• Social Media

Sonya Gavankar Teaches Us How to Maximize Social Media

What do you need to know to harness the power of social media?

When Sonya Gavankar was crowned Miss District of Columbia while in college at American University, she understood the power of reaching the masses with a great smile, a sense of humor, and a poised walk down the runway.

Today, as the “Face of the Newseum,” local TV reporter, and a sought-after master of ceremonies, Gavankar has mastered the art and science of using social media to build trust with consumers by using her voice and honesty to brand herself.

“Social media platforms let you show your company’s personality and use it to your advantage,” she says. “But that means you have to be captivating.”

Scroll down for Gavankar’s advice on how to shine in the social media sphere.


Be Inkandescent: How do you know which social media sites to pay attention to?

Sonya Gavankar: It’s so hard to know which new social media site will take off. I suggest joining them all early so that your brand has first choice of name. Also play around on the sites. You’ll quickly learn which work best for you and which grab your attention. Those are the sites others are also likely to gravitate to. And remember to ask young people to help you craft messages for these sites. Interns, for example, are a great resource to find new and interesting sites to amplify your corporate voice.

Be Inkandescent: What are the elements of a great social media campaign?

Sonya Gavankar: Staying true to your company and its brand is key. There is nothing wrong with being serious and buttoned-down if that is who you are. Think of it like a first date. You don’t want to lie to your date with a personality you cannot maintain. When you are honest in tone and message, you win over everyone. Consumers who use social media can quickly tell when you are trying too hard. Also, don’t try to be funny if your company isn’t. The jokes will always fall flat when you try too hard.

Be Inkandescent: How do you measure success in terms of return on investment?

Sonya Gavankar: ROI is something you should consider early. Before crafting your message, think about the impact you want to have. For example, do you want your site to be easily found? Or is it more important to offer your customer base a taste of what makes you special? Doing this advance thinking will keep you from throwing too many possible options at the wall to see what sticks. Then tailor your message to the outcome you expect.

Be Inkandescent: What are some no-nos about social media campaigns that you have seen?

Sonya Gavankar: Low-quality content is still low-quality content. There was a time when you could get away with poorly lit video from your cell phone, because online video was new and different. But those days are numbered. While your iPad or iPhone is capable of recording high-quality video, it still won’t look like it was shot by a professional. It’s better to spend the money to have high production values in your visual content. If you don’t have the budget for video, just go with audio podcasts. Folks can focus on hearing your message if you don’t have the resources to make it look good. Garbage in, garbage out.

Be Inkandescent: Should the social media campaign change depending on what you are selling?

Sonya Gavankar: I don’t think the campaign should change. The voice needs to be consistent regardless of the message.

Be Inkandescent: In your opinion, what are the key things entrepreneurs should keep in mind when crafting their social media program?

Sonya Gavankar: First and foremost, you should have a core group of people review your campaign before it launches. These should be people who know your brand and who have institutional knowledge, but there should also be some who are new since they can give an objective view from the outside.

Also, spend the money to do it right! That doesn’t mean you have to outsource all your social media, but you should ask experts for their insight. It will quickly become clear who “gets” you and who doesn’t, and you might discover you can learn all you need to know to be able to do it yourself. Social media and traditional media are the same at the end of the day. If the content isn’t worth listening to, no one will.

Learn more at www.sonyagavankar.com.