I love stories like this: Someone sets out to do one job and eventually creates an entirely new and unexpected business.
It happens more often than you might think.
Former teacher Zeb Welborn found his way into an internet marketing and social media business by accident, when he realized how well these marketing strategies worked for his tutoring business. Now, in addition to his tutoring business, he helps businesses boost their online presence — and he has a special niche with golf courses.
Recently, Zeb sat down with The Daily Interview to share some of his social media wisdom, including being everywhere versus focusing on one or two platforms, the most effective ways to build a following, and what he thinks will be the next big thing in social media.
Zeb, tell us more about your business and how you began helping clients with various internet marketing services. How did Welborn Media come to be?
I decided to leave my career as a teacher after I got divorced. I traveled the country looking for a job at what happened to be the beginning of the recession. I applied for jobs everywhere and couldn’t find anything and ended up moving back home with my parents. It was a humbling experience, to say the least.
Then I 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 so I decided to make a business out of it. My sister, Lacey, was learning how to build websites around the same time, so she built me a website to get my fledgling business off the ground.
I assumed that once I built the website, people would find me online. 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 and social media, and then I 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.
What has been your greatest success so far?
That would be writing my first book, The Social Golf Course (affiliate link), which took much longer and was more labor intensive than I could have ever imagined.
There is so much that goes into a producing a book of that quality — from formulating my thoughts and ideas with my co-author, John Hakim, and putting them down on paper, to the copy editing stage and proofreading. And, finally, to putting the book on Amazon and creating print copies with Lacey. It was such an satisfying and creative experience.
I worked extremely hard toward the last days of putting the book together, often working 16 hours a day and through the weekend. 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 at or am planning to speak at some of the largest golf course owners’ conferences and organizations, and have been contacted by influential people and organizations in the game of golf.
To a lot of people, social media can be somewhat of a mess. They create accounts across all the popular channels, yet don’t execute any single one effectively. For someone who is just getting started with implementing a social media strategy for their business, what are your best tips for doing that in an effective way? Should newer brands focus on just one or two channels, or should they try to “be everywhere”?
Your goal with social media should be to try and be everywhere, but every organization needs to build up to that point.
Each social media platform is unique, and each has its own protocol for engagement and interaction. If I were a new business, I would focus on a single social media platform, the one where I felt my ideal customers are most likely to be, and learn how to use that one effectively.
It takes six to nine months of using a social media platform to familiarize yourself enough with the platform to make it effective.
I know this may differ from brand to brand, but what would you say are the most effective strategies for building a following on Facebook or Twitter?
There are lots of ways to build a following on a social media platform, but here are my three basics:
- Face to Face: 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” or “Follow us” link on your website, include those links in your email signature, etc.
- Social Media Platform Engagement: 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 business. Every time you engage with other Facebook pages, the active users there have the opportunity to see and connect with you. For Twitter, start conversations with Twitter users who live locally or who are passionate about the kinds of things you do.
- Advertising: I love Facebook advertising when you 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.
Today, it seems like everyone is tweeting and sharing on Facebook. What do you think is the next big thing in social media that most people haven’t caught onto yet?
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 streamlined procedures that used to take weeks to complete and can now be handled in minutes.
For example, I’m involved in an 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 of one another — all from the comfort of our own homes.
What are your favorite online resources for social media marketers?
I try my hardest to stay as organic as possible in each of the platforms, because they perform best when they are used as intended. You always lose some functionality of the platform when you’re using an outside application.
One thing I use consistently is TweetDeck, which helps me manage multiple Twitter accounts. Even so, I still prefer using Twitter through Twitter itself.