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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What is your brand?

Brand-building

I encourage my team to really think about who they are and what they want the perception of them to be. I find employees are quick to blame circumstance, clients, the company and even me at times, but the real foundation is much more about them than anything else. Even if all of those things are terrible, the one thing that is very much within their control is who they are and how they respond to all of it.

Having a “personal brand” is a hot topic these days and lot’s of people are spending time packaging and developing their own. It just comes down to reputation and shouldn’t have to be contrived. If you are awesome, then just let it be known in how you conduct yourself day to day. If you are less than awesome in areas, then work on developing a better way of approaching things and change your perspective. Brands develop over time and as long as your north star and driving force are positive and pure, you will work it out. So I ask…

What is your personal brand? Are you someone who is generally negative or commits to positivity? Do you miss assignments or are you someone that can always be counted on to stick the landing? Do you build others up or tear them down? Do you find solutions, or point out problems? Do you keep things chill or drum up drama? Are you a leader or do you lean back in times when leadership is most needed?

I encourage everyone to self reflect today, even if only for a few minutes. Most of us don’t fit squarely in any one category, nor do we sit in any one area, 100%. That being said it is good to be honest and open with yourself about your brand and then work on self betterment and improving your brand’s perception.

I personally like to know what I am good at, but more importantly I want to know where I drop the ball and what I can do to improve and go from good to great. As a business owner and leader I try to be clear on what I think an employee’s brand is, but sometimes it is hard to be too honest in the moment. I want to continue to build my team up and set them up to win and don’t want the practice of radical candor to be detrimental to their growth, development or day to day work in the short-term.

So, it is important that they deploy a practice of looking inward, identifying where and how they maybe trip themselves up and then committing to working on that. I have found that stopping, thinking and implementing a little bit each day can go a long way. If you are not getting better, you are probably actually getting worse over time. Control your own destiny a bit more and work on your brand. It is your most important asset!

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Influencer Marketing: Look for transformational relationships over transactional ones!

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When working with influencers, seek out true partnerships over “one and done” post relationships. Of course, a singular post with your product in hand can earn tons of impressions and potentially a bunch of likes and engagements too. However, if you want to really move the needle, you should look to integrate into their life and routine.

If an influencer really has a captive audience that actually pays attention to their recommendations and guidance, as is the case with @sweatsandthecity, then you should look to create a transformational relationship vs. a transactional one. Here she talks about a 9-month journey, to try and get her gut health back in line after a battle with diverticulitis. She credits meditation, cutting out foods found to be an issue in an Alcat Test, Acupuncture AND our client Terra Origin’s Healthy Gut product, as the steps to getting there. What an amazing endorsement!

If you have a great product and believe in it, look for partners who can convey that message for you. It can be the benefit, the clean label and/or the taste that stands out. Have them help you package that story and speak to something they have personally used or consumed and actually appreciate. Then let them do the storytelling in their own way and look at the depth (engagements, actual words in the comments and chances for a dialogue) even more so than the width (impressions and follower count). That is much more likely to INFLUENCE consideration and trial from their audience, which is the whole point of it all, isn’t it?

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As if Amazon didn’t already have enough influence…

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Hi, my name is Leah Hammer and I am a Senior at The University of Delaware and a Social Media Manager Intern this semester.  This is my first blog post for Sircle Media and I chose to write about Amazon’s influencer platform. I hope you enjoy it!

There’s no doubt that influencers have become a key component in promoting products in the digital realm. Brands have long been searching for well-known, reputable influencers to advocate for and promote their products, and for good reason. According to an article by David Bloom at Forbes, a recent study showed that 13 million influencers generated $7 billion in revenue last year. Staggering numbers!

Instagram has seen the most action with these influencers, with 93% of all influencer campaigns happening on their platform. Bigger influencers are typically paid anywhere between $3,000-$5,000 per post, and sometimes even more per campaign.

About a year ago, Amazon created their own influencer program which offers a link for those who participate to publicize on other social media sites. The link then directs to a user profile made up of personalized “lists”, where influencers showcase their favorite products. With every purchase bought from an influencers link, the influencer can receive up to 10% of that sale. This hybrid affiliate program is very smart and will allow all parties to win financially.

Amazon accounts for more than 50% of e-commerce in the United States. With ferocious price wars, consumers are looking to Amazon for the best possible prices. “That’s helping drive Amazon’s growing share of the U.S. advertising business, and now third behind the Duopoly,” says Bloom. Marketers are now predicting that Amazon will gain almost 9% of 2019’s digital ad market. Amazon has already experienced meteoric growth in the marketing space and can go even further, faster by incorporating influencers.

Influencers with a large following will be essential in the new program’s success, but so will micro-influencers. Many brands have looked to these power users because of their devoted fans and followers. Micro-influencers have between 1,000-100,000 followers and are typically more approachable and affordable in comparison to those who might only have a limited number of partnerships available. Because micro-influencers have smaller, more intimate fanbases, they are often seen as more real, approachable and sincere, which makes them more credible to their followers. Finding the right micro-influencers within Amazon’s ecosystem will create a whole new opportunity for businesses, and influencers too.

When searching for the best possible influencer to promote your product, it’s important to search through the ‘explore’ page on Amazon. This page will lead you to popular and commonly viewed lists. Through these lists, you can find influencers who are part of Amazon’s influencer program and willing to work with brands. When searching for the right influencer for your product, remember to keep in mind your audience and target demo and then check to see if the influencer has endorsed competitors in the past.

As an example, for one of our clients, Modern Oats, who creates on the go, organic oatmeal, we could perhaps choose to reach out to Laura Fuentes, an Instagram influencer with 14.2K followers.  She is a mother who loves to travel and share her favorite foods. Laura recently joined Amazon’s influencer program and has already created lists of her favorite products.

As influencer marketing continues to take over the digital realm, taking advantage of Amazon’s new influencer program will be essential in increasing those e-commerce sales. Get in the game and try it for yourself. If you have any positive or negative experiences on the platform, be sure to let us know. We would love to hear some real-life feedback

See you out on the field!

 

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