Interview: YENA
Posted 12th of May, 2017

Ash and Abby of YENA share the importance of Social Media in everything they do.

YENA_03

Ash Phillips is the face behind YENA, a network for young entrepreneurs and professionals to meet like-minded peers, share ideas and access resources in order to help them reach their full potential. Joined with team member Abby, we caught them both for a chat to find out more about their use of Social Media.


Website: yena.co.uk

Facebook: /YENAglobal

Twitter: @yenaglobal

Instagram: @yenaglobal

Hey Ash and Abby. Could you briefly introduce yourself and YENA?

Sure, YENA is the network for young entrepreneurs and ambitious individuals. We organise global events in order to support young ambitions. 

YENA can be found across a large variety of social channels. Is social media a big part of what you do?

Yes, 99.9% of our demographic have some form of social presence. We have grown out of 0 budget, so, social has been an invaluable tool. In terms of reach, it enables us to reach our audience easily. We can also measure and track everything we do on social. As a network organisation - it is how we speak to our people.

What sort of value do you think the YENA social channels offer to young entrepreneurs?

First and foremost, it’s educational. It teaches our audience where and what is going on. We also use it to give personal introductions. One way traffic - content and education. Two way traffic - conversational via messaging through Facebook and Twitter, continuously giving support to the YENA network.

It’s exciting to see YENA launched in London and Reading this year. Does Social Media play an important role in the build up to these launches?

It’s vital. Especially when we don’t have a network in a certain area already. We can create outreach on social via Twitter to local hubs of people who will have access to the people that we can engage with. Then this is passed on and allows us to engage with them by sharing valuable content. Emails that we send out will also go across on Social with a very minimal budget on social ads. 

You’re also extremely active on your personal social accounts. Do you think it’s important for entrepreneurs to post from their own accounts as well as from business accounts?

Absolutely, there has to be a balance. You have to represent the job and the business but have a personal spin on it. Make sure your personal values and business values align and work together really well. We are our own companies so you need to come across professional. Company culture needs to be represented well. We both use personal accounts for the conversations about YENA and include YENA within all conversations on social. 

A lot of people might see LinkedIn as the ultimate social platform for networking and sharing industry updates. Do you think the likes of Twitter and Facebook, particularly groups, can also be used to reach out and connect with people?

LinkedIn has a purpose. Its the BNI of Social Media. It has existed for a long time, full of people who wear suits and ties. The next generation doesn’t really understand its purpose. For thought leadership, LinkedIn is great. For outreach Twitter is incredible and for that reason, I hope it doesn't die. From a business development point of view it is also amazing. You can create a global business on Twitter from your bedroom. Facebook is a lot more difficult to create the same outreach, unless you smash sponsored ads but that doesn’t give us emotional reach.

How have you built your personal social network?

Abby: Majority of my social network has been built face to face. Real connection is better developed in real person. My Twitter account is personal but I target and follow those who are of interest to me. My own social network has more value with face to face interaction. Relationships that I build online are just different from those in person.

Ash: Personally, I think that “in-person” networking is really important. The ability to understand people equals more chance to develop the relationship (and business relationship). I will inevitably engage with them online afterwards. Straight from that type of relationship, it gives us more to talk about when we next meet.

The other way around: There is more opportunity to jump up the social network by using Twitter. If there is someone in an area, it allows you to reach to them and gather engagement back and then follow the connection up with in person relationships. 

Personal Strategy - I continue to outreach to people, giving unconditional engagement by pointing people in the correct direction. It generally increases your social currency. Kind of like creating online best friends. This has to be genuine though, there are a lot of false personas online and it can be easy to become fake.

On a broader digital scale, is there anything you’ve experimented in the past (either for YENA or yourself) that you think hasn’t worked so well?

We’d have to say the YENA Youtube channel, most likely due to a lack of focus and spreading ourselves too thin. As a community, we wanted to be everywhere. Podcasts were lined up but things got in the way. Content is really important for us. As a natural progression, we could gather content for people. Focus on going forward is key. We are currently testing with Instagram but aren’t sure whether it gives our network what they need. We are still working out whether it works for us.

Can you give us a sneak peak into any plans you have for the rest of 2017 onwards?

Content around members, telling stories about our customers. Education is going to be key for us. It is far more scalable as a business model. Creating written content, imagery to be shared and give the right value, lots of value is really important. Video content will come too. Repurposing current content will be key; things like testing out whether we can get that story in video format, written format and image format to be used across all channels. Final thing we are thinking about is a weekly VLOG; a little like the style of Steve Barred from Social Chain. This will basically be in the diary of a start up format, following us around every day.

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