Student Stories: Carlo Powe-Crawford

Meet Carlo Powe-Crawford, Class Challenge winner of Gary Vaynerchuk's Context is Key: Social Media Strategy in a Noisy Online World class. Carlo can now take her class project to the next level by discussing her social media plans in depth on a 1-on-1 Google Hangout with the social media expert himself - Gary Vaynerchuck! Read on to find out more about Carlo's awesome Social Media strategy.

Tell us a bit more about yourself and your background. I’ve been an entrepreneur since my early 20s. My first business was a ladies retail clothing store in my childhood hometown, Rochester, Michigan. I also owned and operated a luxury service based catering and party planning company in Metro-Detroit, securing clients such as former NBA legend turned successful businessman, then Detroit mayor, Dave Bing – and his real estate development company business partner, billionaire rental trucking and race car magnate, Roger Penske. I am currently the CEO and owner of Afford A Luxury Party, a new catering and party planning startup that specializes in creating “affordable luxury” parties, weddings, and special corporate events, small and large; from 10 to 1000+ guests per event.

How has Gary's class helped with creating a social media strategy for "Afford A Luxury Party?" Taking Gary’s class allowed me to tap into my artistic side, where I could use my aesthetic “eye” that I often use when creating parties and special events. Like honey to a bee, taking Gary’s class was an instant attraction for me. I’d heard of him before. So, I knew his background; that he’s “that guy” - the leading Social Media expert. As soon as I heard that he was teaching a Skillshare class featuring his latest book “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How To Tell Your Story In A Noisy Social World,” I signed up right away.

And Gary, of course being the smart marketer that he is, made signing up even more attractive by creating a buzz; he added value to his class by offering a free copy of his new book to students early signing up. How could I say no? For anyone wanting to buy his book, like I did; bundling his book with the class made signing up a super attractive no-brainer.

For me, creating social media content for Gary’s class wasn’t that much of a stretch from creating gorgeous parties. To keenly observe the blush or intensity of a certain hue, or the fall of the drape of fabric – with all of its malleable possibilities, and to examine its proportions and so on, is part of the norm in designing parties. So, creating graphic content for Gary’s class was something I knew I would enjoy.

Several wonderful things happened as I worked to create the Class Challenge winning campaign.

First, I unlearned some old bad habits. I was like a lot of people posting on social media sites; not thinking about storytelling. Consequently, I was posting ineffectively – while doing what everyone else is doing; sometimes doing what Gary calls “Birdie bragging”; retweeting nice things said about myself and my brand.

Gary’s class taught me how to strategize social media. He taught me to think about “context” and how people like to consume content on the popular social media platforms; i.e., Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest and Google+.

Taking Gary’s class caused me to realize that I needed to create unique “stories” within the context of each platform, using interesting imagery and words. This was at the helm of creating an attention getting social media campaign strategy that would effectively reach consumers.

I began my strategy thinking about who I wanted to attract to Afford A Luxury Party brand content, where they like to shop – where and how they fit in within the culture, what problems I could solve for them, and what type of stories I should tell to express that; visually and verbally.

One of the main things I learned from Gary was to stop “pushing” and start “pulling;” which works and is garnering positive results for me; especially on Twitter, a platform that Gary and I especially like.

Because my class project, Afford A Luxury Party, is my new startup business, of course I want the introduction to the Houston market to go well. So, my content strategy that I created for Gary’s class included more than simply creating a video, some graphic content, a few captions, and a couple of moving .gif’s. I also linked a couple of Soundcloud audio tracks to the captions accompanying graphic content; where I talk to consumers – sharing my experiences that I’ve had creating parties.

I had no idea creating my class project would be cathartic. While recording one of the tracks and “mentally” looking back on my party career – I realized when things actually really “clicked” for me; the exact moment when having OCD began to play a major part in my success as an event planner.

As a business owner, Gary taught me to think deeply about the importance of how to connect the context of my content with social media users. And as another part of my strategy, I decided to also share one of the articles I’d written about parties on Medium.com; linking it to a caption accompanying another one of my graphic designs.

Anyone that knows anything about Gary Vaynerchuk knows that he’s passion-possessed about selling via social media. His Skillshare teaching videos – showcase his expertise, while he teaches “sounding off” as he often does with his matter-of-fact no nonsense delivery. Gary is not for the squeamish; he just goes for it, saying whatever he feels, however he feels it, with confidence. Gary also taught me to believe in myself and how I express my brand; to take my best shot and go for the “right hook”. So, I added a YouTube video to my project. The quality of the video I created could have honestly been better. But creating it “off the cuff” like I did, made it come off organic and authentic. I just sat there and simply talked about who I am and what creating parties and sharing Afford A Luxury Party with people means to me.

Are there other ways that Skillshare has been useful to you professionally or personally? Sure! Skillshare is keeping me sharp, focused, and competitive in the business world. I’m currently enrolled in another Skillshare class; “The New Business Toolbox: Help Your New Business Do It Right The First Time”, taught by Seth Godin. So, it’s obvious that Skillshare classes are first-class.

Skillshare has become an important and integral part of my business tool resource arsenal.

And, on a personal note (I haven’t heard other people say that they “Skillshare” in this manner), but I also like to take advantage of the “social aspects” that Skillshare offers; often returning to my classes to spend time online with classmates I wouldn’t have more than likely met otherwise.

Doyou have any tips for other people on how to get the most out of Skillshare? My first tip would be to not hesitate to get over here, look around, and sign up for a class.

Skillshare is an excellent online resource. I’m thrilled I found out about it because of all the different classes that are offered. What I’ve learned here has been invaluable and extremely inexpensive by most school standards, to say the least. And, because of the diverse and capable instructors that teach Skillshare classes, there’s something for just about everyone.

I’m always super busy. So, one of the things that I love the most about taking classes on Skillshare is the “learn at your own pace” atmosphere they’ve created.

And, my last tip?

Revisit my first tip; sign up and get going!

Taking classes on Skillshare is great… and worth so much more than the few dollars each class costs.