The Social Secret Interview Click To Tweet
Meet Maree Sortino from
The Social Secret is my pride and joy! I had been working in the training space for a while, specifically training new business owners on the skills they needed in order to be successful. The content provided to me to train was generic and really not ‘intense’ enough for these business owners. I’d always be asked so many questions at the end and it got me thinking – if I developed my own program that was individualised, specific and met the needs of each business owner. So…..I did!
Why and when did you start your own business?
I’m actually still a newbie in the ‘business owner’ space. The Social Secret officially started mid June 2017.
What does being a business owner mean to you?
It means flexibility. I know I’m not working any less (in fact, I’m working more hours than I ever have) but I get to take my kids to school every day and pick them up. I get to take them to after-school activities and with a home office, I get to work in my PJs – YAY!! Lol. On a serious note, it means that I get to help business owners succeed on social media! This is truly my ‘why’. I get such a kick out of knowing a small business has been successful on social media as a direct result of something that I’ve helped them with. Really gives me a great sense of satisfaction.
What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why?
Probably my husband. We met 17 years ago and he was setting up his own business as a carpenter. He is now a successful builder, still running his own business – CasaMia Developments. I saw his dedication, motivation and commitment to succeed and really admired that. He’d been telling me for a number of years that I should branch out on my own. I suppose I didn’t really have the faith in myself but one day, after a tiring of working for someone else and being frustrated that they didn’t want to change their content, I decided I needed to do it. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve learnt a lot about not what to do through John too but all in all, he’s been my rock.
What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?
I was at a huge expo earlier this year and had someone come up to me and say ‘hey, are you that chick from The Social Secret?’. OMG, seriously I felt like a superstar. She even wanted a pic with me (WTH?!) Loved it.
I’ve also recently been asked to speak about social media at a big National Dance Competition that will house teachers and studio owners from across Australia. REALLY looking forward to that.
What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?
Go with your gut! As females, we’re very intuitive creatures and if something just doesn’t feel right, there’s a reason for it.
What has been the most effective marketing initiatives or programs you have used to promote your business?
I practice what I preach so Facebook for me has been really useful in gaining business. Networking is the other HUGE one. Apart from my networking memberships, I’ve never spent a $ on advertising, even through Facebook.
What is one thing have you learned as a small business owner that has served you well over the years?
You can’t please everyone! I had a hairdresser once call me saying ‘if I do your program, will I get 2000 likes on my Facebook Page?’ I was slightly taken aback by the statement and honest with her….no, I can’t guarantee that. I explained I could show her what she needed to do to be more engaging and provide content to her followers that was specific to their needs. She did book the session and indicated she learnt a lot but again, went on about increasing her followers to 2000.
I told her, I’d rather have 500 followers that were engaged, commenting and sharing my posts than 2000 that weren’t. I’m not sure if it sunk in but I have definitely learnt that there are some people that will be very difficult to please….which can be difficult as I take it personally.
Are there any resources or tools you’d like to share with other small business owners that have helped you run your business?
In what I do, it’s all about making your posts and content POP! When someone is scrolling through their news feed, you want them to stop at yours. I’m seriously in love with Canva, Ripl, Lumen5, AdobeSpark and iMovie.
What do you do for fun/relaxation?
Chill with my kids, travel (looking forward to our big EURO trip in 2018), entertain (we’ve always got people over at our place!), go to the movies, read (although I don’t get much time to do this these days).
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful woman in business?
1. Patience: Running a business is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Develop a plan of attack that’s realistic and doesn’t burn you out.
- Motivation: It’s so easy to throw in the towel if things don’t go your own way or you experience setbacks. Stay focussed and committed to your end goal and when you feel down, look at how far you’ve come rather than how far you have to go.
- Ability to switch off: This is SO important and one I’m still working on. I purposely don’t have my emails on my phone. If I’m in the office, that’s my work time. I do, have Facebook however and in my line of work, that’s probably even worse. LOL. I think having dedicated ‘work’ time and dedicated ‘non work’ time is a skill that we all need to have!
What fears have you faced in business? Have you overcome it/them? How do you manage fear?
The big one for me is around growth. I didn’t think I’d be in this position so early into my business but I need additional help with the running of my training programs. I want to spend more time on the business rather than in the business and to do this I need someone I can trust to run the training. I’m a CONTROL FREAK! Letting go and entrusting someone with my content that I’ve developed seriously scares the crap out of me! But I know I have to do it. I’ve advertised recently and going to ‘trust my gut’ that I find someone suitable to help me take The Social Secret to the next level.
What are your top 5 goals you want to achieve for the next 12 months?
- Have a staff member (or 2) assisting with the running of training
- Run 3 or 4 group style workshops with a minimum of 10 people in each session
- Be working 4 days a week
- Set up proper values, mission and vision for the business
- Get my mail database up and running effectively
What makes you happy?
Seeing my kids happy!
Have you had to make any sacrifices whilst running your business? If so, what are they?
Absolutely! The number of hours I’ve put in to get the business to where it is hasn’t come without sacrifice. Endless hours on the computer.
Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most and why?
In terms of someone who’s out there inspiriting and motivating people in the social media space, it would have to be Kerwin Rae’s business. He is AMAZING. The passion and dedication he has to see his clients succeed is so admiring. I want to be the female Kerwin Rae…Lol.
Where do you see yourself and your business in 2-5 years?
I want to be national. I already have a couple of interstate clients who use my content creation services but I’d love to have a trainer in each state who runs my sessions with business owners. I’d also love a proper ‘out of home’ office.
What book has inspired you the most? (OR What is your favourite book?)
I know I should, but I’m not a big fan of business books. One of my favourite non-business books is The Bronze Horseman. OMG….amazing!
How do you measure your success in business?
I measure my success through the success of my clients. Are they happy? Are they doing well on social media? Have they taken on board the things I’ve told them? If the answer to these is Yes, then I’m successful too!
Where is your dream destination to go for a holiday and why?
La Bella Italia! My husband and I travelled around Europe 12 years ago. I had my trusty camera and we came back with over 900 amazing photos. The day after we arrived home I went to print the images. Put the little card in the slot and was presented with 3 words that devastated me “NO IMAGES FOUND”. I lost all our precious photos. I took this card to every person I could to see if they could recover the photos. Nope….nobody could help me. So, next year, we do it all again, this time with the kids. Needless to say, I will be downloading the images every day!
What is your favourite inspirational quote?
I’ve got lots but here’s one I use a bit “Your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card, how you leave others feeling after an experience with you becomes your trademark.”
What are your top 5 business tips?
Have a strategy when it comes to social media – don’t just wing it!
- Have a great understanding of who your ideal customer is and focus your social content on that avatar.
- 3 Ensure the content you publish is entertaining, inspirational and educational. If you tick those boxes you’re doing well
- Read your reporting!!!! Facebook and Instagram have insights. Use them to help you know when to post!
- Schedule your posts! It’s so useful to sit down once a week, work out what you’re posting and schedule it all rather than doing it on a daily basis.
Why did you become a WBS Member?
Why wouldn’t I! I’d heard about WBS from Tina Okey and thought ‘what’s this group about’ and went along to a networking event. I was clearly thrown into the deep end on that day when Karen Kennedy shoved her phone into my hand and said “you’re the Facebook expert…go live” (thanks Karen). I loved the energy, the warmth and the genuine connections that these women had with each other. I joined the next day!
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