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Can you introduce yourself to our listeners?

I’m Jess, and I’m a social media strategist. I’m the founder of a company called Rock Social, which is a boutique social media consultancy. I help mainly female founders with their social media strategies, both paid and organic. I also do speaking engagements and training. I talk to lots of business owners all over Sweden for Google (I’m a Google digital expert in Sweden) and I live there now. I’m originally Swedish, but I lived in the UK for 10 years in East London.

What’s the story behind Rock Social?

The area that I live in has a lot of mining so there are loads of mines that are not used anymore. So it was connected to the geographical spot, but also connected to standing solid as a rock in the sense that that’s what I want to be as a business owner.  And of course, you want to be rocking your socials, right!

Take us back to the beginning of your career journey. Where did it all begin for you?

I have 20 years of experience in PR and comms, that’s where I spent almost the entirety of my career. After uni, I worked in the film industry in Stockholm, running press and PR for Disney. I was then relocated to London where I did the same but for the Discovery Networks. That’s where I started out – in the digital world. In the last 20 years, the world has become digitised, so it’s been a natural progression. 

Though I loved the work, I really wanted to leave the space as it was a very male-driven, toxic environment. I was bullied, I used to sit in my car and cry before I went to work. It was really a trauma that I had to work through for a long, long time. I know that there are people out there who are unhappy in their careers or in the place that they’re at but for me, the only answer was to leave and that didn’t come easy. I tried for years and years to make it work.

A situation happened one day that made me think, I am not letting myself be marginalised anymore. There has to be something else for me. At the time, I had twins and they were a year and a half old – so my mom thought I was crazy leaving employment without knowing what I was going to do. But I decided to upskill.

I’m in my 40s but knew that I had so much experience to share with the world. I slowly found my groove and my confidence and that was really key for me. The mindset it’s really what I rely on every single day in my business and it’s what I built my business on.  I’ve done a lot of work on that side of myself and it really serves me in my business every day.

In terms of the mindset work, what were some of the biggest challenges you overcame as part of that career shift?

Obviously being in such a toxic environment and a work environment that was just dreadful put me in a depressive state which I slowly got out of. But my self-esteem had really taken a huge knock and I didn’t really believe in myself. I personally used cognitive behavioural therapy that really worked wonders for me. So for me, it was using those techniques to address the issues that I think a lot of people can resonate with.

The inner critic that is constantly in our ear talking to us in a very negative way and also the imposter syndrome which I think is prevalent when starting a business. There’s competition out there that makes you second guess yourself. I am now where I want to be but it takes time and it’s not easy, but it is absolutely worth it.

We are social beings so we look for approval from others – especially women. Prehistorically, we are part of a tribe and we want to be accepted. Unfortunately, our brains haven’t really developed from that, so we are looking for that approval. You should be careful with whose approval you’re seeking though, because if it’s people that you don’t look up to or who don’t understand the path you’re on, then this can muddy the waters. Stay in your lane and look for those key people who will cheer you on.

A couple of my best friends are business owners, they’re women that I rely on. They’re my tribe when it comes to advice and they’re cheering me on and picking me up when I’m feeling down and celebrating with me when things are great.

Has the pandemic affected your business or ways or working?

The pandemic has done so much for the way that we look at life and work. It has challenged the way we work and has shifted in a way that it would’ve taken decades to shift. It doesn’t matter where in the world you work. You can work wherever you want as long as you keep doing your job. It has also made a lot of us mini entrepreneurs and I love that because being in a job and going through the motions can take the creativity out of people. That’s what I realised when the pandemic hit. I had a choice as a business owner to either panic or I could try and reframe it. 

Yes, my clients disappeared overnight but I knew that the only person who could do anything about that was me. As scary as it is, I still chose to run my own business, because I have that power, it’s only up to me. And starting my business was very much an act of trying to seek that freedom of not being employed anymore. Not having a manager telling you your worth, and so on and so forth. It’s been a challenging time as a business owner, but it’s also fantastic for somebody who works with social media because most people are using it every day.

I think we sometimes forget, when we’re out there promoting our businesses or ourselves as personal brands, that it’s all about human connection. It’s about people meeting, engaging and talking to each other. I think the pandemic has rewritten the rulebook in terms of how brands have to act on social media and how they can connect with their audiences.

The shift in knowledge and understanding of social media has been huge. People now see the potential out there, and are focusing on communicating their brands in a slightly different way. No longer does it work to be a faceless organisation that hides behind a brand. We now need to feel a connection. Over 85% of people purchase something they’ve seen on Instagram. Their first connection to the brand is on social media. People who come to me who are highly motivated, get it and know what they have to do, but don’t know exactly how to do it – they are my favourite kind of people.

What would be your advice to the social media business newbie?

I would give three pieces of advice. This is my basic strategy for any platform. Start with where your clients are. Look at the platforms, where are they? That’s the most important question that you can ask yourself in the beginning. That goes hand in hand with the second part, which is who are they? This will serve you well, in any part of your marketing – trying to understand who your ideal client is. The third part is the content strategy.

Try and think about what kind of content works for that ideal client, what will they engage with? What will resonate with them? It’s really about understanding the client, choosing a platform where they are and creating content that resonates with them. It’s not done in a day, it takes a lot of thinking, some exercises and research, but it’ll serve you well to do that work.

One of the first things that I invested in was exploring my brand values. Through doing that work with somebody else who could guide me, I found out who my clients were, what my business values were, and what I wanted to focus on. I spent 20 years of my career working with men but found my audience to be women. We have about 27% of businesses in Sweden that are owned by women. That is a terribly low number.

There’s not a lot of statistics in the UK, but it’s definitely one of the lowest numbers in Europe, for sure. What’s even worse is that only 1% of all risk investment capital in Sweden goes to female-founded businesses. For me, it’s so important to get women to a point where they can feel confident about social media and using the channels properly to market their business so it is successful. 

What is your career teaching you right now?

My career is teaching me that running a business is not easy but it is the best decision I have ever made in my life. It provides me with the lifestyle I want and freedom. It provides me with the opportunity to be a role model for my children. To show them that when life gives you a situation where you’re not being respected, you’re being marginalised and you’re being bullied, that you can walk away from it. Make a change. It’s not easy running a business, and it’s not always perfect. There are ups and downs. It requires resilience, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. What I hope for in the future is to keep doing what I’m doing, for my business to grow, and to serve more people and help and inspire them.

Where can people find you/ connect with your and follow your journey? 

My website is Rock-social.com. You can find links to everything there. You can download my content creation playbook, which is free! The playbook is designed to help you plan your content as well as the three steps mentioned before. You can also book a connection call with me. I’m also on Instagram as Rock Social_.