Whether following, liking, or pinning, Jen Bennett shows businesses everyday how to take their Social Media by the reigns and engage their clients. She loves her work and her family and could teach us all a thing or two about balancing it all.
As the Social Media Specialist for iBloom, what do your day to day duties revolve around?
My day to day revolves around quite a few different things. Not only am I the Social Media Specialist for iBloom but I am also the Project Manager. I do a variety of things, everything from handling iBloom’s social media platform, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook to engaging and being social with people but also handling all of the projects that our clients hire us for, which include website designs, social, media, logo creation, graphic creation, copyrighting, speaking – all kinds of stuff. I have a variety of different projects that I do with that. I also create social media strategies for clients. So many weeks I am busy creating those personalized strategies for clients who are looking for a presence online in social media. That process usually takes a long time because it is a very personalized strategy and is a 10-page report where I do a lot of research for them. I also offer trainings on social media. I can be busy doing that or teaching social media online or at different events, so it varies day to day but I absolutely love what I do. I love helping business owners make an impact online.
When you first sit down with a business owner to discuss their goals, what is one of the first questions you ask in order to gauge their needs?
We have a variety. Actually, once they decided they want to move forward with a social media strategy, website, whatever it may be, we have a variety of different questionnaires that they fill out online. When it comes specifically to social media, we’ll talk about who their ideal client is. Believe it or not, this is an area that a lot of tend to struggle with because sometimes they get caught up in the thinking that they can be everything to anybody and that is just not the case. So we spend time talking about who their ideal client is from everything to their age, are they male/female, their education level, income level, who they follow online, what stores do they shop at, what’s their biggest ache, what keeps them up at night. So we discuss that. We also talk about what are their social media goals. What do they hope to get out of social media? Why do they want to be active on social media? Is it because somebody told them to or is it because they have a bigger goal that they have in mind. We’ll go through different things there like the what, the why, the how and then get into discussion about the main message they want to come across to social media and how we can tie that main message into everything that they produce and put out online.
That helps you build a relationship with those you are working with too. You’re helping them to rediscover their mission that they are trying to bring to their audience and also they are learning more about themselves.
Absolutely. Exactly. That is a big key. Many people just get on social media and they just jump in and don’t really have a plan behind it. You really must have a plan behind it if you want to reach out and target your ideal client, so those are some of the things we go through.
Do you think that is one of the businesses’ biggest stumbling blocks – not having a plan to maintain their social media or is it something else?
Yes, consistency. A lot of time business owners feel like the only time they can post is when they have a new product or service out and their not very consistent on their social media platform. That’s a big deal because the reality is people don’t come to social media to buy, they come to be in a community and to be in a relationship with you. Far too many businesses get on social media and post when they have a good thought or a new product or service is coming out. That is just not going to work for them. If they are doing that, they may be just stuck with it for a couple of weeks and then they come back and wonder why social media isn’t working for them. A big part of social media success is that you’re sharing your story online because again, people want to get to know you. As they get to know you and be in a relationship with you and in the community with you it is then they want to be in business with you.
That is one of the biggest things I try to get across to my clients and the fact that if you want to be successful in social media you can’t fall prey into thinking only posting a couple of times a day or a week is going to work for you. It’s just not. You have to very active. You have to be persistent. You have to be consistent when it comes to your social media profile.
Do you also freelance your Social Media skills to other businesses?
Yes, we do offer that. If a business wants to or needs help with their social media profile, we do offer that. We offer a management package where we would partner with them and work on creating social media presence to help them not only be found by their ideal client but to also help them to create a community. So one of the big things is after we put together and work on a social media strategy, we will then start working to make sure that all of their graphics are visually appealing because that is a big deal when it comes to social media success. If you’re just throwing any kind of a picture up, the reality is people are not just going to stick around. They probably not going to do business with you. If you want business you have to look like you’re in business. So we’ll work on the visual aspect. Then from there we will work on putting together tips, quotes and a variety of different things for the clients’ social media presence we kind of help then get out the facts, the questions and different things like that. Then our client will come in and either want to share their story on their social media profile because we really believe that nobody can do that better than the actual client themselves.
Have you always been Social Media-savvy? What did you do before iBloom?
It’s kind of funny. Kelly Thorne Gore who is the President and Founder of iBloom, she may laugh about this. We’ve known each other since 2006 and years ago, she and I were talking and I remember stating, “Oh, social media, it’s just a fad. It’s not going to be around.” Little did I know that this would end of being what God was going to call me to.” Prior to getting into social media I was a full time educator and I was also a youth minister. I did youth ministry after I graduated from seminary with my Master’s degree in Miami and in Texas. Then after youth ministry, God called me into education where I had the opportunity to teach in the public school system and at a private Christian school where I also ended up being one of the administrators of the school. During that time I pursued my Doctorate’s degree in curriculum development and instructional leadership.
During that time in education, I just felt the sense of God calling me out and calling me to stay home with my son who was just born and start pursuing some other things. While I was at home with my son, I came to realize that I just loved social media and I could see the power behind it and what the impact it can make on the lives of people and even on businesses. I dove right in. I had the opportunity to work with a successful Forbes Top 20 social media influencer and after that joined the iBloom team.
Technology/Social Media changes constantly but from your experienced how has this field changed/grown since you’ve entered?
I think the biggest change is just a few years ago businesses would just post business stuff. I think more and more people today are realizing that that doesn’t work. They’re starting to realize that they have to be able to share their story. I think one of the biggest things is that in order to succeed on social media, you have to be a storyteller. You have to be able to share stories. You have to be able to write in such a way that touches and attracts the heart of your ideal client. I think that is a big change because no longer can you just throw something up on social media and hope for great results. Facebook now, only maybe 5% of your fans actually see what you post. They’re giving the most attention to post that are getting the most engagement. Well the posts that are getting the most engagement usually revolve around storytelling and being able to write in such a way that draws people in. I would say that the biggest change is in order to succeed on social media, you have to be a storyteller. You have to be able to write in such a way that draws people in.
I don’t know exactly where social media is headed but there is always something new coming along. Are you excited about what is to come?
Yeah, social media changes all the time. I am always excited about the new possibilities out there. Like Instagram: it has only been around for a little bit but it is a great platform that people really use to their benefit for their businesses. I am excited on what’s to come, the changes that we see. I know some people tend to get upset and frustrated at all of these changes that we see happening. But that’s just the way that it is. That’s social media for you. You have to consistently be on top of your game and just roll with the changes that are happening. For me personally, I think it is exciting that with these changes comes better things that you can use to help move your business forward. Years ago, when we didn’t have social media, it was a lot harder for businesses to get their messages out there. Now with social media and with all the changes taking place, the small business owners can compete with the big businesses and I think that is huge.
What Social Media advice would you give to parents who are in constant fear of their kids having too much access to things online?
That is a big topic today. I think the biggest piece of advice I can give is that parents know their child the best, nobody knows their child like they do. With all of the changes that are taking place on social media, I think all of the parents should have that open relationship with their kids where they can talk about this. On top of that, parents have a good understanding of what’s happening on social media. I don’t think there is anything wrong with a lot of parents who say my child wants to be on social media, so be it. We’re going to be friends and know I am going to be checking in. So I think that is important. Social media isn’t something that parents can just be clueless about. They need to know about it, have their conversations with their kids, and be open to continually talk to their kids about social media, not being afraid to maybe limiting the platform that their kids are on and friending/following on those platforms. The big key is that parents have to be on top of it.
How do you stay current with the different social media trends so that you stay sharp and provide the best services for your clients?
I do research all the time. There are so many great things online that you can find about the changes that are taking place, Social Media Examiner, Social Media Today, Mashable, All Facebook, All Twitter. There are a lot of companies out there that provide updates on what is happening. On top of that, one of the biggest social media conferences, Social Media Marketing World that actually took place in March in San Diego is where everybody social media-related is there. It is a huge event. Attending events like that keeps you up to date online, what’s happening, knowing who has the information of the changes that are taking place, social media, keeping track and researching and watching. Those types of things are very important. Also, always being open to invest in yourself so that you can continue to be on top of things and increase your skill set.
What or who has been the biggest influence on your career path?
Gosh, there are quite a few people. There are big names out there. You have Mari Smith, Amy Porterfield, John Boomer. Businesswise, you have Kerry Wilkerson. There are a variety of people out there that I watch and I see what they are posting, they’re sharing and what they are talking about. As mentioned before, I keep up with Mashable, Social Media Examiner, who always has great information, All Facebook, All Twitter. Melissa Taylor knows a lot about Pinterest. So just following a variety of people and getting to know them online and making connections and chatting with them. Being involved in different social media groups online, where we can ask questions to each other and learn about different things that are happening.
After a long day’s work and being that you are already at home, how are you able to make that transition to wife and mother and spend that quality time with your family? How do you take off that working hat?
Great questions. This is an area I believe that a lot of business owners struggle with. I think the big key is that you have to know what your priorities are in life. If you don’t know then you will find yourself working 24/7. Quite honestly, that is not healthy for anybody. So when you know where your priorities are in life, you can then set a schedule of priorities. My priorities include, my husband, my son, family time and being with them. Working from home, there is no doubt that you definitely have to set time apart for all of them. For me, it is important that I not only plan out my week, exactly what I want to do, have it written down, set aside time to do it but I also specifically write down when I am going to do stuff. So I write down my schedule for this month. When I am going to get up. Here’s when I am going to get my son to school. Here’s where I am going to work out at the gym. Then here are my work hours. Then after 7pm I am not answering any calls. I am not answering emails. I don’t want to be online, I just want to be with my family. When I pick my son up for school, I just want to be able to come home, hangout with him, be with him, cuddle with him, start thinking about dinner and different things like that. The key is knowing what your priorities are and setting up a schedule based on those priorities.
Great tips. I need to do that as well. It is very hard for me, either being on the computer while my kids are there or staying up all night trying to do stuff and eventually it gets hectic.
Right, and I am not perfect with it every day and sometimes it is hard. I have to shut my computer down or shut my phone on silent and choose not to look at it or those messages, emails and questions coming in. Because if I don’t then my natural instincts is to respond to them. So those are some of the things that I just have to do in order to not be tied to my desk or my computer 24/7.
What has been your biggest lesson learned from your personal or professional experience?
My biggest lesson is that I can’t do anything like this without God’s hand being in it. I mean, I just can’t. It is so important when I give God my time, when I give Him my heart, when I meet with Him, when I hand over the questions and concerns that I have, the challenges that I am facing, the obstacles… I don’t know what it is but everything just runs so much smoother. The biggest lesson is that I can’t do this without God because He is the one that gives me the ideas of what I need to do, the directions that I need to walk in. My prayer is always that He would fill me up with God ideas, that He would fill me up with His ideas because I know His ideas carries so much more than what my ideas ever could. I can’t do this without God by my side.
You note your favorite scripture as Habakkuk 2:3. If you controlled the time clock what do you see yourself doing immediately in regard to your endeavors?
Hmmm, what would I be doing right now?… I mean, really, what I am doing? I love what I do. I absolutely love it. I love training. I love helping people with their online presence. I love going and speaking about social media or even sharing inspirational messages and encouragement to the hearts of women. I love that. So honestly, I would be doing exactly what I am doing right now.
I can tell that you are very genuine when you say that. I can feel, sense, and hear your smile when you said that.
Yes, I love it! I really do. I love it.
How would you encourage another woman to follow her dreams or be open to something that she may not feel is her dream but God may be calling her to that?
I think sometimes we can get so wrapped up in what we want that it might not be necessarily be the dreams God has for us. When I went to seminary to get my Master’s degree, I really felt like God was calling me to ministry. I believed I’d be working in the church and that I would be traveling around speaking at different conferences. I had the opportunity to do that. I did it in Miami while in youth ministry and my heart was absolutely broken by the church. I was hurt to the core. I remember thinking to myself, God seriously? This is what I get? I go off to seminary for a few years to get my Master’s degree because I know you called me to ministry and this is what I get in return? Honestly, when I left that church, I was hurt. I was upset. I didn’t want anything to do with the church. It was doing that time period that God worked in my heart. He allowed me to forgive the people that had hurt me and He opened doors for me in education. I never would have thought I would have become a high school English teacher, not to mention a school administrator. Not to mention that I would actually go after my Doctorate’s because God opened that door.
Even when I was in education it was interesting because I thought when God was saying to me, Jen, you’re not working in a church but do you see I still have you in ministry? You did youth ministry before. You actually see these kids more than you did in youth ministry. You’re with them every single day and you have the opportunity to impact them in big ways. And God opened my eyes to that.
From that time, I felt like I always needed to be open from where God would lead me. And yes, I would always have ideas. When I first started being at home with my son, I had a website called My Home Mission, where I offered life coaching and published a curriculum guide that was based off of a semester long course for teenagers to learn who they are and how God created them. I really felt like God was going to bless that but God turned my world around and got me into social media.
So I had to be open to that. I had to be open to taking a risk. I think that is the biggest key is that so many times we can get so stuck in thinking that we know what we want but yet God may have something bigger for us. We have to be open and willing to walk the path that He has opened for us. Because the reality is what He has for us is so much better than what we can come up with for ourselves. Honestly, I have the opportunity today to do everything that I was hoping to do when I was in seminary.
I have the opportunity to encourage the hearts of millions of people on a day to day basis. No, I am not a stage speaking every single day but I’ve got people all over the world reading the messages that I post online. Or I have the opportunity to inspire and encourage the hearts of others. That is a dream come true. It’s just not in the way that I had originally envisioned it but it is the way that God worked it out.
So I think that is a really important step. Then of course being able to move forward when you don’t have all the answers upfront. When I came home to be with my son, I had a lot of questions. I wondered, God help me. Who is going to pay our bills? How are we going to do this? How are we going to do that? I didn’t have the answers to all of that, but yet I had to step out on faith and believe yet what God is calling me to do is what He wanted me to do. So we have to be willing to do that. To step out, to risk, and to let God guide us on a daily basis. For me, I didn’t want to wake up one day on my death bed thinking to myself, “Gosh, why didn’t I go for this? Why didn’t I ever try this when I felt like God was calling me?” I just didn’t want to live life that way. I think you have to be open to where God leads you, no matter how it may or may not be like or how you originally planned. At the same time you have to be willing to step out on faith and walk the path that He’d shown you, even when you don’t have all of the answers up front.
Yes, that is beautiful. Ministry takes place outside of church in many different forms. If you could sit down with any Celebrity and “organized the mess” of their Social Media, who would it be?
Oh my, who would it be? I don’t know. That is a great question.
Maybe even a known business that you may follow and you see that their social media isn’t up to par.
Well, that’s interesting. There are a million different names I could bring up, but the biggest thing is that if I could help Christian speakers, the big Christian speakers like the Joyce Meyers, the Steven Furticks, the Mark Battersons, the Beth Moores, the big churches, that naturally just get these huge followings realize and see how they can be a digital missionary online and how they can truly carry out the Words of Christ about being a disciple and letting all of the nations know about Christ and about how we can now do that via social media. I would love that.
I have a big heart for churches, for Christian ministries, for Christian organizations, for Christian leaders. For them to realize the power behind social media and how they can help spread the good news of Christ via post on social media on a daily basis. Reality is, there are people hurting all over social media and your post, your tweet can be the one thing that lifts their spirit for the day or can be the one thing that helps them come to know Christ that day. If more Christian leaders, organizations and churches realize this and utilize social media that way, we would see a huge change online. We would see lives being change.
I think that is one of the amazing things about social media. I have received inboxes from people saying, “That post made my day.” You think that you really didn’t say much but you never know who needs it at that time. Your words have impact, even if nobody lets you know with an inbox that what you said helped them. It makes a difference. I have had people begin to like my Facebook posts that I forgot I wrote weeks ago, so it still serves its purpose when it is supposed to. It is timeless and it is encouragement that will always be there.
How do handle being overwhelmed? What do you do to refocus?
Great question. I think we can all relate to feelings of being overwhelmed at different points in our lives. For me, I have to do a few things. First, I have to take a deep breath and remind myself that it’s going to be ok. I then have to hand everything over to God and once again remind myself that He has everything under control. I then have to shift my thinking and realize that just like in every other situation, God has gotten me through the times where I have felt overwhelmed and that He will do the same thing again.
Sweet Tea, Cinnamon candles and seeing God Move, these things make you smile. What things, events or topics in the news today make your frown?
Honestly, it breaks my heart when I see so many news stories of tragedies taking place in our world. From people being killed, children in sex trafficking, children abandoned, children without food, etc. This really breaks my heart and I’m seeking God to see how I can make a difference in these areas.
How do you most enjoy spending your leisure time?
I love being with my family, husband Luke and son Liam. I also enjoy reading, getting a mani/pedi and a massage every so often is wonderful too!
As a mom we have so much we want to teach our children but what is one thing you are you will make sure you encourage him in?
To be who God has created Him to be. To always know that He is loved by the creator of this world and He has some amazing plans for Him. That our God is one who can be trusted, He is faithful.
What words describes you and your core values?
I would say Obedience is one. I feel being obedient to God is of utmost importance to me because when I am obedient to Him, He takes me on an adventure of a lifetime. I love that. That is probably one of my other words – adventure. I don’t want my life to be just this where I wake up, come home. I want my life to be an adventure. Surrender. Surrendering my goals and dreams for the goals and dreams that God has for me. Again, when I do that, he takes me on a ride and adventure that I couldn’t even imagine, so always being open to that and open to God and allowing Him to move and guide me on a regular basis. Also being intentional in all that I do. Being intentional in my relationships. Being fully present with my family and present in their lives. Being there in the moment and seeing today for the gift that it is.
How can readers get in contact with you?
They can email me at email@example.com Social media-Dr. Jen Bennet on Facebook, Twitter is @drjenbennet
Do you have any upcoming projects we can lend support to?
I have released my one-year social media challenge, which is perfect for the small business owners. It is where they get one email form me with a social media challenge for an entire year. It gives them step by step a challenge they can implement right away or do. It is only $10 a month, very affordable. I also regularly lead social media strategy trainings for business owners who want to create their own social media strategies. I have recently held one and we know have the recordings available for people to purchase.
What makes you a Connected Woman?
I would say that I am just a normal everyday woman, trying to live this life to the glory of God, trying to be obedient. I am like every other woman out there. I get tired. I get frustrated. I am trying to be the best wife that I can be. I am trying to be the best mom that I can be. And so I get it. I am not this perfect super mom, super wife, super business person; I am in there with other women. I am not perfect. I don’t always have my act together. So I get that from other women. I think we can stop trying to come across as these perfect individuals who don’t struggle with things from time to time and we would start to see real relationships taking place and a community where we can be real with each other and real growth can happen.
Anything you would like to add as last words for our readers?
The biggest things is be you. That is one of my biggest messages. Be who God created you to be. Listen for His still, small voice as he guides you on a daily basis into who it is that He wants you to be and what he wants you to do. Don’t be afraid of being you, the person that He uniquely created. Sometimes we get caught up in trying to be like other people but my biggest encouragement is be you. God created for a unique purpose. You have a special calling on your life. He can and will show you that is.
Interview Facilitated by Sharisa Robertson / February 2014 To purchase a printed copy of her interview visit here
For more information, feel free to contact Dr. Jen Bennett at DrJenBennett@gmail.com
Also, please feel free to connect her at:
View Jen’s iBloom bio at http://ibloom.co/jenbennett/
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