Welcome to our influencer blog series, where we select the top voices you should be following to up your game in business and in life!
Today I’d like to introduce you to Shama Hyder. I came across Shama in a list of influencers by Dave Kerpen, CEO of Likeable Social in INC. Magazine. I was surprised that I hadn’t heard about her sooner, since Shama Hyder is a pioneer of social media and digital marketing. And by that, I mean she was on the front lines doing digital marketing when the industry didn’t exist.
Back in 2008, Shama Hyder wrote her master's thesis for the University of Texas at Austin about Twitter when the platform had only 2,000 users, not the 330 million it has today.
Fast forward to the present, and Shama’s been honored at both the White House and The United Nations as one of the top 100 young entrepreneurs in the country, with an award winning, global online marketing and digital PR company. She’s also a bestselling author, a web and TV personality, and has been named a visionary strategist of the digital age.
So how did Shama know that social media was going to be such a game changer, especially when she describes those early days as being filled with doubters and naysayers?
After graduating in 2008, during the worst recession since the Great Depression, Shama took this vision and started a blog with how-to marketing advice. As a result of the quality of her content, Shama began to get so many solicitations for her services and advice, that she eventually assembled a team to help her, and within a year Shama transformed her humble beginnings into a full-blown agency.
Shama Hyder revealed that she was terrified to go out on her own, indicating most people start agencies after 20-30 years at a firm, with a solid book of business. But there she was, 22, fresh out of school, no pedigree from a big agency, no network, no money, and without a list or connections.
So how did she grow her business?
Shama Hyder says she knew the only way to grow her company without clients and established business, was to out-educate her competition, so that’s exactly what she did.
Just two years after launching her blog and one year after forming her company, Shama wrote, The Zen of Social Media Marketing: An Easier Way to Build Credibility, Generate Buzz, and Increase Revenue, which became a global bestseller, and was one of the first comprehensive guides of its kind. Today, the book is in its fourth edition and is used by top business schools and Fortune 500 companies around the country.
When asked about the book’s title, Shama explains zen this way:
It’s when you go with the flow, when you go with the tools, work within the ecosystem and utilize the assets at your disposal to the best of your ability. You do the right things and hope that the momentum carries you forward. She calls this strategic serendipity.
In other words, you’re going to be strategic in certain ways and hope that the universe helps you along the way. But those who know Shama Hyder reveal that she has an incredible amount of hustle behind her success.
At the age of 9, Shama left her home and extended family and friends in Bagladore, India to immigrate to Dallas, Texas with her family.
She recalls being a latchkey kid, with parents busy working blue collar jobs when they first arrived - her father a taxi driver and her mother an employee at a dry cleaning business - which meant that Shama was responsible for herself and her younger sister, making sure that meals were on time and that they both got to school.
It was a huge cultural shift for her as a child, since she spoke Hindi fluently and wasn’t born in the US. Being away from her community and extended family was new for her. In this way, Shama says she had to grow up fast.
When it came time for Shama to go to college, securing tuition rested on her shoulders alone, so she applied for and won scholarships that enabled her to cover the entire cost of attending the University of Texas at Austin.
When asked about her success, Shama shares her belief that all of us have unique gifts that we’re born with and that we hone overtime. Her gift? She says that with technology, marketing and business, she’s been able to see around the bend.
Take that vision and combine it with an intense focus, a down-to-earth and humble demeanor, and an unparalleled work ethic, and you have the recipe for Shama’s success.
So what does she have to say about using social media?
Shama Hyder explains that social is so much bigger than Facebook or Twitter, social is being the media. She proposes, “so how do you leverage the fact that people are social media?”
Think of social media as an amplifier, Shama says, it's a great visibility and distribution platform, but it’s not a substitute for the message. It’s really important to have your brand in place, articulate your differentiators, and have the right business principles as your foundation, and that’s what gets amplified into awesome.
Shama adds, “If I could tell marketers or businesses one thing, its consistency. It is so important to be consistent.”
Aptly dubbed the “Zen Master of Marketing” by Entrepreneur Magazine and the “Millennial Master of the Universe” by FastCompany.com, we recommend that you take a page out of Shama’s book and pay attention to your unique gifts and how you’re bringing them to life. And if you’re not following her yet, you can visit shamahyder.com, where you’ll find awesome content, interviews, videos and more.
If you enjoyed this article today, please be sure to share it with your friends, colleagues and loved ones! And tune in next month to meet our March influencer!
Do you know an influencer or would you like to nominate someone? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments below or contact June Moore, Director of Growth at Affari, firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’re a business owner who wants to amplify your voice in the market and connect your brand and products to more customers, you’re in the right place. At Affari, we’re a creative agency that specializes in delivering exceptional marketing and branding solutions to our clients, including SEO and analytics to help you make the best decisions for your business. For more information, drop me a line at email@example.com, I’d be happy to walk you through our services, or feel free to call me at (202) 643-9322.