Sircle Squad Profile: Leah Hammer

IMG_4269We sat down to get to know our newest hire, Leah Hammer a bit better and we thought we would share some insights from that conversation. Like many great SircleSquad members before her, she worked her way up thru our intern “farm system” and earned a spot with the team. We love her hustle and commitment to working hard to get the job done.

Leah brings great creative energy to the team and will no doubt be an amazing contributor to our future success. Without further ado, let’s meet her!

Full name/nickname? 

My full name is Leah Hammer. I don’t have many nicknames except for when my best friends call me “Lee”!

Age? 

21

University and Major?

I’m a soon-to-be graduate from the University of Delaware with a major in English and minors in Journalism and Health & Wellness.

How did you find out about Sircle Media?

I found out about Sircle Media while searching for an internship with a social agency that shared my passion for health and wellness. I was searching through Instagram and came across Sircle Media, which I noticed worked with some of my favorite health and wellness brands. In the past, I’ve had the most rewarding internship experiences with agencies who strive to better the lives of others. I could immediately tell Sircle Media had the same philosophy. This factor, along with the extremely warm and welcoming company culture was how I knew I wanted to be a part of the team and learn as much as I could!

Most surprising discover/realization after working here?

Working with Sircle Media has reaffirmed for me how incredible it is to work at a social agency. Sircle Media has the kindest employees, and each day I feel like I’m learning something new. I know I can express my creative ideas and feel like they’re being heard. Everyone is so supportive of one another and strives to improve every day.

What is the best part of your internship?

The best part of my internship has been the employees. Everyone has been so kind, open, and eager to help me in every way possible. I’ve also loved every single brand I’ve been able to work with over the term of my internship. It’s made each day so exciting and always makes me look forward to the next!

What can you tell us about Adam or your supervisor?

While working at Sircle, I’ve had the privilege to work closely with Adam and Michelle Paltan, my social media manager supervisor. When I first started my internship with Sircle, I was blown away by Adam’s weekly emails to the SircleSquad. He would offer advice to all of his employees on how to reduce stress at work, and improve your wellbeing and interpersonal relationships. I remember thinking “how many other companies actually send such thoughtful emails like this?”. Not only has Adam been such a great mentor, but he’s also so successful at what he does!

Michelle has also been a huge factor in my growth as an intern at Sircle Media. Over the past three months that I’ve worked with her, she’s challenged me with new assignments, been open and supportive of my ideas, and demonstrated such a passion for what she does. I can’t wait to continue learning more from her in my new role.

What advice would you give a future intern? 

I would tell future interns to be open to learning as much as possible, and always challenge yourself! Sircle Media is such an amazing company to intern for, with so many opportunities for growth and meaningful connections along the way.

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We Are Sircle Media

We are Sircle Media. 

We are content creation, community management, and social performance.

We are photography, food styling, stop motion, live action, motion graphics, video production, photo shoots, web design, copywriting, Instagram/Facebook/Twitter Management, E-commerce, customer service, paid social, influencer management, brand collaborations, strategy, analytics, digital marketing and so much more.

We are your next social media management solution…

Let’s Go!

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What makes Sircle Media different?

Adam Thinking Headshot

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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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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Don’t sleep on August: Take some time to assess and plan your social media strategy…

On this episode, I talk about the importance of taking some time to plan during August. When many brands and individuals slow down and go quiet, I think it is a smart move to lean in and think strategically. Don’t want until after Labor Day to turn the engines on and make sure you are in full stride come September.

When it comes to your social media strategy:
1- Look around at the competition and see what they are doing when it comes to content, cadence, frequency etc. Most are moving towards less posting and higher quality!

2- Remember Instagram/Facebook followers/fans are irrelevant. It is a paid ecosystem now and the faster you get your head around that, the better off you will be. Allocate a budget, force rank your KPIs and GO!!!

3- To that end, take a look at the Ads others are running! In an effort to be more transparent with users, Facebook rolled out the ability to see all of the Ads a page is running even if you are not the intended target audience. This translates into a very powerful tool for brands to learn more about their competition and vertical and to see what other “best of breed” brands are doing.

Bottomline is that social media is not static and as it pivots, so too should you. Spend some time really investing in understanding what you want to have happen and then deploy social media strategies for the now and the future, rather than holding onto the past. Use August to learn, and attack and thank me in September!

 

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GREATS: Another brand that is, dare I say it….GREAT at digital!

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On this episode, we break down the brand GREATS, another brand doing everything right from a digital POV.  These days there are so many websites and countless brands, trying to sell to you online. It is hard to differentiate, but some dare to be great (sorry, had to) and stick the landing with next level E-commerce skills.  GREATS is one of those brands.

From the first time seeing their content, all the way thru to the first time you slip their products on your feet, it is an epic experience.  These guys really understand how to balance branding and sales. They create great content, are great at community management and engagement and are great at getting a user down their sales funnel and converting them from prospect to customer.  Their name is super fitting.

 

 

 

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Outerknown: A brand doing digital right!

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On this episode, I throw some props to Outerknown, a brand that I think is doing everything right when it comes to digital. From prospecting thru Instagram (which offers amazing targeting at very low CPMs) to retargeting me with Facebook Ads, they effectively got me into their funnel. They then had a social following (based on brand and awareness) that gave me a social queue that they might be a brand worth exploring further, based on social interest within the Facebook Graph.

On their website, they offered a first-time buyer discount to incentivize me to purchase and I pulled the trigger and purchased shorts from them that came in record speed mind you. I wanted to return two pairs for credit and their outsourced Zendesk customer service solution was excellent and resolved it for me right away.

When I went back to buy some new pairs, I didn’t want to pay full retail so I put some items in my cart and bet that this smart brand would have an abandoned cart campaign in motion in short order.  Of course, they did and when they teed up a 20% cart completion offer I pounced!

On top of all of this their branding and messaging from the packaging, to their emails is sharp and memorable. A cherry on top is that they have a sustainable mission and are the type of brand I want to invest my money and attention with. #wellplayed

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On using Twitter Search to your advantage…

On this episode, I talk about using Search.Twitter.com to your advantage more for business. I think brands have given up on Twitter and/or have really demoted it in favor of Instagram (proper and Stories) and Facebook. That is fine, but it most certainly should not be abandoned.

Whether you use it personally or not is irrelevant, what matters is that a ton of people do use it religiously and are often using it to seek information and recommendations about a range of topics. The search feature is incredibly powerful because within seconds you can take a peek at what conversations are happening and chime right in.

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A simple search for “Vegan Protein Powder” will give you a breakdown of all people who are talking about that topic on Twitter. Not only can you find other brands to collaborate with, competitor brands to monitor and influencers to engage as secondary benefits, but more importantly you will find customers looking for advice.

For a brand looking to sell a product online and to introduce something new to a niche market this is everything.  As you can see below, these are three inquiries for recommendations on this exact topic in the past week.

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For me, this is gold. I can easily see who is talking about the itch that my product can scratch and I can chime into the conversation from the comfort of my own home?  Sign me up…

 

 

 

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Facebook Advertising hacks, for April 2018…

On this episode, I talk about Facebook Advertising in April 2018. With all the news and concerns about Facebook as a platform right now, we are seeing some excellent pricing on Ads and really solid metrics across the board.  Our suggestion is to lean in when others seem to be leaning away and reap the benefits.

I break down two types of Ads that are really performing very well right now. One is a Video Views campaign, which is fairly straightforward. Create some simple, but catchy videos and then run them on Facebook with the intent of targeted reach and consumption of that video as the engagement metric. The second is re-targeting users based on having engaged with your Instagram Account. This is no longer new, but I have found it is underutilized by any brand I work or speak with. Some tips:

Head over to the Facebook Ad Manager and go to the ‘Audiences’ tab. Once you’re on the Audiences screen, you’ll need to click the blue ‘Create Audience’ button and select ‘Custom Audience’.

Select ‘Engagement’ from the list of Custom Audience types.

Instagram engagement ads

You can choose to either create your new Custom Audience based on people who have engaged with your Instagram business profile, OR who have watched one of your videos on Instagram!

Instagram business account engagement or video engagement

Choose the ‘Instagram Business Profile’ option to create a re-targeting audience based on people who’ve interacted with your Instagram account. Facebook gives us a range of options to choose from when it comes to targeting our Instagram audience.

You have the choice of creating an audience of Instagram users including:

  • Everyone who engaged with your Instagram profile (this includes visiting your profile OR engaging with your content or ads)
  • Only people who visited your Instagram profile
  • Only people who engaged with your content or ads
  • People who sent a message to your business profile
  • People who saved any of your posts or ads

I suggest you allocate some funds and experiment with all of these to see what works best. If you have spent time developing your Instagram profile and that is where you are seeing the most engagement and awareness, then this is a way to really leverage it across platforms and see additional benefits.  Get involved!

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On communication between clients and agencies…

On this episode, I talk about how clients and agencies should treat the courting process more like interviews to really get a better sense of what it will be like working together.  Of course, the skills and knowledge should be assessed, but the attitude, tone, and communication approach are of equal importance.

Clients should really try to smoke out how agencies roll in those areas and conversely, I think it is so important for the agency to get a sense of what the client is like and how they want to be communicated with. I try to do a real level setting up front, as well as ongoing temperature check-ins to see how we are faring throughout the relationship. I can say very confidently that the clients who openly communicate and are transparent with their thoughts and feelings about our approach and service all outperform those who do not.

We are experts in navigating social platforms, managing paid social ads, working with influencers and effectively running social media for brands, but we are not expert mind readers.  Just as open and honest communication internally between employers and employees is the key to success, so too is the need to follow suit with your agency relationships.

Tips:

1- Be straightforward and never passive aggressive. 

2- Be brutally honest and always fair. 

3- Don’t allow frustration to mount and allow a molehill to become a mountain.

4- Don’t assume the agency knows exactly what makes you tick, guide them.

5- Allow the relationship to evolve and do level setting reviews from time to time to point the compass for all parties involved.

Invest the time and improve your client-agency relationships, because if you do that you put your brand in a better position to win.

 

 

 

 

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