At Expats Paris, we’ve been working on making transparency a new goal for us to win over our community and the general public. We’re open about apps we use to manage our business, we identified our ego-related risks, but we’ve also written about other expatriate communities that may be considered as our “competitors.”
We’re learning to be transparent and are working towards making it a default choice.
Generally, no one has ever demanded any of the information we’ve shared, both on our blog or through our entrepreneurs breakfast events.
We completely initiated the process of telling our community how we work and about the success and failures we encounter along the way.
In the process of opening up the information from lessons learned, we recently shared our Social Media Marketing Strategy for (almost) free and I’m thrilled to share the five main observations from this experience.
1. Mission accomplishment
The first and foremost thing we observed from the experience of sharing our social media marketing strategy was the accomplishment of our mission.
We felt like completing our task and mission; that is to enable our members to interact with other globally minded individuals and share similar needs and interests that help them to develop friendships and business ideas, but also to exchange reliable information on expat-related topics.
At Expats Paris, a community member is everything, and we set our community roadmap according to the best interests of each member.
This comes with difficulties based on language barrier, culture shock and more.
That’s where we come in.
We provide both personal or social assistance in the form of online and offline events, we publish eGuides for the new and oldcomers on visas, education, employment and more, but we also share interesting content produced by other influential expat bloggers and writers.
So, by sharing our Social Media Marketing Strategy for almost free, we felt like we were fulfilling our mission of helping other foreign entrepreneurs that have just started out on Social Media or that wanted to see how others did it!
We strongly believe in sharing.
We believe in sharing lessons learned with others and this sharing value has made us unique.
Expats Paris culture actually aligns around two basic values:
Learning and sharing.
We usually refer ourselves to the following quotes:
“I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I am going to learn, I must do it by listening.”
- Larry King
“When you learn, teach. When you get, give.”
- Maya Angelou
Everything we’re currently doing and plan to do in the coming months and years is based on these two basic values of sharing and caring.
That’s the driving force behind our work of community management.
2. Exposure leads to success.
Sharing our strategy with others didn’t only get others to talk what we do, it also brought us exposure and opportunities to share and talk about ourselves to even bigger platforms. We got invited to universities and colleges for seminars and events.
I was invited to speak to Master’s degree students at the American University of Paris.
I talked about our company culture and values, and I also talked about the power of automation based on several apps we use, mentioning how productive and efficient we’ve been thanks to this system.
I got invited to speak to different chambers of commerce in Paris as well.
This exposure wouldn’t have come if it wasn’t for the fact that we had shared our Social Media Marketing Strategy in the first place.
3. A Different perspective.
“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
- Wayne Dyer
"We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are."
- Anais Nin
Seeing things from a different point of view can lead to giant leaps in creativity.
Sharing our Social Media Marketing Strategy was a learning process in which we basically challenged our unhelpful thoughts and biased perspectives about our products and services so that we could discover how situations were different from how we usually interpreted them. This actually led us to modify our core work system, and therefore imagine updates and more innovative features in our products.
Sharing led us to better understand ourselves and our community and to see things from a different point of view.
During our interactive sessions with students at the American University of Paris, for instance, we were asked questions about Expats Paris features for the community, the market, revenue, the team and other company-related stuff.
We talked about how we work, and this made students come up with different suggestions on alternative ways that may lead us to work even smarter, better, be more productive and always innovative.
4. Unexpected boosted engagement on social media.
By sharing our Social Media Marketing Strategy, the community response and engagement increased. We got a significant engagement boost on social media, with a higher response coming in from Instagram, in particular.
I know, Instagram isn’t really a platform where you’d find a post of a low-quality image like the one below.
I was, however, amazed at how our followers liked and shared this image.
And every time we reshared it, it received an incredible engagement boost.
That image got around 40% engagement rate from our followers, which is the highest we’ve ever had (on Instagram).
As you can see, it’s not really the type of image one would want to post on Instagram, but since we’ve just started pushing our content on this platform, we’re trying to post everything we produce, whether it gets a good feedback or not.
We’ve made mistakes (lots of them, actually), we’ve messed up with hashtags, but we’re always on the lookout for better Instagram management strategies that would help us automate a huge amount of tasks related to this platform without messing up with the quality of pictures we share. Since (at least for the time being) we haven’t found anything better yet, we’ve resolved to keep on sharing what we produce.
The next step is to give our Instagram account away to influencers so that they can manage it for a day or a week.
We’re learning a lot on how to use Instagram and, hopefully, we’ll be able to share our experiences in the coming weeks.
Please get in touch if you’re good at Instagram and you’d be interested in helping us to manage our account even if it’s for a day, two days or a week.
Here’s our Instagram account.
Let us know what you think.
5. Getting along with our company culture.
Many businesses out there don’t share their strategies publicly and prefer to keep them secret.
Unlike others, at Expats Paris, we’re working towards killing the secret mindset in everything we do.
We believe in sharing and hence we share everything we can with people who want to take part in the learning process because it’s by becoming receptive and open-minded that one unlocks, even more opportunities (especially to get mentored).
When we shared our Social Media Marketing Strategy, we faced a lot of criticism in the beginning.
People would say things like: “Michael, are you crazy?”... “...aren’t you afraid that your competitors would steal your strategy?”
The answer was a simple no.
We believe in sharing, and it’s an honor for us if our "competitors" can actually learn from us.
Unlike what I’ve heard recently, we don’t believe in working secretly because we know we’re doing isn’t particularly and extraordinarily special.
We’re convinced that it’s only by sharing what we have that we’ll able to add value to the expatriation and relocation industry in France.
Some entrepreneurs think that sharing their ideas and business strategies with their audience can make them vulnerable and damage the integrity of their businesses.
They are probably right.
At Expats Paris, we think differently.
We’re probably naive, but we’re not an exception.
Many other businesses have been doing it for ages.
We believe a company’s openness with its audience, employees and shareholders is a continuous trust-building and accountability process.
I believe that businesses of all sizes can use these same simple principles to improve both employee morale and community satisfaction.
What’s your point of view on this?
Have you ever offered anything for free to your audience?
Have you ever thought of doing it?
I’d love to read your experience down in the comments.
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