Last Updated on November 27, 2020
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About Christina Hager
I am the President and Founder of Ovations Digital, a social media and digital strategy company located in the midwest. I am a 2019 and 2020 member of the Forbes communication council, and I write articles for Forbes about how to use social media strategically for your business, organization, or board. I teach classes for Business Owners on how to use social media, and am a guest speaker both regionally and nationally.
However, I didn’t start out wanting to work in digital, or even to own my own business. In fact, social media barely existed when I went to school, and I spent years studying something else.
For 10 years I had a successful career as an opera singer in NYC. When the market dropped in 2010, almost 50 opera companies across the company closed. I went from singing opera full-time to being a “shop girl” working in a store at Rockefeller Center.
Armed with only the knowledge of branding and marketing from years of marketing myself and my talents, I knew I could make a difference for the store I was working for–and so I started running their social media.
We saw an increase in our sales, and I was hooked.
I consult for individual projects in B2B and B2C industries including: health and wellness, executive and change advisory, beauty, skincare, business and career services, luxury goods, nonprofits, and the performing arts. Recognizable organizations I work with include Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Point B Consulting.
About Ovations Digital
Ovations Digital is a boutique social media company in the Midwest. We help individuals, businesses, brands, and organizations use social media strategically to meet their business goals. We provide social media strategy, grow thought leadership, and work with clients on both the B2C and B2B side.
We also work with individual business leaders, executives, physicians, authors, speakers, non-profits, board, and the arts (which holds a special place in my heart!)
When I was still singing part time and freelancing in social media, I had a few clients here and there in different markets, and then I made an entire life shift: I stopped singing, I started a family, I moved from NYC to Kansas City, and I spent a year working as Head of Marketing for a start-up. During that year, I learned a lot about the various facets of marketing that touches social media: websites, email marketing, B2b sales, cold calling, marketing campaigns, paid, earned, owned media, etc. However, I knew that particular company and culture wasn’t the right one for me, and so it was up to me to pave my own path.
So, I founded Ovations. I had started working with some business leaders, and found this was a terrific path for me. I seemed to be able to “translate” social media for them-to speak a language that business owners and leaders understood but to de-mystify social media for them. I found my area of expertise was on strategy, and there was a real lacking of strategy from organizations of all sizes.
How Did You Get Your First Several Customers Or Users? How Many Users Or Customers Do You Have Now?
My first few customers came from word of mouth, and that’s honestly how my business has grown. When I was very fresh, I put my services on Thumbtack, which connects individual freelancers and business owners with people who need their services. I ended up connecting with a client who is still my client today!
How Does Your Company Grow And Acquire New Customers?
Anytime I speak or present at a board meeting, I am able to grow my connections and my business. I try to be generous with my time when it comes to introductory phone calls, and I truly believe that you get out of the world what you put into it. This means that sometimes I donate an hour of my time if I really believe in the cause, or spend some time giving free consulting or writing/strategy work. It also means connecting with people who are both in my industry, outside of my industry, and even my competitors! You’d be surprised how many clients I’ve gotten (and given) to people who do the exact same thing as me. Your competitors are not your enemies. They can often me some of your greatest supporters.
What Actionable Tips And Tricks Do You Have For New Founders Who Are Looking To Get Their First Thousand Users Or Dollars?
You have to be strategic, to make tough decisions, and to put your time, resources, and money into the low hanging fruit. Sometimes that is not fun, and it’s not easy. You also have to be willing to work with client who aren’t the best fit, and adapt as you work together.
Also, network, network, network! You never know where your next lead or customers is coming from. No matter how niche your product, share what you are doing with the world. That means updated email lists, LinkediN profiles, etc.
What Is Something You’ve Learned That Would Not Be Obvious To Somebody Who Hasn’t Worked In Your Space Before?
You can’t become complacent, and you must keep learning. Social media is an industry that can change, quite literally, on a dime. If you keep up with social media in the news, you will see that there are new laws, programs, and platforms constantly popping up. Plus, the way people use social is always changing. As someone who works in social, it’s essential I stay on top of these changes. As someone who might HIRE someone to help them with their social media and digital strategy, ASK about how they keep tabs on current events and trends.
What’s The Craziest Thing That’s Happened To You (Good Or Bad) On Your Founder Journey?
Although there have been some really, really weird potential clients, and internal situations that arose with clients that I can’t share (sorry!) I think what always amazes me is people who ask for a proposal and then go SILENT…sometimes forever, but sometimes for months and months, and then come back again, with zero communication in the in between, to let you know they want to engage your services. Very odd
Another crazy thing is that I’m a Big Bravo fan-the real housewives, etc. I know, I know. I was working for a client and in writing an article for Forbes, got to interview my favorite Housewive’s husband, who also owns an uber- successful business. After seeing him onscreen for so many years, it was fun to chat with him for an hour, and to discover he was as polite and lovely over the phone as he was on screen!
What Are Your Favorite Books?
I am a HUGE fan of books. In fact, I recently had a milestone birthday, and one of my best friends arranged for all of my friends to send me books!
Tell the Wolves I’m Home is one of my all-time favorites-and one of the only books I’ve read twice in the same year.
The History Of Love is a gorgeous, amazing book.
I loved Gone Girl (who didn’t!) and fun fact, the author is from my hometown!
Plan B and Bird by Bird are both non-fiction by Anne Lamott and she is absolutely amazing. I re-read both every single year. SO much wisdom, humor, and humility.
Anything You’d Like To Plug?
If you are going to do ONE THING for your social media endeavors, set a social media strategy. PLEASE! That way you can have a document that links up with your measure goals, and a way in which to measure your efforts and their ROI. Think of it as your blueprint to success.
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Book summaries, notes, interviews, and more!
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