Posted on August 10, 2018 at 5:12 am

Biz Lifestyle North America Tech

Interview With Digital And Social Media Entrepreneur Sonya Gill

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Interview With Digital And Social Media Entrepreneur Sonya Gill

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Growing up as a kid I was made fun of for how dark I was for an 'indian girl'. People from my own culture would call me 'darkie' and tell me to buy 'fair and lovely'. . These days it still happens. The other day someone actually told me how I got so dark the last few weeks and said I could pass for a 'black' person as if to insult me (the ignorance). I love the sun, and when it's out, you won't find me sitting in the shade. . . But here's the thing, I could get super upset that this is still happening, OR we can have discussions around this and spread awareness. Black, beige or white, there is a lack of awareness and education around why most people say the disrespectful things that they do. I personally know that it comes from social norms and cultural appropriation, but what are your thoughts? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . #colouredgirls #colored #blackandwhite #beige #skintone #skincolor #topics #discuss #topic #discussion #skincolour #browngirls #desi #fairandlovely #summertan #tan #summer #bullying #takeastand #letstalk #talking #bully

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Interview With Sonya Gill A Digital And Social Media Entrepreneur. Sonya’s journey in communications began over 10 years ago alongside her Television and Radio career. She created a brand for herself online, long before Twitter and Facebook became the forces we know them to be today.

Today she is a keynote speaker, trainer, author, and consultant in Digital Marketing and Social Selling for global organizations. She consults in the area of branding, strategy and digital marketing for C-levels and Sales Directors through her own developed processes and helps global executives build and grow strong online reputations that have led to new business opportunities for their organizations.

Sonya is also the founder and CEO of her former Digital Marketing agency called Youzus, which was acquired by an award-winning advertising agency in 2015. Here she led highly successful online marketing programs in Web Design, Web Development, Search Engine Optimization, Pay Per Click Advertising and Online Marketing Campaigns. In addition, she has created hundreds of social media marketing strategies and online PR campaigns for B2B professional services companies. Today, she manages some of the top digital marketing strategies for some of the leading firms in Canada.


Tell us a little bit about yourself

I was born and raised in North West Territories until I was about 5 and later grew up on a blueberry farm in Whiterock BC. I’m the daughter of an Engineer and an English Teacher. Growing up education was very important (as it is in a lot of South Asian families), but my creativity was always embraced and supported. I had my fathers engineering mind and my mothers outgoing and a go-getter personality. I later found out in life how much this helped me grow as an individual.
I moved from BC when I was 22 to pursue a career in Television and Radio and ended up creating a robust online personality for myself throughout it all. Little did I know I was branding myself. In the 8 years of my media career, I had built two websites via WordPress, where one of them became a blog. This blog became my side business as I taught small businesses how to also build their brands online. 3 years later, I launched this blog into a full digital marketing agency and left my TV career behind (or so I thought I did, as it’s still very prominent in other ways today). In 2015, I sold this company to an Austrailian Ad agency and went full fledge into developing my second company which is now known as Take My Sari. Alongside this venture, I am also a growth hacker and help businesses grow and scale (my passion). Sometimes businesses get stuck in the marketing realm of the world and that’s where I love stepping into problem solve and help. I love watching businesses succeed, and to be apart of the process is such a blessing.

Over the past years, we have seen big changes in social media marketing. What is the most effective social media app in your opinion?
I would need to say Pinterest if we are talking about business and Instagram if we are speaking about branding yourself and your business persona. I have personally seen Pinterest drive tons of traffic and convert this traffic into sales. In my opinion, it is the most underutilized tool used by businesses today.

Tell us a little bit about your company
Presently my focus is on growing my app Take My Sari. We had launched it as a beta version to see if there was a demand in the marketplace and quickly learned there was more than a demand, there was a need. After we launched the beta version, we garnered close to 5000 users and decided it was time to build out the full app which is what we are doing now. The full app will be available for Diwali on both Android and iPhone.

My other company is SG Communications – this is my consulting company where I consult businesses (mostly fortune 500 and venture-backed startups) as a Growth Hacker. Because my core competencies are in tech, digital marketing, and PR, I’m able to look at a company and almost immediately tell where they could be growing the quickest and fastest online and get a return on their investment. What I absolutely love doing is building creative campaigns for companies to stand out. Watching the entire thing come to life from scratch is so thrilling. Execution from a plan really excites me.

What social media platform do you think is the most under-rated and underused by the businesses?
As mentioned above, definitely Pinterest. Secondly, I would say MailChimp. Not enough businesses build up email databases. If more companies did this, they would add an additional revenue stream for themselves.

What made you decide to create a company? Why did you choose such a challenging path?
I don’t think I really decided. More like my fate decided for me. I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart, and being of service to others is one of my core pillars. When I turned my blog into an agency, it was a no-brainer. It truly just fell together at the right time.

I don’t think entrepreneurship needs to be as challenging as people make it. For me, it always comes down to mindset. I’ve experienced empty pockets, so that doesn’t scare me, and I’ve experienced heartbreak in business as well. And the fact that I overcame both types of circumstances in my short-lived life always tells me, what’s the worst that could possibly happen? My biggest take away though is to always be learning and never become stagnant. It’s in the moments that you become stagnant and think you know everything that the entrepreneurial path can become challenging.

How long it took you to establish as an entrepreneur?
Establishing myself as an entrepreneur is an ongoing journey. I can’t actually say that I’m established because I’m always constantly learning and evolving. However, we can also ask the question, what is being established? It doesn’t come down to the reputation or money for me. For me, it comes down to solving problems and changing the way people think about things or use things. When that happens for me with Take My Sari, I’ll answer this question again:)

What were some of the challenges you had to encounter?
I don’t think there is enough room in this interview for me to go through all the lessons learned and lessons I’m still learning. But one of the biggest lessons I encountered (and feel I learned from) is everything happens in divine timing. Sometimes we push so hard to get a certain outcome or result that we get frustrated when it doesn’t happen, which is why so many people give up. But as much as persistence is important to one’s success, so is patience. Trust that everything will work out as it should.

Do you think it’s a man’s world? Or you think the world is a little different in 2018?
First question – Absolutely not. Second question – I think it’s everyone’s world and that energy is everything. If someone is going to believe that it’s a mans world, then they will constantly face situations in which they feel defeated or challenged. But if we as human beings looked at things in a different light with a different energy, one’s world could really begin to change for them. After all, like attracts like.

What are your favorite apps?
Travel – Skyscanner and Hopper
Design – Canva
Car Sharing – Maven
Small jobs – Fiverr

What metrics do you use to measure the success of your social campaigns?
I use CRM business tools via Hubspot, Facebook or Hootsuite. But lately, I find myself using Google Analytics a lot.

How important do you think it is to use a social media expert to boost the business?
I think it’s important for people to understand how loosely the word ‘expert’ gets thrown around. Do I think using an expert is important, absolutely, but I think using someone who has a marketing brain mixed with design and experience with growing their own company is more useful. It’s always a better idea to hire an entrepreneurial expert with these skills instead of a social media expert.

Where do you see yourself in the next few years?

Alive, well and well rounded: spiritually, physically and mentally.