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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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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5 Simple Tips to Boost Organic Reach on Instagram When Everyone is Using Paid Advertising

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unnamed-1Hi, my name is Karin Huynh and I am an intern with Sircle Media and today’s guest blog writer. I decided to tackle this article from Socialmediatoday.com that talks about fighting declining organic reach on social media. I hope you enjoy it

Paid advertising is all the rage these days. It seems like everyone from teenage influencers, to grandmothers with candle businesses, are getting involved. While paying Facebook and Instagram to garner attention has become the trend, does that mean organic marketing strategies will be obsolete? Not exactly. While it is obvious that Instagram relies on paid advertising to keep their platform running, they still reward accounts that are valuable and interesting to audiences. The main goal of social media is to capitalize on attention and to do so, you need to provide good content and be well versed on how best to deliver that content contextually to the platform. Social networks can be hot one minute, and disappear the next (Myspace, anyone?) so you also need to know how to dominate on what is currently hot and glean as much value for you and your brand as possible. Doing this when the going is good is easy, but as it starts to decline, you need to know how to squeeze the most juice out of the fruit before it is obsolete  Here are 5 ways you can improve organic reach on Instagram so your brand can be in front of more customers.

STUDY THE ALGORITHM

First, it is important to remember that Instagram is not random. The posts that are featured on the explore feed were not chosen because it looked the “prettiest” or the platform thought the picture was “cool” and users might like it. Instagram has an algorithm that allows it to show you posts that are getting a lot of comments and likes, along with making sure the post aligns with your own personal interests. For example, the algorithm might show you a post of an orange cat because it tracked that you liked old posts that had white cats. If you were shown a post with an orange cat, you would be more likely to engage with the content because it knows that you are a fan of cats. Another example would be if you were following a fitness influencer, the algorithm would only show you content related to the fitness niche because you already engaged with that specific type of content from someone else. Therefore, to have a chance of being featured on the explore feed of your audience, think about and work with the algorithm. Although no one knows exactly how the algorithm processes content (except maybe Instagram employees, but they’ll never tell), marketers have inferred that it is based on these three things: recency, relevancy, and engagement. Be sure to study the latest data on your audience insights to observe when your following is most active, what posts they liked the most, and what posts received the most comments. Once you’ve discovered what’s effective, post consistently and cater content to your audience’s interests and the odds of hitting the explore page will be in your favor.

BE PRESENT ON IG LIVE

Another way to fight organic reach decline is by taking advantage of Instagram Live. The platform favors live footage and will increase the visibility of it in the feed. At the end of the day, a follower of your brand is a person who wants either entertainment, utility or education. Instagram Live allows you to connect to your followers and build a stronger relationship with them. If you are open to experimentation, think about how you might go about being live and allowing for users to engage with you directly. For a great Instagram Live session, you could always greet your followers by their username while answering some questions or just showing the behind-the-scenes of your business. Don’t feel like you’re ready to go live and face your audience in real time? Not an issue. You can also test out Instagram Stories using the same ideas, and it’ll prep you for when you are ready to tackle it all in live mode.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE CUSTOMERS

The more you give, the more you get back. According to this article, ”51% of people say they’d be more likely to continue engaging with and/or purchasing from a brand if it shared their photo, video or post throughout its marketing.” People naturally love attention, so when a brand takes notice of their content and reposts to the brand’s account, it is an action that pays back tenfold. A great example of a brand that does this is Go Pro. With over 15 million Instagram followers, they prove that user-generated content can be super effective. A majority of their posts are created by actual customers using their products, which makes them seem more authentic.

FIND YOUR TRIBE WITH HASHTAGS

Build a small community around your brand. Since Instagram hasn’t rolled out a feature similar to Facebook groups where people with a common interest can come hang out and cyber network, the closest thing would be to use a specific hashtag meant to connect your followers in a small hub where they can meet other followers or influencers like them and engage with each other’s content related to your business. This is also another way to easily communicate with your followers by liking and commenting on their posts in one spot.  One example of a brand implementing this strategy would be FashionNova with its custom hashtag “#NovaBabe”. When typed in the search bar, this one hashtag alone brings up more than 700,000 posts from other Instagram users, mostly curvy young women interested in the brand and hoping to get reposted on FashionNova’s account with over 15 million followers. The more users that use #NovaBabe in their captions, the broader the reach FashionNova has on Instagram leading to higher engagement and an even bigger following.

HAVE AN AFFILIATE PROGRAM

Okay, maybe this isn’t exactly free, but why give Instagram all of your money when you can pay back your customers for their loyalty? Leveraging an affiliate program allows you to partner with users who wield influence and then compensate them for sales. You are capitalizing on their organic reach and using them as a Trojan horse to get in front of their eyeballs, without technically paying for advertising. 1UpNutrition uses this strategy to increase brand awareness and grow their following. The brand enlists a few macro and micro influencers and everyone who wants to be an ambassador to get their own personalized discount code for their audience and every time someone buys their product with that specific discount code the ambassador earns a commission. As a brand, you don’t have to pay for anything until a sale is made, while at the same time getting free exposure to multiple audiences.

The bottom line here is that organic continues to be harder to tackle, but most good things don’t come easy. You need to continue to invest time and effort if you want to stand out from the pack and win.

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Sircle Squad Profile: Lauren Utecht

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Full name/nickname: Lauren Utecht. Sometimes people just shorten my name to Laur or Lau.

Age: 22

University & Major: Roger Williams University. Major – Journalism, Minor – Film, and Concentration – Spanish

What made you choose Sircle Media? I decided to apply to Sircle Media because after researching the company and looking at their website, I really liked their overall vision and POV on social media. At school, I was introduced to the power of social media and all things digital. I believe it has opened up a window of opportunity for brands to have conversations, develop relationships and show that they care about their customers by sharing personal stories and giving them an inside look at their company through the use of digital elements. Sircle Media really emphasized this idea and I knew it was somewhere I could enhance my skills. I always make sure I can believe in a company before I interview with them. Most importantly, I really liked the company environment as it seemed positive and productive. Everyone was extremely friendly, encouraging and I could see that there was a lot of opportunity for growth. That is why I ultimately chose Sircle Media.

Most surprising discovery/realization after working here? The most surprising thing I’ve learned after working here is that brands don’t need to take their social media management too seriously. What I mean is that people don’t want a product being shoved down their throats on social media and most likely aren’t going to take the time to read a long caption explaining a product. I always knew it was best to keep captions short, but I’m really learning to have fun with my posts. It’s OK to be silly and make jokes and puns because it shows off the brand’s personality, explains who they are, what they stand for and breaks the ice between sellers and buyers.

What’s the best part of your job? The best part of my job is that it is not restrictive at all and I have a ton of autonomy. With social media, every day is different from the last and I get an opportunity that most new hires don’t, which is to have fun while learning new skills. Social media forces me to be creative, innovative and keep up with all of the latest trends. Social Media Managers have the ability to create content that can influence a culture and shape the future. That is really exciting and encourages me to be better.

What can you tell us about Adam or your supervisor? I’ve been working really closely with Sara Lerner on a few brands. Both she and Adam truly care about their employees. They help me believe in myself because they took a chance on me very early on in my career. They are now teaching me everything it takes to be a Social Media Manager, from building relationships with clients to managing day to day functions and even experimenting with audiences by promoting posts. They are always accessible if I need help and when I have questions, they get back to me right away. They are always reminding me that no question is dumb and are constantly encouraging me.

Advice to future interns/employees? My advice would be to ask questions and research topics you don’t feel comfortable with. It’s always better to make sure you’re doing something correctly than guess and make a mistake because you were too nervous to ask.

Bonus Questions:

What are three songs that never fail to get you hyped?: “Closer” by the Chainsmokers, “Levels” by Avicii and “All of the Lights” by Kanye West ft. Rihanna and Kid Cudi.

What is something about you that people would be surprised to know?: My sister and I did competitive gymnastics since we were very young. I was always getting injured and eventually had to give it up at the beginning of high school, after my third broken arm because I fell too far behind on my skills.

What cartoon/movie character were you inexplicably afraid of as a kid?: I wasn’t really afraid, but I hated the “The Emperor’s New Groove” for some reason when all of my friends were obsessed with it.

Favorite hobbies? I love to travel and see new places around the world. I’m a firm believer that spending money on experiences rather than on material items makes you happier. I love to run, as I ran track all throughout high school and college. I like to cook and experiment with new recipes, read a lot and watch really good movies because film has always been another interest of mine. I also love playing with my dog and spending time with family and friends! :)

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Sircle Squad Profile: Kevin Sikorski

With the end of July in sight, it’s time to introduce everyone to one of our Photography Interns, Kevin!

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Hometown: Norwich, Connecticut

School: Parson’s School of Design

Major: BFA Photography

Why Sircle? Social media is how I have grown through photography and gotten many opportunities as well as made some of my best friends. I love shooting models as well at products so I felt this would be a good fit to learn how to further push myself.
Random Fun Fact: One time I got flown out to have lunch with Michael Jordan

Most Likely To…: Most likely to embarrass myself

Favorite Movie/Book: Any Harry Potter movie or Book

Appetizer or Dessert? Dessert

Beach or Forest? Beach

Favorite Client to Work On: FatBoy

 

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Sircle Squad Profile: Taylor Gray

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Summer 2018 is in full swing, and so are our amazing crew of interns. Have you listened to their awesome playlist?

Today, we’d like to introduce you to Taylor Gray.

Hometown: Boca Raton, FL

School: University of Florida

Major: Advertising

Why Sircle? To get great experience working with advertising on all forms of social media.

Random Fun Fact: I am EXTREMELY afraid of mayonnaise!

Most Likely To… WIn the lottery and lose the ticket!

Favorite Movie? Notting Hill

Appetizer or Dessert? Dessert

Beach or Forest? Beach

Favorite Client to Work On: Kidfresh

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Sircle Squad Profile: Carly Schindler

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Here at Sircle Media, we just love our amazing interns. They provide invaluable support and a fresh perspective that our clients really benefit from. We want you to get to know them better and to that end, today we spotlight Carly Schindler.

Hometown: Plainview, New York

School: Tulane University

Major: Marketing and Psychology

Why Sircle?: Sircle is providing a valuable experience to work on real accounts with real clients and learn what goes into scheduling and creating social media content. So far I have not been asked to make any copies or get anyone coffee and instead, I have been asked to do actual productive work! I am glad I picked Sircle because I have learned so much already, and I am looking forward to learning much more before the end of summer that I can actually use in the future.

Random Fun Fact: I am a singer and I play guitar and piano! I also speak English, French, and Jibberish!

Most Likely To…: Be caught singing around the office

Favorite Book/Movie: Favorite book of the moment is “The Woman in the Window” by A.J. Finn, but I am currently reading “The Third Twin” by Ken Follett, and it might give it a run for its money!

Appetizer or Dessert? Appetizer

Beach or Forest? Beach

Favorite Client to Work On: So far, I really like working on Koia! I am personally allergic to most things and I have always been obsessed with any new Vegan, Non-Dairy, health-related products, and Koia is something that I would genuinely want to buy in real life.

 

 

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Summer Interns 2018 – Spotify Playlist

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Summertime is always a favorite for the Sircle team, at least it is for me. My name is Lizzie and I’ve been helping Adam coordinate our summer intern class – all 21 of them.

Sircle Media is a blessing in that we are able to have interns from all over. Some move to NYC for the summer while others work remotely. My favorite part is an interns first day and getting to show them around. They’re all a little nervous, excited, and eager to prove themselves.

This summer, we’re doing something new to get to know our interns better. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing their intern profiles, and to kick it off I’ve compiled their go-to songs on Spotify into one playlist.

The songs are random from all different genres, but they work to form a cohesive unit and tell the story of our interns. You don’t know who submitted what, which makes it even more uniform and tells a group story.

Click here or on the image above and take a listen for yourself – I think it’s pretty special!

Til next time.

-Lizzie

 

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Hump Day Hype: Perspective and mindset…

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This week, I am all about perspective. I tell my team that it is on all of us to get up every day, get our mind right and then put in the work that will help each member and in turn, the team and the company succeed.  As young members of the workforce, it is mission critical that we have a strong mindset, confidence in yourself and your situation and the right POV.

To help get there, it is so important to take stock of your immediate, inner circle and assess whether or not each person drags you down or builds you up. So many successful people talk about this topic as a key to success and Will Smith broke it down in an interview a while back. Curate your crew and make sure you surround yourself with winners as best you can.

Regardless, the heavy lifting lies with you. It is very easy to sell yourself on anything (good or bad) and you need to keep things in perspective and adopt a positive mindset. If you start there, then you are putting yourself at an advantage and you will find much more fulfillment in your daily life.

At Sircle, you work at a social media agency (exciting and emerging category), in NYC (many would argue is the best city in the world), that works almost exclusively with healthy CPG brands (that are mostly good humans, making good products that add value to people’s lives) in a WeWork (young, fun, progressive work environment) and for a boss who embraces work-life balance, self-exploration, meditation and mindfulness, personal development and growth and who implemented remote Fridays to help offset the grind of commuting and offer up more autonomy and freedom over your schedule.  Needless to say, s@#t could be worse. ;)

Sometimes even the best of us lose perspective and it is so important to snap back to the reality of your scenario from time to time. Let’s all take a deep breath, appreciate what we have and the table that has been set for us and go and execute.  Remember, your altitude is determined by your attitude!

 

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