Janet Bebb, founder of Social Progress
Founder of Social Progress, Janet Bebb talks to BQ about her business and why she volunteers her time with Digital Enterprise to help SMEs harness digital.
What is it that your company does?
Social Progress are social media and digital marketing specialists who support all types of businesses with social media management, social media training and other digital marketing needs: websites, photography, video and aerial footage for marketing purposes.
The SoPro Team have specialist knowledge in marketing & media, graphic design, analytics, photography and video production.
Social Progress were National Finalists for the Chamber Awards in November 2017 in the category of ‘Best Use Of Social Media’ and National Finalists at the National UK Blog Awards in 2016 & 2017, under the category of ‘Social Media, Marketing, PR & Comms’.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words
A social media trainer & consultant. I work with, and deliver social media workshops to, small businesses, large corporates and sole traders. This is through funded projects such as AD:VENTURE, the Leeds LEP Skills Service and in the past, the Digital Knowledge Exchange or via our full day, half day, open workshops, 1-2-1 and 1-2-2 training sessions.
One of 23 Facebook #SheMeansBusiness Accredited Trainers across the UK, working with Facebook and Enterprise Nation, gaining first-hand knowledge on the full suite of apps (Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, Audience Network, Workplace By Facebook) to support up to 50,000 female entrepreneurs in 2019.
How did you come to do the work that you do?
I was a Business Link advisor helping SMEs with a whole host of different business challenges. I started using LinkedIn during my time at Business Link and didn’t find it challenging to use. I also have a training, employee engagement and a customer service background and so was asked to help the staff at Business Link in the transition from closing the service down to employees finding new employment. I was asked by an external presenter that worked with Business Link if I would show him how to use LinkedIn and he said he would pay me.
That got me thinking, was there a business in this? I asked my colleagues to sense check their thoughts and no-one said ‘don’t do it!’. Hence Social Progress was ‘born’.
Around the same time my son, Alex (who now works for us) was using Facebook and others were saying ‘Alex, you really shouldn’t be posting that on Facebook.’ I joined Facebook to see what he was saying. I sent him a ‘friend’ request, he accepted and then blocked me and I haven’t seen from that day to this what he posts. He has unblocked me but a bug in the system doesn’t allow me to see his posts! What that did do is get me thinking about how businesses could benefit from using platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & LinkedIn for marketing their business.
What exciting things are happening in your industry at the minute?
Gosh, LOTS! It’s a fast-paced, ever-changing industry and one that many people struggle to keep up to date with. Luckily because we are a team of six social media specialists working together we keep each other informed of new changes and are always on top of new ideas and initiatives.
You can’t ignore the growth in Instagram right now. Facebook explained to us on our last visit to Facebook London in March that Instagram is growing exponentially much much faster than Facebook ever did and they predict it will be bigger than the Facebook platform itself!
We would highly recommend you consider setting up a Facebook Group if your business is able to create a network or community around it. Facebook are currently beta testing the monetising of Facebook Groups. This will be for the benefit of the admins of the groups but also Facebook will be looking to take a commission from the subscription-based Facebook Groups too. Watch this space as they say!
We’re also seeing LinkedIn claw some of the social media market share back. Businesses and professionals are communicating much more in this platform which is, in part, due to the recent changes such as video, live video and the addition of hashtags.
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
A much bigger digital agency offering a wide range of services from social media marketing and social advertising to video and photographic content, drone imagery, websites, PR, blogging, copywriting and email campaigns. We’re in a highly popular industry with lots of young people entering the market, which is great to see.
We are already working on our growth strategy to grow the business, our team and ultimately the turnover in the business.
Why was it important for you to support the Digital Enterprise or Digital Knowledge Exchange?
I felt I had the skills and knowledge to help others and had a desire to help new startup businesses and those businesses who feel challenged by the digital world. I myself am no ‘spring chicken’ and if I can ‘get’ social media anyone can. It’s all about mindset and looking at it from a social and personality perspective rather than the navigation of platforms.
I know how challenging it was when I set up Social Progress seven-and-a-half years ago. Working on the business and in the business is very time consuming, but also very very rewarding.
I just wanted to give something back and pass on some advice to those who are walking the same path as myself.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Find about five other business owners who are similar to you/on a similar path but not doing the same as you in business. A peer mentoring group if you like. I know I was very fortunate to have this as I started out and it was invaluable. They were there for me in the highs and the lows and kept me on track. Likewise, I was there for them too. We committed to be there for one another and are still in contact even now. We all need someone to pull us back up when we’re feeling beaten and to celebrate with us when things are going well.
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
Find a good accountant, not just any accountant. I made the mistake of assuming all accountants are the same and work in the same way. They don’t and luckily I made the change as soon as I realised this, but that was only after one year of trading. It’s not that the first accountant made any fatal errors, they just didn’t support me in the best possible way. Since changing accountants I’ve never looked back. Don’t get me wrong, I still see it as my weakest skill, but at least now my accountant understands that I need things explaining in simple terms and will work with me on my journey.
Why would you recommend Digital Enterprise or the Digital Knowledge Exchange?
Why wouldn’t you! The service is great. There’s so many specialist support elements from websites to SEO, social media to video marketing, content creation to Google tools and all fully funded.
The fully funded mentoring also means you can ask those specific questions that matter to your business and will help get you to the next level.
If you liked this post, please share with your friends and followers. If you are interested in digital, why not check out the Digital Enterprise Top 100, a major initiative to identify those companies that are setting an example for others to follow within the world of digital transformation.
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