Why I Started Sircle Media and What Makes It Different?

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I sat down for a session with someone I have been mentoring recently and they asked me why I created Sircle Media and whether or not we are still consistent 4 years later with the original thesis.  It is a great question (from a smart young woman) and it got me thinking…

I created Sircle Media based on an observation that nearly all small businesses need to be engaging in and growing their digital and social agendas, yet most lack the ability to do so on their own. Couple that with the fact that most digital/social/web agencies don’t deliver a real holistic approach, nor do they take a client POV when creating and implementing against their strategies. As a result you have a gap in the market and I felt it needed to be filled.  We think like a client and we work to implement strategies that are consistent with our client’s goals taking into account their budget, business, inefficiencies and personal and vertical idiosyncrasies. We arm them to win, specifically for them.

Social media management in an outsourced capacity has become our biggest seller (by far) because it has become a “must have” and it is very hard to hire for the position.  You need someone who is motivated, clever and talented who can write (both in short and long form), can create content (through the lens or photoshop), can strategize and drive your social agenda and can oversee the communities on various social platforms.  They also need to know how those efforts tie back into a bigger digital strategy and need to have the business acumen to understand how to bring them all together.  It is impossible to find someone with all of these talents and who a company can afford, at the price point they typically want to pay.  We provide a collection of these talents all rolled into one entry level price point. It is a real USP and differentiator for us and something that most businesses we speak with are very attracted to.

I had been on the client side for 10+ years, having owned a large B2C company and we were big marketers.  I worked with all kinds of agencies and was always disappointed.  My client side experience taught me what I wanted and more importantly what I definitely did not want as a client. That helped shape Sircle into a customer service driven, client first mentality type of organization, that makes clients feel they are heard and well supported.  When I first started out, I did everything (literally EVERYTHING) myself and created processes and procedures that worked, pursuant to the core brand ethos of providing “Four Seasons Hotel Type Service” to all clients. Then I staffed, to fill the roles needed to deliver upon them and have been scaling and iterating ever since.

As we enter our 5th year, I remain more convinced than ever that brands need to have a real social and digital media strategy and that has only increased in importance over time.  They also need to have someone who can do it at a palatable price point AND who thinks with a company/client first mindset.  It is really gratifying seeing Sircle continue to grow, to exceed client expectations and to deliver upon that original thesis every single day!

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What does Sircle Media do?

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We help brands and businesses win online. Too abstract?  Well let me explain it a bit further.

Most companies are trying to do more online, generate business from their own e-commerce store and/or strike up a conversation with clients/customers/prospects via digital channels and just don’t know how. Either they don’t have anyone on staff who is skilled in these areas (so we fill that void) OR they do, but those people often don’t know how to approach marketing in the year that we live in. So many senior marketers are employing old and/or safe tactics without understanding how to navigate the current terrain. This is a recipe for disaster.

You see, many Marketing Directors have earned their roles over the last decade, and given their trajectory they didn’t have to get into the trenches on social media.  As a result they lack the fundamental understanding of how to use it and how to explain the merits to their bosses. It is safer to stick with what they know, than to experiment and explore with social.  We look to join their team and help them change that way of thinking and really make a difference through their social efforts. We make it clear that their brand is “on social media” whether they choose to engage in it or not. Those that get it, are one step closer to harnessing the power of it.

We believe that business drives social and not the other way around. First we define what the goals are for the company and then we lay in a social strategy commensurate with those goals.  Once we know what we want to do as a team, then we solve for X.  Social is about much more than Tweets and Likes and we create a much deeper and holistic digital plan.  Website traffic is mission critical as it generates opportunities for an immediate sale and also creates a pool of people to retarget, email and/or communicate with via social channels.  We want to get a lot of potential prospects into the ecosystem and then deploy multiple tactics to continue the conversation and move them down the funnel towards transacting with us.

We tell brands:

  1. Don’t try to sell online and then not have Google Analytics (or an equivalent) to analyze the data.
  2. Don’t have Google Analytics setup, but not look at the data.
  3. Don’t spend money on print, radio and TV and then argue about not wanting to spend on social because you can’t measure it.
  4. Don’t stop spending on Facebook because it is pay to play. Start spending on Facebook because it is the most powerful Ads platform ever.
  5. Don’t email “blast”. Have a real CRM strategy in place and email with some purpose.

In the end of the day, stop talking about what doesn’t work (especially without proof) and start focusing on understanding the market and figuring out what does.  Things change and tools evolve.  If Gary Vaynerchuk put the video above out today, it probably would have been posted natively on Facebook first because that is what the times demand.

It is hard keeping up with the changes, that is true.  Good thing we are here.

 

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Facebook Lead Ads

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For any business looking to generate leads, you should be investing in Facebook’s Lead Ads.  The social network has simplified the process allowing users to subscribe to your email list with just two simple clicks (SUBSCRIBE/SUBMIT).  The information is pulled right from their profile and every user has an active email associated with their account, so you know the inputs are legit.

You can also require additional fields such as phone numbers, and though more inputs can lead to attrition, we are finding that the performance is excellent.  When you employ Facebook’s powerful targeting along with great creative you can generate tremendous results. Perhaps you want to target fans of your biggest competitor who live in the Los Angeles Area? Create an Ad that speaks to a pain point that you know they are experiencing (high cost, bad taste etc.) and then tell them to provide their email to learn more about how to fix it.

Also if you are doing digital the right way, you already have a re-targeting pixel on your webpage. You track every user who visits the site and clicks on a certain item and then leaves without a purchase. Now you can catch the user on Facebook, showing them the photo of the same product and rather than just sending them back to the site again you can offer them the ability to subscribe to your email list to get notified about future discounts on products just like the one they viewed. Just another smart way to bring prospects further down the sales funnel.

For those who think social doesn’t generate business, Lead Ads provide more evidence that you are wrong.

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$ocial Media

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Social media generates revenue, that is a fact.  I think so many brands cannot get their head around that and are almost looking to prove the opposite to be true.  The same people who tell me how they know they need a social media strategy, constantly say things like it is “a lot of fluff that doesn’t really move the needle.” (an actual quote). They downplay the value of the efforts and think it is all about a bunch millennials in hoodies taking selfies all day.  It is like they need to be in it, just because their competition is, but not because it actually makes money.  Ludicrous!

Now it might be that they are employing a very myopic view of social media.  If they are trying to track how their Facebook post on February 2nd directly lead to a sale, then they are going about it all wrong.  It is much bigger than that. Not only is it a function of a much deeper Facebook strategy, but Facebook (and other social networks for that matter) are just a part of the ecosystem. They need to be looking at onsite content, emails, search, retargeting, display, Ads (of various kinds) and social monitoring and messaging when assessing if their social strategy works. Too many companies have different departments, often with conflicting agendas overseeing these efforts and/or are using different partners for these services.  This silo approach sets them up to fail.

We recommend you have them all “under one roof” and working in sync to glean the most value and results from all of it.  Each little step is part of a bigger journey and it works best when you don’t have too many different agendas and personalities involved.  You need to make a threshold decision to win online, create a roadmap and then get to work.

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Here is a screenshot from an actual report we provided to a client today.  In June of ’15 they fired their AdWords Agency and their “SEO guy” and they turned over all of the social/digital efforts to us.  We handle content creation and strategic distribution through social, email, retargeting and social advertising and we actually paused AdWords efforts (other than a minor spend on their brand name). Not that AdWords don’t work (they do) but because they just weren’t right for them, at least for now.  We worked hard to generate website traffic (check out their sessions) and then convert that traffic through a smart and streamlined follow up strategy, employing all of the tools at our disposal.

The results: we doubled monthly revenue, from $60,000 to $127,000.  Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

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