Hi there! I am Stefanie LaHart, Co-Founder of TeraFocus Media in Los Angeles. We offer integrated marketing solutions combining creative that delivers results through web development, new and traditional media advertising, brand development and social media engagements. We engage through new media and digital experiences combined with real world events to engage the audience.
How and why did you get started in social media?
I began in advertising working with agencies in creative as well as sales. Once we were working in the digital landscape and I began to understand how websites were created and started understanding the potential to reach various markets- I was hooked! I dove right in and taught myself HTML, PHP, Javascipt, CSS and all sorts of new tools that helped me transition into a web developer and web producer role. I worked for a few startups before branching out and starting on my own web development studio. We handled mid-size and large scale content management systems and developed integrated advertising campaigns for luxury clients. I spent many years on the web development side so as social media started to be developed and really took off it was really just a natural integration to the services that we would provide our clients. Social media is a natural fit for the the internet as it has always been a social media platform from the beginning with bulletin boards and the first instant messagers.
What do you believe the benefits of using social media for business?
Social media has really allowed businesses to truly interact with their customer as well as a larger audience. This has been a game changer in so many ways because for the first time businesses are able to find out truly what their customer wants and needs. I think we really have the ability to provide better experiences and better tools for people to communicate and live richer lives.
What do you think are common mistakes business owners make when building brand awareness on social media?
Social media as we know it grew rather quickly and most businesses are still trying to adjust to that landscape. Building your brand really starts way before you ever hit a key on the computer and it serves a company well to have a well thought out and planned vision of what their company stands for and what they are trying to achieve with each social media tool. It is more than simply setting up a page and slapping on a logo. So I caution new clients when we begin exploring the social media landscape to take it slow and really think about what tools are appropriate and how they should be approached. Then once the program is implementeds it is important for the company to listen to their customers and general feedback from day one. It is the conversation, the outreach and the engagement that will help you define your brand.
What qualities do you think social media managers should have?
I think it really helps for social media managers to have a true curiosity and love for the art of communication itself! If you aren't naturally interested about how communication can bring people together and push people apart and understand the nuances that goes into different types whether it be something like spoken word, print, visual, etc then it's going to be very hard to succeed in this field. I tell people that I am good at my job because I love to talk to people, sometimes too much! I have a degree in Journalism and one of my first jobs out of college was writing for a national rock n roll magazine. I kinda had one of those dream jobs where you we get to meet some of your favorite bands and ask them all the questions you ever wanted to. It was one of the best experiences of my life and it just taught me so much about how to engage a person in conversation and make them feel comfortable in revealing more of their true self in a short about of time. Of course doing your research also helped.
How do Business owners know if their social media campaign is working?
Have clear objectives from the start! Your success will be measured by your intention and your overall strategy. Number of Likes, Follows, Shares etc can mean a lot or very little depending on your objective.
How do you see social media evolving over the next 5 years …what do you hope to see?
I like how social media has the ability to bring together groups of people that would normally not have had the chance to interact. I think we are going to see more and more of these platforms being used to really mobilize the world to work more towards common good. I ran a breast cancer non profit called Busted Foundation for many years and we did all of our support ask, event planning and fundraising through online and social media platforms and were very successful because of it. These platforms are so powerful to tell stories and get people to see the need in certain events and people lives. It is inspiring to know that you can reach out and ask for help and someone is always there listening. We have an unparalleled ability in history to effect huge changes for all of humanity and I think that is the way social media is going to really develop powerfully and quickly over the next few years. How awesome is that!
What are your favourite platforms for social media marketing?
My favorites right now simply because of their overall visual impact have got to be Instagram and Pinterest. They are both so approachable and fun. And there really is nothing like visual to quickly engage and set interest in your audience.