Happy 3 Year Anniversary, Ticha!

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Recently, we celebrated the 3 year anniversary of Sircle Squad member and talented Photographer, Ticha Vichitlakakran. We wanted to ask Ticha a few questions to reflect on her time here at Sircle Media and find out what she’s learned along the way.

How did your journey at Sircle Media start? 

My major required me to have at least one internship and so during my senior year, I applied and got it! I was inexperienced and I had absolutely no idea what it would all entail or if I would be any good. I remember my first day very clearly in my head. I met Jenna for the first time and she had this amazing new tattoo and I just remembered feeling so welcomed by the whole team. That first day, Jenna had me standing on top of a table!

What do you remember as the best day at work? 

This is a tough one – being here for so long I can’t pinpoint a specific day but I can say that the days when the office is calm, Carlos is playing some tunes, and everyone is chatting all together (while working of course!) those days are the best! BUT if I had to choose ONE day… it has got to be my birthday 2 years ago when I had a MASSIVE pizza party.

What about the most difficult? What did you learn from that experience? 

One of the most difficult days in office was when I was working on a client that was not the easiest. Every call ended terribly and everyone seemed to be at a loss. The whole experience was tough but one of the most important things I took from it was that this/it is a team effort and when you need help – ask!

How do you think you’ve evolved throughout your three years on the Sircle Squad? 

Honestly, the Ticha from last year even is unrecognizable. Meaning I have progressed and grown so much, it is crazy.  I would not be the photographer I am today without having been here. From day 1 I was thrown right into it and every day since I have learned something new. In this kind of work, evolving is a must. Everything is constantly changing and faster than ever. You just have to keep up.

What is your favorite part about working at Sircle Media? 

My favorite part of working at Sircle Media is that since being here for such a long period of time – I have kind of grown with the company. I am grateful for this company and the team behind it. I’ve seen it grow tremendously through the last 3 years alone and I am proud to say that I have been a part of it.

What are you looking forward to in years to come?

I’m looking forward to seeing more progress and growth. As I said, I learn something new every day.

Thank you, Ticha for all of your hard work and for bringing such positive energy to the team! You’re a true SircleSquad member and we truly appreciate all that you do!

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Uplift Food + Influencer Blocking and Tackling Work = Success!

Influencers help move product, plain and simple.  Statistics show that 49% of consumers rely on influencers for product recommendations, while 40% of consumers say they purchase products or services after seeing them on Instagram, Twitter, or Youtube.

Because influencer marketing has become one of the main ways for brands to reach new audiences, 59% of marketers plan to increase their use of influencers. Here at Sircle Media, we believe deeply in the benefits of not just influencer marketing, but meaningful influencer partnerships that take things a bit deeper than one time collaborations.

Creating authentic, long-term partnerships with influencers fosters trust between a brand and consumers. When an influencer truly believes in your brand, their followers will believe in it too, especially when the influencer is authentic and true to themselves. This makes selecting the right ones, very important. It might seem like a daunting task, especially when a company is young and might be new to the social media game; though there are certain tactics a brand can use to implement long-term partnerships early on.

One of our clients, Uplift Food, has recently begun to deploy paid partnerships with true believers in their product. They focus on gut nourishing, prebiotic fiber with vitamin D and magnesium to help boost your mood. Uplift was founded by well known Registered Dietitian named Kara Landau, also known as @thetravelingdietitian. She was adamant about only working with fans and consumers and not just empty paid partnerships with people who dont use her product or believe in the company.

One of the strategies Uplift has used for creating influencer relationships is gifting in exchange for recipe posts. This is when newer or smaller brands pitch influencers that they trust will resonate with their product. An influencer then agrees to create a post featuring the product, and the hope is that when they discover that they love it, they continue to post with it because they truly believe in the benefits. Gifting can create incredible ROI, and in Uplift’s case, will also provide great user-generated recipes and content to use for their blog and Instagram account.

Because Uplift prides itself on the mood-boosting aspect of their product, on their feed you’ll find smiling faces of soon-to-be Registered Dietitians, health coaches, foodies, nutritionists, etc. With Uplift being a newer brand, we’ve found micro-influencers to be extremely beneficial. Micro-influencers (between 1-10K followers) might have a smaller following, but typically have much more engagement, and cost less, when it comes to paying for posts/endorsements of a product. Working with micro-influencers, when they have a smaller following allows partnerships to be more authentic. Not only have we been able to see success with these followers, but we have been able to make meaningful connections with them. The founder, Kara is in personal contact with all of these influencers and enjoys getting to know each of them to create a community.

When reaching out to micro-influencers for Uplift, we found success with college students studying nutrition, or soon-to-be Dietitians. We chose this specific audience to work with because they are the up-and-coming experts in this field and love to educate themselves on proper diet and nutrition. With a Founder like Kara in tow, we are one step ahead of the competition, because she is a rock star in this space.

One micro-influencer that we have seen great success with is the incredible Hannah, also known as @wholesomely_hannah. Hannah is studying food science at Penn State and loves all things health and wellness related. Her feed is loaded with recipes from sweet to savory. Back in April, we gifted her a bag of our product and asked her to give it a try. At the time, Hannah was studying the microbiome, so Uplift really resonated with her. After creating her first recipe, she absolutely loved the product! About a month later, she created an in-feed recipe post including the Uplift powder.

As Hannah continued to make delicious recipes using Uplift in her Stories and feed, our relationship grew, and she even created a testimonial video explaining how much she loves the product.

Another great example of the success that comes from gifting influencers is our partnership with @paiges_plates! Paige is a recent graduate of the Dietetics program at the University of Delaware and has just started the next step in her journey to becoming a Registered Dietitian at Rutgers University. Like Hannah’s, Paige’s feed is full of delicious recipes. For some time, Paige has followed and seen great success with the F-Factor diet which emphasizes the use of fiber, making her the perfect spokesperson for Uplift. Because we saw great success with Paige’s recipe posts and because she loves the product, we decided to do a giveaway for Memorial Day.

As our relationship grew, she also created a testimonial video explaining how much she loves Uplift. This was an unsolicited asset and one that helped us both. Not only has Paige enjoyed the functionality of Uplift, but being able to post about the product has helped grow her portfolio as a future RD. Win-Win!

Another successful influencer marketing tactic that brands utilize are long-term paid partnerships. In Uplift’s case, one of our new and paid long-term partnerships with Krista, also known as @frozen_bananas_, began as a gifted, unpaid partnership. Krista also makes mouthwatering recipes on both Instagram and her blog.

Krista’s first post was a delicious Peanut Butter Cup recipe using Uplift. The recipe was well-received by her audience, and she continued to use Uplift in many more of her posts and Stories. When we first started working with Krista, she was considered a micro-influencer but has grown over time to 13.9K followers. As her page gained momentum, we thought she would be the perfect influencer to begin a long-term paid partnership with.

Long-term partnerships create more visibility and authentic, meaningful relationships between an influencer and brand. In addition to creating meaningful relationships with influencers, Uplift loves to make connections with followers of those influencers by engaging consistently with their posts. We do that heavy lifting for our clients to make sure they stay engaged in those conversations.

When recipe maker Nicole, also known as @lashesandlemons, posted a recipe including the Uplift powder at the beginning of August, we made sure to engage with every earned comment from her followers. Following up with potential customers shows that you truly care about your relationships and want to develop a community. The whole point of social!

While Uplift is still a young and relatively unknown brand, they are playing the game right and have a lot of exciting stuff on the horizon. Our influencer partners and their followers will certainly be the first to know!

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Video Creative = Increased Reach and Awareness

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As we’ve seen throughout Instagram’s evolution, videos tend to get more engagement than photos. Why is this? When we’re mindlessly scrolling through Instagram, we expect to see a photo. We don’t take much time to look at a post unless it really catches our attention. That’s why when we see something deviant from the norm (in this case, an eye-catching video), we become interested.

Because of mindless scrolling on social platforms (Instagram especially), it’s more important than ever to create engaging creative to stand out from the clutter and generate awareness. When you combine the power of paid social, with the psychology and creativity of a great video, you put your business into a position to win.

At Sircle Media we believe in the power of innovation and being on the forefront of change. That’s why we sat down with one of our content leads, Zach McAdam, to learn more about his approach to creating effective, eye-catching video ads.

Zach says that because many CPG Brands advertise similar products, it’s important to be bold and try and differentiate from the rest. Because of this, Zach has been experimenting with comedy video ads for one of our clients, @TruthNutrition, a 100% natural, vegan fermented BCAA supplement.

He says that many brands like to show how their product is the solution to a problem, but don’t show the actual problem. In his recent Truth Nutrition video ad, he shows a person (attempting) to run on a treadmill but eventually failing, falling face first. He implies that the reason this occurred was that he forgot to take Truth Nutrition. Not only do ads such as these create interest, but they also add a layer of personality and humor. The icing on the cake – adding a call-to-action for the user to move beyond the ad. If you create a video ad where the consumer is curious about what happens next, they’re more likely to follow through on your call-to-action, thus improving your ROI.

When working with in-feed ads, Zach says that bright and/or uncommon colors are a great way to grab attention. Especially in the crowded CPG space, where there are so many products, you have to think outside of the box and go the extra mile to create interest. You can also do this by really showcasing a brand’s personality, which can draw prospects in a little emotionally to who you are and not just what you sell.

Sircle is also always keeping an eye on new areas to test, especially for those clients who are open both financially and conceptually to experimentation. One potential consideration for a brand like @TruthNutrition, which has a target audience of athletes, is Spotify. Here they can serve as a ‘digital billboard’ for those working out in the gym to one of their favorite playlists. While only 40% of Spotify’s users are premium members, 60% are still interrupted by ads while using the app.

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In a world where paid social is essential (meaning nothing is really that organic anymore) and video outperforms photography, it should be clear why video ads are so important for your business. It is mission-critical to invest in giving your brand the best chance to succeed both on current platforms (i.e. Instagram) and emerging ones (i.e. Spotify, TikTok, etc.).  The good news is, we can help!

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Bare Bones + @ADashofdolly = A perfect partnership!

Selecting the right partners for your social media influencer strategy takes skill and savvy and when you choose wisely, great things will come from it. Recently, we saw this play out with one of our clients, Bare Bones, who brings all time-honored benefits of bone broth and collagen in a convenient and ready-to-use package. Recently, they partnered with an influencer named Dolly Sengsavang (@adashofdolly) who has expertise in creating delicious Whole30 recipes and spreading self-love and positivity. So not only is she a well-versed authority in our space but given her energy, she is also the type of brand alliance that is favorable for the client.

On Dolly’s feed, you will see beautiful photos of her food creations along with their respective recipes on her blog. She used to be a Whole30 certified coach and has highlighted the use of liquid broths in the past. The Whole30 diet is similar to the paleo diet, which encourages eating unprocessed meats as a source of protein. This background made her a perfect pairing for our client.

This collaboration began with a giveaway on Dolly’s Instagram account, as well as a takeover on Bare Bones’ Instagram Stories, signaling the launch of the product in all Whole Foods stores nationwide! The giveaway included four pouches of Bare Bones liquid broths, as well as their Collagen Peptides. In the giveaway post, Dolly explained how Bare Bones liquid broths are Whole30 approved and went into detail about all of its incredible benefits. She also shared the creative ways she loves to use bone broth by featuring a mashed potato recipe right on the Instagram Story.

Dolly doing a takeover on a Bare Bones Instagram Story made the followers aware of the giveaway and drove traffic to Dolly’s page showcasing all of her amazing recipes. Because she is an expert on the Whole30 diet which incorporates bone broth, Dolly can speak authentically about the usefulness of those Whole30 approved products. Her audience trusts her to be an expert and trusts that she’ll only recommend products she believes in.

Not only has Dolly been a great ambassador for the product, but she has also contributed creative ways to incorporate Bare Bones in the recipes she creates on her feed and on her blog. For avid readers of her blog, this gives even more exposure to the brand and shows the functionality of the product in Whole30 approved recipes.

Because her audience is niche and pairs so nicely with Bare Bones, her recipes and posts have generated earned comments by new potential customers, sparking up a conversation around the brand.

 

Earned Comments:

What we really love about Dolly, is that she puts in the work when it comes to comments. We say it all the time, that it is one thing to just post about brands and another to go deep in the comments. Not all influencers do that, so make sure you investigate before engaging one. Here she facilitates a conversation and we jumped in there too, to create a deeper connection with our newest fan.

Choosing the right influencers for your brand can create so many possibilities. In this case, Dolly, a well-educated Whole30 expert, was able to speak authentically about the use of Bare Bones, to create recipes that entice her followers to put the product to use AND helped facilitate sales. This is a real win for all parties and the reason we will be working with @ADashofDolly again, real soon. :)

 

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Instagram abandoning ‘Likes’ is a good thing…

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Instagram removing ‘Likes” on posts is a good thing. Here’s why:⠀

1- It removes reliance from a marketing POV on this vanity metric and will encourage marketers to look for deeper, more meaningful interactions. In the trenches, I have seen the algorithm tailor itself more towards rewarding different metrics of engagement such as comments, DMs, and Story interactions.⠀

2- Facebook (owner of IG) has already been encouraging people to be a part of groups for their high engagement and personalization over pages and I have personally seen a major uptick in the amount of content that I see on my newsfeed from different FB groups that I am a member of.

3- Instagram is sniffing out the fakes and even shutting down accounts that violate terms. The Social Network is continuing the conversation of getting social media back to what it was originally created for: Bringing people together to be social.  Marketers getting back to authenticity is a good thing for all of us.

4- By removing ‘Likes,’ brands will be forced to rethink their strategy and get back into the awareness and/or sales game.

Brands should have smart tactics in motion to achieve awareness/brand exposure at scale (social media is excellent for this) and/or should be running ads to drive sales on their domain, Amazon and/or in retail (social is excellent for this too). I have always felt that LIKES on posts sat in the middle of the tennis court so to speak, on this topic and really provided little actual value.

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Sircle Squad Intern: Eve Serfaty

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Hi! My name is Eve Serfaty and I am a rising senior at the University of Maryland studying Communications. Today sadly marks my last day as a summer intern here at Sircle Media. Interning this summer has truly opened up my eyes to the many different aspects of the social media world. Prior to this internship, I never realized how important social media was, to be honest. It has become an essential component for every brand and it involves quite a bit of work. I am grateful that I received the opportunity of being an intern here as a Social Media Manager and have learned a ton.

My supervisor, Lexi Levy, has been a great mentor to me and assigns me daily tasks that are not only challenging and rewarding but also quite enjoyable. I had the opportunity to assist her with a few cool, healthy CPG clients: Real Food From The Ground Up, RETHINK, and Bare Bones Broth. Some of my daily tasks included: building out influencer and brand collaborations, creating captions to accompany photos, videos and graphics, crafting tweets, joining in on client calls, and engaging with Instagram and Facebook communities.

Each Social Media Manager listens closely to their clients’ needs and gets a feel for their vision and end goals for the brand. Every brand has its own unique style and the Social Media Managers do an outstanding job of bringing their client’s personalities and ideas to life. The President, Adam Brown, has been a wonderful mentor and his warm and approachable personality has created an amazing environment. I look forward to keeping in touch with the Sircle Media Team and further expanding my knowledge in this field.

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Sircle Squad Intern: Leticia Machado

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A LITTLE BIT ABOUT MYSELF:

Hello, my name is Leticia Machado and I am interning with Sircle Media this summer. I am entering my senior year at Hofstra University, majoring in business marketing. Ultimately, I wanted to work for a marketing company in Manhattan with a specific focus on social media management and Sircle Media was the perfect fit.

A LITTLE BIT ABOUT SIRCLE MEDIA:

My experience here at Sircle has taught me a lot about the social media industry to be honest. I came in open-minded, ready to learn as much as possible and I have found there is just so much to know. Every day we utilize various social media platforms for our clients and we oversee all activities on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (sometimes some other platforms too, where warranted). I’ve learned that the smart brands in the space have hopped on the social trend and utilize social platforms to promote their product or service. Depending on the clients’ specific needs and voice, Sircle creates content (photos, videos, motion graphics, etc.) that help convey their unique message. The agency is very good at balancing art (content) and science (sales and other KPIs) well for each and every brand they work with.

HOW I HELP MY SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER DAY-TO-DAY:

I have the good fortune of working under Sara Heiden, who is awesome and is a Senior Social Media Manager at Sircle Media.  Each day she assigns me tasks such as engaging with followers on Instagram and Twitter, sitting on client calls and taking notes, pulling content inspiration, writing tweets, sourcing brands and influencers to collaborate with and understanding how we can best achieve each client’s goals. What I have learned more than anything else, is that engaging with followers in the comments on posts is crucial. Your brand can have great content and clever captions but if there is no conversation, especially in response to user comments, then the brand stands to lose customers and prospects. As a result, we all lean in and spend quite a bit of time, being highly responsive and engaging. This is a key differentiator from other agencies and even internal social media managers I have learned.

MY FAVORITE THINGS ABOUT SIRCLE MEDIA:

A few of my favorite tasks thus far, have included helping write monthly reports, (as I learned more about the analytics + post-month reporting), participating in photoshoots, and listening in on client calls, as I was able to better understand each clients’ goals and ideas. My first week at Sircle I had the opportunity to go to a client’s, (Caswell Massey’s) photoshoot (featuring a photo from the photoshoot below) which was very cool.

CaswellThis was exciting because it allowed me to meet our client face to face and see a bit behind the scenes. I love to get out of the office and take pictures outside; clients are always looking for more content for their account in new and fun environments. One of Sircle’s photographers used me in one of her shoots for Uplift Food and the client loved it and approved it. :)

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Sara gives me the opportunity to pitch ideas and contribute in a meaningful way. This is so rewarding and such an important ingredient of the Sircle Media intern experience. I love the Sircle team, as they have been very friendly and helpful during my time here. I am looking forward to learning more this summer and hope to continue with the agency next semester if they will have me!

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On Competitor Analysis…

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On this episode of the Inner Sircle Podcast, I talk about doing some competitor analysis to help you make some decisions for your social media strategy. If you are on the fence about certain topics or tactics, look at what some industry leaders are doing and then follow suit. I reference some ideas mentioned in this Social Media Today article. Here are some top suggestions:

1. Sign up to receive email updates

2. Analyze video content

3. Track social media presence

4. Review top-performing content

7. Monitor changes to a competitor’s site

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Snapbac + Santia Deck = Influencer Gold.

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As we’ve stated many times before, at Sircle Media, we love to forge partnerships with thoughtful, authentic influencers. Recently one of our clients, Snapbac, (a line of compression-based sportswear that helps you warm up, work out and recover, all in one garment with revolutionary heat and ice therapy pods) partnered up with the incredible Santia Deck, an Olympic USA rugby hopeful and USA flag football athlete. Not only does Santia have a following of 328,000+, but many of them are real athletes who love to engage with her posts. Meaning she has width and depth.

The partnership consisted of some Instagram feed posts and Instagram Stories each month over many months. On Santia’s feed, she went above and beyond the terms of the contract, because she really found value in the product. This is such an important, though often overlooked ingredient to true collaboration with people of influence. Many get paid to promote products they don’t even use, to be honest, and that is just not the real deal. Santia sported their gear organically during her sprinting exercises and rugby workouts because they help her perform at her best, which is the intent of the product in the first place. These posts resonated well with her audience and she was the “featured actress” and Snapbac was just the supporting cast.

She also did a Story takeover and she discussed the benefits of the heat and ice therapy pods as well as why she loves the compression on both the top and bottom part of the body. Before the takeover, she announced that she would be doing so on her own Instagram Story. During the takeover, Santia did not post on her own feed, so it felt like she was genuinely taking over the Snapbac account for the day.

Her takeover offered real content from a fitness maven, explaining exactly how to use our product (=content Gold) and it also provided 2-3X the amount of impression consumption on each Story (in comparison to 200-300 which is the norm). We also had a spike of 100 followers that day along with DMs about our product and pricing (=buying questions!).

Santia Deck has been such an incredible influencer to work with. She is awesome, a real inspiration in fitness and a great partner. Not only did she wear Snapbac’s apparel in posts directed towards the brand, but she also wore the apparel in posts where she was advertising for other brands (=added value).

Working together with influencers that resonate with your brand and understand how to represent the product is what makes the right partnerships so successful. This is why Sircle believes in the power of a fully integrated partnership with real influencers who wield actual influence AND know how to play the game and really collaborate with their brand partners. Just another reason, why @trackbaby001 is a star!

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Sircle Media + GrowNYC Volunteer Day

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On June 28th, the squad and I volunteered to help GrowNYC build benches, paint signs and make our city parks better.  Despite the extremely hot temperatures, paired with our very black t-shirts, the team had a blast and we really came together to do good work for a great organization. I am proud to be a member of a team that cares to do things like this for others.

Our new content creator Zach, brought along a camera and captured the day on film. Check it out:

 

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