How One Marketer Helps Entrepreneurs Succeed

Phoebe Gavin can take a small business from good to great.

How? Well, through social media of course.

After joining the Army for college, Phoebe dabbled in fashion before finding her home in the world of marketing. Today, Phoebe helps young professionals and entrepreneurs maximize their social media through smart and targeted strategies.

Read our interview with Phoebe to learn how to leverage social media to your business’ advantage, as well as what common social media mistakes are made by entrepreneurs. Check out Phoebe’s page to book a consultation for your business.


Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in a tiny beach town in Florida, but I always had dreams of the big city. My parents were of modest means and weren’t going to be able to send me to college, so I joined the Army to pay for it. It was a difficult experience, but I learned some important lessons about how big the world is and how thankful we should be to occupy a comfortable corner of it. But I can’t honestly say I was sad for it to be over; I was ready for the next chapter of my life.

I thought that would be the fashion industry. But halfway through my undergrad with a few internships under my belt, I knew that I wanted to do something that had a more meaningful, direct impact on people’s lives.

Thus began my windy road to helping entrepreneurs and young professionals.

What are 10 words to describe yourself?
Intensely curious. Obsessed with self-improvement. Fascinated by how people think.

When did you start working social media? What do you love about it?
I started working in social media when I was volunteering with a veteran’s charity. I helped them with their online outreach and managing their private online community for veterans and servicemembers. This was around the same time that I was learning about consumer behavior and integrated marketing in college. Experiencing both at the same time was deeply instructive. I learned it doesn’t matter what the consumer is consuming – buying a suit, donating to a charity, participating in a support program – the decision making process is the same.

The thing I love about social media is that we’re able to observe and quantify so much more of that decision making process. It’s not a black box anymore. Now, we’re able to get real-time feedback and iterate on our messages. If we’re perceptive about the data and creative about how we iterate, we can make lasting, mutually beneficial connection with our customers. For me, it’s exciting from conception and execution to analysis and iteration.

What is your process like when working with social media clients?
My clients are primarily small local businesses and young professionals. They tend to do too much or too little. So it’s all about finding the sweet spot between the extremes. My process always starts with those two questions:

Who are you trying to reach?
What are you trying to achieve with them?

Once those two questions are answered, a strategy falls together pretty easily. “Who are you trying to reach?” answers the question of what platforms you should be using. “What are you trying to achieve with them?” answers the question of what you should be posting and how often.

Then we develop a step-by-step plan together. Then they decide if they want to execute it themselves, or have me do it for them.

What are your three tips for small businesses who want to leverage social media to their advantage?
First, have a plan. Small business owners have a lot of responsibilities. Every moment is precious, so it’s understandable that many owners don’t take the time to sit down to think through exactly how they want to market their business to customers. But it’s important. Going through the mental exercise of shaking out the bad ideas and organizing the good ones will prevent you from impulsively dumping time and money in the wrong places.

Second, stick with your plan. Don’t do more or less, just keep your eye on the prize. Don’t get sucked into every notification, comment, mention, or retweet. Don’t procrastinate on checking off your social to-dos. Take care of your goals for the day or week and then get back to running your business.

Third, be willing to adjust course. Give your plan a fighting chance, but if you’re not achieving what you want to achieve, go back to the drawing board. Take a look at what worked and what didn’t and try something new. If you’re not sure what to do, look at what your competitors are doing. If all else fails (or you just don’t feel like bothering with it at all), ask for help from a professional like me. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune to get professional help from a social media expert.

What’s one mistake most small businesses make on social media?
Non-stop selling. Obviously social media is a marketing exercise and you market to drive sales. But social media is also where you connect with your audience and get them to understand and trust your brand. If the only thing you do is ask them to spend their money, they’ll get annoyed and unfollow you. But you’ll develop a much more engaged community if you sprinkle in information that is helpful to them, humor (if that’s right for your brand), and other “non-selling” types of content.

What’s been your favorite project or success story from working on social media with small business clients?
My favorite client is always restaurants. I’m always shocked when great restaurants don’t have big followings on social media. Food is one of the most shared things on social media. If your establishment has a great vibe and your food is delicious, you should have oodles of followers – especially on Instagram and Facebook. I love seeing the “AHA moment.” Most owners don’t realize how easy it is to get people invested in their restaurants or how easy it is for them to create content that their communities will get excited about.

What’s your favorite form of social media and why?
You might expect me to say the new hot network, but it’s an old school fave: I love Facebook. I think for most small businesses, Facebook is where you’re going to get the most meaningful return for your time and money.
You have a much bigger time window to connect with your customer: the half-life on a Facebook post is about six hours but can be as long as three days.
You have a much more robust set of metrics to look at when you’re trying to decide what messages are working.
Advertising is super cheap and you have lots of options available to laser-target right to the group of people that most likely to fall in love with your business

How do you use about.me? What do you like about it?
My social media business is just one part of my digital identity. I like that my about.me is the “hub” of my digital presence, then I can cleanly lay out the “spokes” for people who want to learn about me. Interested in my writing or activism? Here’s my blog. Interested in my social media expertise? Here’s my company website. Interested in who I am in my free time? Here’s my social media pages.

Every professional should own their “dot com”, but most professionals don’t need a custom website. about.me is a great way to have a clean summary of who you are without having to agonize over building an entire custom site.

Zoë Björnson is a Product Marketing Manager at about.me. She loves cheese and is currently traveling the world while working remotely. You can find her on Twitter @kzoeb.