Interview: Pia Wilson, Playwright and Small Business Owner

ClearSocialMedia: You have several businesses, can you tell us about them?
Pia Wilson: I never thought of my being a playwright as a business because of the artistic element.  But I can definitely see how it could be conceived that way because of all the relationship-building and the marketing element.  My other business is a language school I started in July 2010.  It’s a business in more of a classical sense — in that it’s an LLC — and it’s called Language à GoGo.
CSM: Where are they located or are they primarily online?
PW: My playwriting business goes wherever I go, though I do have a website: www.piawilson.com!  Language à GoGo is based in Montclair, NJ; though our classes are in Manhattan.  The website is www.languageagogo.com — and it’s a Tumblr site (to my advantage and disadvantage).
CSM: What is your primary marketing strategy?
PW: For playwriting, I don’t have a specific marketing strategy.  I try to get to know people in the industry.  I have the aforementioned website, and I tweet (@pwilson720).  My twitter account is reflective of me as a person and as a playwright.  Same with my Facebook page.
Language à GoGo is a little more strategic.  The company is going to do a sale with an email marketing company.   The twitter account (@languageagogo) has been growing slowly, and there’s no Facebook page yet.  From my perspective, it’s better to hear what the community is saying and build the community little by little rather than just follow everyone on the planet, just to get a big number.  We have had conversations with our friends on Twitter and learned from them. Hopefully, we’ve been sharing some worthwhile information too.  On Facebook, we’ve been waiting to launch the page until we have a larger student body community.  Ideally, I want students to communicate with each other and their teacher, using Facebook as a meeting point for conversation about language, swapping tips for learning and more.  We’re also waiting to have more visual content.  There’s nothing I hate more than a boring Facebook page!  I also use Gowalla for Language à GoGo, since we’re all about being on the move.
CSM: How does this strategy change between marketing yourself as a playwright and marketing a business?
PW: I think I may have combined the answer for this question with the answer for the question above.  But I’d like to add that marketing myself as a playwright is more about me being Pia.  I can bring my politics into it. I can talk about my life.  I can talk about what I’m working on.  However, with Language à GoGo, it’s not really me I’m presenting.  So, I keep my personal life out of it, unlike other impresarios like Richard Branson and P.T. Barnum.  Language à GoGo is about connecting people with a new language and culture.
CSM: What forms of social media do you find most helpful?  How does this differ between businesses?
PW: I find Twitter to be the most helpful in both businesses.  As a playwright, I find that Twitter helps me reach out to people from all over the world.  Facebook is more limited to my immediate circle and is thus New York-centric.  For Language à GoGo, there’s nothing to compare Twitter to on the social media front.  Lots of information comes through Twitter.  Great conversations.  Gowalla will be more fun as we grow.
CSM: What kind of impact does social media have on both businesses?  How do you measure the impact?
PW: Twitter has brought a few people to the website for Language à GoGo as well as my personal/playwright website.  However, as a playwright, Twitter has had a different impact, in that I’ve met theater people in person that I may have never known, and some theaters in other parts of the country have requested to read my work, which is fantastic.  Facebook is more about socializing with people I already know to some degree.  It’s great for mentally casting a role too!
CSM: How do you think social media is changing the way people can brand themselves?  How new business start up?
PW: I think social media gives people a way to show their authentic personality.  It’s also a great way to position yourself as a great communicator and sharer of ideas.  For a new business start-up, it’s a great way to make inroads into an established community.  It’s also a way to gauge the market’s receptivity to a start-up’s positioning.  Of course, it’s a wonderful way to keep in contact with clients and potential clients.
CSM: What social media do you find invaluable?  What have you tried and found to be a waste of time?
PW: I really enjoy Twitter, but it can be very time-consuming.  If anything, I would recommend relaxing about Twitter and easing it into your schedule. It’s more important to get the big items off your plate Twitter should be business and pleasure.
Because I have been careful with my time using social media, I haven’t encountered any social media that is a waste of time. I think it’s important to think about what your business is and then engage in social media strategically — not just following every trend.
CSM: I notice you have an iPad.  Does it aid you in accessing social media or marketing your businesses?
PW: Yes! The iPad is a great tool for using social media. I have both the Twitter app as well as Twittelator and Hootsuite. I use Friendly for Facebook.  In person-to-person marketing, I have created a slideshow for Language à GoGo that demonstrates how we operate.
With playwriting, I can fill out grant or festival applications using PDF Expert or iAnnotate PDF.
CSM: What advice would you offer to people who are looking to brand themselves using social media?
PW: Think strategically and don’t exhaust yourself, if you don’t have the people power to pull off a hectic social media schedule.
CSM: What advice would you offer to people looking to create buzz around a new business using social media?
PW: Engage people. Ask interesting questions. Share your insights frequently.
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