ingredient to promoting a company and it’s products or services. Yes, marketing does take a lot of time. And its ROI is sometimes difficult to compute. But if you don’t conduct any marketing, how do you ensure that your company’s products or services get visibility. The same companies that say it takes too much time or social networking is a waste of time may also be the ones who spend thousands on getting their site listed on a directory portal, paid marketing campaigns, and networking events. What I say to them is that not marketing online via the Facebooks and the Twitters is no longer an option. That’s because if your company isn’t there but your competitor is, guess who gets the benefit from regular interaction?
NS: Traffic from social networks to the main website, number of connections, contacts, or followers, AND inquiries about my company’s products and services that is generated through the social networks. And believe me, it works.
5. How has the use of social media directly affected your business?
NS: It has led to additional visibility and traffic to the website. Social Networking has also allowed my company to get real-time insight into what customers are looking for in terms of the classes we host, feedback on the launch of a new website, input on something that we may be evaluating, etc.
6. How has the use of social media affected you personally?
NS: Personally, I enjoy Tweeting and Facebooking for fun and awareness. Through my tweets and FB messaging I am considered an “influencer”. People tell me how much they enjoy my comments and have even learned things about me that they would never have known before. I never discuss personal stuff online. But I do make comments about kids, work, and my opinion on things that are happening around the world. Since my personality comes through in my very opinionated comments, people tell me that my comments totally reflect my face-to-face personality. And finally, I have made a lot of new contacts and friends through the social media sites. Including you – 🙂
7. The nature of social media makes it difficult to separate your personal brand with your company brand. How are you dealing with this?
NS: Well, Nipa Shah’s brand is much different than Jenesys Group’s brand. Jenesys Group provides online marketing and web solutions. Nipa Shah on the other hand is a mother, wife, community leader, founder of the MIICC.com, etc. etc. So you see, I don’t see the brand conflict at all. For small companies, the brand may be associated with the person who founded it but by unique messaging, separating the corporate profile from the personal profile, etc. etc. are some ways to differentiate between the two. I see how that can happen to others, but I personally don’t have that situation. At least I don’t think so. Do you?
NS: Selflessness inspires me. Mother Teresa (giving up everything to help others), Nelson Mandela (can you imagine spending 20 years in prison and coming out on top?), Dalai Lama and everyday great people like the New York Fire Department folks who knew the risk and still climbed the Twin towers to save people. That’s just a source of inspiration to me to become a better person. And that’s for my personal inspiration.
Inspiration for my professional life comes from an inner drive to do more and better every waking day. Why is that I’m not sure, it’s just my personality. I quit a perfectly cushy job at General Motors to run my company full-time, 4 years after I started it.
Thank you Nipa for taking the time to share your expertise with us. If you want to stay in touch with her I highly recommend you subscribe to her marketing blog.