Digital Skills Academy
Using Social Media to Grow Your Business, An Interview With Ian Cleary

Using Social Media to Grow Your Business, An Interview With Ian Cleary

Last Friday we had the pleasure of talking to Ian Cleary. Ian is the founder of RazorSocial and an industry expert in social media with a particular focus on social media tools. We talked to Ian about his business, the latest social media news and advice for startup founders. 

About RazorSocial 

RazorSocial provide online training to help companies build an effective social presence, market their content and convert this marketing into sales through building effective sales funnels. Visit www.razorsocial.com to find out more.

How can people follow you?

We’re on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, blab, periscope. We use a wide range of social media platforms and then look carefully to see where we are getting the most impact. We observe the analytics on all of the sites to see if we are building awareness, and are we driving traffic to our website?

Social media platforms rise and fall, how do you assess which is the best use of your time?

With the analytics on each social media platform we assess weekly what is happening, and every 3 months we run an overall strategy review. As we operate in the social media field it is also good for us to be early adopters of any new technologies that are emerging. It also gives us a good advantage if they turn out to be popular ones.

You are active and have a big following on Twitter, talk a little bit about why that’s helpful to you?

Twitter for business is useful, a lot of our audience are there, and it drives traffic to the website.

There has been talk that Twitter might be overhauled and possibly change how it operates, would it make a difference if Twitter suddenly no longer existed?

In the future, if Jack Dorsey (returning to be CEO again) doesn’t make a success of Twitter it’s quite possible it may be acquired by someone else.

Twitter is useful for me but if it disappeared tomorrow, then the audience would migrate to a new platform. We would then move to where our audience is. Therefore it is important to keep looking to see if you are communicating in the space where your target audience is.

How has the company grown?

Excellent, really great. We are now 3 years in operation.

This is the 3rd year of winning in the Social Media Examiner awards.

I was listed in the top 25 global marketers globally. We have succeeded in getting some big customers on board. A global organisation flew in thirty of their social media team from around the world to be training in advanced social media and content marketing techniques. I also wrote a chapter in a book, Success Secrets of the Online Marketing Superstars by Mitch Meyerson, which has been great exposure for what we offer.

What were the key goals to focus on as you grew your business?

To have a clear idea of why you are building your online presence, and what the ultimate goal is. The goal of RazorSocial was to focus people on generating revenue for their business using social media to generate a sales funnel.

From P to M, building your audience P (people) to ultimately generating income from your work M (monetisation).

PRISM is our unique framework we use to train people around the world to sell through social media and content marketing.  P is for people, you need to build up your audience first on social media channels.

R is for relationships.  Without strong relationships, you don't get engagement on your content

I is for inbound traffic.  The sales from your social media connections happen on your website, not your social media channels.  You can also drive inbound traffic directly for content on your website (e.g.organic traffic to your blog)

S is for subscribers and social retargeting.  You need to convert your traffic to email subscribers and if you don't convert then you need to retarget them with ads.

M is for monetization.  This is the biggest problem. If you don't have sales funnels to convert after all the hard work then you're just wasting your time on social media.  There is a lot to learn with sales funnels and also a lot to earn!

Looking back at setting up and developing your own business, is there anything you would have done differently?

Yes, in Year 1, the blog began and got a good audience but we didn’t know how to generate revenue from it. We should have been building a sales funnel to get the value of the content we created. If I starting again I would have a sales funnel right from the beginning. To allow a visitor to the site to buy something, from day one.

What are your plans to scale your business? 

  1. To offer monthly membership, to build recurring income.
  2. We are also developing a side project, to build a product that we can sell to our audience. This will launch next year. It will be software to help people to grow their business through a marketing automation tool.

It’s important to recognise that it takes a while to figure out what are the right training products to sell online. It’s important to know who your audience are, and what they need and are willing to pay for.

Why does social media help gain your business? The Gary Vaynerchuk question, ‘what is the ROI on social media?’

We focus on sales funnels and converting to sales. It’s important to know the difference on social media between getting likes, favourites, shares etc and knowing the impact on your sales.  With our activities, you can measure the sale funnel and its impact on your revenue.

You need to be viewing your analytics, you need it to run your business online. If you’re not looking at the analytics then you will have no way of knowing if you are having an impact or not.

How quickly can people hope to grow their business using the methods you outline?

From day 1, think about what you’re selling, and what channels you’re using to sell it. Build your presence, with good content, promote it, and then if you have a sales funnel you should see that engagement convert to sales.

Don’t build a site, without a clear goal of what you’re trying to sell, build the sales funnel from day 1.

Tips for people thinking of starting up their own business?

1. Get on the phone, have conversations with people, social media - ask them - especially when you have nothing to sell, for advice. You are also building potential leads for your business. Not everyone does this, but it’s a really important thing to do.

2. Find a good mentor. Someone who has been through it all before.  Successful people also like to help and share their insights. Not all of them, but again if you don’t ask them you will never find out. Look at your network, look at your business, see who could be good a fit, and who is accessible. Engage with them, ask them if they’d be willing to help. Use their time sparingly and you’ll be surprised how helpful they can be.

You work remotely some of the time, any tips specifically for those initially bootstrapping from their own bedrooms/homes / etc?

Have a clean environment, with space allocated for work, not cluttered. I have an office at end of garden, it’s only ten seconds away, but it’s good to get away from the house. If that’s not possible, then at least have a room or a space that is separate from non-work things. Have good lighting, a good chair, and an uncluttered desk.

Work/life / online/offline, your current strategies for managing this?

It is a blur between work and what’s not work for me. But I do what I do because I enjoy it. Is doing this interview work? (laughs). I started at 5 am this morning. I will then go to the gym at 12. It’s important to do something physical too. In the evenings I spend time with the kids and family. I do some work at the weekend but not much. Family, fitness and friends are all important. 

Anything else you'd like to add / we should have asked you?

I created RazorSocial, rather than just IanCleary.com, so there is the possibility it could be sold. If it is just ‘you’ there is no potential to sell, this is something you should think about. At the same time, I am the ‘brand’, so my Twitter / Facebook accounts must be on message too. They are an extension of your brand and you need to communicate accordingly.

Visit www.razorsocial.com to find out more Ian and RazorSocial. 

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