The Future of Travel: “Voice commands in your hotel room” With Jay Stein, CEO, Dream Hotel Group &…

The Future of Travel: “Voice commands in your hotel room” With Jay Stein, CEO, Dream Hotel Group & Candice Georgiadis

As Google and other partners continue to create new technology solutions, we will want to pilot those programs and offer new solutions that make our brand more compelling to today’s traveler. Our core guests come to us looking for the latest, greatest and most advanced technology, as well as constant innovations across all sectors of our hotels, including dining, nightlife, events, activations and design, with the utmost commitment to service. This is how we stay ahead of our competition.

As part of my series about “exciting developments in the travel industry over the next five years”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jay Stein, CEO, Dream Hotel Group. Jay is Chief Executive Officer of Dream Hotel Group, overseeing the evolution and expansion efforts of the Company and its portfolio of brands: Dream Hotels, Time Hotels, The Chatwal and Unscripted Hotels. With over three decades in the hospitality business and more than 20 years with Dream Hotel Group, Mr. Stein has served in a variety of property and corporate roles with both large and boutique hotel brands, including Hilton Worldwide, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, and Doral Hotels. Mr. Stein began his career in 1983 with Hilton Worldwide at the Vista International Hotel in the World Trade Center in New York City. A veteran of food and beverage management, he turned his sights to general hotel operations in 1987 and quickly rose from the ranks to become Managing Director for three Doral Hotels in New York City. After taking those properties through the transition to Starwood Hotels and Resorts, he joined Dream Hotel Group as Executive Vice President of Operations and was soon promoted to Chief Operating Officer in 1997, overseeing hotel operations and playing a vital role in the Company’s expansion efforts.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I had no idea that I was originally going to lead an international hospitality group, specifically an innovative lifestyle brand such as Dream Hotel Group. I have always enjoyed cooking and after receiving my bachelors degree in political science I went back to school and received a second degree in hospitality management. (Much to my parents chagrin as they wanted me to be a lawyer). My love of food and travel naturally lent itself to my first job with Hilton Worldwide, and I have not looked back since.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

Yes. In the hot August summer of 2003 there was a major blackout in New York City. Thousands of people were turned away from their hotels, but we encouraged our guests to stay, and, despite lack of air conditioning or any electricity, we did the best we could to ensure our guests were safe. We made sure everyone had flashlights, we served cold salads and hot pasta using our gas stoves and had plenty of alcohol on hand. The camaraderie of the staff and guests in a potentially stressful situation was managed seamlessly. The most unbelievable aspect of the 2003 blackout was standing in the middle of Times Square in midtown Manhattan in complete darkness, a space and location known for bright blinking lights 24/7. It was a surreal moment. I am beyond proud to have had that experience; to demonstrate our ability as a company to provide the utmost care and service for our guests, even in a crisis, and to make everyone feel welcome, despite the challenging circumstances.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

This isn’t so much a funny mistake but a teachable moment. When I first started working as a teenager, I quickly realized after a meeting with the owner of the company and potential clients that I had offered insights during the meeting that puts us in a weaker position to maximize profits. I learned an important lesson that sometimes it’s more important to listen than speak. Now, even as CEO, I find its best to err on the side of caution in all meetings, listen to my colleagues first and offer input only when I know there is real value. I truly learned the motto “less is more” early on due to this experience.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Dream Hotel Group has a unique culture built on hospitality. Our employee training offers guests the most personal attention. A perfect example is when I was staying at Dream Hollywood last year. After a 14-hour day of meetings wearing a walkable “boot” type cast I came back to my room and was greeted with ice packs and note saying “feel better.” Now they knew I was the CEO, but our staff would do that for any of our guests. They are trained to provide a higher attention to detail to all our guests, one that surprises and delights them and creates customer loyalty for life.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”? Can you share a story about that?

First and foremost, this is a career and not a traditional 9:00 a.m. — 5:00 p.m. job. We work early mornings and late nights. We work holidays and weekends. It’s hospitality and that doesn’t stop when the whistle blows. That said, there is no reason not to have work/life balance, especially now with technology and smart phones. We are all connected. We can take calls, be responsive and then unplug when necessary to recharge. As I came up through management I always found time to coach my daughter’s softball team. I have a great marriage and friendships. Yes, I work hard, but I also make it a priority to enjoy my time out of the office when I can.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I am forever grateful to Bob Boyle, former General Manager of Doral Court in NYC and my mentor growing up in hospitality. Bob gave me the opportunity to launch my management career. I remember once walking the Javits Center with Bob, and I was so impressed to see how many people knew Bob. I was blown away by how he took the time to say hi to everyone and be so well known. Bob is the one person who helped facilitate my growth as a leader in hotel management. At the time I was responsible for the food and beverage department at Doral Court and had expressed my frustration that I was responsible for such a small part of the hotel’s profit. Bob noted that my extensive food and beverage experience was invaluable, but he also encouraged me to take on additional training in operations. If I did took those extra steps, he said he would promote me to Assistant General Manager. It took a year to complete, and he made good on his promise. I was given the promotion that paved the way for where I am now. Bob truly helped me further my career, and I am grateful for his teaching, listening, friendship and ability to show me how to be a strong well-respected leader.

Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the travel and hospitality industries?

Technology is paramount. Consumers today are living increasingly connected lives online and that doesn’t change when they travel. Our guests want a consistent and seamless experience at every touch point — before, during and after their stay. As such, Dream Hotel Group is proudly investing more than ever in new technology platforms and guestroom entertainment today. We are especially committed to advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Voice Automation. We are currently working with the Google development team to pilot two new programs at Dream Downtown: Google Assistant Interpreter Mode at guest check-in and the concierge desk, and Google Home in the guestrooms by integrating Google Assistant and voice commands for guest service requests. If these pilots are a success, our plan is to roll them out at other Dream Hotel Group locations.

We are also exploring ways to have guests use their mobile device to connect to our hotel WiFi system, and then use the voice automation software on their own phone/Ipad/etc. to engage and interact with our hotel systems. We are looking at Voice Automation as way of enhancing the guest experience outside of the Lighting, HVAC and TV controls that are standard integrations today. Other technology trends and platforms that Dream Hotel Group is exploring, include BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) which is also called “casting” via Apple TV, Roku, Chrome Cast, etc. We want to simplify this process of giving guests access to their own content. Our goal is to allow the guest to use their own technology and make it a seamless and frictionless experience during their stay. In addition, we believe that Remote Keyless Entry and an increased commitment to Wi-Fi will be vital. Wi-Fi is like air and water for our guests, and that is how we look at it.

Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing this innovation?

​We want our guests to experience a seamless transition from home to travel, utilizing the latest technology available. The pain point for us as an industry is to commit to this premise and have the wherewithal to follow through on the promise of always being ahead of the curve. It can be very costly, as we are not a technology company. However, our core guests demand a higher level of bandwidth. Our clientele works in the technology, entertainment, publishing, fashion and finance sectors, and they demand that the technology is seamless to accomplish their tasks. We always cater to our guests needs and will continue to look for the latest technology advancements, despite investment costs to provide new innovations and specialized hi-tech offerings with a personal touch.

How do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?

As Google and other partners continue to create new technology solutions, we will want to pilot those programs and offer new solutions that make our brand more compelling to today’s traveler. Our core guests come to us looking for the latest, greatest and most advanced technology, as well as constant innovations across all sectors of our hotels, including dining, nightlife, events, activations and design, with the utmost commitment to service. This is how we stay ahead of our competition.

Can you share 5 examples of how travel and hospitality companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers like to travel?

1. Health Conscious Travelers: The health conscious guest will drive food and beverage and experiences that enable them to stay healthy while traveling. We see this growing into more of a brand standard than a trend and will continue to provide sustainable healthy menu options across all food and beverage outlets in all our properties.

2. Artificial Intelligence (AI): This technology provides new allows for personalization and ways for us to offer guests a more personalized stay. When used alongside the human touch, travelers get the best of both worlds. Personalized service with the benefit of technology innovation.

3. Self Service: While some guests want personalized experiences, many are happy being more self-reliant. Self-service check-in is definitely growing in popularity.

4. Investment Marketing: The travel industry is already experiencing increased engagement on social media. Guest interactions with our brand and sharing those experiences with their peer group will only become more important. Our hotels’ social media channels offers a visual experience that add value for our guests before they even arrive. Social media will continue to remain an important tool before, during and after a guest’s stay.

5. Off-Premise Experiences: More and more of our hotels are offering coordinated, tailored experiences to guests that may be only accessible through the hotel’s personal and professional relationships. For example: an invitation to a private shopping experience where we ask a store to stay open after hours, access to an intimate invite-only concert, private after-party or sold out sporting event that can be all handled seamlessly through our guest services.

You are a “travel insider”. How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?

A perfect vacation is one where I can unplug and experience something that energizes me. I tend to choose a destination that is athletic and is fully invigorating. Cold crisp air on my face as I ski down a triple black diamond with friends and family, followed by great wining and dining for a few days offers ideal respite and relaxation from my busy work responsibilities.

Can you share with our readers how have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I am thrilled that as CEO, working for our Chairman Mr. Sant Chatwal for the last 26 years, we have been able to improve the lives of those who work for Dream Hotel Group and support their families and loved ones. I work with thousands of people worldwide and have had the opportunity to connect with team members in such a positive way. I also taught as an adjust professor at New York University’s Hospitality program and New York City College of Technology’s Hospitality program and continued to coach and mentor many of my students beyond the classroom. I know that my own positive attitude and appreciation for my career and position as CEO is present in my everyday life. I am grateful to have a wonderful place to work and thrive, and I always try to bring that energy to the office and to all our hotels worldwide.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Today young people need to learn to be more self-reliant and have the opportunity to work hard and fail. It is better to have made a mistake and learn from it, than to be fearful to try something new. I would love to see more kids choosing to go out of their comfort zones, and not feel like they have their parents to fall back on as a safety net. I think challenges are healthy. It forces maturity and responsibility.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Twitter: @dreamhotelgroup — https://twitter.com/dreamhotelgroup

LinkedIn: Dream Hotel Group — https://www.linkedin.com/company/dream-hotel-group/


The Future of Travel: “Voice commands in your hotel room” With Jay Stein, CEO, Dream Hotel Group &… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

The Future of Travel: “Artificial Intelligence that can accurately recommend an entire travel…

The Future of Travel: “Artificial Intelligence that can accurately recommend an entire travel package” With Josh Galun of Excella

Personalization has been incredibly beneficial to hospitality and travel customers. It’s great to get tips for destinations and trip types that are right for you. But after that, there’s still a huge amount of work to plan the trip. This is the next step in personalization, where the customer gets an entire package bundled up for them that’s precisely what they want to do, at the time they want to do it, at the cost they want to pay. Whoever gets there first is going to revolutionize the industry, and travelers are going to wonder how they ever lived without it.

As a part of my series on “The future of travel” I had the pleasure of interviewing Josh Galun, Hospitality & Travel Lead at Excella. Josh has has been at Excella for over 8 years and most recently joined the Excella Leadership Team in 2018. Josh has wide-ranging experience in project management, custom software development, process definition, IT security, data warehousing, and digital analytics. He currently focuses on the Hospitality and Travel sector, and leads teams at multiple industry clients. Josh also organizes the DC Hospitality Tech Meetup and is co-chair of the HEDNA Hotel Analytics Working Group.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Dumb luck! I had been working in federal government technology consulting for many years and for the first time in my career, I found myself unstaffed between projects. By chance, a hospitality company asked my firm for help with digital analytics during this time. At first, the client wouldn’t even consider me, because I had no experience in hospitality. But they finally gave in and gave me a chance for a quick trial period, and I must have passed the audition. I fell in love with the hospitality industry right away and never looked back.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I worked with a client that had spent huge amounts of time and money on a new system. When launch day came, the system did not work. I mean, not a single thing worked. The client knew it, but they had made such a hoopla that they were too embarrassed to admit it. So they launched anyway! When you clicked a button, all it did was send an email to an employee to have them do the task manually. It was like the Wizard of Oz — pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. But hey, as far as the outside world knew it was a huge success.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

In my first-ever consulting engagement, I was immediately thrown into a phone meeting with the client and other firms. People kept using an abbreviation that I didn’t know, and I finally asked what it was. The deadpan response: “That’s the name of the project.” I died of shame. Sometimes it’s best to save your questions for later!

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Our consultants at Excella have the most incredible mix of skills, and they really can handle anything our clients need. There was a business analyst on my team who has his master’s degree from UChicago in “contemporary French discourse.” One day, a client needed someone to work on a predictive model. This business analyst raises his hand. It turns out he’s also been learning data science! He takes over the model, makes a ton of enhancements, and the client is thrilled. People like that are incredibly rare. To have a company filled with them makes my job easy and allows us to do incredible work for our customers.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”? Can you share a story about that?

Don’t put the weight of the world on your shoulders. It happens all the time in consulting because people feel like the entire project will fail if they make a single mistake.

But if you burn out from all that pressure, you’re not helping anyone. Trust your colleagues to do their part. And frankly, have some humility! I always think of the quote attributed to Charles DeGaulle, “The graveyards are full of indispensable men.” Believing that it’s all on you is, frankly, a little out of touch and will only cause you extra stress in the long run.

Plus, you have to keep it all in proportion. Early in my career, I was freaking out because we had discovered some bugs in a system I was building, and we were going to have to delay the product launch. I was afraid to tell my boss. When I worked up the courage, he asked me, “Will anyone die because the system is late?” The answer, of course, was no. So he said, “Then I guess we’re going to be late.” Thinking back to that has helped me many times since.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

So many people have helped me along the way that it’s hard to pick just one — so I’ll choose the very first person out of many. In my first job after college, I was paired up with Ira, who had come back to work out of retirement. Ira looked at me and saw this 22-year old punk who didn’t know anything about how to build a system. I looked at him and saw a 78-year old who stopped keeping up around 1990. We were both right! But once I opened my mind, I got an incredible amount from Ira. It was like an accelerated course, as he imparted five decades of insights and experience faster than I could keep up. I think that got me a huge head start in my career. Plus, we came to really love working together, which was a great lesson in keeping an open mind towards your teammates!

Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the travel and hospitality industries?

We are bringing cutting-edge artificial intelligence (AI) that can accurately recommend an entire travel package to the customer, from flights to activities to hotels to dining and everything else in between. Think of it as a travel agent on your phone.

Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing this innovation?

It doesn’t matter if you’re a leisure traveler planning a family vacation or a business traveler who needs to meet with seven different firms in three days; travelers are being overwhelmed by choices. Let’s say you’re going to New York City. There are 270 hotels to choose from. On top of that, you have AirBnB and numerous home-sharing options. Alternatively, you could stay in New Jersey and travel in, but then what’s your game plan for transportation? Are you going to stay close to the train? Are there good bus options? Will you rent a car? Of course, as you’re doing all this, you’re researching on multiple sites to make sure you’re not missing anything and to make sure you’re getting the best rate. In fact, the average traveler visits 38 websites before booking a trip, according to Expedia. It’s no wonder that the average traveler is spending weeks planning their trips across dozens of websites. That’s a huge amount of time that most people would rather spend elsewhere.

How do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?

Personalization has been incredibly beneficial to hospitality and travel customers. It’s great to get tips for destinations and trip types that are right for you. But after that, there’s still a huge amount of work to plan the trip. This is the next step in personalization, where the customer gets an entire package bundled up for them that’s precisely what they want to do, at the time they want to do it, at the cost they want to pay. Whoever gets there first is going to revolutionize the industry, and travelers are going to wonder how they ever lived without it.

Can you share 5 examples of how travel and hospitality companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers like to travel?

I see five trends that I think will have ever-growing impacts on the industry:

1. Customers are only increasing their expectations for a seamless experience across all their travel apps and social media accounts. The bar keeps getting higher and travel, and hospitality companies can’t rest on their laurels.

2. Similarly, customers continue to increase their expectations for personalized travel and trip offers. They’re getting more concerned about what data they share, how that data is being used, and how their information is being protected. Striking the right balance and convincing customers to share their data will be a major challenge in the future.

3. Loyalty programs are going to need to keep adding more and more partnerships to be attractive to travelers. As a result, customers will increasingly be able to use hotel points with airlines and airline points with retailers and retailer points with app stores. Eventually, I think that will lead to a shift away from traditional loyalty programs altogether, and the rise of loyalty programs that are truly cross-industry.

4. A lot of travelers already care about their environmental impact and how to mitigate it. That consideration is only going to become more widespread, and companies are going to have to figure out compelling answers to it.

5. In the past few years coming out of the financial crisis, the industry has noticeably shifted to focusing on luxury travel and travelers. That’s where the growth has been. Over the next few years, I expect the pendulum to swing back and put more emphasis on mass-market, attainable travel.

You are a “travel insider”. How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?

I’m easy. Give me a beach, a drink, and a babysitter for my kid and I can be very happy.

Can you share with our readers how have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Americans are wildly overworked. We start with less paid time off than workers in other countries, and then many of us don’t even use the time we do get. More than 700M vacation days go unused every year. It’s an epidemic of stress and it’s not healthy! One of the great things about being in the hospitality and travel sector is supporting initiatives that help people use that time to refresh and find enjoyment. I’m not saying it’s the same as solving world hunger, but it’s definitely bringing some goodness to a lot of people!

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’d like to get people competitive about how much they give back to the community instead of how much they make.

Think about how much attention we pay to professional success. We look at our peers and try to figure out how much they make, what schools their kids are attending, and what kind of neighborhood they live in. People show off with fancy cars and other forms of conspicuous consumption. And as people move higher up, this becomes a matter of public discussion. We rank CEOs on how much they make and rank wealthy people on who has the most billions. It’s like a game to see who’s winning.

Meanwhile, most people don’t like to boast about how they give to charity or give back to the community. It feels gauche, so they keep it a private matter. But imagine if that was what we were competing about. We could channel so many resources into helping people. All of our natural competitiveness and jealousy would be put to a good purpose!

How can our readers follow you on social media?

I have a very addictive personality, so I’ve stayed away from most social media to protect myself! But I have been known to post my thoughts on hospitality and travel technology to my LinkedIn feed at https://www.linkedin.com/in/joshgalun/, because I can pretend that’s work.


The Future of Travel: “Artificial Intelligence that can accurately recommend an entire travel… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

The Future Of Travel: “B&B’s that appeal to the younger traveler” With Hana Pevny of Waldo Emerson…

The Future Of Travel: “B&B’s that appeal to the younger traveler” With Hana Pevny of Waldo Emerson Inn & Candice Georgiadice

The small independent hotelier will have no choice but to use technology to stay relevant if they want to stay competitive in today’s market. Not only with the brand hotels but also with the new offerings like stays via AirBnB.

As part of my series about “exciting developments in the travel industry over the next five years”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Hana Pevny has spent a lifetime travelling the world and acquiring the knowledge necessary to create an experience worthy of the most discriminating traveler. Hana was born in the former Czechoslovakia, but raised in Houston, Texas. After a successful career in the early days of the tech industry followed by a period of executive leadership in private equity and non-profits, Hana switched careers and started managing private estates. Wanderlust and a passion for fine food and luxurious surroundings have taken her to six of the world’s seven continents. Her love of travel is matched by her love of fine cuisine: Hana has a culinary degree from Leiths School of Food & Wine in London and she has worked as a private chef and culinary instructor in London, Aspen and Zakynthos. When Hana decided her next adventure would be as an innkeeper, she spent two years searching for the perfect setting to make her vision a reality before she first saw the Waldo Emerson Inn. She knew immediately that this historic home would be where she made travelers feel at home, with her imaginative attention to details, gourmet breakfasts, and delight in sharing the adventure of Kennebunkport’s many sights to see.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Looking back at my career everything I’ve done as a “job” for past 30 years has been a piece of a puzzle leading to owning an inn and being my own boss. My technology background has given me the skills and understanding of the importance of today’s digital tools for marketing and managing my business. My culinary education and estate management background has provided me with the ability to effective manage the property and delight my guests with gourmet breakfasts. Having lived in both Europe and in various parts of the US has given me the cultural understanding to relate to the various backgrounds of my guests.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

One of the most interesting things to happen to me as an innkeeper is learning about the spirits that live with me in this 266 year old home. When I was renovating the property, carpenters working on site reported individually they felt someone looking over their shoulder when working. I mentioned this to a friend who’s daughter journeys to spirits in the historic homes in the area. She came on two occasions and told me we had a spirit in our basement. The inn was a safe house on the underground railroad so we assumed it was someone housing here during that period. I was asked what I wanted to do with him and I said he had free will and could leave but was always welcome to come back. Fast forward to August, we had a lovely couple staying from Nashville. In the morning, they told me something was going on in their room and they were going to reach out to their daughter, a medium. Within 48 hours I received an email from their daughter telling me the spirits in the house came to her to communicate with me. I took all this with a grain of salt but she has worked for several government agencies as a paranormal investigator so I listened with an open mind. I bought the Waldo Emerson Inn as a single owner / operator but now share my space with 5 spirits.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Shortly after I took over ownership of the inn, I had a couple check in and both had gender fluid names — Chris and Dana. I called each the wrong name for the entire weekend. Lesson learned to always verify and repeat the guest’s name!

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

The TV show Newhart (1982–1990) had people laughing out loud when Larry with his brother Darryl and his other brother Darryl made their appearance. The Waldo Emerson Inn currently employs three Hanas. We call it Gilmore Girls meets Newhart in Maine.

I’m a baby boomer, former tech executive and London trained chef and current innkeeper of the Waldo Emerson Inn, which I run with help from my other Hanas. My goddaughter is the assistant innkeeper and she was named after me: our second Hana. And as if two of us weren’t enough, we have a third Hanna (different spelling) working at the inn as well. Guests also enjoy the multi-generational part of it: me as the middle-aged innkeeper with two very hip and very tattooed young gals helping run the inn. And we’ve added an international twist: I was born in Slovakia and raised in Texas, my goddaughter Hana was born in Germany, and our third Hanna is half Columbian. Certainly the makings of a great reality show!!!

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”? Can you share a story about that?

Our industry (the small independent hotelier in resort destinations) primarily caters to the leisure traveler yet we rarely take the time to travel ourselves. I see operators that are afraid to take time for themselves and to step away from their properties. By traveling to other destinations and other properties it provides an opportunity to gain new perspectives on enhancing your own product and experience. It’s not only a well deserved break but a great learning opportunity. See what little things are making a difference and incorporate in your own guest experience delivery. Don’t be afraid to “copy”. I try to have a “take away” from every stay.

When I was driving my car from Texas to Maine prior to the closing of my inn, I stayed a few days at a resort in Tennessee. Not only did I want a break from my cross country trip but I wanted to know what they do to make the guest experience extraordinary. While we offer two very different products in two very different parts of the country, it was the little things that mattered that I now practice in my inn operations — for example, we offer complimentary snacks — potato chips, candy, cookies, sodas, etc for all our guests. I happened to stay there on my birthday and was presented with a lovely card from the manager. While we offer enhancement celebration packages (champagne, flowers, cakes, etc), if we know someone is celebrating a birthday or anniversary we always leave a personalized card with complimentary mini french macorons.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I’m always grateful for my parents and their support and encouragement to strike out on my own. As immigrants they were always grateful by moving to the US to give me the opportunity to achieve my dreams. An uncertainty in communist Eastern Europe.

One particular person I’m extremely grateful for is Nancy Rogers. She was the first person I worked for in an assistant/house/estate manager position. Nancy has very high standards and knows exactly what she wants and how she wants it. She is a fabulous hostess. While in her employ I had the opportunity to experience private air travel, holidays on yachts in the Caribbean and Mediterranean and visits to her multiple homes with various levels of staff and service levels. While this certainly is a lifestyle many of us only see in the movies I learned a great deal about the importance of attention to detail. Whether it’s the placement of flowers in a guest room or making sure every amenity is available, like toothpaste and floss in the bathroom, just in case a guest forgets.

We may only be a six room inn but we pay attention to all the little details to create a luxurious stay.

Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the travel and hospitality industries?

I operate a six room bed and breakfast. Staying in this type of accommodation conjures up visions of staying in your grandmother’s house. Antiquated rooms with no TV and wifi. Typically accommodations for an older traveler. We are implementing the latest technology to give today’s traveler a unique experience of staying in a historic property (in our case a 266 year old inn) but with the latest technology in communications and entertainment. We are targeting a younger traveler who wants the authentic experience without giving up their technology.

I installed Smart TVs and Amazon Echoes in all my rooms. This puts the power of in-room entertainment in the hands of the guest.

Additionally we offer, “self check in” as an option on our reservation system, which has lead to a change in how we communicate with our guests. By offering this option in a small inn, my staff and our guests are not tied to our manned check in hours of 3–6pm. We send two emails prior to a check in date but once a guest has chosen this option we switch to text to let them know how to find there room on check in day. 80% of the time this leads to concierge services such as “where do you recommend for the best lobster dinner” by text. Texting then continues to be the communication of choice during the guest stay. This provides instant response and information and provides a better guest experience.

We also use motion-detected night-lights in the toilet, which change color…and are always looking for the latest technology to enhance the guest experience without losing our historical charm and elegant whimsy.

Which “pain point” are you trying to address by introducing this innovation?

By using the latest technology whether it be in the room or in our communications prior to arrival, we want to enhance the guest experience by providing a high touch model and give them the control over the success of their stay. We are trying to change the perception of staying at a B&B to appeal to the younger traveler. A unique experience with the latest conveniences.

Whether having Netflix to not miss the show you’re currently binge watching to the flexibility of self check check in or concierge services. Direct communication and instant gratification via text allows for interaction with inn staff without the direct face to face interaction usually required to deliver these services.

How do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?

The small independent hotelier will have no choice but to use technology to stay relevant if they want to stay competitive in today’s market. Not only with the brand hotels but also with the new offerings like stays via AirBnB.

Can you share 5 examples of how travel and hospitality companies will be adjusting over the next five years to the new ways that consumers like to travel?

To the traveler, the industry needs to stay on top of current technology platforms for marketing, watch the trends and platforms — instagram, snapchat, etc and migrate as needed to your audience. Use technology to communicate with your guests prior to arrival to learn their preferences — email, text, apps. Then customize the guest experience based on your knowledge to create a memorable stay to build brand loyalty.

Internally hospitality companies need to change the way they manage their business based on the very short booking cycle and competitive third party travel sites. Understand your cash flow cycle and your actual costs to determine how competitive you need to be without reducing your brand.

You are a “travel insider”. How would you describe your “perfect vacation experience”?

My perfect vacation experience is a combination of self-catering with luxury options. I like staying in a place where I can make my own coffee and breakfast in the morning but still have the option of fine dining in the evening. I like the ability to workout followed by a day at the beach with a lazy lunch and some spa time in the late afternoon. If I’m doing a more urban vacation like Europe, I enjoy sightseeing but mostly walking aimlessly to experience the culture of the city and finding hidden gems to enjoy local cuisine. My own personal version of Parts Unknown.

Can you share with our readers how have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

We are doing everything possible to recycle and reduce waste in our daily operations. Specifically we send our used guest amenities (soap and shampoo) to Clean the World. Clean the World Foundation is a global health organization committed to improving the quality of life for vulnerable communities around the world. They provide sustainable resources, programming, and education focused on water, sanitation, and hygiene for all those affected by poverty, homelessness, and humanitarian or natural crises. They give discarded soap and shampoo bottles a second life in many of the countries which supply labor to the hotel industry. Albeit a small property we are delighted to participate in their program and bring cleanliness to the world.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Do not be afraid to proclaim your food and dietary needs whether for medical reasons or simply by preference. Don’t be ashamed to tell us if you’re celiac or don’t like zucchini or currently on the Keto diet. As a hospitality professional, I can’t provide you the best service if I don’t know what you like or don’t like. There is nothing worse than putting down a wonderful breakfast with bacon to only be told you’re a vegetarian after the fact. As a business owner it cuts down on my expenses and food waste.

Own what you eat and don’t be afraid to let us know!

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Facebook — Waldo Emerson Inn

Instagram — Waldo Emerson Inn

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


The Future Of Travel: “B&B’s that appeal to the younger traveler” With Hana Pevny of Waldo Emerson… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Connect and collaborate” With Brie…

How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Connect and collaborate” With Brie Shelly & Candice Georgiadis

Connect and collaborate. Similar to Linkedin, Instagram allows you to quickly find and connect with people in your industry. You can easily go through their feed to learn more about the message they are sharing and see if your philosophies align. For those who are more timid about cold calling other professionals, you can start by commenting and liking the person’s posts, and then eventually make direct contact when you’re comfortable.

I had the pleasure to interview Brie Shelly. Brie is an avid traveler, wellness enthusiast, and positive social media advocate. She is determined to help others embrace self-love and discover the power of traveling. As a therapist and coach, she specializes in working with fitness and healthcare professionals and social media viewers and influencers as well as young adults and adults navigating life transitions, career development, and body image concerns. Brie also runs Adventures with Wellness, a wellness and travel oriented social media platform that encourages individuals to seek wellness opportunities and adventures both near and far.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Growing up, I was always mesmerized by television and marketing campaigns, and my mom and I created new marketing tag lines for fun. During college, I learned that Osama bin Laden was killed via Twitter, and I thought to myself, “So this is my ‘how you learned JFK died’ moment… interesting”. This was also around the same time that the iPhone, other social media sites like Facebook, and Google were all booming, and I quickly became fascinated with how a new wave of media was infiltrating into our daily lives.

Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority about Social Media Marketing?

During my years as a therapist and coach, I have yet to work with a client who is not impacted by social media. As a result, I have supported countless individuals in learning the ins and outs of the marketing industry, techniques and strategies that influencers and brands use to sell you, and processing how social media use and comparison is negatively impacting individuals’ overall well-being.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

While I work with a wide range of ages, I find it particularly entertaining when I work with young adults around social media because they do not know a world without social media. Not only are they constantly ahead of the curve with new features and very opinionated about “what’s lit”, today’s young adults are our first generation to be inundated with an entirely new level of marketing. I find our work around social media to be the most challenging and rewarding, especially as they learn how to build an identity outside of their social media feed.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I first started using Instagram regularly, I thought I could use endless hashtags and couldn’t understand why my posts kept being deleted. There is actually a limit to the number of hashtags that you can use and sometimes Instagram’s algorithm will prevent you from regularly using the same series of hashtags. I have since created a note on my phone with a running list of hashtags combinations that have proven to be successful and tweak them to fit the content.

Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?

Instagram is my favorite and most effective social media platform because you can share your brand through videos, pictures, and short or long-winded messages. My favorite moment is when a message I post inspires an individual to plan a trip or reach out for support for the first time.

Let’s talk about Instagram specifically, now. Can you share 6 ways to leverage Instagram to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.

1. Share your message

a. Every business has something (announcements, ideas, recommendations, etc.) to share, and Instagram allows you to efficiently do this.

b. If I want to quickly post a favorite quote, travel tip, or promote my services, I find a photo that matches the theme, type a few words, identify hashtags and boom — my message is out there.

2. Target your audience

a. Hashtags are your best friend on social media and allow you to “instantly” showcase your content to individuals who are interested in these topics. If you have a business page, you’re also able to pay to promote your content and can choose the age, location, keywords, interests, and where you want to direct the person to learn more about you, like your Instagram profile or website.

b. I have “paid to play” before and seen a dramatic increase in the number of people who come to my page. I recommend using the promotion feature if you have a major topic or announcement that you are making and want to increase the volume of people who see it.

3. Sell your brand

a. Branding is key for any business, and you can always tell when people have put thought and time into their brand versus not. On Instagram, your brand is displayed as you post content and in your bio at the top of your feed.

b. On my Instagram, I wanted to quickly share why I exist and what you’ll find in my bio: “Travel, wellness, and positive social media enthusiast. Therapist and Yogi. Wellness, travel, and social media coach.” Direct, simple, and to the point!

4. Cultivate a following

a. For any business to be successful, you need individuals who regularly support you and that plays out as followers on Instagram. The more people you have interested and coming to your page, the more likely they are to eventually walk into your store, restaurant, or contact you for your services.

b. For me, I have clients who found my Instagram, liked my message, and realized they could benefit from my services!

5. Gather fresh ideas

a. Our creative juices go through cycles, and I find it helpful in my own idea generation to see what others are doing. While I don’t like to do exactly what everyone else is doing, I’m able to take what I see and craft it into my own idea.

i. After my own engagement, I noticed a lot of influencers regularly discussing their wedding plans but didn’t see enough content that openly discussed the highs and lows or negative messages thrown at women during wedding planning. Therefore, in effort of further starting the conversation, I created a series of posts that are relationship, wedding, and positive body image oriented.

6. Connect and collaborate

a. Similar to Linkedin, Instagram allows you to quickly find and connect with people in your industry. You can easily go through their feed to learn more about the message they are sharing and see if your philosophies align. For those who are more timid about cold calling other professionals, you can start by commenting and liking the person’s posts, and then eventually make direct contact when you’re comfortable.

i. I did the slow connection game with a highly sought after colleague and now we get lunch monthly!

Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would love to be a force behind two movements:

1. I genuinely believe that seeing the world can improve your overall mental health, shift your life perspective, and allow you to grow interpersonally from each experience. Therefore, I would love to find ways for people to understand how they can travel both near and far. I hope to start hosting webinars and workshops in 2019 called “What’s Your Next Adventure?” where people can learn how to save, plan, explore, and overcome any other barriers preventing them from traveling.

2. Social media is a powerful tool, and I want to help ensure that it is being used in a positive way. Since it took off, social media has been linked to increased cyberbullying, depression, comparison, and several additional concerns related to our mental health. My hope is to work with healthcare professional, fitness professionals, marketing professionals, and social media influencers to educate them on how to promote positive mental health and body-related content on social media platforms. Similar to the travel idea, I plan to roll out webinars and workshops in 2019 that spread these important messages.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Growing up, I watched Oprah with my mom and always called my big ideas “Aha moments”. While walking along the road that Oprah happens to own in Maui, I formed my business plan for Adventures with Wellness. Not only has she inspired me, I appreciate her endless work to improve and inspire other individuals’ lives around the world. Today, Michelle Obama is my current female crush thanks to her endless efforts to also inspire women to speak up and focus on health.

Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!


How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Connect and collaborate” With Brie… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Have a deep strategy that goes beyond…

How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Have a deep strategy that goes beyond simply posting product images” With Joe Gagliese & Candice Georgiadis

Have a deep strategy that goes beyond simply posting product images. Be sure that a good portion of that content is high quality video — video is far more engaging and people are more likely to like, comment or share it. It also allows for the opportunity to speak to people and relay your message.

I had the pleasure to interview Joe Gagliese. Joe is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Viral Nation, one of North America’s fastest growing digital agencies specializing in influencer marketing. He created the social-first agency to help brands tell engaging social media stories through an amazingly eclectic network of influencers. Through his passion and determination he has developed deals with numerous Fortune 500 brands and more than 300 social influencers from the worlds of sports, gaming, and lifestyle. A 30 Under 30 winner for Marketing Magazine, Gagliese is frequently quoted in the press for his take on influencer marketing and social strategies.

Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I remember like it was yesterday walking up to my business partner Mat (the other founder of Viral Nation) and saying to him, “I really think that companies would pay to sponsor influencers posts on social because they are getting millions of organic views.” At that time, influencer marketing wasn’t a thing and we were in a completely different business. About 6–8 months after the initial idea, we began to seriously look into it. We started with a simple idea and attacked it head-on. It was a feeling in my gut that there was something there and we went for it. We stopped the business that was thriving in hopes we could trump it. Thinking back on it, it was a crazy decision but we are glad we made it.

Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority on Social Media Marketing?

Viral Nation was a first mover and over the past 5 years our campaigns through social have surpassed billions of views. Being the first movers gave us an opportunity to work with some of the largest brands in globally and bring a new era of marketing to life. I have worked on almost every industry with social and have developed deep knowledge from the top social personalities in the world. Campaigns have had every KPI imaginable and my company has executed and over delivered on all of them thus far in our history.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

Prior to Viral Nation, I had little experience and knowledge in marketing, so for me it was about proving I could make a difference and drive real results for brands. I think the most amazing story would be a Crayola campaign that we ran early on in my agency. It was a holiday campaign focused on driving to E-com and the posts were about to go live. I remember being so incredibly nervous that something would go wrong and on such a big account. The posts went live and within a few hours, we got an email saying the site had crashed from the traffic. I remember thinking first “how do we get the site back up quickly” and second was the realization that we were really on to something special. I was working so hard to earn my spot as a thought leader in the space and prove that what we were doing was groundbreaking and disruptive.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

This is an embarrassing one! About a month or two before we launched the business I was on a call with a marketing professional to get advice on what I was about to embark on. During the call she used the term KPI and I didn’t have the slightest clue what it meant. I came to find out that KPI (key performance indicator) is the most used acronym in marketing. To say the least, I was a little embarrassed but I now get to tell people and brands I work with this story which is always a comical experience.

Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?

I truly believe that over time YouTube is the platform that drives the most value. Instagram is extremely close, however. Youtube has a different type of consumer behaviour at its advantage. When consumers are on Youtube they are not only generally locked in at home on a desktop but they are committing more attention and time. This is because Youtube is long form content. Therefore advertisers can tap into long form content ads that will be consumed by a consumer that is in a different state.

I have seen brands, big and small, capitalize on the power of Youtube. If you look at Carpool Karaoke that was the single most impactful marketing move for CBS and its growth overall.

Can you share 6 ways to leverage Instagram to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.

1. Grow your community

● Growing your community is one of the most important things you can do;

● Invest in the time it takes to build a strategy and weekly/monthly plans

● Ensure you are posting high quality content

● Engage with your audience

● Implement paid into your plan to reach new audiences

2. Post Call to Action Content

● Whether its instagram story, link in bio ensure that you are providing incentive and a seamless path to convert you’re tuned in audience, the content needs to speak to people and show them why they need to act now and how to do it.

3. Create a personality that represents your brand

● Whether your the owner or simply a passionate employee, having a face for your marketing initiative on social helps to create a deeper connection your audience. It then becomes more than just a brand and people become interested and invested. Providing value beyond your product or service can help differentiate your brand and have audiences coming back for more!

4. Be consistent

● Although this is touted repeatedly, the message still remains pivotal — be consistent with your posting schedule. Have a plan and ensure the right steps are taken to make this happen.

5. Have a deep strategy that goes beyond simply posting product images

● Be sure that a good portion of that content is high quality video — video is far more engaging and people are more likely to like, comment or share it. It also allows for the opportunity to speak to people and relay your message.

6. Activate influencers

● Source influencers that align with your brand and create amazing content. The power of social (whether organic or paid) is undeniable and having people speak authentically about your brand is a great way to improve your potential customer base.

Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I have thought about this a lot in the past six months. I see how powerful social and the influencers are to everyone in the world. I think it would be world changing if somehow we could get every influencer in the world to come together and spread something globally in a meaningful way. Imagine millions of influencers with billions of followers all coming together and posting about a single initiative.

The biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?

I have two! One for a brand and one for an athlete.

My first choice would be Mark Parker, the CEO of Nike. It has been a dream of mine to do the social and influencer marketing for Nike since the start. I believe that if I could walk through all that we do and how we do it that he would be as excited about the opportunity as me.

My second choice would be Tiger Woods. If given the opportunity to work with him I could show him how to make social his retirement plan.


How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Have a deep strategy that goes beyond… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Five Ways to Use Instagram to Dramatically Improve your Business: “Correlate online campaigns with…

Five Ways to Use Instagram to Dramatically Improve your Business: “Correlate online campaigns with in-store purchases” with Courtney Blount & Candice Georgiadis

Correlate online campaigns with in-store purchases. The antidote for social media metric myopia is to draw a line between social media buys and consumer purchases. Programs like Facebook’s Offline sales measurement and Snapchat’s Placed acquisition allow us to help tie back social to brand ROI. Until fairly recently, marketers didn’t have these kinds of tools that connect online exposure to offline purchases. So use them. Action step: When you run a campaign, set up a mechanism to see if it’s affecting offline sales.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Courtney Blount, Group Director of The Media Kitchen where she manages multi-channel media strategies and planning for clients in retail, alcohol and CPG.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I’ll say my path has been an interesting one. I never set out to become a Digital/Social Media marketer. My path was anything but conventional. My original plan was to become a professional ballerina. Instead, I decided to attend Howard University, where I got a B.S. in Health Science, thinking I would become a Physical Therapist. However, towards the end of my schooling, I realized that wasn’t for me. I was familiar with the advertising industry because my mom was in the business. So, I decided to try my luck, head straight to New York and land a job at a great agency. I had no clue at the time what a recession was and that 2008 was the worst year to graduate. After seemingly positive interviews that resulted in calls that confirmed hiring freeze after hiring freeze, I received a call from an agency under the same holding company of one of my prior interviews. They wanted me to come in for an interview and the rest is history.

While my career didn’t begin with a heavy digital or social footprint, over the course of the last ten years, I strategically maneuvered myself to take advantage of opportunities that allowed me to stay close to what’s next.

Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority on Social Media Marketing?

I’ve been very fortunate in my career to have the opportunity to work with brands that were going through a rebranding of sorts, launching a new product or had a target audience with evolving media consumption habits. The common thread across all of these was the need to prioritize innovation. This prioritization pushed me into immersing myself within the social media ecosystem. Clients rely on me to be a thought leader on all media channels. Social media, I feel, is the one channel where one day you have mastered it all and the next day the entire interface has changed, every placement name is completely different, there’s a new way to measure it all and your client is coming to you that same day for your point of view! There isn’t any time not to become the authority. I have to know it like the back of my hand to ensure all of the strategies built can actually result in positive business outcomes. It’s a channel that doesn’t allow brands to get it wrong — consumers will let you know right away. My immersion into the channel has allowed me to build results-driven strategies.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Well I have made some mistakes that are funny in hindsight, but weren’t funny in the moment; we won’t get into those. This wasn’t really a mistake but rather just a learning opportunity. I’ve never been fearful of presenting, largely due to the fact that I grew up on a stage. However, I always tried really hard to emulate someone else during my presentations. When you’re starting off in your career, you get blown away by powerful speakers. All of a sudden you think you can go from three years of work experience to Barack Obama. During a presentation skills workshop, I put on my best, or what I thought was my best Barack hat. My content was strong, I had rehearsed ad nauseam and as always I was comfortable.

I got up and nailed the presentation and got decent feedback. The one piece of feedback I got that changed my approach to presentations from that point forward was, “You were great, but I wanted you to show a little more of you. I like you when we talk one-on-one, but up there you weren’t as likable.” From that I learned it’s okay to let me shine through. I can still be as prepared, but the ability to allow my personality to shine through is what makes people say, “Now that was awesome.”

Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?

I think it’s a bit hard to make such a general statement because effectiveness varies based on a few things such as category, target audiences, messaging. I believe the most effective platform at the moment is Instagram. When you think about the reason you go to Instagram, it’s to take a minute or sometimes hours away from your normal life. You go there to read that inspirational quote to make it through the rest of the day, to get some fashion inspiration for that weekend trip you have with your girlfriends or to see what new health-food trend you can try for the week. My point is, you’re going there already in that exploration phase and most times you don’t know what you want until you see it.

For brands, this is the most ideal state. The consumer is in the consideration phase and can be heavily influenced if your targeting, messaging, visuals are right. Even as a marketer I still log on to Instagram and an hour later I’ve bought a candle I’ve never smelled, shoes from a brand I never heard of and a skin-care serum that will make me look like Jennifer Lopez. This is all due to the right targeting and eye-catching creative at the right time. What makes it so easy on Instagram is the heavy focus of shopping features. It’s any ecomm marketers Candy Land. I think it also explains the success of so many DTC brands. If you take a look, Instagram is a core if not the sole piece of their marketing strategy.

Let’s talk about Instagram specifically, now. Can you share four ways to leverage Instagram to improve your business dramatically? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Pick the right goals. Too many social media strategies are based on reaching arbitrary metrics that don’t intersect with business goals. Likes, retweets and comments are all irrelevant if the goal is to increase traffic to your website, gain visibility, generate leads, prompt app installs, boost event attendance or increase sales. Ignore such proprietary metrics and focus instead on the objective for the campaign. For instance, If you’re looking to drive traffic to your site, set a site traffic objective that will optimize towards driving the most efficient traffic to site Action step: Decide on your objective and then use randomized controls to test whether your campaigns are meeting them.
  2. Correlate online campaigns with in-store purchases. The antidote for social media metric myopia is to draw a line between social media buys and consumer purchases. Programs like Facebook’s Offline sales measurement and Snapchat’s Placed acquisition allow us to help tie back social to brand ROI. Until fairly recently, marketers didn’t have these kinds of tools that connect online exposure to offline purchases. So use them. Action step: When you run a campaign, set up a mechanism to see if it’s affecting offline sales.
  3. Use third-party data, depending on your needs. Ideally, firms would have a critical mass of first-party data that helps them identify their customers on social media platforms. Such data can be used to increase loyalty, retarget or upsell consumers. But third-party data can help boost acquisition efforts by using first-party data to create look-alike audiences. Look-alike audiences are new customers who are statistically likely to be interested in what you’re selling because they share many traits with your existing customers. Pairing one data source with another can also yield insights. Articles that are read, for instance, can be an indicator of interest and intent. When coupled with location data or shopping data, they can expose new occasions for serving up marketing messages. Action step: Use third-party data to create look-alike audiences.
  4. Work with your social media partners. Social media is constantly evolving. Maintaining communication with your social media partners will help you stay up to date on the newest placements, understand their applications and negotiate inclusion in beta programs. Action step: Form strong relationships with social media partners to take part in their new initiatives.

Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I feel given our societal climate these days, this is a question most millennials ask ourselves daily. There are so many great movements currently that I proudly stand with. This is a tough question because I want to do so much! If we’re speaking on bringing about the most amount of good to the most amount of people, this goes back to the establishment or rather re-establishment of our government. When you take a step back you can make waves at the grassroots level, inspire change, build activation, but, ultimately, it’s the laws passed that govern how we operate. I think we’re slowly beginning to understand the importance of this, especially given that younger and more diverse politicians are emerging. This has to continue. We have to take a step-by-step approach to essentially rebuild a government that never intended to see the world in the way we do today. That’s the movement I want to inspire.

Some of the biggest names in business, VC funding, sports and entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world or in the U.S. with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with and, if so, why? He or she just might see this if we tag them.

This is probably a bit greedy, but it’s honest and I can’t just pick one. I would ask for a lunch with two friends — Jay-Z and Michelle Obama. Jay-Z because I respect his foresight as a businessman and I know he would have a book full of business gems to help catapult me to the next level of my career. He’s also a New Yorker and hustle is in his DNA. I would love to understand the vitamin regimen he uses to keep on his A game all of these years. I don’t think I have to explain much as to why I would want to include Michelle Obama. I’m intrigued specifically by her poise, charisma and patience throughout her eight years as the First Lady. It takes a special kind of woman to make an impact on so many diverse people — who doesn’t aspire to operate at that level? Of course, I would also need a nice hug to soak up all of her amazing vibes!


Five Ways to Use Instagram to Dramatically Improve your Business: “Correlate online campaigns with… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Five Ways to Use Instagram to Dramatically Improve your Business: “Use User Generated Content”…

Five Ways to Use Instagram to Dramatically Improve your Business: “Use User Generated Content” With Tiffany McEachern & Candice Georgiadis

Use User Generated Content. UGC saves businesses money because they aren’t creating the content and it gets them exposure when people tag them in their posts. I have shared content on my Blazers and Blue Jeans Instagram handle and tagged businesses and they will share my images on their Instagram feed. I will then share their post on my Instagram stories, getting them more exposure to my audience. They don’t have to spend money to create content and my Instagram handle gets exposure to their audience so it is a win-win.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Tiffany McEachern, a Social Media Specialist for PSCU, a payments provider credit union service organization. Tiffany has undergraduate degrees of Marketing and Business Management and her Masters of Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing. She has worked in the marketing departments of several Fortune 500 Companies and also runs an online lifestyle blog called Blazers and Blue Jeans.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

When I started college, my heart was set on majoring in advertising. I had these big dreams of working at an ad agency in a big city and helping Fortune 500 companies develop marketing campaigns. When I didn’t get accepted into the advertising program at Florida State University, I changed my major to the next best thing, marketing. As I took more business and marketing courses, I realized there were so many areas of marketing that I loved like social media, analytics, and content marketing. It wasn’t until graduate school that I really fell in love with social media marketing. Social media marketing encompasses a lot of marketing aspects that I love like content creation, graphic design, and analytics.

Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority about Social Media Marketing?

I started my marketing career while I was in graduate school interning for Bloomin’ Brands and then interned for Raymond James Financial and Coppertail Brewing Company. Each one of my internships had a different focus, one was focused on market research, another was heavy on social media, and the last one was focused around PR and Communications. After completing my MBA, I worked for DR Horton doing their social media and marketing for the Tampa/Sarasota division. I now work for PSCU, a payments provider credit union service organization, and oversee our social media strategy and help manage our social media product that we offer to credit unions. I currently oversee 10 social media channels, both B2B and B2C. When I am not at work, I am creating content for my lifestyle blog, Blazers and Blue Jeans, where I share recipes, career tips, style advice.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

Meeting Guy Kawasaki earlier this year was the most interest experience I’ve had since starting my career. He was a keynote speaker at PSCU’s annual user conference and I got the chance to speak with him and we talked about social media marketing and Canva. It was just so crazy to me to speak with chief evangelist of Canva, a graphic design tool that I use all the time to create content!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

It’s not really a funny mistake but somehow, I landed a social media internship at Coppertail Brewing Company and I knew nothing about beer. The extent of my beer knowledge was drinking Bud Light out of a keg in college. During my first week I was taking pictures of this dark porter in a glass at the bar and after a while the beer started to lose its head (foam at the top). So I post some of the photos on social media and the bartender later tells me, “So usually with dark beers, you want to photograph the glass while it still has the head on it because porters have thick foam when you first pour them. You can tell that beer has been sitting around since there is no head on it.” Since I knew nothing about beer I had no idea. The biggest lesson I learned from this was to understand your product before you start promoting it on social media and if you don’t know something, ask!

Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?

It really depends on the audience. If you are trying to reach millennials, Instagram is your best option. If you are trying to reach Baby Boomers, then Facebook would be a better option. I think the best social media platform to use in general is Facebook because it has the largest number of users and the widest demographic. Many of the credit unions we work with, have a strong Facebook presence as their membership and target market fits squarely in the age-range demographic.

Let’s talk about Instagram specifically, now. Can you share 6 ways to leverage Instagram to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.

1. Use User Generated Content.

  • UGC saves businesses money because they aren’t creating the content and it gets them exposure when people tag them in their posts. I have shared content on my Blazers and Blue Jeans Instagram handle and tagged businesses and they will share my images on their Instagram feed. I will then share their post on my Instagram stories, getting them more exposure to my audience. They don’t have to spend money to create content and my Instagram handle gets exposure to their audience so it is a win-win.

2. Partner with other local businesses

  • Follow other local businesses on Instagram, like their pictures, and comment on their content. By building relationships with other local businesses, you can cohost future events or even do a giveaway together. This ensures that you are both getting exposure to each other’s audiences. I frequently see giveaways on Instagram where several local businesses will giveaway a gift card or merchandise and all you have to do is follow each businesses Instagram handle to be entered, that’s it!

3. Collaborate with Influencers

  • Collaborating with local influencers can really impact your business if you are trying to get exposure to your business or are trying to break into a new demographic/audience. If you are trying to find influencers to collaborate with, many influencers use this hashtag on their content: #[city]blogger (For example: Tampa would be #Tampablogger). Also consider using unique codes for each influencer to help you see which influencers have a bigger impact over others. That way for future collaborations, you can work only with the influencers that bring you revenue.

4. Use the Instagram stories feature

  • Using the stories feature helps show content that might not be as ascetically pretty as the content in your newsfeed. This is an especially valuable feature for retail stores because you can show new merchandise, limited time promotions, and new markdowns to your followers. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone into a store specifically because they had an Instagram story that said an item was almost out of stock or was just marked down. You can also use this feature to ask your followers poll questions like “what types of content would you like to see more of, would you rather wear a top that is solid colored or has a pattern?” and learn about their preferences.

5. Engage with your audience

  • If people are commenting on your posts and tagging your business in their content, engage with them! It could be a simple like or even a compliment, it shows them that you’re appreciative for doing business with you. You can also learn more about your customer base by looking at the types of content they create with your products. Did they wear heels or sneakers with the dress they purchased at your store? Did they pair the top they purchased with jeans or a patterned skirt?

6. Understand linking

  • Since links don’t work in Instagram captions, use Linktree or LikeShop in your profile bio to drive your followers to the content they are looking for. The more clicks it takes for someone to reach a specific web page, they more likely they are going to leave before reaching the desired web page. Real Estate Agents could really benefit from this since they are constantly sharing their listings. They can just link each photo in their feed rather than constantly changing the URL in their bio.

Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would love to see more companies and organizations that give back to others as a part of their business model. There has been a rise in companies that follow the One-For-One Business Model but I feel like there is more room for companies to give back to the community and others that are less fortunate.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

That would have to be a tie between Sophia Amoruso and Emily Weiss. Sophia Amoruso is someone who created a multimillion dollar company unintentionally, failed, and is still incredibly successful with her new venture Girlboss. I am a huge fan of Girlboss and listen to Girlboss Radio on my way to work. She really wants to help other women be successful and start their own companies and I admire that. Emily Weiss is also someone I would love to sit down with. Her company, Glossier, and blog, Into the Gloss, really resonates with so many women and focuses on helping them look and feel their best and I really respect that.

Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!


Five Ways to Use Instagram to Dramatically Improve your Business: “Use User Generated Content”… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Five Ways to Use Instagram to Dramatically Improve your Business: “Schedule Posts” with Ali Zabel…

Five Ways to Use Instagram to Dramatically Improve your Business: “Schedule Posts” with Ali Zabel & Candice Georgiadis

Scheduling Posts — They say a picture is worth a thousand words and I do believe that. It’s also great to use a service such as Later.com or Tailwindapp.com to pre-schedule your posts so that you can have your content prepared for the week, month or quarter ahead! I have been in to theming my weeks lately and repurposing the content for different social media platforms. Having a theme that I am going Live about has also helped with content creation for my posts.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Ali Zabel . Ali is a lifestyle coach for new moms transitioning from the corporate world to motherhood so they can monetize their passions while also spending quality time with their families.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

During college I was the type of woman who was driven by her career. Every part of me thought that I would never want to put my career aside to raise my family. I figured that’s what daycare centers are for. After college I owned and operated a 10,000 sq ft gym for 5 years with my family and after that my sister and I opened a boutique personal training studio; where I was a Health Coach and Behavior Change Specialist for 3 years.

2 ½ years ago my son was born and as I was driving to and from the studio I realized that I was missing out on quality time with my family. I also realized that there was not much support for new moms who are career driven during such a vulnerable time in their lives. This is where my major epiphany came in to place and I discovered my true calling as a lifestyle and business coach for mompreneurs.

Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority about Social Media Marketing?

When you have an online business you become savvy with how to best utilize Social Media Marketing to grow and nurture your community. I am active on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. I have created a workflow that allows me to create valuable content for my community and repurpose it across all platforms in just a couple hours a week, which is huge for mompreneurs. I also find it great to be able to share the content through both video and text because I realize my niche audience has mostly young children and the way that they consume the content can vary quite a bit.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

I grew up in a smaller town in Northeast Ohio, where I still live now. I find it so interesting how much impact I am able to make by putting myself out there with a super specific niche. The best part about it is that I am doing exactly what I feel aligned with and my brand is my authentic self. There’s nothing more rewarding than knowing how many people out there truly need what you are offering to them. It’s very special and I look forward to continuing to grow and make a difference.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Technology is a great tool when it works the way it’s supposed to or rather when you use it the way you’re supposed to. My biggest mistake since starting my business was not thinking that the names of my services were creative enough. So I had everything in place, but changed a few names around which royally messed up the links that I was using and I had to redirect everything. It was a time consuming mistake, but a solid reminder to make sure that all systems are synced up prior to making them go live!

Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?

I have 2 that I am absolutely loving right now. Pinterest is huge in increasing business revenues and wonderful when generating passive income. I also love my Facebook Group, She Does It All, which allows me to connect directly to prospective clients and build relationships with them. Pinterest is great for my course style services and Facebook Groups have been wonderful in nurturing my 1:1 clients.

Let’s talk about Instagram specifically, now. Can you share 6 ways to leverage Instagram to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.

Instagram Live — I am truly loving Instagram Live right now. It is making collaborating with other influencers much more attainable and casual than it has been in the past. Long gone are the days of formal interviews when you can check in for a quick chat with a virtual friend. I feel like this brings a lot of personality to brands as well. It’s allowing you to be you in a more laid back setting. Whether you are going live by yourself or inviting guests to join you; it is just such a great way to reach your audience. Also, if people are unable to catch you live; they are still able to view it for 24 hours, which is great!

Scheduling Posts — They say a picture is worth a thousand words and I do believe that. It’s also great to use a service such as Later.com or Tailwindapp.com to pre-schedule your posts so that you can have your content prepared for the week, month or quarter ahead! I have been in to theming my weeks lately and repurposing the content for different social media platforms. Having a theme that I am going Live about has also helped with content creation for my posts.

Stories — Stories are such a fun way to go behind the scenes with your followers. You can post video or still photos that you can get creative with captions and hashtags to draw more attention to them. Similar to Instagram Live, but in just a short 15 seconds. I do wish that people would use Instagram Stories more for snippets into their lives and go Live when they have a longer story to tell so you don’t have to click through multiple stories that seem redundant. I feel that Instagram has both Live and Stories for a reason and if utilized properly can be very beneficial to your brand.

Hashtags — Hashtags are king when it comes to Instagram. You can even follow specific Hashtags now, which can dramatically increase your visibility. If you’re using Tailwindapp.com for scheduling your Instagram Posts they allow you to see which Hashtags are trending to help you gain visibility. It is important to do a little bit of research so that you can use specific Hashtags to help grow rather than just picking and choosing them at random

IGTV — This is another way to reach your audience. You can have IGTV Episodes that will stay on your profile as well as on the actual IGTV App itself. This is great if you have a specific theme or series that you are sharing with your community. If you are going Live on Facebook or uploading videos on YouTube you can also download those videos and upload the files to IGTV so you can maximize your exposure.

Links — Instagram allows you to use 1 link on your profile page, which is great because all the above will help you to drive traffic to your profile and increase your visibility. Once they’re on your page it is nice to give them a way to learn more about your specific products and services. Using a custom link from a service like Linktr.ee allows you to add multiple links so you can point your followers directly to what they may be looking for.

Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

My mission is to help moms with young families realize that it is possible to achieve work/life balance. I think being a mom can seem overwhelming a lot of times. Sometimes we may feel that we can not be a person too; however, it is truly possible to be there for your family and be there for yourself. In fact it is so important to take care of yourself both personally and professionally so you can show up in the best way possible for the people who are counting on you.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I’d love to have Brunch with Reese Witherspoon. I love everything that she stands for as a mompreneur. Her passion for both her children and businesses are truly inspiring and I think we would have a great chat about balancing work and life over some mimosas!

Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!


Five Ways to Use Instagram to Dramatically Improve your Business: “Schedule Posts” with Ali Zabel… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Make your Instagram about your…

How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Make your Instagram about your audience, not about you” With Jamie Blades & Candice Georgiadis

Make your Instagram about your audience, not about you. It’s okay to promote your business in your social media channels, but the last thing users want to see is a sales pitch. Since most of the users in Instagram are between 18 to 29 years old, bombarding them with advertising is a no-go. This demographic is not a fan of ads in general, and so you need to promote your business through content they actually want to see.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jamie Blades, the founder and CEO of Homicity, a real estate platform. Jamie is an executive specializing in UX and branding who started his career in real estate before turning to digital initiatives. He has helped businesses build user-friendly websites, drive traffic, and offer unique web experiences. After 14 years of experience as an award-winning mortgage broker, Jamie became the founder and CEO of Homicity, a proptech startup that harnesses the latest technology to improve the lives of home buyers.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I never had a specific career path in mind when I was younger. Now, I consider myself an entrepreneur. I started out as an undeclared major in the University of Ottawa, but after seeing that I could make as much money as a mortgage broker (as well as attend significantly fewer lectures!), I dropped out and joined the real estate industry. For many people leaving university seems like a dead-end, but it forced me to become a self-learner.

I began working as a mortgage broker in 2004. I took pride in helping my clients make an educated decision about their finances, but on the side, I started learning about marketing, UX design, and web development. My first experience as an entrepreneur was when I started a digital marketing agency. Our only purpose was to connect brands to people through stories and creative marketing solutions.

After some years helping businesses build easy-to-use websites, I realized real estate was lacking innovation. So, as any entrepreneur would, I set out to start a company that would change that. I took the skills I learned as a mortgage broker and as a marketing consultant to create Homicity, a new real estate platform that uses the latest technology for the benefit of home buyers.

Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority about Social Media Marketing?

An authority in social media marketing is simply someone who drives traffic using digital initiatives. Thanks to my years as a consultant, I know the key to success in social media marketing. It’s simple: the only thing you need is good content.

Of course, what exactly makes content “good” is hotly debated. For me, good content is content that is in demand. I have seen it plenty of times. When users get what they want, it drives them to the website, it builds your brand, and it turns them into leads. At Homicity, we focus on providing our audience with content they actually want and then retaining them as leads with demonstrations of our value.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

This is a bit of a loaded question as my career is already 20 years old. In the tech startup world, I’m practically a dinosaur, although I like to think of myself as someone who merely has been here for a while. That being said, this story is about connecting with the right people to achieve my company’s goals and objectives through social media. We had a top level executive that would bring great value to our service offering. After a number of failed attempts at connecting with him (darn gatekeepers!), it was time to be creative. First, we found his Instagram and learned that he loved Canada and fancy socks. Then, we found him on Twitter and finally LinkedIn. After spending $300 on socks and starting a brief career as a foot model, the efforts began to pay off. He liked a couple of my posts, so I struck while the iron was hot. I sent one email with the subject line “nice socks,” and our business relationship started.

There have been many interesting stories along the way; however, this one goes to show that if you use the tools of the day, meeting anyone is possible.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Bootstrapping a business is a challenge for most, which is where our story started. Getting a group of friends together to build something great can either be magnificent or a complete disaster. Most times, it’s the latter. I would call this mistake funny because now it seems so clear to me that working with friends isn’t the best way to build a business. Always find talent outside of your personal network, especially if you want to remain friends with them down the road.

Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?

For Homicity, Facebook has been the social media platform that leads many users to us. We share different types of content from blog posts to listings, which highlights us as a leader in the real estate space.

At first, our content was dull. I have to be honest about that. It was not engaging or interesting in the least. After trying out different combinations of content, our team found the perfect formula to increase engagement (or at least the formula for us). The analytics show our following is growing organically and our audience is engaging with our content again and again. Thanks to our creative content, we retain them.

Let’s talk about Instagram specifically, now. Can you share 6 ways to leverage Instagram to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.

Instagram has proven to be a powerful tool for us. As a startup, our following is still growing, but every day we see how our efforts have paid off. First of all, we developed a game plan. In the earlier days, we were just throwing content out there hoping it would stick. Of course, this didn’t work! We had followers, but not quality ones. To use Instagram and improve your business you need a plan. You need to sit down and think strategically.

We leveraged Instagram in 6 different ways to improve our business:

  1. Post frequently. I can’t stress this enough: Never let people forget you are there. To increase engagement, use regular posts and Instagram stories. Since Instagram is not chronological anymore, the more engagement you get, the better your chances are of showing up on the feed.
  2. Use quality media. When people scroll through hundreds of posts, yours needs to stand out. In Instagram’s algorithm, quality reigns supreme. Media with eye-catching visuals and storytelling has more weight. Right now, we are posting good quality images of home interiors because we know interior design has more appeal to users. Have well-written captions to complement the visual and engage with the user!
  3. Make your Instagram about your audience, not about you. It’s okay to promote your business in your social media channels, but the last thing users want to see is a sales pitch. Since most of the users in Instagram are between 18 to 29 years old, bombarding them with advertising is a no-go. This demographic is not a fan of ads in general, and so you need to promote your business through content they actually want to see.
  4. Try to be creative. Getting creative is easy with Instagram. There are many features you can take advantage of. From boomerangs to stories to live video, every feature is there for you to extend your brand’s creativity. Choose the right ones for your brand and join trends whenever they make sense with your brand. As long as you keep your content original and human, lack of authenticity won’t be a problem. As a startup, we know how to use the few resources at our disposal to create engaging content. There are many tools you can use like Sketch, but even free ones like Canva and Unsplash are a great alternative.
  5. Stay on message. The fact that you get to be creative doesn’t mean you have to deviate from your brand’s message. It doesn’t have to be explicit. In fact, subtle is better. For example, our use of interior home shots gives people a glimpse into which houses they can find with Homicity.
  6. Use hashtags to your full advantage. Posts with at least one hashtag have more engagement than empty ones. They help you connect with your target market, and with each hashtag, you can target users that might engage with you. However, don’t go overboard with it: #hashtagging #everything #is #just #annoying!

Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Helping entrepreneurs, whether they are starting a small business or a large-scale tech startup, is a movement we should all support. These are the people that not only bring innovative ideas to the market but also lead others by example. Nobody works harder than someone who is just starting a business. I want to encourage both young and old, those who already have a career, and those who just graduated, to jump into the waters of entrepreneurship.

I work at an incubator, and I see this every day. I’m lucky to be surrounded by hard-working men and women who are committed to achieving something together and grow a company that they believe will bring benefit to others.

Let’s empower the next wave of entrepreneurs in every way we can. It will not only bring the obvious economic benefits, but it delivers good to all of us.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I’m waiting for Richard Branson to invite me for a weekend on his island. I could learn a lot from a legend such as himself. He continues to break new ground in everything he does and inspire the people around him whether he is doing business or philanthropic efforts.

I look forward to meeting with him one day… Richard?

Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!


How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Make your Instagram about your… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Want to make a great first impression?

How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Want to make a great first impression? Have a strong bio.” With Adria D. Hookes & Candice Georgiadis

I had the pleasure of interviewing Adria D. Hookes, a Certified Business Coach, Speaker and Social Media Strategist who maintains a portfolio of businesses, including the Divine Success Sister Network, The Business Bae™, Powerful Men In Style™, and Co-Founder of The Business Besties Society. Adria was the recipient of the 2015 Global Award Winner of the SheRo Award, the 2016 Unstoppable Woman “Female Entrepreneur of the Year” Award Nominee, 2017 Woman Who Soar Award Honoree and 2018 Exceptional Women Award.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

When I started my journey in women’s empowerment — yes, I said journey — I had no clue how much hard work it was going to take to Empower! Seriously. I first started my journey 15 years ago. I was the Vice Chair of the Metro — Atlanta Chapter of the National Congress of Black Women (NCBW). That role fell into my lap. I was simply this 22-year-old young woman that was trying to change her street life and figure out my purpose.

From that point, after many more moons, I started my first association called the National Association of Professional Black Women. It was so scary taking that leap to start my women’s association. I had experience with the NCBW chapter, but I was little afraid that I didn’t have enough experience or even education to start my own association. You see, back then, that was a big deal. Also, the association market wasn’t so saturated as it is now.

However, my thinking was: Someone started one, so why can’t I. So I studied and researched and researched some more and meditated on my vision. In fact, my vision was to create a network of women around the world to come together and not only assist each other in becoming successful but give back to the community as well. The vision was bigger than me.

A little scary, to say the least. But I wanted to do it, and so I did. Years later it evolved into a global movement called Powerful Women in Business, and now recently renamed to The Divine Success Sister Network with over 10,000 women. Which led me into the Business Coaching Industry in which I was able to create a 6 figure brand.

Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority about Social Media Marketing?

I became an authority after being able to grow a women entrepreneur tribe to 20,000 in less than two weeks a few years ago. Back then, that was unheard of. Not as mainstream to grow large Facebook groups as it is today. It was definitely a huge feat! Every since then, I’ve been able to not only make 6 figures from social media working from home but help other business women become profitable online as well.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

I believe everyone most glorious moment is when they get their first favorite celebrity or influencer like, comment or follow. There’s a book that I love titled “Don’t Settle For Safe” by Sarah Jakes Roberts @sarahjakesroberts. I follow this woman religiously! I made a post about how this book was such a great read while traveling. Guess what? she commented and liked the post! I dropped my phone and cracked the screen. That one acknowledgement from her made the new finger scroll cuts I had so worth it!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I’ve made a slew of mistakes getting adjusted to social media. There is one that stands out the most among others. When I first started on Instagram. I thought that when I joined, I could just take all of my Facebook pictures and just upload them back to back on my Instagram to make sure that my IG matched my Facebook personal page. OH Boy! Was I wrong! I ended up annoying my FB friends because every time I posted a pic on my Instagram, which I was posting back to back for like 30 minutes now… I didn’t realize that somehow they were posting to Twitter which was auto posting to my personal page on FB. Yeah, I lost a lot of FB friends that day! One lesson I learned was to turn off auto-post from Twitter to FB personal page in IFFFT! I believe it’s not very beneficial to use through and was hurting my audience more than helping them. YIKES!

Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?

In 2017, Facebook was the most profitable for me. My experience with Facebook was all about relationship building. Connecting with the people that were aligned with my business goals as well as people of my direct target audience. I shifted my friends list from a bunch of random people that I have absolutely have nothing In common with and replaced them with people that had similar interest and could be a potential client. Once I shifted my friends list, that would look for the content I posted and focused on relationship building. My bank account changed drastically.

As of 2018, I moved over to Instagram and the strategy is a little different but now I’m averaging 5,000 followers a month. I’ve been able to sell out of digital products and increase my attendee rate to my local events.

Let’s talk about Instagram specifically, now. Can you share 6 ways to leverage Instagram to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.

Consistency:

Staying consistent with engaging and posting on IG is one of the main strategies that’s helped my business on Instagram. Once I decided to focus on my Instagram 100%, I made it a priority to post at least 1–2 times a day and engage with other Instagram users every day. I use tools such as Planoly and schedule my post ahead of time to make sure I’m posting every day. I also love this too because it allows me to preplan all the post but I can move my images around before I post to make sure my Instagram Aesthetic is nice and on brand.

Engagement

Speaking of engagement, just posting on Instagram and walking away isn’t going to cut it. You must spend time engaging with your followers and other IG’ers!

· Responding to comments on your post in a timely manner.

· Liking and commenting your IG following post when scrolling your news feed.

· Searching through your target audience hashtags and liking and commenting on post of your potential clients and customers.

· Engaging with Influencers by liking and following their comments. Eventually you’ll get notice!

· Reposting content from major influencers or brands

Another great engagement idea that works well is creating engaging content. As you can see in the image above that I created a post that allows my followers to comment with their business information. This allowed me to learn more about what type of followers I have and to help me understand who they are better. My engagement on this post was through the roof. The more you understand your followers, the better engaging content you have on your page.

Hashtags

Instagram posts with at least one hashtag have 12.6 percent more engagement than those without…according to “Why its time to update your hashtags” (Smith, 2018). Using the right hashtags can place your content in front the right people that use the same keywords to find businesses like yours. How do you know which hashtags to use?

Great question. I find it easier to write out a list of keywords that represent the industry your business is in, that describes my target audience demographic, what they’re searching for online to find businesses like yours and even what they’re hobbies are interest are. For example:

As you can see, I’m a business coach that helps women entrepreneurs. So a lot of the different hashtags I use are keywords that my target audience will search for in Instagram to find post that can motivate, educate and engage them. I recommend not using the same block of hashtags on every post. Try different blocks of hashtags of different post you make.

Your Bio:

Want to make a great first impression? Have a strong bio. I love the personality that I have on mine.

A strong bio includes these features:

· A great profile picture

· Branded highlight buttons

· Describe who you are and what you do.

· Emoji’s

· Your branded hashtag

· City or State for Business profiles

· Call to action

Know Your Instagram Insights

Instagram Insights is a native analytics tool that provides data on follower demographics and actions, as well as your content. This information makes it easy to compare content, measure campaigns, and see how individual posts are performing

Staying on top of your numbers is the best way to know well your business profile on IG is doing. You can tell if the content you’re creating is driving traffic to your website. You can also see which content is doing better than others and what type of audience is engaging with your content every day. If you use your insights to create great content, the more adjustments you make according to your numbers, the more traffic you’ll drive to your website.

Content

Which leads into my favorite subject! Content. Have you ever heard that Content is king? It rules social media. Without great engaging content, your success on social media will be hard to obtain. So, here’s some ways you can create great content on Instagram that can increase your engagement, your followers and drive more traffic to your website. Here are my top 3 content tips:

1. Come up with a social media content strategy. What is your overall goals for Instagram? Is it to sell your products and services? Are you looking to become instafamous! Whatever it is you need some type of plan. Outline what your goals on what you’re wanting to achieve with Instagram and create a social media content calendar that match your goals.

2. Change up your content. Yes, we understand this is a business account but your followers love an account that brings great energy and aesthetic. Instead of promoting the same product every day. Share content related to your products, share client testimonials, behind the scenes photos, etc. Show more than your 10% sale that you’ve been pushing for a year now!

3. Use your content insights to see which post are working and which aren’t. As mentioned above, staying on top of your insights will help your business Instagram success! Go to insights and click on the content section and see which post your audience engages with the most. These are the type of posts you should use more often. The goal is “Stop The Scroll” So maybe your dull picture of your feet isn’t getting any likes but the post you made of your dog wearing the hats your selling is a winner! Makes you think? Posting your dog in your hat products for most of your post really isn’t a bad idea. Check out the image below:

As you can see for my content a lot of my followers love the inspirational post that I make. So making sure I have inspiration on my page all the time keeps my followers engaged with my profile every day! Makes them want to come back.

Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Great Question. I’m starting a movement next year that I can’t make public yet but it will help more women and girl entrepreneurs become more tech savvy! We can’t wait to release it. I believe that as of 2018 going into 2019. It’s important to have basic tech skills to save cost in your business but to keep up with everything around us! My new company will provide that support and educate women on how to support themselves in such a techy world!

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Oprah Winfrey. I have to meet her. It’s on my bucket list. Her story is so inspiring and watching her grow into the billionaire she is, assures me that I can become a billionaire to.

Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!


How to Use Instagram To Dramatically Improve Your Business: “Want to make a great first impression? was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.