Ep # 104 | A Community That Inspires You

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EMILY JOHNSON

Emily Johnson is the Content Manager for Groundfloor and is responsible for creating and implementing the company's social media, blog, and other content strategies. Emily has been working in copywriting, marketing, and content creation in the Atlanta area for the past three years. After completing a stint in the Peace Corps from 2013-2015, she moved back to Atlanta and worked as a freelance copywriter for Scoutmob before starting a role as a social media specialist for a small local marketing agency. Emily received her BA from The Johns Hopkins University in 2012. A native ATLien and an avid food and drink lover, you'll most likely find her testing out the city's newest restaurant or bar.

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Sophie:  Hey Emily, welcome to the show.

Emily:  Hi, how are you?

Sophie:  I'm great, thank you. How are you?

Emily:  I'm doing well, thank you so much for having me on today.

Sophie:  Yes. We're so excited to have you on the show and dive into Groundfloor and everything that you're doing for their content production. So just to kick things off, how you did get your start in the marketing industry?

| SELF-TAUGHT SOCIAL |

Emily:  It's interesting. When I was in college, I was an English major, but I had a different career path initially picked out for myself. When I was in college, really thought that I was going to enter into the medical field. So, I was taking all of my premed classes and all of those kinds of things, but knew after I graduated, I didn't want to go straight into the medical field just because I was tired. I wanted to take some time and make sure it was really what I wanted to do. So anyway, long story short, I ended up not going to medical school. I ended up joining the Peace Corps instead. So, I was in the Peace Corps in Senegal from 2013 to 2015 and started realizing while I was there, that I was really interested in actually pursuing more of a career path that was more in line with my English background. I know I didn't want to teach. I know I didn't want to write a book or anything like that. So, I just started exploring my options. I started actually doing that in Peace Corps. I became the marketing and communications chair for an internal Peace Corps organization that we had. So, I was responsible for putting the content out on their social media platforms, and on their blog, and redesigning their newsletter and things like that, and I really enjoyed that. When I came home, I moved back to Atlanta. I'm from here originally so I just moved back home, and I started looking for opportunities within that space. I got a few internships under my belt. I interned at Scoutmob as a copywriter. I also had an internship that was a remote social media manager position for a small nonprofit organization based out of DC. All of those small opportunities snowballed for me, and I ended up finding a job as a social media manager for a local social media marketing agency here in Atlanta. From there, I found Groundfloor and here I am.

Sophie:  Well, that's an incredible progression and shift.

Emily:  I know.

Sophie:  It's super interesting. So, to go from an English major with your sights on a medical field and then shifting to the Peace Corps, how did you learn everything that you know today about marketing? Was it self-taught? Did you take courses? I'm really curious to learn more about that.

Emily:  Honestly, a lot of it was just self-taught. I mean, it was something that I was super interested in even just in a personal way. I mean, I really enjoyed social media. I really like to Instagram and Facebook. Me personally, I didn't necessarily use Twitter very much, but I understood it and I understood the power that I had. So, it was something that I really just started being very curious about and started learning about. In Atlanta specifically, there are so many resources here, apart from just what you can find online and things like that. We have a great resource here that I use a lot for my Instagram training which is Your Social Team, and I'm sure that you guys are familiar with her. I love following her and love going to her classes as well. You never stop learning about social media because it's always changing so much. I love that about it. It's always fun to see, "Oh, what did Instagram come out with next?"

Sophie:  Yeah. I couldn't agree more. I've actually taken classes with Your Social Team as well. It's a small world.

Emily:  It is a small world.

Sophie:  Yeah, that's super interesting. I completely agree that the continued education, it really doesn't stop-

Emily:  Ever.

Sophie:  ... even when you're considered an expert in the industry. There's always a new shift or something to keep up with. So, tell the listeners a little bit more about what you're doing now for Groundfloor, and what Groundfloor is.

Emily:  Yeah, absolutely. I am the content manager for Groundfloor and basically what that means is among other things, I am in charge for putting out all the content that we'll see on a daily basis from any of our accounts, so that we have Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. So, I'm responsible for putting out the content on all of those platforms. I'm also responsible for all of our blog content as well as our newsletters. It basically anything that is outward facing for our customers. In probably about 90% of the cases, I'm the one responsible for crafting it and putting it all together. Groundfloor is a real estate lending and investing platform that at the same time is a source of financing for people who are interested in completing renovation projects mostly flipping houses, things like that. We are what's known as a hard money lender. So, we are basically an alternative to a bank. So people can come to us for low rates. We have some differed payment options that are very, very attractive to borrowers who are doing these kinds of projects. So, we extend loans to them. Then the way we financed those loans, the way we fund them is once a loan is closed, we then open it up on our investing platform for investors around the country to invest in on a fractional basis. So, it's like crowdfunding essentially. So just like a Kickstarter campaign or a GoFundMe, just in the same with us, you can put money into that $10, $20 to help fund the campaigns that are on there. You're essentially doing that same thing, but in doing so, you become an investor in that property. The cool thing about Groundfloor is that you can start investing in these kinds of real estate project with just $10, and a lot of times with real estate historically, people who invest in real estate typically or traditionally I guess, have a lot of money, a lot of disposable income, and a lot of real estate investing opportunities are actually not accessible for the everyday person walking down the street. With Groundfloor, anybody can invest in these projects that are happening. All you need is a valid US address, bank account that you can link, and you can start investing, and to have at least $10 in there since that's a minimum investment.

Sophie:  Well, that's incredible and a lot of explanation. So, I'm really curious about how you are able to translate these really detailed processes to your target audience and simplify it for them and make it feel something that's digestible that they would like to get involved in?

| A ONE WOMAN SHOW |

Emily:  Absolutely, and yes. It is a complicated process to explain an elevator pitch type of a format. The cool thing that I like about social media is that every single post, you don't have to explain the whole aspect of what the company is. So the way I do it is I actually break it up. So some days, I will speak more towards ... Since we do have as I mentioned these two audiences, people who are actually looking for funding for their projects to complete their renovations and things like that, and then people who are interested in trying to build their wealth and interested in investing in real estate in a positive way and building income that way. So, there are these two audiences that I can speak to on social media. So, some days I'll create posts that speak more towards one versus the other, but then the next day I'll do the opposite. Because both of those aspects of our company fit together and you really can't have one without the other, everything works together to give our audience the full picture of what we're doing, and how we work, how Groundfloor works, and how we can best serve our customers.

Sophie:  Awesome. That sounds like a great strategy. Do you have a team behind you or are you a one-man show?

Emily:  I'm a one-man show for now.

Sophie:  That's very impressive, very impressive. So, how do you stay organized amongst ... It sounds like you have a lot on your plate between the newsletters, and the social media, and just any marketing efforts. How do you stay organized? Do you have a content plan? What do you follow to keep up with things?

Emily:  Absolutely. I normally do have a content plan. I have a general outline of topics that I can talk about. If we don't have anything else going on in a given week, typically I have posts that I normally talk about these types of things on Tuesdays, or these kinds of things on Wednesdays. So, the outline is general like that. I also cannot stress enough how invaluable the scheduling tools that are out there for scheduling posts in advance on social media. So, I'm not having to go in manually every single day on every single one of the platforms and post things. So we use HubSpot, and then we also use Later for Instagram. That makes my job a thousand percent easier to be able to schedule content in advance. Normally, the way I do it is I try to have at least a week to two weeks scheduled in advance, and that helps me to not have to worry about the everyday posting, so I can be free to focus on all the other things I have to do in terms of write new blog posts, and craft email newsletters, and things of that nature.

Sophie:  Absolutely. So, what platforms are you seeing the most success on?

Emily:  When I started, I believe I started in basically end of August, early September. We already had our accounts on these social media platforms already. Of those ones, Facebook was the biggest. That one does continue to be the biggest in terms of our audience and recently, we actually created some subgroups on our Groundfloor page. So we actually now have dedicated investor group and a dedicated borrower group just so that it can be a source of resources, community updates for those particular communities of people that we serve. Those have been, especially the investor one has been incredibly successful. I mean, we have people talking in there all the time which is great, and people asking questions, and people helping each other. I'm in there as well, answering questions. So, that has been really, really exciting to see. Then also, we've had the success that we've been seeing on Instagram has been growing as well. So, not only have we increased the people who are following us, but I've also definitely seen an uptick especially within the past few months of people actually DMing our account to ask about, "Hey, I have a project that I'm interested in financing," or "Hey, I'm a new investor. How does this work?" It's really exciting to see these accounts are getting through to people, and people are wanting to engage with us and want to know what we're about.

Sophie:  Sure. I love your last post that you did on your stories. It was like a Q&A. So, I would love to know how you manage that community and what your strategy is behind making sure that everybody is receiving a response when they engage with you.

Emily:  Absolutely. Basically as I mentioned, it's really just me behind all of these accounts. So, I have my phone next to me during the day at all times. So when people do interact, I'm able to basically directly engage with them. If it is a question that they have that maybe requires a more thorough response that I don't have the answer to, our office has Slack. So whenever I need an answer to a question, it's just a Slack message away basically. So, I'm able to respond very quickly and in a pretty timely manner. That's been I think something that our followers have really appreciated because I have noticed and especially this on Facebook, I have noticed an uptick of people. Instead of calling our office, they'll just hop online. If they're on Facebook already or if they're on Instagram already and they see something, they'll just go ahead and message us because they know that somebody is there answering the questions.

Sophie:  I think that's definitely a noticeable shift that's happening, where people just want to engage with brands in the way that's most convenient for them, and it's just beginning more and more unnatural to pick up a phone.

Emily:  Absolutely.

Sophie:  We have a landline but I would say like one in every 20 calls is something that's - Yeah, that's super interesting. With your creative elements, how are you sourcing content? Do you have a photography team or are you using user-generated content? How are you adding assets in with that?

| A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING |

Emily:  Sure. So one of the biggest, I guess source of assets for us is the projects themselves. So as I mentioned, basically the loans that we extend to people are for people who are going to be flipping a house or creating, constructing a new house, or what have you. A lot of those people, they'll take pictures in the middle of the renovation projects. A lot of those people have their own social media accounts. Either they'll tag us on Instagram, or if nothing else, we have all of the inspection reports from all of the houses at the very beginning, and then we have the actual physical listing of the houses after they're actually flipped and completed, and put on the market. So a lot of the content that I actually get, I try to do this once a week as I do a Transformation Tuesday post just to show off one of the properties that we've helped to fund. It's very easy for us to do a little before and after, and that's a super, super popular thing because who doesn't love looking at a beautiful house. That is how at least with the photos of the houses where those come from. Additionally, we do have a graphic designer that we use. She's fantastic. So she helps us to create a lot of our graphics, a lot of the newsletter headers, things like that. She also is a photographer in her own right as well. So, we've actually had her come in to the office to do a photo shoot that we then have those assets which are of course evergreen, so we can continue to use those. Then honestly, every time I'm at any of our company meetings or outings, or things like that, I always have my phone out taking pictures too. So, it's a little bit of everything which is really great.

Sophie:  Yeah, but it sounds like the perfect recipe to mix things up that way.

Emily:  Absolutely.

Sophie:  Speaking of staying up to date with all of the trends and everything, what are some of your favorite resources for marketing news or tips, or anything around Atlanta that has been a great learning opportunity?

Emily:  Absolutely. So as I mentioned at least for Instagram, I have found a lot of success following Your Social Team and also attending her Instagram trainings. Those have really been invaluable, not just because she's giving tangible tips about Instagram, but the philosophy behind the reason she says to do things certain ways can also be applied to other social media as well. So, that's been a really, really invaluable resource. I also definitely read all of the blogs that are out there. The Later Blog, the Sprout Social, all of those blogs that are constantly seeing on top of all of the trends that are happening. Then, I would say another big source of inspiration for me is just following other accounts because everybody I should say who is putting effort in time into building up their social media is doing it in really interesting and cool ways. A lot of the things that I see on there are sometimes are things that I'd never thought about doing before. Imitation they say is the sincerest form of flattery, so a lot of times if I see somebody doing something really great and it might work for Groundfloor, then I try it out and I see if it works for us and see if our audience responds. If they do, great. If not, well all right, we'll try something new tomorrow.

Sophie:  That is the beauty of social media. You can always try again tomorrow.

Emily:  Exactly.

Sophie:  Probably different than your medical field-

Emily:  Exactly, not really the same.

Sophie:  Do you have any brands that you're currently loving following that are keeping you inspired?

| CREATE A COMMUNITY THAT INSPIRES YOU |

Emily:  Yeah. I would say a lot of the people that I follow, and I'll speak I guess mostly to Instagram just because it's my favorite platform, and it's also the one that I get the most inspiration from by following other accounts. A lot of the people that I follow on Instagram within Atlanta are either real estate firms, or law firms, things like that, that are just doing a really awesome job with social media. So, a couple of those are there is a law firm called MMH Firm, and they're actually a real estate attorneys' office or they are closing ... something like. Anyway, they do real estate law. They do a really, really wonderful job on their social media and in fact the woman who runs their social media, I also follow her other account because she also does social media consultings for people within the real estate industry. That account is actually called Southbound Social, so I follow her as well. Then, another account that I follow that is a real estate firm here in Atlanta that I just really love because their Instagram is just so fun, and positive, and upbeat all the time is Roots Atlanta. So, it's Roots Real Estate. They just use such a great job. They're always trying out all the new features that are on Instagram. I think one of my most favorite campaigns that they ever did was they actually posted something one time that was a picture but it wasn't clear exactly where it was. It was a picture of a bench underneath a tree or something like that, and the caption said, "If you can guess where this is, we're going to send you a $25 gift card. What Atlanta neighborhood is this in?" I just thought that was such a cool and different use of a giveaway to get people excited about the different neighborhoods in Atlanta and all that there is to offer here. After I saw that, I said, "Oh my gosh, okay, I love these guys. I'm going to keep following them." So, it's always really fun I think on social media to create your own communities and find people that you just really love what they're doing. You can start engaging with them and you can tell them, "Hey, your content is great. This looks wonderful," and that just builds a great rapport. Creating a community that inspires you to be better and inspires you to try to do even more of a great job within your company, I think that's what it's all about.

Sophie:  Totally. I can't wait to check out those accounts. I was scrawling through as you were chatting, but that sounds really cool. Specifically on the campaign piece, have you guys done campaigns for Groundfloor and seen any success in either giveaways, or contests, or things like that?

Emily:  Absolutely. We actually did a small giveaway when we broke 1,000 followers. We gave away a $50 Amex gift card. We received a really amazing response. I'm trying to find it right now to see how many comments we actually got in it because it was just a simple giveaway, nothing complicated, just to enter, like this post, follow us, and tag a friend. I feel like we had ... I don't know. 80 comments or something along those lines, but it was a really, really exciting giveaway because people were entering from all over. We got a nice little bump in followers from that. Hopefully, we're going to be doing another one soon.

Sophie:  Awesome. Well, the followers will have to stay tuned for that.

Emily:  Exactly.

Sophie:  So, let our listeners know how they can follow along with Groundfloor or your personal accounts.

Emily:  Sure. We are as I mentioned on all of the major social media platforms, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. On Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, you can find us @groundfloor_com. Then on LinkedIn, we are Groundfloor Finance. So, you please feel free to follow along with us. If you also happened to be an investor or a borrower with us, or if you decide after this podcast that you want to become an investor or borrower with us, I would also highly recommend that you join our dedicated Facebook groups for our borrower and our investor communities. Those ones are also available if you find our main page, which is again @groundfloor_com. You'll find links to the groups, they're recommended on the Groundfloor page and so you can join that way as well.

Sophie:  Awesome. Well, we can't wait to follow along, and I'm sure our listeners will be even more impressed knowing that you're just one mind behind all of that content that you're putting out.

Emily:  Yeah. If you want to talk to me in the guise of Groundfloor, that's who you'll be talking to.

Sophie:  Awesome. Emily, well, thank you so much for being on the show. We really appreciate your time. We can't wait to follow along on your success.

Emily:  Awesome. Well, thank you so much Sophie. It was a real pleasure. I will look forward to listening in to the podcast once it airs. I'm super excited.

Sophie:  Awesome. Thank you Emily.

Emily:  Thank you so much. Bye-bye.

Sophie:  Bye.