Navigating Social Media and Business During COVID-19

Interview with Troy Sandidge

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I met Troy Sandidge at Social Media Week Lima in June 2019! It was a cozy 400 – attendee conference hosted by Jessika Phillips and the NOW Marketing Group. My friend Stephanie Liu and I travelled to Lima, OH where the closest airport is a 2 hour drive away! This conference was a turning point for me to get over my fear of being on live video!

Troy was one of the speakers at SMWL19 and he captivated the audience with his compelling story of perseverance and grit throughout his life. 

During this time at home over these past few weeks, I’ve been focusing on making stronger connections with my existing network. When Troy asked if anyone wanted be interviewed on FB live, I volunteered! 

Now here in CA, we have been on stay at home orders for a couple weeks now. If you are spending most of your time at home lately as well, I’m sure you will relate to this little peak into that day….

I responded to Troy’s Facebook interview request at 4pm PST and agreed to be on Facebook Live at 7pm PST. The one rule I have while under stay at home orders is that I must look presentable when on FB live (meaning shower, hair done, etc) which I had not done as of 4pm! 

I promptly took a shower and got myself presentable. If Troy didn’t insist that I hop on an interview with him after I raised my hand for this interview, I probably wouldn’t have made myself presentable (ie.showered) that day! Eek! 

I’m so glad that I did join Troy because he asked me some of the most thought-provoking, insightful questions. I’m so excited to share our conversation with you! 

Troy: So what have you seen good or bad examples of social media during this period? 

Amy: I am seeing lots of businesses, unfortunately, being impacted negatively. Some are mostly unaffected, some are doing well. But what I see, the biggest mistake is just going dark. Just not communicating with their audiences and just being silent, because they’re either asking themselves, “I don’t know what to do or what do I say? I don’t want to say the wrong thing.” They’re just confused. And just, of course, all in shock, like everybody is, right now. That’s the biggest mistake I can say that I’ve seen.

Troy: What are you suggesting to individuals or how are you handling crisis communication during this whole ordeal?

Amy: I’m just helping them facilitate communication, open communication with their audience. Most of my clients are saying,  “I’m here. I’m available. How can I help you?” That’s exactly the message that we’re trying to facilitate: I know you’re going through hard times. We’re all in this kind of state of uncertainty. This is how I can help. We’ve been doing a lot of individual reaching out to clients just to touch base with them to let them know that they care and they’re available in whatever capacity is needed. It’s times like these that are really difficult for everybody. But when we all band together, and help each other, that’s what’s going to build that relationship. That’s going to take that communication to the next level and way past this because this isn’t gonna last forever and things are going to be different after this is all over. 

Troy: Do you feel that once a brand acknowledges it on social that they should continue incorporating certain words of what’s going on into their language or not do that and focus on just communicating to the audience? I know, there’s a gray area of “If I don’t mention it too much, I feel like I’m insensitive. But if I mention it too much, then I’m over personifying the situation. Where’s that middle-ground for you when you’re instructing your clients?

Amy: It’s not something to hide behind. It’s overshadowing everything, but that’s not all we’re talking about. We are saying this is still the information that you need, we gave you this information before. And we’re recycling that information to make sure that we’re communicating effectively. Then on top of that, this is what we’re going through with, Covid-19. This is how we can help you adapt and change with that. It’s all adapting the message and just communicating it throughout, not just blaring that message all the time because like you said, it can cause more fear and more anxiety about a situation everyone’s already very stressed about. It’s just more so to be empathetic to know that we’re all on the same page and that we are meeting them where they are.

Troy: If we could go back in time for a minute when this all happened, walk me through the steps that you have to go through different things and unscheduled posts that we’re going to go out for the next month. What was that process like for you?

Amy: Yeah, definitely I pride myself on, getting ahead with this strategy with my clients and planning that content out months in advance. Definitely everything changed. I had clients that had events. One client has workshops almost daily, and we had to go through and cancel those Facebook events, and then we had to communicate that we’re not doing workshops for a while, and then I worked with them to figure out what we are going to do in the interim because we can’t just go dark, right? We have to communicate this is what we are going to do. But that takes time to be able to pivot like that. It doesn’t happen overnight in a lot of companies. I’m just helping them facilitate the message that “I’m here for you to try to help you in those situations too.” It’s about helping my clients adapt as much as possible. 

60% of my clients reached out to me and said, “Okay, this is what we’re going to do. This is how we’re going to change. Then the other 40% didn’t. I’m calling them and asking, “What are we gonna do?” Let’s make sure that we’re adapting and communicating and that we don’t just fall off the face of the earth and that we are connecting. Because when you’re marketing, especially with social media marketing, it’s an ongoing thing, right? It’s not something you could just start and stop and start and stop. You’re losing a lot of traction.

Troy: It’s not a ‘set it and forget it’ process? 

Amy: Not at all, it’s continuous. If you do stop, it’s gonna take time to start it back up, and you got to really build those relationships and retrain the algorithms. You gotta keep it moving. That’s how I’ve just been trying to adapt and support my clients as much as possible.

Troy: Let’s say a client comes to you and they want to work with you on social. What’s the first thing that you walk them through? Do you try to get them a better understanding of their why and their message? Or do you establish you have to come to me first having that already ready to go? Then let’s move to the next step of execution. What does that process look like for you?

Amy: I have strategy calls ahead of time to make sure that we’re a good fit when I first start with clients. There is still a lot of questions that need to be answered. You said about messaging and branding, all that stuff needs to be met in order for us to move forward. There need to be certain things in place already. I don’t do branding so they have to have branding and a logo and things like that in place for us to create content. But then once they do, they come to me, and I have an hour-long questionnaire. I send them a Starbucks gift card and say sit down and stay awhile. These are all the questions and all the information that I need from you. This is what’s going to help us establish our strategy from personal questions to what kind of events and launches do you have coming up? It’s definitely a process that takes time, and the more time that you put into it at the front end, the less time you should really have to spend establishing it.

Troy: Did you learn what things you like to do and what things you don’t want to do when it comes to social and what to include as your business offerings?


Amy: I learned what I was really good at in the beginning, and I kind of just built my business around that. I also figured out what the market was really asking for. That was a ‘done for you’ service. Some people don’t want to be involved in their social. They wanted to hand it off and not have to deal with it. That’s the ‘done for you’ services that I do for my life and business coaches. That is where I started. 

Now fast forward since I’ve been in business for three years, now I have some other packages that are offering just strategy. They fill out the big long questionnaire. I want to know everything. Let’s figure out your strategy. But they want to do it, and they want a lesser price point, of course. So they want to write all the content, they want to create all the graphics. That’s another option I do every once in a while. But now, fast forward again to this situation that we’re in right now,  I feel like everybody’s on social or everyone’s trying to be on social or trying to figure out what they need to do in this arena at all, you know? Before they’re like, “Oh, I should be there.” Now, they feel they have to be there. Now, I want to figure out how I can help as many people as possible. 

Troy: With all of these summits saturating online spaces right now, what makes you join a live stream and stay and continue to watch the live stream? Does it depend on the value? Does it depend on the person? What jives for you?

Amy: I want to join a live stream for some kind of value and information. I want to know, what can be directly applicable to my business? What makes me stay is how interactive the host gets with the comments the audience makes. 

Troy:  So what’s your plan? Let’s just assume, let’s just say everything hopefully clears up in three months. What’s your plan? Are you going to adjust back? Are you going to be more digital for a while? There’s a lot of things that are changing every day. And what we may think we need to do can totally change by tomorrow. But just from your perspective, what do you think you’re going to make a change and pivot?

Amy: What I was talking to you about before about just having some more services that I can serve more people that don’t involve me directly. I think to work on those tools that I can to help people again, not exactly one on one, support them. I’m definitely going to be pushing that forward. But the other thing I’m doing is virtual co-working. This is something that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time because I’ve been working from home for six years. I started my business because I wanted the flexibility of being able to have time to raise my son and also have something for myself that I have control over. I miss this in-person connection because I’m working at my desk as much as I can to take advantage of that time and then taking care of my son. I really had minimal opportunities to go out to networking events and things like that. So I wanted to start a virtual co-working group for a very long time and just a couple weeks ago, I’m like this is it. Get it started! It’s through StreamYard and it’s a small group, which is ideal because everyone gets to connect and share.

Troy: How big is the size of the group?

Amy: The most we can have is six. It’s me and five other people. You can sign up every day. You can sign up for one day. We just have an hour and a half, where the first few minutes are just everyone roundtable connecting and introducing themselves. Then you bring one task that you can get accomplished in that hour. Then at the end, we do a roundtable to check in on the completion of that task. Then we end with something positive, something good. It’s quick, it’s not a long time, but it’s something where you just need to connect, and you get that face to face contact as much as possible. You get something accomplished, and it’s bringing some positivity. It’s only been since last Thursday, but it’s been really successful.

This is something I’ve been wanting to do for so long. This is something that I started that I will definitely continue every day. Right now, it’s Monday through Friday every day from 1 pm -2: 30 pm PST. After this all kind of settles down and people start doing more things outside, I’ll do it two or three times a week, not five, but it’s definitely something that I want to continue because it really fulfills my extrovert need to connect in such a quick format.

If you’re out there and you’re looking to connect, create your own virtual co-working group. If it’s temporary or if it’s permanent, it’s just an awesome way to connect and be productive.

Troy: Okay, we’re going to do a quick lightning round of questions. Favorite social platform?

Amy: Instagram and Facebook.  I love how I can do Instagram stories and they go to Facebook because they reach two different audiences.

Troy: Favorite Color?

Amy: Purple. 

Troy: What’s the emoji you use the most? 

Amy: The laughing out loud sideways one!

Troy: What hashtag do you use the most?

Amy: It’s been a lot of Social Media Marketing World 20 because I’ve been posting a lot about that. But I don’t really use a lot of hashtags, really.

Troy: Okay, what grinds your gears on social you’re scrolling and scrolling? What posts are gonna irritate the great Amy?

Amy: Oh my, negativity. I’m always the one who wants to be positive. I understand there’s the point that you want to be vulnerable, and you want to be transparent on social, and I get that. I just think that when I see things, I think are negative, I automatically go “oh, it’s gonna be okay.”  “Oh, I wish I could do more,” you know? You hate to see that happen but you know, it’s part of life. But I just like to inject positivity wherever I can.

Troy: When you’re talking about your personal Facebook page to people who knew you back in the day, do you think about that at all? Or does it even matter anymore?

Amy: I did. But people come out of the woodwork, and they are supportive. Now I’m connecting with people from all different parts of my life. That is so powerful. That itself overrides any thought I had about what people are gonna think because this is just what I do and that’s what I’m known for. You know people are really supportive. I’m lucky in that regard.

Troy: When you walk out in your neighborhood or just meet old friends do they comment on posts on social? Do they talk to you about that all the time now? Or how does that work?

Amy: It’s funny, actually. Especially on Instagram, friends on Instagram, People will say, “oh, I saw your videos and I ask, “why don’t you say something?” There are a lot more people watching then you realize a lot of times, and people just scroll through and watch and they don’t say anything at all. It happens just because people are watching and you’re consistent, and you have that message out there. This is what I do. That’s what brings people more awareness of you.

Troy: How do you keep your creative Mojo in check? If you know that it’s kind of off, how do you pivot? Do you work on something else? Or do you just take the day off? What’s your process?

Amy: As entrepreneurs, we’re a lot of times so by ourselves, and we have to just manage that in our own way. But I’ve definitely learned over the years the things that do bring me more creativity and to recognize the point when you’re stuck and you know nothing good is gonna happen anymore today. I need to just do something else. Then I watch my favorite show or I take a walk or I go to the movie theater, which you can’t do right now, but I love going to the movie theater by myself. There are things you can do, but you have to recognize when you’re in that position, and then know what you can do about it. Being able to snap yourself out of that really quickly, is very, very beneficial. It doesn’t happen to me that much, luckily, but it’s definitely something, as entrepreneurs, we face pretty regularly.

Troy: How do you deal with impromptu social media situations? What’s your process? Do you do a check and balance with some members of your team? How does that work?

Amy: I know I’m the leader of my team. I pretty much decide when I want to do what I say we’re gonna do. We’re gonna do this. Let’s go. To add to what we were saying before and, this might be helpful to people watching, podcasts are really popular. Or even more popular now. There are a handful of podcasts that I go back to if I have to get out of my own head. There’s a bunch of them out there that I could just listen and think, “Oh, that’s great!” Ideas just flow to me when I listen to a podcast. So that’s definitely one thing. 

Troy: Someone told me once that we do people a disservice if we don’t share what we know. Even if we only help one business. What’s your experience like with that?

Amy: I’m not overly posting content, but I’m just riding the wave to see how to respond with my normal content.  You make a really good point because here I am saying I don’t think that brands should go dark, and you need to be available. That’s definitely the message that I’m going to continue to spread through all my content. 

I know it’s crazy, right now. I always say look for the good and you’re gonna find it. We’re gonna get through this. It’s easier to get through it if you’re looking at good things and positive things, so why not look for the good and go through it in as a positive manner as you can. We’re going to get through this together, and if you need someone to reach out to so you get a little bit of positivity, message me, email me whatever you want to do. I’m on Facebook all over the place. I would love to chat because I think that we all need just to band together and get through this as well as we can with each other.

Troy: I have one random question for you, and I’ll let you go. What’s something that was very quirky for you, but you make it work in your business?

Amy: I’m quirky. I’m the definition of quirky. All I do know is that I am six foot two inches tall. When I meet somebody for the first time that doesn’t know that they have a hard time recognizing me. I don’t know if that’s anything to do with business. But I just like to keep things light and fun and silly, and that’s just who I am.

If you need light, quirky, a little silly or some positivity right now, let’s chat. I’m here. We are going to get through this together. If you want to come join me in my virtual co-working group, you can sign up here. We’ve got this.

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