We are excited to announce our new location for the New York City Vegan Professional Bootcamp. This two-story location in the heart of Manhattan is easily accessible from Grand Central Station and other major transportation hubs.
The Carriage House Center
149 East 38th Street
New York, NY 10016
Due to the size of this new location, we will be able to accommodate speakers in different rooms. Therefore, we will be adding more topics to the agenda and speaker panels. Also, we will be able to register 20 additional attendees. Once they are gone….they are gone. So, don’t delay!!
Can you believe it, it’s about 30 days before the NYC Vegan Professional Bootcamp. We are in full execution mode as we start the official countdown.
We wanted to post a quick note because tickets are selling fast and we didn’t want anyone to miss out. We have about 15 tickets left, so if you are planning to attend, please register soon.
We have an amazing group of speakers and an outstanding agenda planned for the day. We encourage you to bring your laptops, iPads, iPhones and gadgets, so, you will leave the day with not just ideas, but an actionable plan to implement for your business tomorrow.
Social media, defined as the use of web and mobile-based technology that turns communication into an interactive dialogue, has become an integral part of building a brand. As vegan companies, we have a long history of working with a passionate, engaged community (whom we love!), and these new channels offer an unparalleled opportunity to connect with customers in a way that helps shape the personality of our companies. A well-planned social media strategy should play a role in every vegan business, and with a low cost of entry, it can bring great results. But this doesn’t mean we can just turn over our social media to an intern or the 11-year-old kid next store: a great plan requires understanding this new form of communication as well as how it can help take our business to the next level (which it can). Here are seven tips I’ve implemented at VegNews that have helped us find our social media sweet spot.
1. Get the right person on the job.
Facebook and Twitter require two very different voices, while Pinterest and Instagram demand someone with a great eye and photography skills. For every social media channel, it’s important to have the right person on the right platform—someone who can write well, has a great online personality, can build and engage their respective communities, and be able to identify content that works. Short on qualified staff? The same person can manage multipe channels but should understand how the audiences and channels differ.
2. Know your magic number.
To get the most out of your social media, figure out the ideal number of daily posts in each channel for your brand. Analyze what your community is doing, how often your competitors are posting, what your industry is doing, who does what well, and where your niche is. When creating your plan, always keep your resources in mind so that your social media strategy is consistent and sustainable. At VegNews, we always emphasize quality over quantity and would rather have fewer, more effective posts than dilluting our message by posting too frequently.
3. Limit the self-promotion.
Obviously, we’re in business to build our brands, but just as nobody wants to go to dinner with someone who talks about themselves the whole time, the same rules apply to social media. Promote the most interesting content from other members of your community along with your own material, and you’ll become a more trusted source of information. At VegNews, we love sharing all of the incredible food being made by vegan bloggers around the web, and our Pinterest page reflects this.
4. Keep the content clean.
When planning your social media content, it should be taken as seriously as every other part of your business. That means there should be no spelling errors, no grammatical mistakes, no broken links, and it has to be factually accurate. As vegan businesses, we have worked hard to build our brands and don’t want to jeopardize our reputation because of inaccuracies or misspellings in our social media.
5. Follow the metrics.
With the availability of online metrics and instant feedback, there’s no need to play the guessing game with what’s working and what’s not. Numbers don’t lie, so know them, follow them, and repeat what works and stop doing what doesn’t. And don’t forget to share them with your staff so they can become even better social media whizzes. Our team meets on a weekly basis to discuss the top content across every channel we publish, allowing us to continue serving our audience the best way we can.
6. Engage with the social media community.
Nowadays, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest encompass whole sub-communities, and your social media staffer(s) needs to engage that community on a daily basis. That means they need to answer questions promptly, forward queries they can’t answer to the right staff member, and send links out to anyone mentioned in a post. Social media is a two-way conversation, and we must constantly be part of the dialogue in order for our brands to stand out in today’s digital world.
7. Get creative.
Your community deserves the best content possible, so keep your social media fresh with innovative ideas. Everyting from giveaways, photo galleries, and polls to live chats and live tweeting have worked for us at VegNews. Always look for opportunities to creatively deliver content so that your audience stays interested and engaged. After all, what’s good for your customers is good for your business.
Want to know VegNews’ top social media posts in the last year? Here’s a snapshot:
Facebook: Bat Kitty
Instagram: Colleen’s Spring Rolls
Pinterest: Tofu Popcorn Chicken
Tumblr: Vegan Mozzarella Sticks
YouTube: Vegan Maple Bacon Cupcakes
Yep, the VegNews’ audience is obsessed with food and animals. That pretty much sums up the vegan world, and I love being a part of it.
Colleen Holland is the co-founder of VegNews Media and still gets excited every time a new post on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Tumblr/Pinterest goes live.
There’s no question about it: veganism is going mainstream. Whether inspired by celebrity endorsers such as Bill Clinton or Anne Hathaway, moved by a powerful film such as Forks Over Knives, or simply enamored by the delicious vegan food choices available today, people everywhere are trying out the plant-based lifestyle.
How did we get to where we are today? A combination of grassroots’ activism, the expert work of national animal advocacy groups, and advances in technology has propelled the vegetarian movement forward like never before. But I would also add a fourth influencer—vegan entrepreneurs. Working tirelessly to create a parallel economy that places ethics over profit, compassionate companies provide vegan products and services that normalize the veg lifestyle, showing that there needs to be no sacrifice when ditching meat and dairy. This force is critical to portraying veganism as accessible, practical, and normal.
So how does one become a vegan entrepreneur? Prepare yourself to work harder than you’ve ever worked before, realize that it may take a couple of years before your business is financially viable, but know that nothing is more rewarding than fusing your livelihood with something as meaningful and vital as veganism. In 2000, when my business partner and I launched VegNews, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. Thirteen years later, our business has taken on a life of its own, and it feels like yesterday when we were holding the very first issue in our hands.
Here are my top five tips for launching a vegan business:
1. Have a great idea.
Most likely, you’re part of the vegan community and have noticed a product or service not being offered—or not being offered to your standards. Discuss your idea with friends and family to gauge their excitement level for your business idea, and carry around a notebook to jot down ideas as they come up. After three months, if your enthusiasm for your business idea is still high, start to create an execution strategy.
2. Secure funding.
There’s no rules about capitalizing a business, as success stories range from launching with $25 to launching with $25 million. After more than a decade in the (vegan) business world, I think it’s prudent to be lean no matter which end of the spectrum you’re on. And often times, a business that starts small and grows organically is far more fluid to changes in the marketplace than one that bursts onto the scene with a big budget and a (seemingly) airtight business plan.
3. Pull together your dream team.
Think about the advantages of bringing in a co-founder, as having someone with complementary skills can be critical to the success of your company. Entrepreneurs often think they can do it all, but specializing in areas where we perform best (with others doing the same) is a great strategy for growing smartly and efficiently. In addition, hire an attorney to form your business entity and partnership agreements; a bookkeeper to set up a financial system; and a social media guru to manage your online marketing.
4. Hire a branding agency.
What may be your most important pre-launch hire is a designer or branding agency. You can have the best idea in the world, but if it doesn’t look credible or desirable, it may not last in today’s competitive marketplace. Standards for packaging and websites have increased dramatically in recent years, and, as a vegan business, it’s even more important to showcase our products and services in a sophisticated and appealing way. Don’t skimp on this part of your business—it will pay for itself again and again.
5. Overdeliver in everything you do.
Whenever we hire new staff at VegNews, I always emphasize the importance of overdelivering on everything we do. Whether it’s providing top-notch service to our subscribers, giving our writers a stellar editing experience, or helping our advertising partners deliver their best campaign ever, I want the VegNews experience to be nothing short of phenominal. This is my mantra, and, for now, it seems to be working.
About The Author: Colleen Holland is the co-founder of VegNews Magazine. Join Colleen (and other vegan business experts) at the first-ever Vegan Professional Bootcamp this Sunday, February 24 in Berkeley. Future bootcamps are scheduled for Washington, DC, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and Austin.