Miller Finch is a social media whiz residing in the Atlanta, Georgia area. Her background is wide-ranging with hands-on business experience from her own enterprises, Home Depot, Cobb Schools, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, CBS, NBC DIC Animation, Smith Barney, and for many lesser-known companies.
In this interview, Miller explains how she founded her social media marketing agency and provides tips for the small business owner who is overwhelmed with getting started.
How did you get started in your business?
I started my marketing business, Miller Finch Media, in July 2010 after leaving a "filler" job at Home Depot and I was searching for my next move. When I saw a Good Morning America segment on outsourced social media marketing on the last day of a brief vacation, I said "That's it!" and from there I immersed myself into Twitter, doing 10 chats a week to learn more about it. I gave away my services at super cheap rates in order to build a portfolio and experience.
What kind of jobs did you have before you got started?
I have been in business for myself for many years, in different fields, and the launch into social media was the next iteration. Prior to the filler job during the recession, I had a remodeling construction/handyma'm business for six years, which had faded when the bottom dropped out of the economy.
Prior to that, I was a Massage Therapist, using trigger points and acupressure points to help clients achieve stress and pain relief. After five years, my hands wore out and my kid started school early in the morning, so I moved on to home repair and remodeling. I'd laugh and say I did "decks and necks" as there was some overlap at first.
What advice would you give to a small business owner, who is overwhelmed with keeping up on social media to keep them on track with their social media marketing?
Small business owners wear so many hats in running their businesses that so much can fall by the wayside, especially marketing. Without marketing and getting the business into the minds of the customers and potential customers, the business will fade away.
Often the business owner will have their kid or an intern run their social media under the false assumption that social media is a millennial expertise, but the problem with that is that using social media as a marketing platform needs business expertise that kids and interns mostly do not have.
Additionally, the social media platforms are changing all the time - often weekly - that the Marketer must be able to keep up with the changes and pivot accordingly. What worked six months ago probably won't work in present day. Business owners can't keep up with these changes and so don't know that their kids/interns aren't either. The best solution is to hire a professional social media marketing business like mine, Miller Finch Media, to ensure that the marketing is done properly and kept abreast of all changes.
What is your process for helping clients achieve their goals?
I offer a free 20-minute consultation to potential clients to learn what their company is about, what they are looking for, and what they need. I also research their website, their existing social media, and learn what other marketing they are doing.
I emphasize to them that social media platforms are only one aspect of marketing, and that they need to incorporate marketing offline as well, that social media is not a magic bullet to solve all their marketing issues. I also make business recommendations to them to increase their success in marketing, and immerse myself in their industry to learn more about it so that the marketing plan is on target. As a naturally curious person, quick learner, and having vast business experience personally, I've become knowledgeable in many industries, which is a huge benefit for my clients.
What is something new that you learned recently and would like to share?
The recent news of Facebook testing the removal of Business Page posts from the main news feeds of people is huge. Though Facebook says it was only a test, it's apparent that something like this or this process itself will be coming in the future.
As many already know, ordinary visibility (organic reach) of a business page's post have been rapidly decreasing, with only a 1-2% visibility to a page's fans. The only way to remedy this is to increase the social media budget to include advertising dollars - for ad creation, monitoring, and reporting, and actual ad spend on Facebook.
What have you found to be the biggest challenge for you in your agency?
Having time to do everything! As a small business owner, I too, wear many hats. I have assistants, so that helps.
What do all social media marketing campaigns need in order to be successful?
Focus, strategy, content, patience, and money. And a key component for social media marketing or any online marketing is that the business must have a website! The marketing done needs to send the potential customer somewhere, and without a website, there is no point to online marketing.
A website markets the business 24/7/365. The first thing I look at in my consultations with a business owner is their website - Is it current or old looking? Does it have material (content) to use on social media? Does it have a blog section that is updated? Does it have images that can be used? What is their logo like? Is it only horizontal or is there a stacked square version too?
It also helps if the business owner generally understands social media and uses it themselves, and understands that marketing is not sales. Marketing brings the awareness of the business to the customer, but it is the business that closes the sale. Marketing only amplifies what is there, and if the business has problems, they need to be fixed first.
How do you stay updated with news and latest trends?
I read constantly, often until late at night, and participate in business groups on Facebook. Not only must I stay knowledgeable about social media changes, but future changes, as well as the state of the economy and specific industries.
For example, Bloomberg had a recent article on the "retail apocalypse"; Restaurant news tells of the over-saturation of restaurants and why; Funding for science research has difficulties; Artificial Intelligence impacts on the future; Tax reform and how it affects small business. Twitter is a fast and useful resource for news, and I use that many times a day, along with email newsletters from a wide variety of sources. There is so much to stay on top of and incorporate into marketing strategy that non-professional social media marketers often miss entirely. I see the big picture as well as the details.
What are some of your favorite social media marketing tools?
I use Hootsuite for scheduling and reports. RSS feeds, Twitter, Facebook saves, Google search, and newsletters I receive to use for content. For images I use Pixabay, Unsplash, and Pexels, and for graphics I use Canva. On my website I use VCita for appointment scheduling and Optin Monster for signups.
What is your biggest pet peeve when dealing with new clients?
That they think social media marketing is going to make the phone ring instantly and sales will skyrocket fast. Marketing doesn't work that way. It is a long process, and patience is a must. Another big issue is that they may have a website, but they haven't optimized it for the search engines to find them.
Without SEO keywords, websites are buried and invisible. Some clients think that social media marketing is all they have to do for marketing their business, but it is actually only one piece of a marketing plan. Clients also must grow their personal networks, use social media icons on their websites and their business collateral, market offline such as at expos and conferences, and have an email signature. Small business owners ARE their businesses, and as such, must broaden their circles and visibility.
To learn more about Miller and her agency, go to Miller Finch Media.