I love stories like these. Someone sets out to do one job, and eventually finds themselves creating an entirely new and unexpected business. It happens more often than you might think.
Zeb Welborn, a former teacher, found his way into an internet marketing and social media business by accident, when he realized how these marketing strategies worked so well for his tutoring business. In addition to his tutoring business, he now runs a successful internet marketing company, helping businesses (and has a special niche with golf courses) boost their online presence.
In this interview, Zeb tells us about his whole story and goes into a lot of great social media advice, including: being everywhere vs. focusing on 1-2 social media platforms, the most effective ways to build a following, and what he thinks might be the “next big thing” in the social media world.
Definitely check this one out if you’ve been struggling to grasp social media with your blog or business.
Zeb, I’m really interested in learning more about your business and journey, and how you got into helping clients with various internet marketing services (SEO, e-mail marketing, social media, etc.) with your business, Welborn Media. How did Welborn Media come to be, and what would you say is your core business today (or “ideal” client, perhaps)?
How I got into internet marketing is a long story.
I decided to leave my career as a teacher after I got divorced and traveled the country looking for a job, which happened to be at the beginning of the recession. I applied for jobs everywhere and couldn’t find anything and ended up moving back home with my parents.
A humbling experience to say the least.
I then saw a craigslist ad for a parent in need of a tutor. I began tutoring that student and realized very quickly that I enjoyed tutoring students in a one-on-one setting and decided to make a business out of it. My sister was learning how to build websites around the same time and so she built me a website to get my fledgling business off the ground.
I assumed that once I built a website that people would find me online and, through Google Analytics, I quickly learned that wasn’t the case. So, I started to learn how I could get people to find me online. I started to use email marketing, social media and began to collaborate with online experts in the educational community.
Many of the parents I tutored for were business owners who saw what I was doing and were impressed. One of them reached out to me and asked me if I could do Twitter for her business. Immediately I was making more money than I was as a tutor so I made the shift to internet marketing and the rest – as they say – is history.
What do you consider to be your greatest success (or successes) so far with your online business?
My greatest accomplishment so far has been authoring my first book, The Social Golf Course. When I started the project, I knew I was very motivated and thought I’d be able to crank out the book in a month or two, but it took much longer and more labor intensive than I could have imagined.
There is so much that goes into a producing a book of that quality from the beginning stages of formulating my thoughts and ideas with my co-author, John Hakim, and putting them down on paper, to editing the copy of the book with my Dad, Larry and my Mom, Annie. And to putting the book on Amazon and creating print copies with my sister, Lacey. It was such an enjoyable, satisfying and creative experience. It is something I will never forget.
I also worked extremely hard towards the last days of putting the book together, often working 16 hours a day and working through the weekend, that once I finished, I assumed I could take my foot off the gas a bit. But, as any author can tell you, finishing the book is when your work really begins.
Promoting the book and trying to get it in the hands of the right people is work in and of itself, but it has opened up a lot of doors for me. I have signed up three golf courses since launching the book, (soon to be four), have spoken or am planning to speak at some of the largest golf course owners conferences/organizations, and have been contacted by influential people/organizations in the game of golf.
To a lot of people, social media can be somewhat of a mess where they create accounts across all the popular channels, yet don’t execute any single one effectively. For someone who is just getting started implementing a social media strategy for a blog or business, what are some tips that you can offer for doing it in an effective way? Should newer brands focus on just one or two channels, or should they try to “be everywhere?”
I think the goal of social media should be to try and be everywhere, but every organization needs to build to get to that point. Each social media platform is unique and each one has their own protocol for engagement and interaction which is fascinating to me. If I were a new business, I would focus on one social media platform (the one where I feel my ideal customers are most likely to be) and learn how to use it effectively.
I feel it takes between six and nine months of use in a social media platform to familiarize yourself enough with the platform to make it effective.
So, my recommendation would be to start with one social media platform, learn everything you can about it, and use it daily for six to nine months . . . until it becomes second nature for you and your business.
I know this may differ from brand to brand, but what would you say are the most effective strategies for actually building a following on Facebook or Twitter? Is it as simple as putting a “follow me” or “like us” link on your website, or are there some more advanced tactics that people can take advantage of?
There are lots of ways to build a following, but I will give you my three basics for building a following on a social media platform.
Face to Face – Talking to everyone about where you want them to connect is a great way to build a following and perhaps the most effective way to build engaged followers. Tell everyone you know that you’re on Facebook or Twitter. You can do this through word of mouth, flyers, signs in your business locations, putting a like us/follow us link on your website, including those links in your email signature, etc.
Social Media Platform Engagement – The next way to build a following is to communicate with others on their social platform. For golf courses, we’ll reach out to local business, organizations and communities through Facebook to comment and interact on those Facebook pages. You can collaborate with the managers of those Facebook pages by building a relationship through Facebook while exposing their followers to your brand/business. Because every time you engage and interact on other Facebook pages, the users who are active there have the opportunity to see and connect with you.
For Twitter, you can start conversations with Twitter users who live locally or who are passionate about the things you are and build a following that way.
Advertising – I love Facebook advertising when users have a clearly-identifiable target market. Using advertising for golf courses through Facebook is a no brainer because I can target people who identify themselves as golfers within a 50-mile radius of a golf course . . . The typical distance a golfer is willing to drive to play a round of golf. It’s a great way to build a following. I’ll actually be creating a tutorial on how to use advertising effectively for golf courses in a month or two on my website, 19th Hole Media.
Today, it seems like everyone is tweeting and sharing on Facebook, and both now seem to be very mainstream activities for most brands. In your opinion, what’s the “next big thing” in social media that most people haven’t caught onto yet?
I’m not sure if it could be described as the next big thing, but Google+ offers so many cool features that socially savvy business can use it to create, collaborate and grow much more efficiently. Creating communities, conducting Google Hangouts and using Google Drive have all stream-lined procedures which used to take weeks to complete can now be handled in minutes.
For example, I’m involved in the Achieving Success Mastermind group which meets weekly and we have members from all over the United States and Canada. We’re able to communicate face to face, collaborate on projects and build awareness for each other . . . and all from the comfort of our own home. It’s truly phenomenal.
What are your favorite online resources for helping websites or businesses maintain their social media efforts?
This is an interesting question and it’s funny that you should ask it now because my Achieving Success Mastermind group, through Google+, just created a list of the top resources and tools we use, which I will be giving away free to anyone who signs up for the Welborn Media Newsletter. If any of your readers are interested, have them shoot me an email and I will send them the complete list of the internet marketing tools we use.
In the document, we highlight some of the top tools that we, as internet marketers, use to promote and grow our business.
But to answer your question, I try my hardest to stay as organic as possible in each of the platforms, because they perform the best when they are used as they are intended. You always lose some functionality of the platform when you’re using an outside application or platform.
The one thing I currently use on a consistent basis is Tweet Deck because I manage multiple Twitter accounts. Through Tweet Deck, it makes managing Twitter accounts much easier, but I still prefer using Twitter through Twitter itself.
Finally, where can people find you online?
The Tutoring Solution is based in Southern California. We provide one-on-one in-home tutoring to students in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange Counties.
Welborn Media, the 2013 Chino Hills Business of the Year, helps small and medium-sized businesses build an online presence for themselves using internet marketing. We help our customers with social media, SEO, Google AdWords, blog writing, email marketing, content creation, website design and more. Our motto is Share Your Passion. Grow Your Business.
19th Hole Media helps golf courses use social media to get people to play golf, play more often and become advocates for the golf course. We’ve effectively managed the social media presence for golf courses across the country.
We created a website for my book, The Social Golf Course which is designed to create a discussion in the golf course industry about the ideas presented in the book. The Social Golf Course was written to educate the golf course industry on the importance of creating a strong social media presence as it pertains to the growth of golf.
I’m the host of the The Defining Success Podcast. The Defining Success Podcast is an interview-style podcast which seeks to share the stories of successful people and how they became successful. The goal of the podcast is to share stories of individuals success to make it more accessible for those who are trying to become successful.
Lastly, feel free to connect with me on any of my social media platforms.
Twitter – @ZebWelborn
You can just feel free to search for Zeb Welborn and connect with me on LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+ or any other social media platform I’m on.
Thanks for the interview! Had a blast!
Thank you for taking the time to do the interview! 🙂
What did you think about this interview with Zeb? What have you found to be the best ways to grow a social media following? Leave a comment below!
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