[Live Chat Recap] Digital Marketing 101 Q & A with Priyanka Biswas via OWN IT

Digital marketing 101

This is an exciting post! I was recently invited to be a guest on a live chat via OWN IT and it was an amazing experience being able to share some of my best tips with an awesome community of business owners. If you don’t know about OWN IT, it is a network of small business owners from all over the world. And it is absolutely free to join! You can sign up here if you like.


Here’s what we covered during the chat.

We spent one full hour covering the ins and outs of how to think about your digital marketing strategy as a small business owner or solopreneur. Some of the big questions we tackled were:


1. The top questions you should ask before you dive into creating any kind of digital marketing strategy for your business – whether you’ve been in business for 10 years or 10 months.

2. How to set clear, attainable goals for what you want to accomplish on social media.

3. Tips for how to create an email marketing plan for your business, including the first steps to consider when you are setting up a new email list and capturing leads.

4. Easy guidelines for how to create beautiful, sharable images on Instagram and Pinterest that will make your business shine online – including expert design tips that you can use right away!

And much, much more!


Here’s the full recap of the chat. I am including the Q & A session which I had with Audra during the chat as the content of this blog post. Lots of excellent info folks! Make sure to give it a read and share it with your community.



Audra: Hello everyone! Happy Wednesday, and welcome to our live chat today in OWN IT!

This month we’ve been talking a lot here in OWN IT about goal setting — and (no surprises!) many of you here are focusing in on your main goal of getting new customers and learning new tricks in digital marketing.

That’s why we’re thrilled today to welcome OWN IT member Priyanka Biswas as our very special guest!

Priyanka is a top member here in OWN IT and an expert in all things digital marketing — from how to best gather leads online to mastering social media. You can read more about her here on her website.

Priyanka, welcome! And thank you so much for joining us today!


Priyanka: Hi Audra and everyone on the chat today. Thank you so much for having me!

So excited to be a part of this chat today and the OWN IT community as a whole.


I joined OWN IT to connect with small business owners and solopreneurs like myself, to share my expertise and also to learn from peers and other business owners. I believe that you can never really stop learning and even though you might be the expert, there’s always room to gather further knowledge.

So far I’ve really enjoyed being a part of the community, helping and learning!


Audra: For today’s chat, we’re going to begin with a Q&A with Priyanka, so that we can all hear more about her own experiences with digital marketing, creating online ads, and how to go about creating great assets and content for your social media channels.

Then we’ll open up the floor to take all of *your* questions toward the end!

First of all, Priyanka I would love if you could share with us a bit about your background and why, in particular, you are so passionate about working with small businesses and solopreneurs.


Priyanka: Sure! So, my background is in Software Engineering. Yes, I used to write code at one point in time, way back in 2008. I began dabbling in social media marketing back in 2010 when I started working for this eco friendly website called EcoHomeResource.

At the time businesses were just warming up to social media, and Facebook and Twitter were the 2 most important social media channels for communicating with potential customers. Pinterest was available but was mostly for personal use.


While trying to grow EcoHomeResource’s and consequently its sister company SaveGreenNow’s audience base, I really became interested in the whole concept of digital marketing, particularly social media and email and began accumulating more knowledge on the subject.

I worked extensively with Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest plus email marketing during my time at EcoHomeResource & SaveGreenNow and that is how I transitioned towards digital marketing.

I also realized that digital marketing wasn’t only about marketing, there were also some tech aspects involved and that is where my background in Software Engineering came into play. Tech in marketing is something a lot of small business owners & solopreneurs struggle with, and I think my combination of a tech background + marketing expertise makes me unique in the sector.


I am small business owner too! I understand the challenges they face, especially when it comes to marketing online when compared to established brands.

The digital marketing world is becoming increasingly competitive and is always in flux. What worked a year ago may no longer be valid today!

And all of this (the info, the tech, the changes etc.) can be overwhelming when you are a small business owner and/or a solopreneur.


Let’s be honest, as a business owner you need to spend more time running your business than running your social media accounts, right? And if you don’t do it right, you would just be wasting precious time plus $$.

Therefore my passion is to help other business owners like myself to get it right from the beginning. Don’t waste your time trying to figure it all out by yourself. Let someone guide you towards the right direction so that you start off on the right track.


Further reading: [Client Case Study] How We Used a Combination of Facebook Ads and Instagram Posts to Promote JustBeU Magazine’s Print Edition Launch Party


Audra: Priyanka, when you work one-on-one with small business owners to put together a digital marketing plan, what are some of the questions that you tackle with them first before putting together a plan?


Priyanka: I offer 2 types of services (Solutions and Consultations) and the I questions I ask depend on the type of service a potential client is interested in.

So, for example, if a client reaches out to me for Facebook advertising, these are some of the initial questions I would ask before putting together a plan:

Q1. Tell me a little about your business goals and why you’re looking to start with Facebook advertising?

Q2. Is the Facebook pixel installed on your website?

Q3. Do you have an existing email/contact list who have purchased your products/used your services in the past?

Q4. What is your monthly ad budget?

Q5. How much are you willing to spend per customer from the above monthly budget?

Q6. Do you have content/creatives to support your ad campaign?

Q7. How often are you looking to blog? Do you have content related to the product/services you are looking to sell?

Q8. Have you ever run a Facebook ad before?


Audra: These are such great questions!

A few of these I admit I would have never considered and just jumped in blindly. So helpful!

So, to build on that, are there common questions that every small business owner should ask before they begin to think about their *brand* and how they are advertising themselves online?


Priyanka: Yes, absolutely!

The one question they should ask themselves before talking to a digital marketing specialist is,

“What is my ultimate goal from this marketing campaign – be it social media, email, video, influencer marketing etc.”


A lot of business owners reach out to me with a huge list of things they would like to do to grow their online presence – for example, “I want to sell my products, I want to start a Facebook Group, I want to run Facebook ads” and so on…Of course they all can be done but not all together.

See, the thing is many people forget that digital marketing goals must be measurable otherwise you are just wasting your time creating/posting content because you don’t know if it is even working, right?

So, your goals must be specific, and byte sized and they must be measurable.

For example, if you want to begin showcasing your products on Instagram, ask yourself, what is my ultimate goal or goals?

  • I want to have “X” number of followers within the next 3 months.
  • I want to build my email list from Instagram.
  • I want to have a monthly/quarterly budget for Instagram advertising and so on.

It is essential to have clarity before embarking on a digital marketing campaign, whether you are doing it DIY or hiring someone to do it for you.


Further reading: Facebook Advertising for Beginners: Demystifying the Facebook Pixel, What, Why and How


Audra: For a small business owner who is just starting out with digital marketing for their services or their product, what is the #1 place that you recommend they start first? Why?


Priyanka: I would say, start with ONE social media platform and your email list.

Because social media is not something you own. You don’t own your Facebook page, Facebook does.

So, think of social media as a platform to direct people to your email list. Don’t think of social media as a platform to sell directly, it will not work!

Now, yes, it may work for Starbucks or Nike but for a small business owner, it is essential to think of social media as a platform to educate and provide value at first.


Audra: So, Let’s say I have just $100 to spend on testing out online ads to get new customers, where in 2017 can I get the most bang for my buck? Is it Facebook Ads, Google AdWords, somewhere else?


Priyanka: I’d say Facebook, Instagram and/or Pinterest ads. If your business sells products, I would test it with Pinterest and/or Instagram ads.


Further reading: [Video] How to Create a Social Media Content Calendar for Your Business  – The Step by Step Guide to Ditching Overwhelm and Getting Organized


Audra: Ooooh yes, great call! I’ve definitely started to see more Pinterest and Instagram ads on those platforms. And I agree – if you can capture my attention visually, it can work really well.

So, just a minute ago you mentioned using Facebook and other social media platforms to drive people to your email list.

I want to talk about that for a bit! How do you recommend that someone use email marketing as part of their digital marketing strategy?

Does it work for all types of businesses, or are there specific use cases where you’ve seen it to be most successful?


Priyanka: Of course I haven’t worked with all types of industries out there in the small business world. But in my expertise I would always recommend concentrating on having/building an email list.


You don’t want to lose that prospect who discovers you via the internet, be it social media or Google search and lands on your website. You want to be able to offer them something valuable in exchange for their email so that you can focus on building that relationship and eventually turn them into a customer.

Sometimes people may not buy anything from you but remain in your email list because of the value you provide. They may consider recommending your products/services to their friends/acquaintances because they genuinely think you provide value.


Of course, not everyone who lands on your website will sign up for your emails, and people will unsubscribe even after they sign up. That is just how things are. You can’t please everybody. The ones that stick around are the ones you should focus on anyway.


Audra: I hear that!

As someone who subscribes to a handful of newsletters and email lists, I’m pretty picky about only keeping the ones that offer something really valuable to me every time I open up my inbox.

Life’s too short!

So, in your experience, what is the easiest way for me to start growing my email list if I’m starting from scratch?

Where do I begin?


Priyanka: You have to provide something of tremendous value for free in exchange for a prospect’s email address. Think of something your audience needs help with. Does your free offer solve that problem or at least a part of the problem?

However, if you are a new website/business it will take some finite time to build up that traffic and get people to convert. Some things you can do to speed up things are:


1. Using social media to promote your blog posts, make sure all your blog posts have a CTA guiding people towards your free resource – in the sidebar, within your post, in the footer, as a pop up etc.

Trust me people’s attention spans on the internet are limited and there’s no harm in reminding them as they scroll through your blog post that “Hey I have this amazing free resource for you to download and this is where/how you can grab it”.

2. Pinterest on autopilot can really help with list building.

3. If you have a brick and mortar store along with an online presence collect emails physically when people visit your store. Offer a discount for having customers fill up a feedback form or a survey when they buy something. For example, add it to your receipt.

4. If you can add a monthly ad budget, use social media ads to speed up the process of list building.

5. Sometimes Facebook Groups allow you to promote your free offer on specific days. Join relevant groups and use those days to your advantage. But also remember to be helpful. Don’t only advertise your business.

6. Use OWN IT! Be helpful within the community to build a name and help out fellow business owners. If you are genuinely helpful you will be able to build trust around yourself your business and what you have to offer.


Further reading: Four Key Social Media Questions Answered – What Does your Audience Want


Audra: You mentioned a few social media channels above, so I want to talk a bit more about social media again.

If I’m a small business owner or solopreneur who is just starting out in 2017, are there social media channels that you recommend someone tackle *first* to support their brand and get the word out about their business?

For example, should I pick Snapchat over Instagram, or should I only focus on Twitter?

There are so many channels to keep up with right now and it can get overwhelming!


Priyanka: You are absolutely right about the overwhelm part!

In fact this was one of the decisions we had to make for a client of mine. She is launching a new business this Summer – a line of custom designed handbags. You can stop by @covetthebag on Instagram if you’d like to learn more.

Given the nature of the product and the target audience, we initially zeroed in on Pinterest and Instagram. Right now we are building brand awareness via Instagram.

The account is only a month old but we have been able to get a good response from Instagram and are planning on concentrating our efforts there for the most part – including advertising to speed up follower growth and get more eyeballs on the account for increased brand awareness. And we are also using Instagram to build an email list.


So, to answer your question, I would again say, it depends on the nature of the business and the social platform where your target customers are expected to hang out. Spend some time thinking about your audience, their demographic, interests, hobbies, etc.

For example, if you are targeting a younger generation, they are most likely spending more of their time on platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat. If your business caters to the fashion, lifestyle, or creative niche, again, you should be looking at visual platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest.

But say your business wants to sign up local customers, maybe you are a fitness/yoga studio, you would definitely want to look at at Facebook too.


Whatever platform you choose, begin with just the one and focus your efforts on it until you’ve build trust and some significant social proof. You can then branch onto others over time.

Yes, building followers on social media will take time. It will not happen instantly and you will need to be patient :). But as I said before, always have a measurable goal.


Audra: Ahhh…. patience. Definitely a good reminder that these things take time!

Let’s talk a little bit about creating those compelling images for Pinterest or Instagram.

If I’m not a graphic designer – and I can’t afford to hire one just yet – how can I create compelling images that my followers will like and re-share? What’s your best secret?


Priyanka: There are plenty of free tools available to help you create compelling graphics.

Canva, of course, is my favorite and is absolutely recommended for those who are just starting out and don’t know/or have any idea on how to begin with designing their own graphics.

PicMonkey is another tool which I really love. Both have free and paid options available. And the paid options are pretty inexpensive!

In fact, I have a free graphic design toolkit for non-designers available on my website if you’d like to grab it.


Further reading: [Video] How to Create a Designer Quality Infographic in Minutes Using Canva – The DIY Step by Step Guide


Audra: Okay, I can’t wait to check out those resources.

Do you have any best practices or “tried and true” tips for how to create images or content that you want to share out on social media when you’re using these tools?


Priyanka: Sure, here are some my recommendations.

1. Begin with a simple design. Don’t over complicate things. Keep the message and the graphic simple.

2. Don’t use more than 2 fonts in one graphic. Or in fact throughout your website and other marketing collateral such as via your email newsletter etc.

3. Have your branding in place. Choose the colors and fonts you would like to use for your graphics and keep them consistent with your website. Use your logo to brand your graphics whenever applicable.

4. To save time from creating the same type of graphics over and over again, create and save templates for future use. This can be done in Canva very easily.

5. Use Canva’s pre designed templates for inspiration to design your own.


Audra: Priyanka, I’d love if you could tell us a bit about your Instagram community, #SocialMediaMadeSimple!

I’m loving all the posts under that tag – not only are there some really beautiful photos that you’ve shared, but also a lot of thoughtful posts about you are using social media and how to get the most out of your efforts.

In your experience, what is the best way to approach Instagram marketing? Are you seeing a lot of folks interacting on the platform with small business owners through their business accounts? What tactics can help you stand out from the noise?


Priyanka: Thank you so much! Yes, if you are  on Instagram, would love to connect with you. You can stop by my profile @socialmediawpb.

Instagram is really catching up now! They’ve been rolling out new features almost every week.

So, Instagram is ALL about hashtags. If you are just starting out on Instagram, yes you will need to use all 30 hashtags (the maximum number allowed per post) to begin with. No exceptions there!

And not just any hashtags. You will need to spend time researching who you are trying to reach out to and use the relevant hashtags.

Also remember, some hashtags are much more competitive than others. So, for example, it is very difficult to rank for a hashtag which has a million uses than one which has a 1000 uses. Therefore it is also important to research a good mix of both the high and low volume hashtags to use in your posts. This increases your chances in being found.

If you use only high volume hashtags your post will get instantly buried in a sea of other posts. And if you use only low volume hashtags you reach will be very limited.


There are many small business owners on Instagram. Engagement may seem to be down because Instagram recently shut down bot services such as Instagress which were responsible for leaving spammy comments on user’s posts.

But here’s the thing, to generate engagement on your page, you will also need to engage with others. So keep aside 15-20 minutes per day to leave genuine comments on other’s posts too.


Here are some tips to help you stand out from the noise.

1. Conduct a thorough hashtag research before you begin posting. List them down.

2. Keep 5-10 sets of 30 hashtags each ready to go out with each of your posts. It is also essential not to repeat the same hashtags everyday. Increases chances of you being shadow banned by Instagram. You can learn more here.

3. Keep a close check on your Instagram analytics to learn more about when your audience is online to optimize your posting times.

4. You have to have good content. Instagram is very visual and if your photos don’t stand out, your business will fail to stand out amongst the crowd. If you can DIY great. But if you can’t, I absolutely recommend hiring a professional to help you style and edit your photos.

5. Last but not the least, engage.


Further reading: [Infographic] What are the Best Times to Post on Social Media


Audra: On a personal note, what are some of your big goals in 2017 as a small business owner? Are you growing your business this year, or rolling out new services?


Priyanka: Right now my focus is on client work and will be for the rest of 2017. If you would like to learn more about my services, you can do so here and if you would like to schedule a call with me you can fill out my Client Inquiry Form here.

I am not going to be rolling out any new services as of now.

However, I have digital products in the pipeline which I am looking to launch in the first quarter of 2018. These can be offered to small business at a lower price point and will be excellent resources for those who are looking for a DIY solution.

I am not going to spill all the beans right here because they are still in the planning stages. But feel free to sign up for my emails and you’ll receive all of the info as and when things progress.


I hope this chat recap will help you in mapping out a strong and clear digital marketing strategy for your business!


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