On why I sometimes feel like a personal trainer…

SM PT

When clients hire Sircle Media it is very much like hiring a personal trainer.  At this point, (April 2017) they know they need smart social media management for their business, very much like a person knows they should make good diet choices and work out consistently.

When they begin with Sircle, things are awesome for the first couple of months. They are hopeful, attentive, responsive and full of energy.  It is really amazing and we immediately see an improvement in the quality of their content, the consistency of their engagement and if they truly listen, in the results (be it growth, reach, interaction, traffic etc.)!

There is a real parallel here to working out with a trainer. Right out of the gate you psychologically feel good, because you sense you are taking the right proactive action to improve how you look and feel.  You start to get consistent in your efforts, because that accountability partner makes you stick to a schedule and you see some early results. Those could be increased energy, stamina, dropping a couple of pounds OR just that false sense of immediate muscle mass increase that many feel, but isn’t truly there so early on.  Either way, things are good…

Then with both, you often hit a flat period. Results don’t pour in as fast and you start to question the value of the efforts.  With social media, this often leads to quick pivots that include cutting back on paid efforts, reducing or eliminating influencer outreach and/or missing scheduled meetings and punting social media while you focus on “more important initiatives” for the business. With training this can mean missing sessions, reducing efforts/reps/sets or even cheating with stress meals and focusing on other areas of your life, like work, family etc.  Truth is that in both cases, you need to figure out how to balance the social media/training with those other items if you really want to succeed.  It has to be in addition to, not in lieu of.

The main reason for churn at Sircle is when a client loses site of the marathon view and focuses solely on the sprint results. When numbers are flat, they often ignore any of their own contribution to that and will come at us aggressively looking for a silver bullet that will magically turn things around. We explain that they need to remain holistically committed to the cause and need to keep their head down and focused on the end goal. There is no ROI on any one tweet, but there is real fruit if you are patient and let the vines grow their grapes.

With training, it is very easy to blame them. You question why you aren’t seeing faster results, why things have plateaued and whether or not you should seek a new teacher. First off, the real long term results take awhile to see. Secondly, you might be sneaking doughnuts at night (which to me is the same as not spending Ad dollars on Facebook mind you) which will compromise results greatly.  Only the client/individual knows the real truth there.

When you leave a trainer, very much like when a brand leaves Sircle, there is typically a precipitous drop off across the board. Clients move on and we see their imagery, cadence and frequency take a big dip, as well as their engagement and growth efforts. It is so obvious, and just like with a trainer it reflects poorly on us, when they leave and “gain weight and get out of shape” so to speak. We literally have to either remove them from our website or tell new prospects the exact date we stopped working together, so they can see the difference between good (with us) and not so good (post us).

In the end of the day, your north star needs to be that you are fully aware that remaining committed to social media and personal training, is the right play long term. You wont survive professionally or personally if you dont figure out both. You need to then attack either with an unwavering commitment to it.  Most often, switching agency or trainer is not the right answer and working on listening more and developing that relationship more fully is.

I am actually amazed by how many of my former clients still come to me personally with questions, and still respect me and what we do so much, despite having moved on.  They usually know what they had and are fully aware about how things have turned since they left. My recommendation is to lean in, rather than leave with Sircle and the gym.  That is how we start to really see the results and reap the benefits together!

 

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Sircle Squad: Kasey Bandilla

Another awesome intern just wrapped up her semester with us and we will miss her dearly. Before she left, we sat down to learn a bit more about her and her experience at Sircle Media. Enjoy.

King KaseyFull name/nickname ? 

Kasey Bandilla and Nickname(s): Some common ones are Kase, KC, and Kaseydilla (like quesadilla – it’s a combination of my first and last name).

Age? 

I’m 20

University and Major? 

Fordham University and Communications & Media Studies

                                                                                                  What made you choose Sircle Media?

I chose Sircle Media because I wanted a challenge. Prior to this internship, I had some social media experience under my belt, but I knew that I had so much more to learn. I also wanted to join the Sircle squad because of the intimate work environment. I find that smaller environments provide more hands-on work and an overall better experience to learn and grow. And that’s exactly what I found here.

Most surprising discovery/realization after working here?

The amount of valuable hands-on experience. As an intern, I expected to get some grunt work, but as soon as I got here, I was immediately given projects and tasks that were directly helpful to the Social Media Managers. While some projects were daunting, the SMMs that I worked with were confident in my abilities and skills. Each day, I felt that I contributed meaningful content and was an actual member of the Sircle Media team, not just another intern.

What was the best part about your internship?

The environment. Everyone at Sircle is so easy to get along with. If I needed help or had questions, every single person offered assistance and didn’t hesitate to answer any questions that I had. I always looked forward to coming into the office because it’s such a comfortable and fun place to be. There’s definitely no shortage of laughs here.

What can you tell us about Adam or your supervisor?

Adam is one of the most driven, diligent, and eloquent people that I have ever met. He is the most easy-going boss I’ve ever had but he makes sure that you are hustling and working just as hard as he is. Not to mention, he’s also a excellent whistler. My supervisor, Sara, has been an amazing mentor. She’s passionate, motivating, and super insightful. Throughout my time at Sircle, she made it a point to learn what I liked to do and ensured that I was given those tasks. She made my experience very enjoyable.

Advice you would give to a future intern?

For future interns, don’t be afraid to ask questions. It might be overstated, but it’s true. Adam and your supervisor are here to help you learn and get the most out of your internship here at Sircle. Also, be open to all tasks and projects. Working on a wide range projects, I was able to further develop skills I already had and gain new ones that I wouldn’t have attained otherwise. Most importantly, have fun and enjoy your experience at Sircle. I definitely did!

 

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Referrals from all angles..

Sircle Referrals

I have written about how referrals make the world go round, on this blog before and once again I am reminded how true that is. Last week I received 6 referrals for business and they came from a variety of sources, all of which are appreciated more than the referrer knows.

Two came directly from happy clients, which are the most common types in my business. Those are obvious and awesome when they come to us and are a clear sign that we are doing great work for our clients day to day.

Great work and service, empowers WOM – Word of Mouth!

Two came from PR partners who had worked opposite us on brand relationships. Many of our clients have a PR Firm on hand and we are often forced into their sandbox and ordered to play nicely together. We used to get a lot of pushback from those partners as either A) they were trying to diversify and get into social media services and/or B) they just felt threatened by the new agency in the ecosystem. I have always said that we don’t offer PR and we believe that our efforts augment everything they do and vice versa. It is so nice to see that some of these firms have changed their posture, AND that they felt we offered great service and could pair very nicely with their offerings.

Teamwork does, make the dream work!

One came from the very type of relationship I referenced in my earlier blog post above. Someone I had mentored two years back, had landed at a new company and immediately told them they needed to hire us for their social media needs.

Long game, paying off!

The final and perhaps most gratifying one came from a former (and internal favorite) client, who left us abruptly earlier this year. They hired a new Director of Marketing who came in with their own ideas and agenda and ultimately pushed us out. This is hands down the number one reason for churn in our business and is so unfortunate, because if communication is excellent, it is usually unnecessary. Regardless, it was so great to receive this particular referral, as it was a statement that although we are no longer dating, they remain a fan and convinced that we add a ton of value. So much so that they recommended the client “hire us right away to learn and implement a real, make sense social strategy” and that client couldn’t wait to get started.

Client relationships don’t always end, just because they stop paying you!

I remain convinced that if you are passionate, provide great service, work hard and don’t lose your cool, that you can generate a referral funnel from all types of sources.  Everyone you come in contact with should be better off for having met you and you should leave an indelible mark on each of them. Do it, and they will remember you when the time is right and be your biggest advocates.

 

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Pass The 40…

sircle-leadership

With my 40th birthday (4 months from today) looming, I have been thinking a lot about legacy lately. Of course, the soundtrack to Hamilton on constant repeat in my home these days, as well as the PBS special about the making of Hamilton still fresh in my mind might have something to do with it. Nonetheless, it is a real milestone birthday both personally and professionally and it has me thinking.

Will my clients say I worked hard and was always honorable and fair in my interactions? Will my employees say that I motivated them and offered them a path for growth, both personally and professionally?  Will my children be proud of my contributions at work, in the community and in their lives? Will my wife, family and friends continue to always support me along the way? All of these things are swirling around in my brain.

I read once (not sure where) that “leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.” I hope that the narrative with me is that I always led by example both in the work place and at home and that those who worked for, lived with or chose to be a friend or collaborator with me, all felt that they benefited from my leadership.

I think that I have always been comfortable being a leader. In high school I wasn’t the best player on my varsity soccer or lacrosse teams (both of which went to the county finals my senior year mind you) but I was named a captain on both. In college, I chose my own path, my own major and ultimately made my own decision post college, to bet on myself and my own sales ability and not go down the conventional graduate school (well I did go to Law School for 29 days, but lets disregard that) path.  For the past 17 years I have consistently gravitated towards leader and “alpha male” roles, as that is just where I always felt the most comfortable and could provide the most upside and value.

I try to mentor others so I can teach them what I have learned (both good and bad) along the way and I also seek out mentors who can hopefully do the same for me. It is so important to take and implement what I have absorbed from those who have gone before me and I’d like to think that others get the same value from me. I am constantly trying to positively impact the lives of those around me and I hope that it super clear in my daily actions. While I know that doing the right thing is always my north star, I realize my intent might not always come through in my content. I am committed to doing a better job there.

I am so hungry for success and always shooting for the stars, but I try to put equal weight into remaining grounded, grateful and humble. I never forget where I came from, nor do I ever take for granted the many advantages I have had along the way. I try to remain hungry both in my pursuit of financial and professional success, as well as ways I can be a better person and give back to others. It is a constant balancing act and while I am not always perfectly level, I am keenly aware of when I need to tip the scales back to try and get there.

So I write this post to help point my compass in the right direction and so that I can hit my 40th birthday in stride. I don’t want to make new (birth) year’s resolutions to get better on that date, I want to be well on my way when I get there. I hope that I can motivate others in my 1977 class (or anyone else for that matter) to do the same.  If I can entice anyone who took the time to read through this to up their game and improve their own legacy, then I have already succeeded in that regard.

 

 

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SirceSquad: Shannon Adriaan

We typically have interns from The USA only, but we met Shannon from South Africa and fell in love. She has an incredible “can do” attitude and a great personality and we just had to have her. We thought you might like to learn more about her too, so we asked her some questions. Enjoy:

unnamedFull name and nickname?

My name is Shannon Adriaan.  Recently I have been called ShanSwag which is my favorite nickname that has ever been given to me- and I’ve been given A LOT.

Age?

I’m 22 :)

University?

Currently in my last year of my graphic design course at Inscape Design College, in Cape Town South Africa.

Major?

The graphic design course covers EVERYTHING within graphic design. We don’t focus on a specific field so I am super diverse at the moment. That also means we get a lot of work assigned to us within the 3 year course.

What made you choose Sircle Media?

My dream is to come and move to America, get a farm, get my horses and work. Been dreaming of New York my whole life so when it came to looking for an internship I wanted to grab the opportunity and Sircle Media gave off such a fun, energetic energy which I love. I have loads of energy so its great to find a place that I can feel comfortable being energetic with too.

Most surprising discovery/realization after working here for a couple of weeks?

No surprises just yet, but since I’m interning remotely and my hours go into 1am, I have realised I need a proper coffee machine. LOL

What is the best part of your internship?

I’m all hands on deck for the internship because I love to learn new things about the industry I’m about to go into. I love being able to develop on my own skills and learn new things in the process!

What can you tell us about Adam or your supervisor?

There isn’t one person who I have spoken with, who I don’t think is lovely. They are so great to deal with, from the one-to-one communication, to the mass e-mails, everyone is super friendly and on board! That part is so so refreshing and great to see.

Advice you would give to a future intern?

If you’re not a coffee lover, become one. ;)

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Gifting: The gift that keeps on giving…

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 6.54.11 AM

Gifting influencers can really throw gasoline onto your social media efforts, if you are smart about your approach. Tactically, we are always looking for exposure opportunities to expand our reach and engagements for our clients and people with influence (fans and followers) in tow, afford brands an opportunity to land grab a bunch of both, with very little effort.

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 6.48.03 AMAbove you can see the impact of just one tweet for our client, Black Halo. They gifted the actress, Jennette McCurdy @jennettemccurdy and then tweeted out an image of her wearing their product. She went ahead and retweeted it to her 6.3million+ followers and it earned a ton of exposure and interactions. Just look at the metrics in the shot above and you can see the power of this one piece of communication.

We have advocated before that you shouldn’t sleep on Twitter as a powerful marketing tool. Every platform has its own place in your messaging plan and it just comes down to understanding how to natively communicate and navigate each. If you remain committed to the long game and don’t get lost in the clutter and confusion of the short game, then you will reap the benefits.

Above and beyond the amazing reach and exposure this brought us, we are especially interested in the small ball, one-to-one engagements it surfaced. You see the goal was not just to get eyeballs, the hope was to drum up a dialogue that could lead to sales on the website.

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 7.01.21 AM

To round out the strategy, you need to have someone closely monitoring Twitter on the daily to seek our conversations like the one above. This user (who has 4800 of her own followers mind you) engaged with our media and is clearly interested in the product. Important to note that she is a follower of Jennette’s and not Black Halo, which means that our gifting and Twitter game played out perfectly. This user most likely knew nothing about this brand prior to this interaction, but as a fan of the influencer and how our client’s product looked on her, we now have created a positive impression with this user, for their products.

Who needs TV commercials and magazine ads, when you can make that happen with just one Tweet?

 

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Safe is Risky

Safe is Risky quote

I meet with brands each week and nearly every single meeting comes down to a conversation where they know they need social media, but they just aren’t ready to really pull the trigger in a meaningful way.  They see that retail is hurting and they agree they need to do more web business, but it is less than 5% of their total revenue.  They don’t have a digital strategy (let alone a social one) and they think that somehow it is going to change. News alert…it wont!

The problem is that they dont understand digital so it scares them.  They instead choose to “play it safe” and advertise on traditional mediums like TV, outdoor and mailers (that don’t work) OR even worse they don’t market at all.  I would argue (and I think Seth Godin would agree) that this safe approach is the riskiest of all.  Failure to act, is an act of failure.  Brands need to start changing this mentality, before they go extinct.

If you had a heart attack today and survived, it would most likely cause you to assess and adjust things right away. You would start taking better care of yourself, would consult with experts on how to get there, read blogs and articles for ideas on how to incorporate for yourself personally and would generally take a much more serious stance on your health and well being. It would be a catalyst for you to start doing what you aways knew you needed to, but just didn’t.

So, imagine that your business had a heart attack today and get going on improving its health now. Stop wasting money on things that you cannot track and don’t work. Stop procrastinating on social media and stop putting your fate in the hands of ill equipped junior staff members, or worse in a marketing department that doesn’t believe in or understand it.  Start capturing emails and communicating with your customers in a smart and strategic way.  Start creating content that they care about and want to read.  Start spending advertising dollars on highly trackable platforms such as Facebook and Instagram now.

As we have said before, social media is just a new term for the internet and social networks are just part of the ecosystem. Not using the internet and/or thinking about how to engage people on their mobile phones (where the focus and attention clearly is) in 2016, is like eating bacon and ice cream 7 days a week and never working out. Some people might survive, but the vast majority will drop dead too soon. Don’t be part of the latter group.

Playing it too safe, is super dangerous for your (business’) health!

 

 

 

 

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$ocial Media

social-media-image

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.

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 10.35.32 AM

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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#SircleSquad Spotify Take Over: Alexis Futoran

original

Here at Sircle Media we are all about music and we jam all day long while working hard for our clients.  We have some crowd favorites that get us all singing out loud; think Journey, Billy Joel and we all seem to really dig Ed Sheeran. We also each have our own style and unique tastes, so we thought we would share some of the songs we are really feeling with you our fans and clients.

To do this we are going to have a monthly DJ takeover where a member of The #SircleSquad will share their very own Spotify Playlist.  First up is Alexis Futoran.  Listen, enjoy and critique if you feel so inclined.

Just click on her mug to play:

Alexis-Blog-head-shot-300x300

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Sircle Media- Mobile Tour Design For Ginnybakes

Screen shot 2015-05-12 at 10.01.14 AMWe are always “all in” with our clients and willing to do what is ever needed to help them win online.  Sometimes we also get involved in the offline world to help them get more social with their branding and collateral materials.  Recently our client Ginnybakes asked us to create a design for a van for the company’s Summer 2015 multi-state sampling tour.

Our Art Director, Carlos Palacios took the lead on this project and handled everything from ideation to production.  When it came to creating the design, Carlos said he knew that he wanted to make sure the final product was unique, but still fit the vision of the client and appealed to the target audience. The client had a “colorful 60’s theme” in mind, so Carlos took that and ran with it.

“Both the client and I agreed that pink should be the base color as that would stand out the most, but [pink] would also be a great launch into that 60’s theme,” he said.  At the end of the day, his main focus was making sure he could create an attractive and recognizable design that would help create better brand awareness for Ginnybakes.

Below are some visuals that showcase the various POV’s we created for the vehicle

Sircle-Post-ginnyVan-02We then brought the tour to life on their website with a map that we designed and coded so they could showcase their map and tour dates.  Check it out here: Ginnybakes Tour Map.  Stay tuned for other great design projects coming soon.

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