Stop motion mastery…

Take a peek behind the scenes, with Sircle Media photographers Ilana and Ticha for our client, Real Food From The Ground Up. Sometimes, it takes a team effort to ensure that we stick the landing for our clients. This is our goal every single day!
When shooting stop motion animations, everything has to be taken into account. Changes in lighting, time of day, shadows of people walking by, camera movements and much, much more. You must pay attention to every detail if you want the quality and user experience to be sound.  Tools like wireless remotes to control the camera for you are key, instead of the photographer touching the camera and potentially moving it, even on one single frame, which can be enough to ruin the whole concept.
Our stop motion assets are optimized to show a brand’s product in practical use.  Here we have the client’s packaging in the frame which allows for subtle awareness while being entertained by the fun animations created with the chips. For a relatively new brand, that really wants to push consideration and trial at retail stores, this is exactly the type of approach that makes sense. We also are getting the most out of Instagram’s algorithm by turning a regular photo, into a fun engaging video. Videos perform better and the message is retained more by the viewer.  That’s a win in our books!
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Sircle Squad Intern: Amanda Stanton

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We sat down with our awesome new motion graphics intern Amanda, to get to know her a bit better. Enjoy!

Name? Amanda Stanton

Hometown? San Francisco, CA 

School? Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), Savannah, Georgia 

Major?  Motion Media 

Why Sircle Media? I love for the opportunity to create an aesthetic for companies on multiple platforms that match the vibe of their company and attracts clients. It is important as a Motion Graphics artist to understand how to create appealing content for viewers in social media and beyond, and I knew that working for Sircle Media would be an amazing learning experience. 

Most Likely To? Drop everything and travel the world 

Favorite Movie/Book? Ferris Bueller’s Day Off 

Appetizer or Dessert? Dessert 

Beach or Forest? Beach 

Favorite Client to Work On? Terra Origin

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Sircle Squad Profile: Leah Hammer

IMG_4269We sat down to get to know our newest hire, Leah Hammer a bit better and we thought we would share some insights from that conversation. Like many great SircleSquad members before her, she worked her way up thru our intern “farm system” and earned a spot with the team. We love her hustle and commitment to working hard to get the job done.

Leah brings great creative energy to the team and will no doubt be an amazing contributor to our future success. Without further ado, let’s meet her!

Full name/nickname? 

My full name is Leah Hammer. I don’t have many nicknames except for when my best friends call me “Lee”!

Age? 

21

University and Major?

I’m a soon-to-be graduate from the University of Delaware with a major in English and minors in Journalism and Health & Wellness.

How did you find out about Sircle Media?

I found out about Sircle Media while searching for an internship with a social agency that shared my passion for health and wellness. I was searching through Instagram and came across Sircle Media, which I noticed worked with some of my favorite health and wellness brands. In the past, I’ve had the most rewarding internship experiences with agencies who strive to better the lives of others. I could immediately tell Sircle Media had the same philosophy. This factor, along with the extremely warm and welcoming company culture was how I knew I wanted to be a part of the team and learn as much as I could!

Most surprising discover/realization after working here?

Working with Sircle Media has reaffirmed for me how incredible it is to work at a social agency. Sircle Media has the kindest employees, and each day I feel like I’m learning something new. I know I can express my creative ideas and feel like they’re being heard. Everyone is so supportive of one another and strives to improve every day.

What is the best part of your internship?

The best part of my internship has been the employees. Everyone has been so kind, open, and eager to help me in every way possible. I’ve also loved every single brand I’ve been able to work with over the term of my internship. It’s made each day so exciting and always makes me look forward to the next!

What can you tell us about Adam or your supervisor?

While working at Sircle, I’ve had the privilege to work closely with Adam and Michelle Paltan, my social media manager supervisor. When I first started my internship with Sircle, I was blown away by Adam’s weekly emails to the SircleSquad. He would offer advice to all of his employees on how to reduce stress at work, and improve your wellbeing and interpersonal relationships. I remember thinking “how many other companies actually send such thoughtful emails like this?”. Not only has Adam been such a great mentor, but he’s also so successful at what he does!

Michelle has also been a huge factor in my growth as an intern at Sircle Media. Over the past three months that I’ve worked with her, she’s challenged me with new assignments, been open and supportive of my ideas, and demonstrated such a passion for what she does. I can’t wait to continue learning more from her in my new role.

What advice would you give a future intern? 

I would tell future interns to be open to learning as much as possible, and always challenge yourself! Sircle Media is such an amazing company to intern for, with so many opportunities for growth and meaningful connections along the way.

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Sircle Squad Intern: Jayleen Carmona

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We sat down with the newest intern to join The SircleSquad, Jayleen Carmona to learn a bit more about her. Enjoy!

Name? Jayleen Carmona

Hometown? Saint Cloud, Florida

School? University of Florida

Major?  Telecommunications

Why Sircle Media? This past year I started a job as a social media manager for one of the colleges on campus. Although my degree is specialized in production, I realized I had a passion for social media as well. I loved the ability to interact and build a brand through creative content marketing. With this realization, I applied to Sircle and have come to recognize how intense and exciting this growing field is! At Sircle, people are great and the job is always interesting!

Most Likely To? Become a Crazy Cat Lady

Favorite Movie/Book? 500 Days of Summer

Appetizer or Dessert? Appetizer

Beach or Forest? Beach

Favorite Client to Work On? Michter’s!

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We Are Sircle Media

We are Sircle Media. 

We are content creation, community management, and social performance.

We are photography, food styling, stop motion, live action, motion graphics, video production, photo shoots, web design, copywriting, Instagram/Facebook/Twitter Management, E-commerce, customer service, paid social, influencer management, brand collaborations, strategy, analytics, digital marketing and so much more.

We are your next social media management solution…

Let’s Go!

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Influencers: Pay them, deploy them and let them do what they do…

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I recorded a podcast episode on the Inner Sircle about working with influencers in today’s market. So many brands are missing this golden era and excellent time of opportunity by not engaging with influencers or by doing it all wrong.

First off, you should not be on the sidelines, plain and simple. Influencers represent targeted community infiltration at scale and that should be part of your mix. Find solid power users, who fit your target demo, analyze their posts, tone, energy, and community and then reach out and negotiate. Remember these are humans and often don’t know how to price themselves correctly. Most swing for the fences and unfortunately, often get their ask from PR Firms or brands that don’t counter well. As a result, they get the wrong sense of the true market. That being said, there is always room for compromise and conversation if you get in the sandbox and play the game. We find the best dollar value comes from multiple posts over many months, rather than “one and done” relationships. This happens because the human behind the Instagram profile values guaranteed recurring revenue for security.

Don’t just look at follower count, which is often BS or has a lot of fluff, that is not your target demo. We argue that you don’t even look at the quantity of engagement as this can also can be BS or just a lot of likes, that equate to nothing. Instead, find someone with fewer followers and less engagement, but who engages back with every single follower. This is someone who is creating a real bond with those users and therefore wields more influence over them. Bottomline – beware those who post but don’t engage and/or who only post staged, one-off product photos. Conversely, over-value those who really carry out on the dialogue and who integrate more with the products in their feed and Stories, like @calliegullickson did for OWYN above.

Once you do get in the game, source the right influencers and negotiate well, but don’t mess it up by trying to be too controlling over the message. Hire them for their storytelling and then let them do just that. The best example of the right way, was when Nike hired Casey Neistat to make a commercial for the #MakeitCount campaign. Rather than a big budget commercial, he and his friend Max just hit the road and went on an epic journey together to actually live the message rather than show it in a contrived way. The result was over 29million YouTube views and a campaign that went down in history as one of the best influencer engagements of all time. It doesn’t hurt that Casey is an all-time great storyteller and content legend, but worth noting this was way back in 2012 when he was not as expensive and was much less well known than he is now.  Go out and find your Casey Neistat people!

 

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On pivoting and keeping your eye on the future…

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I posted a vlog last week, in which I spoke about personal brand and trying to strike balance. After seeing it, someone recommended to me that I read Give and Take by Adam Grant. I jumped on it right away, because I am a huge fan of his and with my new relationship with audiobooks I knew I could tackle it quickly. I did just that, loved it, and highly recommend it.

Early in my career, I was a matcher more than a giver and definitely not a taker. If you read it you will know what I mean. For context here, I would always try and give to people, but the goal was to make relationships. My mentality was that it would come back around and balance out for me. I wasn’t greedy and just taking, but I was giving with the hopes of reciprocation. Nowadays, I give with no payback in sight and often find myself in random situations offering help that will actually most likely never come back around to me. That is the only true giving I have learned and the truth is the only thing I do get is that I learn new things, meet interesting people and sharpen my brain and reaction to scenarios. Who knows, maybe I’ll need that someday if my life or trajectory changes.

On that note, I wanted to talk about pivoting.  My suggestion is that you not be afraid to pivot and understand that life is long and the die has almost never been cast. You can always change your ways or your circumstances to improve your life if you want to. I went from matcher to giver for sure and I definitely value experience and relationships over material things which is a big pivot from 22-year-old Adam Brown.

Let me run it back:

I only applied to one college, The University of Michigan, and I got in by October of my senior year.  So I coasted after that and just partied and acted like an idiot in college, to be honest. It was fun, but I think I was very off my current personal brand and I wish I could change that up. Unfortunately, you cannot go backward but you can learn, pivot and lean forward.

At college, I decided I wanted to go to Law School so I looked for the best major that would afford me the easiest path to a high GPA and I chose Sociology.  I did the least amount of work possible and earned a 3.5+ GPA. Then, I went to Law School and left after 29 days. My Father (an Eye Doctor mind you) had always told me I needed to go into medicine or law, so I would always have the degree to fall back on. He was taught that way, as are many others, but I decided I had to change course for my own sanity. You only live once, right?

This was 1999, during the Dot-com boom and I got a job at 24/7 Media, knowing nothing about anything really. I went in and just worked my face off, earning two promotions within 11 months. I then left my first job in less than a year (don’t be afraid to do that, people) to become Director of North East Sales at Goto.com (the first PPC search engine, pre-dating Google) at 23, with no experience, but a ton of confidence. I would fly up to Boston and walk into Digitas and Arnold, with a suit that was way too big, very little business acumen to lean on, but no worries at all. I was making good money, working in an industry that was hot and I was flying high. Boy did things change pretty quickly!

I left that job 10 months later (just after 9/11/01) to work with my brother in the mortgage industry, despite having to start at the very bottom (so there would be no trace of nepotism) and commute to Long Island every day, which I did not love. That business flourished, drove big revenue and I learned a ton and met some awesome people along the way.  I was head down, developing skills in sales, management, HR, and business, which was amazing and important for my future, but I was also very insular and not paying enough attention to the rest of the world. After almost 10 years of heavy work, growth, and success, our business suddenly had to close down and while nearly every other person scattered and found new opportunities in that industry (many of whom have flourished over the past decade) I made the move once again to pivot and follow my heart and interests, which has led me here to Sircle and what I am doing now.

I am so thankful for my journey and I vow to continue to invest heavily in the now, BUT will always have an eye on the future. You need to play in the current sandbox well, but also know how to play in the new games too. This way you can find your passion and more importantly be prepared for when the market changes, as it always does. At 42, I have lived thru the Dot-come bust, the financial crisis of 2008 and have learned from the pitfalls of thinking things are great and won’t change. They will!

I own a very successful social media strategy firm, but I didn’t even have a Facebook account until 9/3/2010. You can change your trajectory whenever you want and with hard work, paired with real interest and dedication, you can master a new craft.  I help brands navigate social and digital media in the now, so they can focus on building their business today. The future, with AI, AR, VR, and voice, is going to be very disruptive and interesting and I plan to pivot and be ready…Do you?

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POV: Motion Graphics

When trying to create content that will tell your brand’s story in a compelling way, you need to have assets that stand out from the clutter. User attention span continues to dwindle, so you don’t have much time to make an impact. It is more important than ever before to be clever, creative and concise with your messaging.

Data shows that video outperforms still imagery, but most brands haven’t figured out how to create video content affordably in house. The main reason is that most are thinking longer form and/or live action video, and both come with a higher cost (financial and opportunity).  While we love live action at Sircle Media, the real gold, when it comes to social content, is in motion graphics.

The format can be fun and simple and can be crafted by someone sitting at a desk, rather than off running around with a camera somewhere.  If you have people on your team that are good at it, as we do here at Sircle, then you can be off to the races. Some of our best content, both from a likeability and data POV, are these types of assets. We find that they make stakeholders happy, whether they are brand (ART) or results (SCIENCE) oriented in nature.

A lot of time is spent on branding and packaging, especially with healthy CPG and beverage brands, which is where we spend most of our time and energy. We think it is only logical to bring some of that art to life. Even if your Art Director prefers real imagery and/or live video, remember that the brand is the most important character in your messaging. Bring that brand to life with motion graphics and thank me later.

 

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What makes Sircle Media different?

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I saw an opportunity in 2011/2012 to capitalize on a white space in the market. There were tons of agencies, but most were not amazing and many provided terrible customer service and products. There was also this emergence of social networks and very few people, if any, understood them and their power. Having been on the client side for a decade I knew all too well how hard it was for SMBs to navigate digital, and social media took it a level further, with the non-static and conversational and social nature of it. You really needed a full-time employee to navigate it all and that person needed to be well versed in a lot of different disciplines. You cannot find one person who can do all of these necessary things at a high level (still have not met one to date) and therefore, you need a group of different talents to win.

The lightbulb went off for me, that if I could provide social media management in an outsourced capacity, with the look and feel of an employee mindset, but the prowess and multi-talents of an agency of individuals, I might be onto something. Add in “Four Seasons” level service and now you had an Agency who cared about service, hard work, and humans above all else. This was a totally different approach and not something most agencies wanted to tackle as they saw it as unscalable. I set out to do just that….scale the unscalable!

In order to deliver on that promise, I needed to run a company that was also different than most. To do so, I put my employees and our culture above all else, even our clients. This is why I have fired various clients over the years. Most service agencies would never do that, but my employee’s happiness and sanity are mission critical and more important than chasing around an unreasonable, unprofessional and/or unproductive client. By treating my team very well, providing solid work-life balance and constantly staying invested in and involved with their work, life, and growth, I approach things differently than most bosses. I think if they are happy and motivated, then they will deliver next level work and it shows.

All these years later we have grown so much as a company and improved in every facet of the business. The original thesis still holds true and is even more central to the client’s needs today. With the evolution of the marketplace, the addition of new social networks and nuances within each’s products, businesses need a team who can deliver at a very high level, against a number of different disciplines now, more than ever before. We deliver upon this promise every single day.

It is not all roses, trust me. Client services businesses are very difficult, defeating and unrewarding at times. Brand partners can be very demanding and often treat us more like an agency than an employee. It still remains a little abstract for some and as a result, it is harder to push thru and get the really great work done. I also have employees who don’t fully understand or value the opportunity and unique structure, and sometimes slip up and fall into bad habits and behaviors they either learned somewhere else OR it is just due to inexperience in the workplace. So, it is on me (and company leadership) to remind them each and every day of the importance of the work, the promise we have made to each client and how their efforts impact real business results for those brands. By humanizing it, I think it makes them want to work even harder for them.

So, when brands hire Sircle Media, they are not just hiring “someone to run social”.  They are hiring a very progressive business unit, with employee and client minded leadership, that is focused on delivering high-level work and outperforming our pay grade. We want to prove that we are a much better choice than any other option in the market, including internal hires OR external agencies.  We care more, work harder, dig deeper and have a better, more well-rounded understanding of social and what it really means for a business. I believe it shows in the work, in our renewal rates, in our partner referrals and our customer testimonials. That is the most rewarding part of it all!

Some feedback from the FAM:

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3 Instagram Updates Worth Exploring For Better Results in 2019

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This is Karin Huynh again, with a hot take on Instagram and some of the changes that are worth investigating this year. I hope you enjoy!

There are two things in this world that wait for no one: time and Instagram updates. In 2019, it seems like Instagram is steadily rolling out features that could potentially benefit brands and businesses more so than ever before. If you’re running a business, potential customers are going to be searching for your social media platforms to see what people have to say about your brand. Now is the time to really leverage the new Instagram capabilities so you don’t get left behind.

For starters, you can now view the mutual follows of the accounts you are following. Want to see how similar another account is comparable to yours? Curious about what other brands your customers follow? This feature allows you to do market research on the go without wasting too much time scrolling on an account’s following list. It was also getting annoying to have to type in the user’s account name in order to find them if scrolling didn’t work. Another benefit of the mutual followers function is that it can convey to users that the account they are viewing is liked by their peers which means solid social proof and conveys trust. It looks like Instagram is trying to crack down on accounts with big followings that consist mostly of fake followers, and is prioritizing the value of building authentic relationships and community.

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Another recently added feature that may sound counterintuitive to those who sweat follower count, is the ability to remove followers from your account. There is no value in having fake names and bots, especially when people can view that more easily. Once again, Instagram is trying to put a hammer down on inactive, ghost followers, that kill engagement rates and organic reach. Brands are getting smarter and know that a bigger following is meaningless if there are no real people behind those accounts. Removing users will reduce your overall follower count, but for a higher engagement rate, and better optics when people go snooping, it might be worth it.

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Last but not least, Instagram has rolled out an “About This Account” section, which allows any user to view the account’s real-time Ads and Stories. In my honest opinion, the new ”About This Account” section is the most beneficial feature for any business. Instagram is really focusing on transparency this year so now you can view your competitor’s paid Ads in one centralized place. The bonus, in addition to seeing the actual creative brands are running, is that unlike Facebook’s section of “Info and Ads”(added last year for transparency after The Cambridge Analytica controversy), you can also observe the number of views, likes, and comments the Ad received and when the Ad was posted, to determine how well it performed among it’s targeted audience. Leveraging this section will definitely give your brand an edge because you can learn from your competitor’s mistakes while also “borrowing” what has been effective in their campaigns, saving you money, time, and effort.

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To learn more about the updates above and other interesting features on the Instagram platform, you can check out Alex Tooby’s article here.

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