Tommia Hayes: “Understand the purpose”

Understand the purpose — Realize that LinkedIn is a professional social networking platform. So, posting pictures of you in a swimsuit or sharing derogatory posts is inappropriate. Remember, the purpose of your profile and company page is to showcase expertise, build your network and grow your business. If you’re sharing obscenities, your network won’t grow. As part of […]

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Understand the purpose — Realize that LinkedIn is a professional social networking platform. So, posting pictures of you in a swimsuit or sharing derogatory posts is inappropriate. Remember, the purpose of your profile and company page is to showcase expertise, build your network and grow your business. If you’re sharing obscenities, your network won’t grow.

As part of my series of interviews about “How to Use LinkedIn To Dramatically Improve Your Business”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tommia Hayes.

Tommia Hayes is a modern, multi-faceted marketer. From her work with celebrity ambassadors to her development of digital promotional assets (such as event websites and campaigns), she approaches her work with the expertise of a full communications team.

With 10 years of experience working in communications, Ms. Hayes has a proven record of accomplishments in digital marketing, multi-channel, and customer outreach platforms. She has a passion for helping organizations build digital marketing efforts to reach more people and is versatile writer across mediums. She currently serves as the senior manager of communications at CHC: Creating Healthier Communities.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

My path took an unexpected turn, but I’m happy to be where I am today. I initially wanted to be an entertainment journalist. However, that wasn’t in the cards for me. I quickly learned I was camera shy. Print journalism did not offer the diversity of projects that I hoped for. However, I knew I still wanted to be in the communications field.

I began to explore other fields within communications and found a passion in public relations (PR) and digital marketing while completing my undergraduate degree. I loved the fact that public speaking was limited. In this field, I soon found that there’s always something new and interesting waiting around the corner. In this digital age, social media is always evolving. PR also allows me to stay connected with the media while not working directly in the field.

Upon finishing my collegiate studies, I was able to apply what I learned in the classroom into real world experience. That’s when my career started to take off in the direction that felt right for me. I currently serve as a senior manager at a national organization blending my passion of digital marketing and PR all in one role. This field is fast-paced, but still allows the right work-life balance so that I am able to spend time with my son and family.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

Working for small organizations and in a junior role, I never thought I would have the opportunity to work with a celebrity. But through faith, hard work, and perseverance, I was able to secure television personality/singer/actress as our “celebrity champion.” Finding the right celebrity for a cause is challenging in that you need to do the detective work to see if they are the right fit and then find the path to engage them in your cause.

By securing this celebrity champion, I helped our organization receive the dollar equivalent of millions of in earned media, hundreds of new social media followers and thousands of social impressions. Plus, it helped raise a lot of awareness for a rare disease and caught the attention of corporate sponsors.

It was amazing working with someone I admired and loved watching on television. This opportunity also taught me early in my career to never doubt yourself. Don’t let your title, age or fear get in the way. If you don’t go for it, then the answer is automatically no. Always shoot for the stars.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I’ll never forget when I first graduated from undergrad, I was listening to others, including my parents, and I immediately enrolled into a graduate program I didn’t care for. I wasn’t exactly sure the direction I wanted to go yet. I wasn’t landing well-paying communications positions and was considering another field.

So, I was in this master’s program and I was not interested in the topics covered in the program. I had excellent grades in my first class, but failed the second. That’s when I took a step back and had to reevaluate what I wanted in life. I began to do more research on programs that aligned with my career goals. A few years later, I was accepted into a top communications graduate program that surpassed my expectations. I was even prouder when I finally received my master’s degree.

Although, my first master’s program was a costly mistake I couldn’t transfer my credits), I learned to go at my own pace and trust my instincts. . It’s ok to take advice, but at the end of the day you have to know and trust yourself to make the right decisions for you. Remember, life is a marathon, not a sprint.

Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?

This depends on the mission and company. Currently, LinkedIn has been the most effective social channel for my organization.

LinkedIn has helped us connect with social influencers — leading health professionals and corporate social responsibility (CSR) leaders — to speak and attend our events (virtual and in-person, when it was safe), along with guest blogging for our website. LinkedIn has also helped our organization’s fundraising efforts increase over 200%. LinkedIn is more than just a recruitment tool, it can be used to convert leads into clients, connect with influencers and showcase thought leadership.

Let’s talk about LinkedIn specifically, now. Can you share 5 ways to leverage LinkedIn to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Understand the purpose — Realize that LinkedIn is a professional social networking platform. So, posting pictures of you in a swimsuit or sharing derogatory posts is inappropriate. Remember, the purpose of your profile and company page is to showcase expertise, build your network and grow your business. If you’re sharing obscenities, your network won’t grow.
  2. Grow your network. This is a networking tool, so if you’re not connecting with peers, what’s the point of having a profile? After meeting a speaker at an event or conversing with a potential client or contact, send them a note and connect with them. It’s a great way to stay in touch, keep conversations going and build your relationship.
  3. Share compelling content. Don’t share posts just to share. Make sure your content is informative, has a clear call to action and is free of typos. Remember, it’s quality over quantity. If you begin sharing uninformative, unauthentic posts, your engagement will decrease and you will start losing followers.
  4. Take advantage of groups. Joining groups on LinkedIn relevant to your industry is a great way hear what your audience is discussing. It’s also a great way to share advice or promote upcoming events you’re hosting. Another benefit of joining groups is you can send InMail to users you’re not connected to (free of course). Also, don’t be afraid to start your own group as well. It’s a great way to moderate the topic, showcase your leadership and control who can join.
  5. Invest in ads. Every business has a budget but in order to grow, investment is crucial. Sponsoring content is a great way to generate new quality leads, target a specific demographic you’re not connected with, and sponsored content on average is interacted with 3X more than organic posts. Focus on your object, whether it’s more engagement on your best content, increase conversions or increase your followers. Decide your budget, then start your campaign.

Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Don’t be the bad guy. In a world full of snakes, why not be a butterfly? You sometimes see the bad guy winning in the beginning, but remember, in the end, they will lose. I can share countless stories where I witnessed self-centered behavior or claiming credit for the work of others. Later down the line, I see that many with these habits have not advanced or are stuck in a bad situation. Which brings me to my last point, remain humble and loyal. You don’t always have to be the center of attention. Remember, you have to crawl before you walk. Work hard, stay on top of your game and support your supervisor/team. When you do this, you will get the opportunity to shine. You will also have a circle you can count on long term.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Two words — Michelle Obama! She’s amazing and accomplished so much in her life. I admire her relationship with her family, work ethic and what’s she’s done for this country as a role model and First Lady. Even though she’s so accomplished, she’s never forgets where she came from. And no matter what, she always takes the high road — something I’m working on, lol. I would love the opportunity to discuss her book “Becoming,” and ask for advice in my career. I’d also like to share with her that my former professor gave me a lower grade on my paper I wrote about her role in shaping American life. He insisted it was because she didn’t help Barack Obama make decisions on policies for the United States. I’m sure in hindsight he would see what an icon she has become!

Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!

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