Everyone thinks they’re a social media guru, but how do you really crush it on social media?
Brooke Vulinovich is an Instagram specialist and founder of Villa Management. Brooke specialises in teaching businesses worldwide how to leverage the power of social media, and how to connect with your customers online.
Find out how Brooke leverages social media to build her online membership service, build trust with customers, and achieve results organically on Instagram and Facebook.
Building a Business – Where to Start? [1:39]
Brooke began her social journey studying marketing and PR at university. Whilst she didn’t make it through the degree, what she learnt stuck and guided her into the industry of PR and event management.
Three years, and one month ago (the anniversary was last month), Brooke began Villa Management. Villa started as an event management company, with a focus on social media to promote events. During this time, she also launched an online sunglasses business that received praising feedback for her social media marketing.
Brooke received countless messages asking her: “Who did the social media?”. She brushed it off, thinking what she had been doing online was no big deal.
“I had no idea people didn’t know how to use social media. You know when you get in your zone and you’re not focusing on anything else [and you forget what people don’t know].” – Brooke Vulinovich
As time passed, the demand increased for Brooke to teach people how to market their business on social media. Brooke started running a weekly workshop on top of her event management work. The workshops grew rapidly from one a week, to five workshops per week.
With the high demand, Brooke wasn’t able to keep up. Instead, she shifted the business to an online membership platform. Now, she does private workshops and is making strides to become a keynote speaker on social media.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media [7:38]
You can’t build a website and start Instagram page and call it day. If this is your business strategy, you have no right to complain when no one is eating up your service or product.
Nowadays you can start a business online virtually free if you’re marketing your product yourself on social media. However, if you don’t have a business background you run the risk of forgetting the fundamental core of any business. The customer.
- Not understanding the pain points your customers have.
- Not understanding what your product is trying to achieve/fix for your customers.
Setting up an Instagram account isn’t enough to drive business forward. To reach more people, build trusting relationships, and create a following you need to consistently post and engage with your audience.
Brooke likes to use the healthy lifestyle analogy to explain social media to her customers. If you consistently go to the gym and eat healthily, you’ll start to see results. If you eat healthily but don’t work out, you’ll lose weight, but slower. If you don’t eat healthy or workout, you won’t see any change, and in the world of social media – you’re going to fall behind.
To see results on social media you need to be consistent with your posting, and post regularly. Achieving success on any platform starts when you integrate social media into your lifestyle. Whenever you get the chance, whether it’s 30 minutes or just 5 minutes – take the time to engage with customers on your social platforms.
Matt suggests the idea “you wouldn’t leave someone in a waiting room”. This concept is transferable to social media. The people leaving comments are just that. People. Real people taking the time to engage with your content. To build trust and open up communication with your customers, you need to create time to engage with their comments and opinions on your service or product.
It’s very rare for someone to become an overnight success on social media. It takes a lot of hard work and consistent posting, and engagement. Unless you’re Will Smith starting his Vlog channel. But then again, Will Smith is Will Smith and he already has a following.
Why Social Media? [13:58]
As a business owner, you need to love what you do, to have the energy to keep at it. For Brooke, social media came naturally.
“I think it’s so cool that a business owner can connect with a customer, day or night – for free” – Brooke Vulinovich
Over the last three years, Brooke has noticed that retailers are doing it tough. It’s becoming harder to make sales against the saturated market and the competitive online stores. In the past, businesses would look at $10k marketing campaign to promote business. However, with the rise of social media, retail businesses can use social media to their advantage to reach customers more often, and for virtually free. Instead of wasting money on a costly marketing campaign, Brooke suggests to pick up your phone for 30 minutes a day. Be more personable. Put a face to your product, and become a business that is approachable.
“I don’t want my clients to feel like a number, I want to make myself reachable” – Brooke Vulinovich
Brooke is out 12 hours day, however, her customers know exactly what she’s doing all day. She uses her social media platforms to communicate with her customers and create a touch point through the platform.
“The more I make myself available, the less likely someone demands something from me late at night” – Matt Hanham
Brooke suggests that the more communication you provide on social media, the relationships you’ll form with your customers will be deeper and built with trust. That trust will not only help grow your business, but it will follow you no matter what platform you’re primarily on.
Instagram Isn’t Forever [20:00]
Instagram won’t be forever. Times are changing. As we speak, the next ‘big’ thing is probably in development. Last week we were hit with the harsh reality that Instagram has its faults – and could potentially be gone forever at some point.
With Instagram down for a few hours, we were left to contemplate what we’d all do with our lives, and businesses if Instagram were to shut down forever.
Brooke is always preparing for the worst case scenario. When your livelihood is reliant on social media, you need to be on alert and making strides to follow where the people go.
Platforms change all the time, but content is transferable.
Brooke’s tips for businesses reliant on social media:
- Keep an excel spreadsheet with your customers’ email addresses
- Backup your photos and videos
- When you start shop on a new platform, repurpose old content
How to Build a Tribe [26:15]
Everyone wants to know how to build an audience – but are you willing to do the work?
When you’re building your tribe you can’t put yourself on a pedestal. It’s a two-way street. If you want your business to be respected, you need to give respect and value to your customers. When you make people feel like they are on the same level as you, a foundation of trust can be established.
Brooke’s tips for building a tribe
- Make people feel like their opinion matters – because it should matter!
- Respond to comments like you’d respond to someone in person
- Don’t go in for the hard sell
- Consistently communicate with your customers/following
By following these tips, you’ll be able to create trust with your customers that go beyond whatever social media platform you’re currently using to communicate with your customers.
Failing isn’t the End of the World – But it does Hurt your Soul [36:53]
As a creative, you care about the product or service you’re producing. You want it to help people, and enrich the lives of your customers. As a business owner, problems never go away. They only get bigger and bigger.
When you’re focused on the big picture, small problems can fall through the cracks and come back to create a mess when you least expect it. Brooke started a social membership community where customers would pay a flat rate per month for her educational services. Two weeks before her wedding, she found out members were being overcharged and charged random amounts.
This drama went on for over a month. On the surface, everything seemed fine. Everything displayed in AUD prices and appeared to be functioning normally. However, members continued to be overcharged.
What had happened was that the payment platform had glitched. Instead of charging AUD prices, it had glitched to charge USD prices. Mixed with the exchange rate, members were being charged different rates.
To fix the issue, Brooke was forced to shut down. For two months, she worked for free in order to keep her clients on board. Then, she was faced with the dire task to get her clients to switch payment platforms, without bothering them too much.
Unfortunately, people don’t take kindly to a bit of admin. In a month, she lost about half her customers.
Failure can hurt your soul, but it can teach you a valuable lesson. Brooke had the resilience and desire to keep pushing and build up her customer base again. When you’re committed, and love what you do, you’ll do whatever it takes to find a solution and make it out the other side.
Quick Fire Question Round! [46:15]
Favourite Disney Character?
What’s the weirdest app on your phone?
What book would you take into solitary confinement?|Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss
One Thing to Amplify Your Business [48:44]
For those wanting to branch out and venture on their own business path, YOU NEED to be on Instagram. Use the platform to market your business, brand yourself and have fun with your customers. People want to work with people they like and trust. Open up communication by sharing more of yourself, and keep building a persona that is approachable.
If you’re keen to know more about how to crush it on social media – you can see Brooke speak for yourself at the Get Amplified event in Perth, October 30.