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Sasha Laghonh on Strategies for Online Visibility and Engagement

Sasha Laghonh, Founder Sasha Talks

Can you share a bit about your business and how it has embraced the digital landscape for growth and visibility?

Sasha Talks serves as an educational and entertainment platform that explores human development in the context of performance management. It hosts a few channels of engagement which include custom business consulting, speaking and niche services.

What specific strategies have you employed to enhance your online presence and engage with your target audience?

During the inception of Sasha Talks, I experimented with different outlets to connect with audiences which included limited online and offline marketing efforts. The latter phase lasted a matter of months because I immediately recognized where the dormant ROI was situated. I needed to connect with like minded audience members whose attendance mattered by how they engaged with the platform. There was no point of attracting 'one off' moments hoping the right people will find you.

It was important to strengthen the nucleus of the platform by making sure I was appearing consistently in these virtual and offline spaces which aligned with the interests of the target market. I don't believe in any aggressive forms of selling because I find it to be a turnoff when I recognize it in other sources. Also there was no desire to become a one hit pony which many people will opt for instead of aiming for substance and longevity. Showing up on a cadence exposed me to people who can become potential clients and consumers over time on the platform.

I created live shows as well multimedia engagements which welcomed people to participate in real-time conversations granting them an insight into what I did for a living helping others. It presented a space for learning moments while granting people a chance to be heard. This opened doors to how I would eventually immerse myself in the world of an on-going dialogue with life around me. I needed practice on refining my speaking and people skills where as the audience wanted to see more of myself dispense insights on life and business. We met half way to help one another out.

It initially started through the entertainment channels then I refined the core presence of the platform by integrating my business endeavors which started capturing the attention of business owners, entrepreneurs and prospective talents wanting to connect to explore more. This is when my business consulting services were weaved into the offerings of the network.

What was the main strategy?

I brought myself to bat at every opportunity instead of outsourcing any aspect of my work. I taught myself what I didn't know, or I became a student to learn from a professional source to get started. This provided an avenue for self-sufficiency while developing new skills granting third parties a chance to hire me for their needs. When I need to level up, I invest in personalities that can teach me to better align with my evolving goals. I've experimented enough to know what works well and what isn't worth the frustration.

People often rely on the external world to solve their challenges but I relied on myself because when you're working with logistical and financial constraints, you can leverage thinking outside the box to grow a concept to become more one day.

Can you provide an example of a digital campaign or initiative that significantly boosted your business’s visibility or customer engagement?

I've managed online campaigns through the live speaking engagements and shows which increased engagement for special occasions (contests, special holiday shows, raffles, public service announcements) and social engagements. While these may be effective for a limited period of time, the work itself communicated on the platform speaks for itself. Those campaigns celebrated existing clients while new clients had separate activities to experience when introduced to the platform.

In my opinion (and experience), consistency and longevity is more effective than any short lived campaigns unless they serve a legit purpose. I encourage people to try different modes of connection to raise awareness but make sure there is value present in exchange for that visibility. Peoples' attention spans are very brief in today's age that a lot of 'noise' is filtered through their senses. Focus on quality over quantity, and avoid click bait opportunities that will only compromise their time. Context matters. Know your why and understand your objective before taking any action.

As a customer and consumer in the market, all the campaigns that resonate with me had one thing in common -- I walked away with knowledge, or a tip that refined my perspective on how I looked at things. In essence, it also influenced my life outlook with better clarity.

The digital world is constantly evolving. What challenges have you faced in maintaining an active and effective online presence, and how have you overcome them?

Sasha Talks initially began as a grass roots campaign and word of mouth platform. I had initially experimented with available tools that can increase awareness and engagement. Even during the early days of social media, I quickly learned that not all tools are meant for every mission in the market. It's important to sift through the type of engagement you're seeking and align it with the prospective audience. I personally don't engage much on social media outside of business yet I still respect the value it delivers if you learn how to leverage the tool without depending on it to deliver anything.

I recall during the first year of Sasha Talks, I experimented with a social media collaboration tool (I doubt it exists anymore) where the third party would align your brand/mission with the right audience. Social media was still new at that time. I woke up to strangers greeting me with what I call the 3B's on the brand pages that I opted out of that endeavor. The 3Bs' were boobs, butts and belly buttons. Also, none of them had any faces attached to it. It was quite a freak show! It was a complete misalignment by partnering with people who clearly didn't understand the concept. I know I was articulate with what I was seeking. I say, "hey, you live and learn." :)

My friendly guidance to newcomers is to remember that not all online and offline tools are meant for you. Experiment, have fun and stop expecting any specific tool to fulfill your expectations. You still need to do the work on what you're offering. I've seen too many appealing marketing campaigns with sub-standard quality products and services hiding behind the facade. Don't get lost in copying your competitors, or acting upon what others advise you to do. You're responsible for your money and resources. Many people have a lot to say when it's not their resources being used for these initiatives. Ignore them if they can't put their money where their mouth is. Keep things simple.

Business, just like life, is full of twists and turns. Instead of trying to control all the elements to drive your outcomes, focus more on precision. It will help you pivot during uncertain times, help you make better decisions as well you'll develop a better eye for details, literally and metaphorically speaking.

What tools or platforms have you found most effective for building your online presence and engaging with your audience?

When I'm not working directly with engineers for the audio engagements or from live studios, I've used traditional engagement tools leading me to the present day Zoom. I have experience working with Zencastr, Amolto, Riverside, SpeakPipe, GMeet, Teams, Slack ;etc. For example, when preparing content for live speaking engagements & presentations, I value tools such as Adobe, Otter, Notes and Asana. Most of the audience engagement takes place through the live events, video sessions, website forms, emails and exchanges over written collaborations.

How do you measure the success of your digital strategies, and what key performance indicators do you focus on?

This use to be a pain point once upon a time that I now assess progress by acknowledging whether quality clients are engaging that align with the platform's mission. Having money to transact is not enough to be accepted on the platform. In the recent years, I've noticed many people have become sloppy in seeking services from providers to make ends meet but they lack the understanding or desire to truly achieve their respective goals. Representation goes both ways. Overall, the digital strategies are measured by the type of clients seeking services and how they engage with the platform.

The digital landscape is always changing. How do you stay up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies, and how do you decide which ones to adopt?

As mentioned earlier, one size doesn't fit all. I encourage people to focus on their objective then decide on which tools they need to meet their objective. Trends come and go yet people will continue to work on their mission. Ask yourself why you want to engage on certain platforms using specific technologies. Only invest to the degree you can afford to lose your resources because no tool can guarantee results. People create the tools as well people engage with these tools. I often learn of these tools just through reading literature and through word of mouth. Nine out of ten times I don't seek it out, the information will seek me out through founders and creators wanting me to try their product or service.

I often am willing to experiment with new tools when there's bandwidth yet I choose not to integrate its results until I've discovered its ROI in relation to my work. Every time a new tool is added, it can soften your workload, or it can increase it because there's always a learning curve. I'll consider adopting the ones where like minded people engage to understand what the pros and the shortcomings of that technology before committing to it.

What advice would you give to businesses that are just starting to establish their online presence and engage with customers digitally?

Apply strategy to preserve your time and resources because too many newcomers think appearing on every social media site and directories will make your life easier. There are many ways of engaging with audiences. Doing more all the time will actually stagnate your growth as well compromise your sanity. Reflect upon your mission, where do the people that benefit from your mission reside in cyberspace then find ways to connect with those minds. Never underestimate the power of print, traditional marketing and sales methods. The same people who live online are the same ones walking among us offline.


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