Kill ’em with content: a Q&A with Alyson Shane

February 13, 2017
Should we hire someone to do our social media or just do it ourselves?

It’s a question businesses are asking more and more.

For some much needed insight on this, we sat down with Alyson Shane, local content marketer and social media manager. She provides some useful tips to make sure your business is getting the most from its online content.

WINNIPEG CHAMBER: When did you develop a passion for writing?

ALYSON SHANE: I’ve always been passionate about writing and how we communicate. Growing up, I always had my nose in a book (or two, or three…) and always enjoyed writing exams and papers in school.

In high school, I started writing fan fiction (fictional stories based on existing books, movies, etc.) and I discovered the world of blogging. These two communities provided me with ways to develop my voice, and the fan fiction websites provided me with places to give and receive constructive feedback from peers, which was immensely helpful.

Eventually, I moved away from fan fiction to focus on blogging, and as social media began to emerge, I realized that these tools were the best way to utilize my skills as a writer to engage with a larger, broader community.

WC: Why should businesses hire someone to generate content and social media, as opposed to doing it themselves?

AS: Simple: social media is a time-consuming process.

A lot of planning, preparation, and research should go into any action that a business takes online, and it’s often one of the first areas to “slip” when a business gets busy.

For example, part of crafting a successful message on social media means understanding who your target audience are, where they hang out online (different age groups use different social networks, for example), and the right kinds of messaging, images, and tone to use when speaking to them. This process can be time-consuming, and it’s just one first step!

We make our client’s lives easier by taking the guesswork out of their social media needs and allowing them to focus on what matters: running their business, finding new customers, and generating revenue.

WC: What’s the biggest mistake a lot of companies make on social media?

AS: The biggest mistake that a lot of companies make on social media is not actively engaging with their audience.

“Engaging” means taking the time to reach out to the people who follow you online (your “audience”) and talking to them. Posting content which asks questions and encourages people to respond to you shows that your business wants to hear from its customers.

Additionally, taking the time to respond to messages, comments, and going out of your way to interact with customers and other businesses online can go a long way towards helping your audience see your business’ social media profiles as ways to talk to real people who care about them.

WC: What’s the best part of the work you do?

AS: The best part about the work I do is having the opportunity to learn new things, and knowing that our services provide positive value for our clients.

I’ve worked in a variety of marketing-related jobs before, but being able to work directly with our clients to develop strategies which add value to their business is always an incredibly positive and empowering experience.

We work with nonprofits, enterprise-level businesses, mom-n-pop shops, and other businesses from a variety of sectors. As a result, I spend a lot of time researching, learning, and developing processes which benefit our clients, which has the added benefit of teaching me a variety of new things, too.

WC: How big an honour is it to be one of CBC Manitoba’s picks for top local social media influencer?

AS: It was incredibly humbling. It was also a very validating experience; I chose to stay in Winnipeg and start my business here because I believe that our city has so much to offer, and that I could use my “voice” on social media to be an advocate for the good that I see all around me. I’ve been active online for years, but I only recently felt like I found my “purpose”, and so being identified as an “influencer” by CBC Manitoba felt like a wonderful culmination of those efforts.

WC: Blogging is a big part of what you do. How do you generate ideas on things to blog about?

AS: I’ve been publishing content online for 15 years, so at this point coming up with content topics has just become second nature. One of my favourite things to do is meet with friends and clients and brainstorm over content ideas!

I also read a lot. I try to allocate at least an hour a day to researching different topics, reading news articles and forums, and checking out industry-related blogs for new information. I also read a lot of fiction and nonfiction, essays, research papers… basically anything I can get my hands on which may teach me something new, or which piques my interest.

WC: You’re a lover of coffee and craft beer. What are some of your favourite places in the city?

AS: I’m pretty sure the best Americano in Winnipeg can be found at the Thom Bargen location on Sherbrook St – it’s where you’ll find me meeting clients, stocking up on beans, or just hanging out on a nice day.

As far as craft beer goes, Half Pints has to get a mention because they’re responsible for introducing me to what good beer tastes like. These days I tend to frequent PEG Beer Co., Barn Hammer, and The Commons (try the Neapolitan Stout if it’s still available, it’s my favourite).

That being said, my favourite place to work in the city is definitely Forth because they have my “holy trinity” of productivity: good coffee, beer, and (most importantly) wifi access.

Follow Alyson on Twitter (@alysonshane) or visit alysonshane.com