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Stephan Hovnanian
Works at Shovi Websites - Email, Content, Web Marketing
Attends Email Content & Web Strategy
Lives in Boston, MA
43,350 followers|11,164,655 views


Stephan Hovnanian

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Building brand reputation and trust in a social space

Had a chance to revisit this piece I contributed to on Entrepreneur's website, thanks to a gentleman on Twitter who found it useful.

Nearly 2 years later, the key points about brand reputation, engagement, and how it translates into subject matter authority online still hold true. I love how technology is catching up with the face-to-face ways of doing business in pre-Internet times, where gaming the system was much harder.

It'll be a struggle as new equilibrium is found, but in the end, I think we're all better off.
Learn how to leverage Google+ to build your subject-matter authority and master social media marketing.
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Business, Conversion, and Marketing insights for ecommerce

Honored to contribute to this guide from I shared ideas on how to approach email marketing in a way that helps businesses deliver more relevant content to their subscribers' inboxes.

My favorite line from our interview, "once you've lost relevance, you've lost the subscriber."
We've compiled the best advice offered by knowledgeable ecommerce experts in our Marketing chat series into one guide full of practical and effective strategies.
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"You're renting space on your employees' social profiles. Payment for that rent comes in the form of content that's relevant to them and their network. This reinforces the bond of trust that they've build with their networks"

Seems like that passage from my latest article about brand voice is hitting home for a lot of people.

I like it too, it reminds me of Google+ and the culture of sharing and authenticity that we've enjoyed here for so long.

It's a real issue though; when I work with our customers to curate content for their employees to share, I keep going back to the questions cited in the article:

Does this sound like me?
Will my friends and followers think it sounds like me?

If not, I rewrite it, because the only way to encourage more participation in a program like this is to be valuable...not just with the content, but with the level of effort required to amplify the content.

For more smart insights check out Sarah Goodall's take here:
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+David Amerland oops, went on vacation after promising a link to the next blog post, here it is...all about value
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Services to help run employee advocacy programs

I'm a big proponent of content marketing with a sales enablement focus (or value nurturing, if you're looking at it from the other side of the funnel).

But here's the rub: you can't create content like this until you've done the work, and walked in the shoes of your customer. Or at bare minimum, be able to empathize with their experience as it relates to your services.

Only then can you put stuff like the sales sheets below in front of them to move the proverbial needle.

(Side note: I'm so proud of how these turned out, we have an amazing design team at +Sprout Social​ and they totally captured my vision for these!)
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Normally I don't share other people's posts to this collection but +Vincent Messina​ brings up a good point about contextualizing things like feedback and strategy that's worth preserving.

The world needs purists. They are by definition pure. ;)

However, they can also be myopic failing to see the forest for the trees or the big picture. To them, every problem is a nail that needs a hammer.

The hammer is great. No one doubts that. Particularly those who need a nail driven. The hammer becomes problematic when in the short term, a simple tac will do.

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Just published: 8 ways to show your appreciation for your brand champions.

Swag, coupons, and other material things are only part of it. As a relationship grows you'll need to look for opportunities to keep it fresh and mutually beneficial.

Something for businesses of all sizes in here. Hope you get some ideas!
It's critical to locate and communicate with your customer advocates so you can continue to grow relationships down the line.
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Are you responsible for employee engagement? There's a content strategy for that.

We often think of content marketing and content strategy as outward-facing facets of a business.

- Company understands what's valuable to their audience,
- produces those objects of value,
- distributes them to said audience, and
- measures response and feedback against business outcomes.

But here's the thing: content marketing and content strategy aren't just outward-facing.

Larger companies face a big challenge of keeping employees in-the-know of company information that the employees will find valuable. Informed and engaged employees ultimately lead to inward-facing business outcomes like lower recruiting costs, stronger brand loyalty and morale, and increased productivity.

I encourage you to join me and my colleague Greg Tirico for a very informative webinar about content strategy for employee advocacy programs. I'll be sharing some insights from my internal research and hands-on involvement with content strategy for our customers.

Save your seat below, I'll see you then!
How to leverage content and employee advocates to improve internal communications and also gain thousands, if not millions, of free, trusted impressions.
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How to Create a Content Strategy That's Valuable to Your Employees

We are in an attention economy. There is a fixed amount of time in every day to which we can devote our attention. There are also an increasing number of entities vying for that attention: people, tasks, emails, notifications, apps, etc.

If both your employee advocacy program, and the platform through which you deliver it, is going to be attention worthy, it must provide something of value to the employee, and that value comes in the form of content.

Inside my latest article, I dive into how content affects sharing and adoption, you'll learn a lot here, I promise.
By using various types of content, you can increase employee engagement with the help of an employee advocacy platform to curate content.
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A simple way to make it easier for brand champions to share content

In an age where we'll take any edge we can get to put more eyeballs on our content, enlisting the help of brand and employee advocates seems to be a powerful, trust-building channel.

Until it isn't, because marketers and corporates in suits decide to control the message being shared a little too much. Participation and enthusiasm wanes, leaving the advocate's network wondering if that company they were so proud of isn't one they should be proud of anymore.

Now, for those of you veterans on Google+, this concept is not new, although it's been definitely spun in a different direction in my latest blog post about brand voice, and how the right one makes sure your advocates continue to attract the most trusted eyeballs possible on your content.
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+Alexandra Riecke-Gonzales thanks!! I think I need to make a pull quote graphic out of that
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NEW: Alternatives to group emails and Bcc:'s
My latest article for Bambu by Sprout Social.

Get rid of the team@ email address in favor of this smarter approach to internal comms. And cut out 21 different types of emails in the process!

Internal emails are often lost or forgotten in employees' inboxes, which is why you need a broadcasting tool to manage and curate your company's content.
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Pro tip: to prevent feedback from turning into judgment, get specific.

We've all had situations when we've asked colleagues for feedback on something, only to get some harsh criticisms in return that may even feel unwarranted.

Protect yourself against this by being specific in your request. It's the principal behind sites like

You can't ask for input without an expected outcome that the feedback will hone. In other words, instead of something like "could you give me feedback on my website?" you ask, "does my navigation menu seem too overwhelming?"

Thanks for listening.
Optimize the clarity of your designs by measuring people’s first impressions..
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This! I'm a believer, +Stephan Hovnanian ... Great way to avoid resentment and prevent information bloat.
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How to find brand advocates within your email list, plus what to do once you've found them.

My first blog post for Bambu by +Sprout Social​! 
Through an well-devised email scoring list, you can easily find your brand advocates who matter most to you.
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Stephan's Collections
Digital Marketing Strategist
About me:
I own Shovi Websites, a web and email marketing company located outside Boston. The company has been in business since 2000, and works best with companies whose products and services have a lot to offer, but who can't seem to connect with their customers and gain market share.

Overcoming these challenges is easy, philosophically: take what's going on inside the company (sales, support, product, process) and put it out there online in a way that shows your ideal customer that you want them to succeed using your products and services. Executing on those strategies, though, becomes a balancing act in brand voice, outstanding writing, using social properly, conversion optimization, and SEO. All of which will make your head spin if you don't hire a company who does this everyday and understands the nuances and changes of online marketing, and how to continue to stay relevant.

Want to learn more about what I can do for you? Send me an email to and we'll set up a free 15-20 minute chat.

Google Plus Strategy 
If you need the expertise of not only an experienced, active Google Plus user, but also someone who understands marketing, web strategy, and how all this works together with your company's Google+ presence, consider hiring me to build you a focused, customized Google+ Strategy.

I am also the author of the Google+ Pro Tips series of ebooks, available on Kindle. You should check these out if you want to ramp up your Google+ return on investment.

Need something free? 
Also be sure to watch Google+ Business Spotlight, my weekly Hangout on Air show (Wednesdays, 12:30pm ET) that talks about how real businesses are using Google+. 
  • Steady Demand's Brand Page Audit (checks connections between your G+ page and your website for free, an absolute must for any new business page)
  • Steady Demand Pro (tracks performance of your profile, business page, and up to 3 competitors or prospects, use code BRANDMANAGER for 20% off for life)
  • Circloscope (bulk circle management Chrome extension)
  • NOD3X (social listening and network analysis)
  • CircleCount (free personal Google+ monitoring)


You'll want to put me in circles that relate to
  • Google Plus tips & techniques
  • online, email and/or social marketing
  • business and entrepreneurship
  • website design & development (including mobile)

What I will share here on Google Plus:

  • Google Plus strategies, tips and techniques
  • Good email marketing content from people who know what they're talking about.
  • Microbusiness challenges when it comes to making the most of their web presence.
  • News about me or my company.
  • The occasional personal quip or observation.

One more running list of posts I refer to frequently:

Bragging rights
I'm the favorite son, right Mom?
  • Email Content & Web Strategy
  • Shovi Websites
    Entrepreneurship, 2000 - present
  • Rutgers-Camden
    MBA (Finance & Marketing), 2000 - 2002
  • American University
    BS International Business, 1995 - 1998
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Don't call me Stephen, Don't call me Steve, They are different people altogether, and I don't have the time for people who are too lazy to sound out my name., Besides it's written on the damn screen for you!
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Web strategy, email marketing, conversion optimization
Email marketing, web strategy, content marketing, conversion optimization
  • Shovi Websites - Email, Content, Web Marketing
    Owner, 2000 - present
    Google+ Marketing & Business, 2013 - 2014
    Better, Smarter Web Presence Blog, 2012 - 2015
    Author, Google+ Pro Tips series, 2014 - 2015
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Boston, MA
Bedford, MA - Moorestown, NJ
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Stephan Hovnanian's +1's are the things they like, agree with, or want to recommend.
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Outstanding service from Levi, and one of the most incredible salads you'll ever have (Seafood Cobb). My wife and I found our new favorite spot!
Public - 4 weeks ago
reviewed 4 weeks ago
One of our favorite places to go for tapas and quality Spanish food. Baby lamb chops in apricot glaze, and paella Valenciano never disappoint. Their fries are pretty amazing too #justsayin
Public - a year ago
reviewed a year ago
My wife and I had a pair of chicken tacos and carnitas tacos, both were amazing and, despite being next to hotel we were staying at, we kind of wished we'd found this place sooner.
Public - a year ago
reviewed a year ago
My wife and I had a delightful time here. The inn was immaculate, the staff friendly, and the surrounding area a great place for a weekend getaway.
Public - a year ago
reviewed a year ago
15 reviews
I've had few things more delicious than their cheddar and chive biscuits. Totally worth the guilt. 4 stars instead of 5 because I felt it was a tiny bit pricey, but ambiance, service, and our food was very good.
Public - a year ago
reviewed a year ago
My go-to place for business lunches and special family dinners... Because... Desserts :)
Public - a year ago
reviewed a year ago
Pulling up, I didn't know what to expect. Inside, I was greeted by Ken, the owner, and his extensive knowledge of wine from around the world, as well as a collection of over 800 corkscrews. Fantastic experience and an excellent store for that special bottle
Public - a year ago
reviewed a year ago