How To Be Social Online
(When you aren’t naturally social)
Featuring Hannah Reynolds of Pommel Lane
Social Media is huge. The importance an active social presence has for a business today is equal to none. But what about those of us who aren’t naturally social? Hannah Reynolds of Pommel Lane shares with us her story and how she’s learned to put herself out there and get social online.
1. Hannah, please share with us a little about you, your story, and where Pommel Lane comes from.
I’m a hand-letterer and graphic designer based in Oklahoma City. My creative story has been a long time coming but it’s safe to say it started taking shape in 2011 when I started a blog as I relocated across the country.
Over the past 5 years I taught myself how to code, use photoshop, style photographs, design logos and blogs as well learning calligraphy and turning my love of lettering into a small business. Over the last year I really learned how to utilize social media marketing and community to expand my reach.
When it came time to name my business I chose Pommel Lane, after the street I grew up on. It is a reminder of both new beginnings as well as how my experiences shape my future.
2. Design is such a personal art, especially when you’re designing for someone else. How have you bridged the gap between keeping your work authentic and unique to your clients while doing business online?
Oh man, I’ve got to be honest, I’m still struggling with this one. For me, it’s about relying on my gut while I’m designing. People have a tendency to ask for what they’ve seen before. Pulling part A from one example, part B from another and so on and so forth. Sometimes they don’t realize that it doesn’t work like that. I try to bring a bit of design education into my communication with clients so they know why I feel strongly against closely following an example. When they can give me the trust to create, beautiful things happen.
3. What has been the toughest part about running a business online? How do you continuously stay engaged with your followers and past clients?
For me the hardest part is being constantly connected and that’s why I’m so excited to be talking about this subject. I’m a strong introvert and I’ve always struggled with prolonged exposure to large groups of people, repeated social outings and constant communication.
On one hand it makes working for myself a great fit but it’s harder to disconnect from the internet than it is at a 9-5 day job. I often find myself struggling with being on lots of platforms, especially ones that aren’t naturally suited to me. Believe it or not, I actually feel like I often fall short of my expectations of staying engaged with my community. I am so thankful that I have close friends in my creative circle who remind me that my over-critical lense isn’t what everyone else sees me through.
As for practical tips, I use schedulers! Oh man do I use schedulers. Email schedulers, tweet schedulers, instagram schedulers. I’d probably use a Pinterest scheduler if not for the financial investment, that doesn’t make sense for my business yet. Planning ahead of time by putting little social blocks in my calendar or utilizing a scheduler allows me to be visible when my community is active without having to be in 5 places at once. I can then check in and interact when it fits my schedule.
4. Share with us a little about your personal creative process. How do you create a personal brand experience for your clients?
My creative process almost always seems to start with pen and paper, well _____ and paper. Whether it’s watercolors, ink, pens or pencil, getting it out of my system and onto paper is where it begins. With my clients I lay out each of the steps in their package, a detailed timeline and make myself available for their questions along the way. For me it’s really about treating their brand like I would my own, giving it the time and focus it requires.
5. What is the number one way in which you give back and show your follower and client appreciation?
I love doing giveaways, sending out snail mail, surprises and creating quality freebies like wallpapers and printables. They don’t seem like much and I don’t make a big fuss because these are things I’ve always done. For me though, the number one way is to show up and be active in the places they spend their time. This means commenting on their posts and pictures, sharing their content and sharing encouragement. I know this is a blogging 101 but to me, this is the best way to show my followers that they are valued and appreciated.
So, coming back to the big question for today, what advice do you have for other introvert entrepreneurs on how to be social online when you aren’t naturally social?
When it comes down to it, running a business these days almost requires you to be social. It’s not easy to do, it can be difficult to sustain and if done wrong you could end up alienating the people you want to attract. That doesn’t have to happen to you. There are ways to make it easier on your workload, your stress levels and those around you who don’t want to see your face buried in your phone or tablet 24/7.
Whether you use Buffer, Tweetdeck, Latergramme or all of the above, schedule it. It forces you to have a better business management system in place and allows you to actually LIVE the life you are blogging about. This also means scheduling 10-20 minutes to sit down and interact with people on social networks. Comment on followers feeds, respond to comments on yours, retweet items, etc. You get the idea. This isn’t new but it is profound.
Build something that people can find like mindedness with.
TwitterChats are HUGE right now! #fireworkpeople, #blisschat, #createlounge and #altchat to name a few. By all means participate but also don’t feel like that is the only way to create a community and grow your audience. Hosting a chat isn’t right for everyone, I know it’s not right for me these days. Who knows, that could change in the future.
If TwitterChats aren’t your thing, explore podcasts or a series on your blog. My version of this is called Silhouettes. It’s not traditional or the same as anything I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t draw lots of attention or trend but it’s my way of bringing people together. Silhouettes is an art project I started to help my lettering but it has also caught on and been featured on numerous other sites. It has also inspired beginners and seasoned letterers alike to create their own unique spin on the concept. It’s brought people together and brought them to Pommel Lane and the relationships I’ve built with these fans and artists are what is important. I found people who share a common ground with me, I just went about it in a different way.
Lastly, let yourself off the hook.
You are one person (I’m assuming you solopreneur, you! If you have a robot, or team well, kuddos! Let’s be friends and share!!) the world won’t stop spinning if you don’t show up on twitter one day. The world also won’t stop spinning if life happens, as it always does, and keeps you more focused on the now than the future or the digital. Social relationships happen both online and offline. Don’t let either side rule you. Those who truly support your business, your passions and your overall mental well-being will understand that you can’t be everywhere at once. It’s about dividing your time and showing up regularly.
Be honest. Set expectations for yourself and do better than me, try to make them realistic ones! Oh yea… and give yourself a break. There’s a really good chance the internet will be there when you wake up and all your friends will be happy to see you.
Hannah is an absolute sweetheart. She is such a genuine individual with such a wonderful sense of humor. Her posts are always so relatable and full of hilarious life moments. When you connect with Hannah, you feel like you’re connecting with an old friend you’ve known forever. She may not be as active as a number of other online businesses out there, but when she has something to say, it’s always worth listening to.
What has been your favorite part of Hannah’s story? I know she is not alone in her struggles with being constantly social online. What are some of your social strategies that you use to keep engaged online? I know we would both love to hear from you in the comments, and please feel free to ask Hannah any other questions you might have that I didn’t already ask here today.