Q&A with Sweet Tea Social Media’s Heather Heuman
As part of our reporting on the Social Media Marketing World Conference (SMMW17) in San Diego, we’ve been interviewing fellow attendees to discuss their social media programs and learn from each other. We spoke with Heather Heuman, founder of Sweet Tea Social Marketing and talked about her new podcast and how her company seeks to amplify success via social media for her clients.
QUESTION: Tell us about your business, Sweet Tea Social Marketing.
Heather: I tell people I’m a social media speaker, strategist and trainer. At Sweet Tea Social Marketing, I help businesses create a social media strategic plan that aligns with the goals in their business. Some clients want me to help them implement that plan and other people just want the plan and want to talk with me on a periodic basis. I love working with Christian entrepreneurs, business owners and brands. That said, I have clients that are not necessarily under that faith-related umbrella. I find it personally to be the most fulfilling but, in general, I help businesses that are doing great things offline to amplify those results using social media.
QUESTION: You’ve been to Social Media Marketing World twice — what was the difference between the first year and this year?
Heather: In 2016, I went as a volunteer and was a room host stationed in one room the whole conference. I was able to consume the information that was taking place in those sessions, and then I listened to the sessions that I missed in the recordings they made available after the event. Even though I was in only one room, I maximized my time in the evening and made connections during the networking events.
This year – in my second year of volunteering – was a little bit unique because I was helping Social Media Examiner prior to the conference as a community manager on Slack. I was creating opportunities for conversations inside of the slack channels, helping people that had never been to the conference to feel more comfortable, starting dialogues and conversations in all these different channels based on different topics that people were interested in. Then, during Day 1 of the Conference, I was a track leader, which Social Media Examiner treats as a speaker role. So, I was on stage acting as an emcee on that first day, introducing the speakers and then moderating the Q&A portion. That allowed me to be more of a regular attendee on Thursday and Friday of the conference.
The main difference I found between the two years is that, in my second year, I was able to have deeper connections with people who I had met with in-person the first year. I had a chance to attend the speaker party because I had that role as a track leader so that helped connect me directly to a lot of the speakers. (That is always fun because you have this star-struck kind of moment when you meet the speakers and discover they are just like you and me.)
I enjoy the moments of talking with people that have interests similar to mine, learning what paths different people are on, and soaking up all the information from the speakers in the sessions.
QUESTION: It sounds like you know Michael Stelzner, the founder of Social Media Examiner – how did you meet him?
Heather: I met him face to face the first year I went to SMMW – one of those moments where all your efforts to use social media to make connections pays off. I had engaged a lot with him and Social Media Examiner primarily on Twitter. When I got to the conference, I saw Michael and thought “I’m going to go say hello right now in case I don’t see him again the rest of the time.” I walked up to him and I said, “hey, Michael, I’m Heather Heuman and you probably don’t know who I am,” and before I could say anything, he looked at me and said, “you are Sweet Tea Social, aren’t you?”
I was so excited to see that my branding was working and that our interactions online really did have a real-world impact. In fact, he is going to be a guest on my newly launched Business, Jesus and Sweet Tea Podcast so I’ll be interviewing him this week.
QUESTION: Did you get the idea to start the podcast from SMMW17?
Heather: I have been wanting to do a podcast for about a year and a half but I just kept putting it off primarily because the technology aspects were making me feel like I didn’t have the bandwidth for it. But after attending SMMW17, I started consuming a lot of information from top podcasters. I rolled up my sleeves and decided that summer would be the best time for me to kick this off. I picked a launch date and then worked backwards 60 days out and made it happen.
I kept focusing on the strategy piece of doing podcasts well, learning about smart ways to interview people, and really maximizing the connections in the network that I had built over the last couple of years. Then, my assistant and I got the show format exactly as we like it, got a system and procedure in place. We use Trello to keep a flowchart on our podcasts. I handle capturing the content and my assistant handles the remainder of the process.
My main reason to do the podcast wasn’t because I wanted to immediately make money with sponsorships. I went into it with the notion that even if I never have sponsorships, it would be a place at the top of my funnel. Someone who is totally new to me, who is not on social that often but likes consuming podcasts to get information, would see the value of working with me. So, for me, the podcast is just about showing up and helping helpful.
QUESTION: Do you have an example of a social media activity or program that you’ve implemented for one of your clients that was a big success for you, and why did it work?
Heather: My favorite clients are those people that trust me and allow me to come in with my area of expertise and help them. This past spring, I had new client with a pet industry product, Mr. Groom Pet Products, in the e-commerce business. Mr. Groom was open to increasing their brand awareness.
In a two-and-a-half-month timeframe, with my social media strategies and very specific testing with Facebook ads, we’ve been able to get Mr. Groom from about 400 or so Facebook followers to over 10,000 as of July, and they are averaging about 1000 new likes a week. The cool thing is it’s not just random people that are liking the page, it’s very specific among pet groomers because a lot of Mr. Groom’s products are shampoos and conditioners.
We developed great content strategies including creating video and interviews and testimonials with customers at a pet fair, which allowed me to come back and incorporate all of that into our social strategy. The team at Mr. Groom are so excited because they had been trying for so long to try to move the needle because they genuinely have a great product, with customers across the globe that love what they offer. When you are a small company trying to compete with major retailers like PetSmart, it feels daunting. We’ve been very successful with that brand awareness piece of getting Mr. Groom’s brand out there, finding the people who already do like their brand and leveraging what they are doing and then extending that to a bigger market. So, the client has been quite pleased. I’ve put together a checklist “Heather’s Checklist to Grow Your Local Business,” and you can get a copy here: http://bit.ly/localbizgrowth.
QUESTION: Is there a social media tactic that you want to try but you haven’t been able to yet?
Heather: I will say that the one of the things they talked about at SMMW17 were bots and using them in Facebook Messenger. I’m a huge proponent of real-time engagement and I have seen the use of bots in Facebook Messenger to be quite helpful as a marketing opportunity. I would put bots on my top 5 list that I would like to dive into learn more about and practice it a little bit on my own brand and then ultimately roll that out for my clients.
QUESTION: What advice do you give to people who are starting out in social media?
Heather: My number one tip is to not be overwhelmed by feeling that you must be everywhere on social media. That’s the biggest mistake I see people make.
#1: People stretch themselves too thin – they’re trying to act like Starbucks and Target when they don’t have a Starbucks and Target type of budget. You need to think of it as a positive when you are the business owner or if you’re a smaller company – you don’t have 15 people to go through to get a decision approved on what color of logo or what kind of things to be posting about on social. You can put it out there and test it and see what your audience likes, and then learn from those insights.
#2: Intentionally include in your social strategy a plan to build connections with people that are out of your personal network. Don’t think of people who are in your space or in your industry as competition. Think of them as part of your network. If you show up to an event and you meet someone from a different town that does what you do, you can reach out on social to build a connection, and then develop a real relationship. You can grow so much when you have a collaborative spirit – when you find people that you like and trust, and then you can ultimately help one another. There’s enough business in the world to go around when you have the mindset of “there’s enough out there” when you’re on social media.
Tips on how to amplify business success using social media from @heatherheuman Click To Tweet
You may also be interested in our other SMMW17 blog posts and attendee interviews:
- From Us to You: Nuggets of Social Media Conference Gold
- Tips on How to Create Great Videos with a Smartphone (SMMW17)
- Tips on How to Create Shareable Social Media Images
- Part 2: Editing Videos on Your Smartphone (SMMW17)
- Prep or Regret! Using Data to Prepare for a PR Crisis (SMMW17)
- How DocuSign uses Smart B2B Social Media Tactics to Build Brand Awareness
- How HCS Manages their Social Media Program for Multiple Brands–Part One
- HCS’s Successful Social Media Campaign for Social Change – Part Two