Emanuel (Emo) Tonev is among the active young people forming the Bulgarian marketing community. For the Startup Factory team, it is also a natural continuation of our collaboration with Varna’s entrepreneurial and proactive community.
We do not doubt that both as a person and as a professional, Emo will leave a significant mark with his work for at least three reasons: competence, positivity, and confidence. Together, they form the perfect calling card of a person with excellent communication skills who will put their mind and heart into everything they do.
Namely, more hearty and intelligent people are needed by the business ecosystem in our country to become more successful, more social, more sustainable, and, above all, aimed at solving the specific needs of our society and not only at maximizing profits.
Emo agreed to share with us:
✔️ the critical steps for the organic growth of a corporate LinkedIn page;
✔️ what, in his opinion, should be more strongly advocated in the educational program of higher schools in Bulgaria;
✔️ and does a sincere smile help at work and gain others’ trust;
Emo also reveals his perspective on life and work, and we can’t help but admit that we strongly approve of his social proof philosophy of when experts (and not only) are real experts.
What do we mean? You will understand when you read the interview we did with him.
The questions were prepared by Ana Todorova
Photos: Emanuel (Еmo) Tonev 🦦 | LinkedIn
Hi Emo, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Please tell us a little about yourself.
Hi Ani. As some readers may know, my name is Emanuel, but I prefer to be called Emo. I am 23 years old and am from Novi Pazar, but I currently study, work, and live in Varna.
The protagonist in my life has been dealing with digital marketing for a little over four years, and more than once, I have heard various epithets about me – specialist, expert, professional, and others. I am an ordinary person who likes digital marketing and is not fundamentally different from his colleagues.
Recently, it has happened pretty often that I describe myself briefly on various occasions, but believe me, it’s hellishly complicated every single time. I don’t know where to begin, nor do I know where to end.
If you had asked me a few years ago what I would be doing, believe me, I would never have said digital marketing or social media, and what about LinkedIn?
Alas, it is on LinkedIn that I own my newsletter with ten articles, and I’m happy to say there will be 2,000+ subscribers to it. In resonance with the above, the newsletter is also relatively simple, revealing both basic and not-so-basic marketing facts. That’s why I named it – Simply the Marketing Facts.
In addition to the two thousand followers of the newsletter, I am also proud of a little over 5,000 on my personal LinkedIn profile. The critical thing to mention is that I accomplished this in less than a year! Recently, I also made a unique website, as I received about a dozen questions a month – when are you going to make a website? Where can we find you? You can do it here: emanueltonev.com
I have participated in several podcasts on digital marketing and storytelling and given lectures and workshops at various universities and events.
I write articles for various websites and media – blogs and official and authoritative news sites.
Last but certainly not least, I work at BookMark – I dare say, the best agency in the Bulgarian market for LinkedIn marketing. The atmosphere, the colleagues, the work – everything is very cool! 🙂
You have a bachelor’s degree from the University of Economics in Varna and are currently pursuing a master’s degree at the same university. Are you satisfied with the education you received and continue to receive?
You are right. About a month ago, I officially graduated and currently hold a bachelor’s educational qualification. The specialty I graduated from is “Digital Media and PR,” and the one I’m currently studying is “Advertising and Media Communications.”
As for the education I have chosen to have – I look at it from a different perspective, and it is also important to mention that I recognize myself at the University of Economics – Varna. It gave me many useful lessons and friendships and introduced me to unique teachers who have been and will remain like mentors.
I am satisfied if I have to answer precisely whether I am happy with my education. As a wise man once said: “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Like him, I have also had difficult moments and problems in the higher education institution I chose to study in, but the positive emotions and moments prevail!
What do you wish was or was more present in the educational process?
My university lacked the practical experience that was provided to us. Looking at the direct competitors of the University of Economics – Varna, to the west, I can say that the people who have chosen our capital – Sofia, for their higher education have one privilege: a more substantial presence on the part of companies and corresponding development in them.
This is, of course, completely normal, especially considering that Sofia is a city five times larger than Varna. Still, it would be even better if business came to our maritime capital – Varna, with the desire to develop experienced staff in our country.
You are 23 but claim to have “rich experience in developing and implementing comprehensive plans in digital marketing that cover various channels.” When and where did you manage to gain this experience?
Fortunately, in my life, I encountered several companies and different individuals who provided me with inspiration and courage and taught me the things I know up to this moment—starting from the first company that believed in me – FLOWZOOM. This German start-up deals with selling travel goods, such as travel pillows, sleep masks, luggage scales, etc., on all European Amazon markets except Turkey. I did and partly continue to do there to this day: create advertising campaigns, analyze data, and engage in strategic planning.
The second company that left a visible mark on my life is The Soul Publishing. The exciting aspect of the company is that it’s more recognized for its end product than the corporation itself. The end product here is digital content for pages on various social media platforms, known as 5-Minute Crafts!, Wood Mood, Brightside, and others. I manage around 15 Facebook pages, and the results are over 10 billion views on the uploaded content!
The last company in the marketing sector, for which I am incredibly fortunate to say we are now working together, is BookMark. As mentioned above, it is the first LinkedIn marketing agency in our country that believed in me and allowed me to showcase my potential!
Why did you choose LinkedIn? Why did you specialize your marketing skills on this social network instead of jumping on the TikTok trend, for example?
About two years ago, I didn’t know what I wanted to focus on in digital marketing – content creation, social media, SEO, and advertising. I had many opportunities and prospects ahead of me, but somehow, I never felt like I belonged.
Knowing you need a brand, I started creating content on some of the more prominent social media platforms.
Why did I choose LinkedIn?
Facebook – seemed somewhat distant to me. I couldn’t imagine starting to build a personal brand there, especially considering the discussions about its potential discontinuation within the European Union.
Instagram – I knew I wanted to write, and the text format there needed to be more developed. The strength lies in visual elements.
TikTok & YouTube – Similar to Instagram, these social media platforms focus on video content. I knew that at the core of everything is writing texts that resonate. I am with content creation.
LinkedIn is a hybrid of all platforms, supporting businesses, with good organic reach to people, and it motivates writing! What could be better than that?
So, after a brief analysis, I decided to start with the LinkedIn platform. I began very timidly, not knowing where I would end up, but alas, it became what all of you see now!
Growth and, hopefully, recognition in marketing circles. 🙂
Could you reveal some secrets from the kitchen, such as what is most essential to developing an organic company LinkedIn page? With a personal profile, you can attract followers based on your personality and values, but what about company pages?
Let’s experiment. We’ve all watched “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” right? The host often tells the contestant, “The answer to the question lies within the question itself.” How many of you have heard this line? If you have, you can like the post and share it with your friends.
Returning to the experiment – similar to “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” here, too, the answer to the question lies within the question itself. To organically and successfully develop a company/corporate page, we need the following:
Strong employer branding – it is essential for employees to spread information about the company, feel happy in it, and share the values of the firm they work for.
Strong employer advocacy – similar to employer branding, it is essential not to force employees to like, comment, and share content. That doesn’t work! It’s crucial that they genuinely want to and feel comfortable doing so.
Meaningful content – once we have employee activity and engagement, what comes out of the company page should be meaningful and relevant for the company and its people.
Authenticity – it is of paramount importance not to be fake. It is crucial to be ourselves. Let’s not forget: “We work with machines, but we must think like humans.”
Following these four key points, thinking about the brand not just as a brand but as a person, and resonating with our audiences – well, these are the best ways for sustainable growth of a corporate page.
In an interview, you mentioned that the profile picture is one of the most critical factors for the success of LinkedIn profiles. It is indeed the first thing noticed in your posts – your wide smile in the profile picture. Was the choice intentional, is the secret in the smile, and have you experimented with different types of profile images – more corporate and formal?
For me, when you do something, you should be consistent. Like the philosophy in my life, I often try to find out why people have connected with me, why different companies have chosen to work with me, and so on.
Most of them – around 90% – share that my smile has been the key to making the final decision. The companies and individuals I’ve worked with recognize sincerity and trust and see themselves in my demeanor and smile.
Naturally, this doesn’t mean I haven’t experimented many times on being a bit different. Nevertheless, considering the digital world we live in, it’s important always to try out different things. I’ve done it, but somehow, I never identified with that dry, grey, and corporate vision and structure. I prefer to be the guy from Varna who’s only 23, advising people 2-3 times older than him, sometimes perhaps appearing a bit awkward, but happily and, most importantly, with a smile! 🙂
In our preliminary conversation, you admitted that you’ve been following your development on LinkedIn for some time, and a while ago, one of your posts received a comment that left an impression on me. It was something along the lines of being cautious that your activity doesn’t start to be perceived as SPAM by LinkedIn users themselves. How thin is the line between the two?
I have never had the slightest intention of spamming people. The content I create is primarily for myself, so if fate one day allows, I can look back and see what I have left behind – some other excellent post, another spelling mistake, and many emotions behind each publication.
As for how thin the line is between activity and SPAM, I need help to provide a definitive answer to that question. The definition of “spam” can be one thing for some and entirely different for others. Some may define spam as, for example, 2-3 posts a day, while others see 2-3 posts a week as spam. Leaving our audiences with a manageable amount of content is essential because they still need to digest everything they see.
However, most of the time, people follow us because they want to see what we’re doing and to be somehow part of our personal or professional life. By clicking the accept friendship request button, they imply that we’ll spam them, right?
Spamming is akin to running. Some ultra-marathon runners, covering around 20 km, may look at those struggling to reach 2 km with slight disapproval and some strangeness. The reverse is also true – people running 2 km might gaze with mild bewilderment at those covering 20 km. “A lot for some may be a little for others.”
There’s no way I wouldn’t ask you the hottest question of the past year: Do you use artificial intelligence in your work? If yes, could you let me know how it helps you? If not, why not?
This is a question that many people are likely curious about, and the answer is – yes, I use artificial intelligence! I use artificial intelligence for inspiration, error correction, generating various images, and for summarizing and analyzing data.
It helps me primarily by saving time, sometimes hours if not days. However, it’s crucial always to add something of ourselves; otherwise, what we do becomes more than automated text.
The question is, though – “Are we using AI, or is it using us?”
✔️ What’s new in Chat GPT for 2024?
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Click here to learn the most important things.
Everything in marketing, and perhaps partly in life, should have social proof.
One last question about marketing… Haven’t there become too many digital marketing specialists? And… are they all truly specialists? How do we recognize them beyond titles like “Marketing Specialist,” “Marketing Expert,” and so on?
People in my circle often hear a phrase that I love to say: “Everything in marketing, and perhaps partly in life, should have social proof.” To validate that you are indeed a specialist, expert, or whatever title you present yourself with, you need to lay the foundations somewhere and demonstrate the expertise in question.
Like anything else, words without actions remain just words.
Tell us more about the campaign “The Power of Untold Stories” – what motivated you to start it, and what is its mission?
“The Power of Untold Stories” is a communication campaign created as part of the BAAWARDS project by the Bulgarian Association of Advertisers. Together with Angelina Chupetlovska – the designer behind the campaign’s visuals, we had the challenging mission and idea to position the heavy topic of domestic violence in a more accessible, easier, and non-traditional way for all readers.
We recreated the lives of all women through their most valuable asset, namely their children. The idea was to show how children suffer from domestic violence happening around them, whether directed towards them or their parents.
The concept revolved around three main messages:
Makeup you wouldn’t want your daughters to wear.
Games you wouldn’t want your sons to play.
Scenes you wouldn’t want your children to repeat.
The concept was to stimulate women to be bolder, to seek the appropriate institutions, and last but not least, to share their stories – some perhaps more challenging for others to comprehend, but still stories.
Unfortunately, the project did not reach the top three in the rankings, but Andy and I are satisfied with the final result and the efforts we put into it!
With the Startup Factory team, we are part of the mentoring program at Teenovator this year. The young people we work with are in grades 10 to 12. Being closer in age to these young people, what advice would you give us to improve our communication with them and be as helpful to them as possible?
I am part of a similar initiative – Able Mentor. I’m fortunate to be a mentor to a wonderful, talented, and ambitious girl from Silistra whose dreams have no limits. Unfortunately, despite being relatively close to her age, I faced the harsh reality of having a communication problem.
First, I stopped thinking about what was suitable for the program and her project and started thinking about what was good for her. I began prioritizing her, and through this, I saw that she felt more predisposed, comfortable, and true to herself.
That’s how things started to happen between us – slowly but steadily!
And what advice would you give to the young people themselves? Some of them still need to figure out where to direct themselves professionally, are unfamiliar with their strengths and weaknesses, and hesitate about the right path for them…
To the young people still discovering themselves, I would give the following advice – make mistakes, correct them, learn from them, and make mistakes again! This is the surest and most resilient way to be entirely sure that what you want to achieve and what you are currently doing is in the right direction, and one day, you will succeed!
Make mistakes, correct them, learn from them, and make mistakes again! This is the surest and most resilient way to be entirely sure that what you want to achieve and what you are currently doing is in the right direction, and one day, you will succeed!
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Ana Todorova prepared the interview, part of our meetings with exciting and motivating personalities.
Ana Todorova develops the organization’s digital marketing. She maintains the Startup Factory website and the video course platform she created in 2022. She writes content on various topics such as decentralized technology, green and circular economy, emotional intelligence, leadership, and more.
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Startup Factory is a non-profit organization founded in March 2015 by a group of young entrepreneurs working in the IT sector. Startup Factory helps people develop their digital and business skills. Together, we build a supportive community. Check out our platform with on-demand video courses and valuable free resources.