Women & Social Media
By Tannette Johnson-Elie
Caroline Ceniza-Levine is among a growing number of women business owners who are leveraging social media to take their entrepreneurial ventures to the next level.
Ceniza-Levine has harnessed the power of popular social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest to build her brand as a career and business coach and workplace expert, and to help promote and grow the company she co-founded – SixFigureStart.
Based in the New York area, SixFigureStart specializes in corporate training, HR consulting, executive leadership coaching and job search/outplacement coaching. The company was launched in 2008.
Ceniza-Levine is credited with helping grow the business by 600% in its first four years of existence. She attributes much of her firm’s success to aggressive marketing and effective use of social media to build a strong public profile.
For example, Ceniza-Levine’s social media efforts have landed her guest appearances on CBS, CNN and Fox Business. In addition, she has been quoted in BusinessWeek, Entrepreneur, Fortune, Money, Newsweek and other leading media outlets. Such high-profile opportunities have yielded new clients and increased sales and revenue.
“It’s simply establishing relationships and getting people to trust you and know you better and that can lead to something tangible,’ says Ceniza-Levine. “As a career and business coach, being seen on these social media outlets is important. My ability to meet people and grow my client-base is enhanced by social media.”
Ceniza-Levine is not alone. More and more, women entrepreneurs are tapping into social media to do what experts say women do naturally – cultivating relationships, creating community and building connections, which essentially is what social media is all about.
Research shows women entrepreneurs are more likely to embrace social media than their male counterparts. They are three times more likely to engage in social networking than male entrepreneurs, according to a 2011 survey by The Guardian Life Small Business Research Institute. That’s because women tend to be more customer-focused and are more likely to incorporate a sense of community into their business plans, the survey found.
In today’s digital age, Ceniza-Levine believes it is more critical than ever that women entrepreneurs operate in the social media sphere and offered a few tips on how to the leverage power of social media:
Share your personal story:
Tell your contacts and followers why you got into business, what you believe in and your vision. Cut the industry jargon and be real and authentic, Ceniza-Levine says.
“People want to know you. Once they know you and like you, they will trust you,” she said.
Observe responses to your tweets and posts and what gets you new followers and likes.
“When you do get new followers and new likes, do more of that,” Ceniza-Levine said. “If you’re posting recipes as opposed to news about your company and your fans like this, keep posting recipes.”
Protect your time. Keep in mind that social media can be a drain on time, particularly as women entrepreneurs often must juggle the demands of business and family.
“I set aside time to use social media. I take advantage of tools and apps,” she said. “It’s important to set aside a specific time for social media and don’t deviate from that. Don’t be tempted by videos of pets.”
Finally, develop a social media strategy with specific goals – including time limits – so that what you do while you’re there is worthwhile, Ceniza-Levine.
Used effectively, social media enables entrepreneurs, women and men alike, to reach thousands of prospects without spending lots of money as is required with traditional advertising.
What’s more, given that women-owned businesses substantially lag businesses started by men in annual revenue, social networking may be one way to finally level the playing field.
“Something like social media, where it’s more engaging and easy to draw people, makes it easier for women to join the conversation,” Ceniza-Levine said. “Women are so good at relationship building, which is why it’s not surprising we’ve jumped on the social media bandwagon.”