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The SocialMadeSimple Show- Chris Flynn Ep. 7

Oct 30, 2020 | Blog, Vlog

Watch SocialMadeSimple’s Chief Technology Officer, Chris Flynn, chat with Business Development Associate, Ryan Chiasson, on the ins and outs of our marketing technology. From the history of SocialMadeSimple to the evolution of our platform, the value it brings to small business owners, and more!


“The platform is holding content, posting it on social media, and organizing that whole process because, at its heart, it’s simple… but doing a good job of it gets pretty complicated.”

Ryan: Welcome back to the SocialMadeSimple Show! This is episode 7 and I’m here with our Chief Technology Officer, Chris Flynn. Chris, thanks for joining us today!


Transition: The SocialMadeSimple Show


Ryan: With Chris being a huge part of the team, working behind-the-scenes, and being someone who not everyone on the team has direct interactions with every day, this is going to be an interesting take on SocialMadeSimple. You were one of the first people to be involved with the company so I am personally excited to hear your history and how you got started with SocialMadeSimple. 


Chris: Yeah, I was one of the first people hired and am the longest employee now – not counting the owner. That’s going to be nine years in a month or two, so it’s been a while! It’s a little different than when I joined. When I joined it was a platform for real estate agents to go saying, “Hey, there’s this social thing happening, real estate agents have listings, it would be really great if they had a place to access all of this social media stuff. We know there are people looking on social media sites…” They have content that they might be looking for and kind of just connecting the dots. 

Since then, it’s obviously grown to something a lot bigger. We’ve made some tools to help people start by doing it themselves, then some tools to help us do it for them, then we expanded it so that we could allow other people to do it for their clients, and it’s all a big thing now. We’ve grown pretty organically in terms of what we have and how that can be useful to different groups of people, and certainly not just real estate nowadays. 


Ryan: Absolutely! I think it was so funny when I first joined SocialMadeSimple and I had just known of this mysterious figure, known as Chris, doing everything on the back end and making sure that all of our technology runs smoothly. I don’t even think I met you until maybe around September or October when you guys had some more executive meetings and you came into the office. I think the first time I said “hi” to you was in the kitchen in the breakroom and I know it was pretty brief because you had to go, but I was thinking, “yes, that’s Chris! He’s the guy that makes things run”.


Transition: What Does the SocialMadeSimple Platform Do?


Ryan: Maybe in a more diluted version, what exactly is our platform and what exactly does it do?


Chris: It just holds a bunch of content that we want to post on social media for our clients. It does all sorts of analysis on that to figure out: what’s working or not working, when is a good time to post, what’s a good thing to post on this particular thing, etc. It helps us boost them in terms of making paid content, to get it in front of more people. So really, that’s what it’s doing. It’s holding some content and posting it on social media and just organizing that whole process because, at its heart, it’s simple; but doing a good job of it gets pretty complicated. 


Ryan: Definitely! I see that even just in my past experience being on the content team! I don’t think I ever told you this but before I joined SocialMadeSimple, I was freelancing and doing my own social media management for some other small businesses. So I had to use some of the third party programs, then walking into SocialMadeSimple and seeing our platform, I was over the moon excited and geeking out the entire time. I had never seen anything like the platform before, especially with you guys creating it from the very start. 


Transition: Evolution of the SocialMadeSimple Platform 


Ryan: When you first started with the platform, what networks were able to be connected? Was it just Facebook at that time?


Chris: No, things were a bit different. Facebook hadn’t clamped down yet on the idea of using a personal profile, for business purposes. Kind of in the early days, there weren’t even business profiles. Then people like real estate agents, who are kind of a company and a person for their individual listings. So at the time, we had Facebook profiles in addition to Facebook pages. We didn’t have the same thing with LinkedIn; we only had LinkedIn profiles and now we have the LinkedIn company pages. We didn’t yet, and have since added and then removed, Google+ pages because Google+ came around and then went away in that meantime. We also posted to WordPress blogs, at the time. We stopped doing that a little while ago when the separation between the social media posts and long-form blog posts became something where really it wasn’t advantageous to have one system handling both of those pieces of content. 


Ryan: That definitely makes sense! Just trying to continue to trudge forward and make sure that we’re providing value and making sure it’s aligned with what our company is trying to achieve. 


Transition: What Are Some of the Platform’s Biggest Advantages?


Chris: It depends how they’re using it really. In terms of their direct use of the platform, it’s that it makes it easy and straightforward. That kind of has to do with killing the features where if something is more in the way than helpful, then we don’t want it there. So I think the simple part of SocialMadeSimple drives a lot of what we do. If somebody is coming to either use our platform to make some posts themselves or, more commonly, that they’re hiring us to handle the content and they are overseeing, it puts the information right in front of them and makes it easy to use. I think that’s also true of our other customers which are internal users. You said you were doing content yourself before, so we try to make it easy as possible for that in order to drag down the costs and keep the value high. I think the two users are pretty different in terms of how they use it, but the end goal is the same: making it as easy as possible to get what you want. 

The more one person can do, the less we can charge all those people!


Transition: The SocialMadeSimple Platform vs. Competitors


Ryan: There are so many agencies and platforms out there and they all claim to do the same thing or claim that they’re the “one-stop-shop” and solution you should use. Compared to some of the bigger players in the space from a platform standpoint, like Hootsuite and Buffer, where would you say our platform provides bigger advantages than them?


Chris: I don’t think there’s much in terms of what the customers would see. At the end of the day – you have a picture, you want to post it to Twitter, how different can it be? So I don’t think our platform differs much from them. There are quirks: Buffer has people pushing into the queue and they figure out stuff like that and Hootsuite has the cute little owl. They all have their bits, but they’re all pretty similar. 

I think the biggest thing ours differs in is with that other user I was talking about before: our user that’s managing someone else. Because we organically grew from a DIY platform into something that we built to use ourselves, that we have some of the best tools for that. Which, again, keeps the value down. Less something that the customer would see and more something that our whole staff would see and take advantage of. So the customer sees that more on the website where the pricing is cheap. 


Ryan: Yeah I think that definitely makes sense! In my personal experience working with other platforms, they definitely all feel in a similar way. At the same time, I look at our platform and the biggest thing that stood out to me was that our team can work inside of that platform and the customer can also see exactly what we’re doing.

Just having that transparency where you can see the content that we’re posting, we’re sending over that passive approval email to show you the content that we’ve written, and give you the ability to also track all your social media networks in one convenient place. So the biggest thing was for me was definitely the transparency, especially when you’re applying our team and not just from a singular platform user standpoint.


Chris: Yeah, it’s important! We’re doing something on behalf of another business. We’re speaking in their voice for them so I think it’s important that they’re behind that. I also think there are some customers that are really specific with what they want, and that’s great because we know exactly what to do,  but there are other people who are saying, “I don’t have time to do this, it seems like you all can do this for me. Let’s try it out and see how this goes. And I’m not going to give you much in terms of direction, I’m just going to see if you do a good job…”. So we need to figure out what to do for XYZ for the customer with a brief description of what they’re doing. We need to have a system that works for both kinds of customers, who are pretty different. 


Transition: Get to Know Our Features: UTM Codes & Mail Merge Tags


Ryan: I think it would be good for you to speak upon some of the other features of our platform. Something like the mail merge tags and UTM codes, that really provide a lot of value when it comes to multi-location businesses. 


Chris: Yeah, it helps a lot! Stuff like the UTM codes  – the UTM codes are URL brackets that you use to tell Google Analytics, “hey, this person came from this sort of thing”. That’s whether they came from a link that’s a Google Ad, or Facebook post, etc. Particularly, when you work with multi-location businesses that centralize all their tracking stuff, it helps them know where they’re getting their value. So the UTM codes are something like that where they want to know, “Hey, you guys are driving a lot of traffic but how much of it?” So that they know they’re paying this much for social content, and getting this much out of it; so it’s helpful for them!

The same thing goes with the mail merge tags. Where we can substitute in certain things and a single post can apply to a whole bunch of different things. When you have a multi-location business, you don’t want to change a couple of hundred posts, so it comes in handy for that! This has all been just us organically doing the job and then saying, “you know what would make it a little bit better?”, and then after a couple of thousands of those and some number of years, you wind up having a pretty good system in place. 


Transition: Final Question- How Can Our Platform Help Small Business Owners?


Ryan: As a final note, what would you say to small business owners – or even a multi-location business owner – where does our platform come into play? What would you say to them in terms of the value our platform and the team bring to the table?


Chris: Well the platform and the team, I think, bring different things to the table. The team provides the experience and expertise in using the platform which really sets us apart. As well as those efficiencies that we talked about, that enable us to do more for less. I guess they kind of work together in that respect!


Ryan: Definitely! Alright, I think those are all the questions we have for today. Chris, thanks again for joining us today. Be sure to check out our website and you can always schedule a call with me, Ryan Chiasson. Again, it’s be sure to check us out and all the other videos we have from the SocialMadeSimple Show on our YouTube and other social channels. Until then, I will see you next time!