Lindsey C. Holmes, Entrepreneur of the Week

Lindsey C. Holmes, Entrepreneur of the Week
Description: Social media is a crucial part of any small business's marketing arsenal these days — and here to help entrepreneurs burnish their skills with this everchanging technology is Lindsey Holmes, whose varied career (just 29 years old, she's been an actress and a successful real-estate broker) now encompasses all things new-media.

Lindsey C. Holmes, Entrepreneur of the Week
BY ALFRED BLAKE MAY 12, 2011 — Social media is (or ought to be, at any rate) a big part of any small business's moneymaking arsenal. Circa 2011, it needs to play an outsize role in a company's marketing, PR and consumer outreach — mainly because of how cheap it is relative to other forms of mass communication. But you can't simply set up a Facebook page for your company, sit back and expect the revenue to pour in. Helping entrepreneurs maximize their social-media skills is Lindsey Holmes, whose varied career — just 29 years old, she has already been a sometime actress and a highly successful realestate broker — now focuses on new models of business communication, mobile-app development and more. "Social media definitely chose me," she says, referring to her career shift as the national housing bust began to take shape, "but I welcomed it." A Washington, D.C., native who attended Sarah Lawrence College and now lives in Newark, New Jersey, Holmes runs LCH Business, which has offices in New York and the nation's capital. Want to learn more about her? She is, naturally, an avid user of social media; you can find her on Facebook, Twitter and the LCH house blog. (She's not an absolutist, though. "If you don't have much to say, don't say much," she observes. "Your online content should be quality.") She'll have plenty to say, however, as a featured speaker at the NAACP's Leadership 500 Summit in Miami, a four-day event that begins May 26. As for her (newest) chosen field? She's bullish on social media's benefits for small businesses. "Going to work, I never know what I'll learn, and sometimes I have to create the solutions because they don't exist," she says. "I love being in a field that will forever affect how companies market to and communicate with their audience. That's powerful." ••• Within the last few years, you made a major career shift from real estate, in which you'd been very successful, to social media. How did that come about? At the height of the real-estate crash, I prayed for a career that would be both sustaining and fulfilling. I had discovered social-media marketing while running my real-estate brokerage. I was a young broker in New York City at 24 years old, and I didn't have the marketing budget of more established firms. I would post listings on Facebook, blog about best practices for buyers and other professionals, and search Twitter for potential co-brokering opportunities and partnerships. Marketing through my social profiles was so seamless — I amassed clients and garnered speaking engagements. God works in mysterious ways, however, and after the [housing] market took a dip, I decided it was time to share with businesses in other industries what I had learned while marketing my business online. How important are social-media tools for entrepreneurs? Social media gives the entrepreneur an opportunity to have a truly viable business with little to no startup capital. Entrepreneurs now have access to a lot of the features of a multimillion-dollar marketing and PR budget for, again, little to no money. Social media also allows for easy networking, which is the pillar of a successful business. The industry is changing so rapidly, though. How can anyone hope to keep up? It's very easy to be resourceful nowadays. Using tools like Google and YouTube, you can pretty much learn everything there is to know about everything. I subscribe to Mashable, a great resource for social media, and I attend tons of conferences. CES, SXSW and Web 2.0 are some of the best trade conferences. There are also smaller, regional conferences if you can't make the big ones. The sessions are usually given by those at the top of the industry, and the networking is phenomenal. How much time should an entrepreneur devote to social media rather than some other aspect of running the company? For businesses, I suggest creating an editorial calendar of your posts, and using tools like HootSuite or Sprout Social to help you manage. Employing a good content strategy also makes social engagement fun. Knowing that you have good, scheduled content, you can simply join the conversation without pressure. On the other hand, if you don't have much to say, don't say much. Your online content should be quality. Social media offers innumerable cost advantages over traditional outreach, but it still requires time and money. What's your advice to an entrepreneur who's not sure it'll pay off? Marketing through social media can be pricey, but the returns are worth it. I suggest assessing your current marketing strategies and expenditures, and moving those funds to social media. Try ads on Facebook, getting some basic [search-engine optimization] servicing for your Web site and maybe even purchasing a paid management tool. They start around $9 a month. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn . . . which is most effective for a small business? That's a hard question; they all serve different purposes. In the social-media marketing world, Facebook allows for longer engagements, so more content, photos and videos go there. Twitter is your quick-distribution vehicle. LinkedIn has been branded as the business social-network forum, so professionals typically go there to hire and consult. I use the resources of all of them in my campaigns and daily engagement. I'm a big believer in covering all ground — you've got to have a complete virtual footprint. •

Recent Interviews
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