The SocialMadeSimple Show- David Black Ep. 9
CEO of SocialMadeSimple, David Black, is back for another episode! Watch David and Business Development Manager, Ryan Chiasson, sit down to dive deeper into why businesses in industries such as insurance or real estate need social media marketing more than ever, how the remote work life has impacted company culture, advice for small business owners, and more!
“The challenge for them is the reason why we started SocialMadeSimple in the first place… it’s too hard to have control of their social networks and also run a business”
Ryan: Alright welcome back to the SocialMadeSimple Show! My name is Ryan Chiasson and I am the host and business development manager for SocialMadeSimple. Today, we are joined again – the second repeat guest of the show – by none other than the CEO of SocialMadeSimple, David Black. David, thanks for joining us again today!
David: Thanks for having me!
Transition: The SocialMadeSimple Show
David: It has been such a long time! I’ve been waiting to re-do that and throw all the other stuff away.
Ryan: I think it’s funny how long it has been since we filmed our last episode, and you were our very first guest on the first episode. I think it’s funny because we talk almost every day in our sales meeting just about the typical day-to-day and ongoings of the company. I’m glad we were able to do this second installment.
Transition: Why More Industries Need Social Media Marketing
Ryan: Let’s dive into kind of what we were talking about last time with your experience in the mortgage world and how SocialMadeSimple had started. How would you describe the importance of social media marketing for some of these – what I would call – a non-traditional sector when thinking about who uses social marketing. What’s the importance there for these types of industries, like maybe finance, mortgage, or insurance?
David: I would say I think when those industries talk about it at a corporate level, they are unsure of what they are allowed to do; especially in finance but also in mortgage. When you advertise in a certain way, it triggers a whole bunch of other things that can get in your way, so the regulatory aspect of it is always a challenge. And mortgage – which I can speak to all day and every day – they are very much looking for “How can I get any business? What is this going to do for me?”.
Leads are a huge part of the mortgage world and leads, as everyone knows, suck. How do you overcome that? I think people, even before we started this business, started using social networks to put themselves in front of the world and did an awesome job. I think they can still do that. No one needs a mortgage loan officer every day and the same with a realtor, but people need to know who you are when the time comes. I think you could get away with an organic approach, with a little budget behind it, so people in your town and your markets know who you are. So I would call it more of a branding play than someone who is going to reach out and say, “Hey, I’m interested in that house but I can’t do anything right now, I’m not looking for a new home”.
So I think it’s more of a branding thing, more than anything else. From a corporate perspective, for loan officers or realtors, I think for them, the challenge is the exact reason why we started SMS in the first place. That it was hard to get control of the brand when you’ve got one hundred loan officers doing their own thing on social networks. How do you have any control? How do you know if it’s okay or if it’s going to get you sued? It’s too much of a challenge. That was the idea behind putting together a platform so that somebody could get a grip and do it for these people. We have a platform where we could get a grip of thousands of loan officers or agents and make sure that the message is proper – any place of the country, any place in the world.
Ryan: Based on my conversations with people, these folks in these industries are always a bit more hesitant than other industries – why do you think that is?
David: For all those reasons. First of all, they’re afraid of the regulations. I know I had a good friend who was our sales manager at the mortgage business for 10 years, who is in the wealth management world and any single thing they do or communicate with has to run through a legal team first. That’s a lot to overcome. I think a lot of it is also that realtors and loan officers might not want to spend money. They might not want to spend their money to build their own business – which is an odd thing – the occasional person will. I think they’re hesitant because, essentially, each loan officer or realtor is a self-employed person, so it’s down to however they decide to run their own business.
Transition: Remote Work Impact on the Culture at SocialMadeSimple
David: I think it wares on different people differently, including myself. I feel like at the beginning, I was probably the least regular about coming into the office and I would come in about 3-4 days. I also had one of the longest drives to the office, so I was pretty excited about it. It went off without missing a beat, transitioned quickly, got rid of our office space (which I like). Although, we can’t overlook the strain that it puts on us as people. I think we’re social creatures and you can take a lot away from being in the office, being among other people, getting into conversations. Some of us might be seeing each other even more regularly on these Zoom calls, but there is still something missing.
One of the things I tried to do was get us on random calls with random people, amongst ourselves, so we can keep in touch with people who otherwise we might not be talking to. Hopefully, people enjoy those – not sure if they do.
Ryan: Oh I do, for sure!
David: Do you?!
Ryan: Definitely – it really breaks up our day-to-day routines. I think you make a really good point that working from home for an extended period of time definitely can provide a strain in different areas that we don’t think about. For example, I miss going into the office a little early, sitting down, having a cup of coffee, and just getting into the zone knowing that I would hear you whistling down the hallway, and I’d be like, “There’s David!”. Just having that social interaction I think kept us on our toes, energized, and motivated. Not to say that you’re not motivated when working from home, but you’re absolutely right about establishing a routine.
I’ve talked about this on the show before – one of the biggest things that were tough for me was differentiating both my workspace and work hours. Being at home, it’s much easier to put in that extra 30 minutes or extra hour, while at the office it’s easier to feel like you can leave your work at the office. Verus at home I think, “I’m here, I have the time so why not keep going?”. So hopefully we will be able to transition into an office space in 2021. Hopefully!
David: Yeah – who knows when! I would say I’d love to have something to go to right now and can definitely go to a shared space down here just to get a day’s worth of work or something, or go down to the work bar in Needham. I think we have to be very cognizant of people’s mental health and make sure that everybody’s okay in this environment and if not, how can we fix it?
Ryan: I think SocialMadeSimple has done a great job of:
- Listening to employees
- Being able to institute change quickly
For everyone that doesn’t know – our CFO, Brad, who is also David’s brother, hosts these coffee breaks on Fridays where he will either play a character or have us play a game; and we never know what we’re getting ourselves into. It only lasts about 15 – 20 minutes but it breaks up the week or day, ends the week on a high note, and brings us all together. Everyone is laughing, everyone is smiling, and it’s that 15 – 20 minutes where we can all take our heads out of the sand, so-to-speak, and are able to come together as a company and have a little bit of fun!
David: Yeah – and it’s important to have a strong culture early on in the game! It’s important early on because if it gets away from you now, there’s no way to get it back down the road. How do you know that what you know is being taught to the next generation of leaders? What are they learning and how are they learning it? There are so many things you have to do to make sure you’re building the right foundation and protocols to keep it going. On the other hand, remote work gives us a ton of new options and opportunities. We also have a new pool of people: we’ve hired someone in Dallas, someone in Los Angeles, and someone in New York. So it definitely expands all possibilities.
Transition: Advice to Small Business Owners Struggling Through COVID-19
David: I would say that we know more about the timeline now and it feels like there’s a lot happening that might change the timeline and that it’s not going to go on forever. Whether there is ever a new normal or if it’s just never going to go back to normal – we know that there’s no going back to a “normal” anytime soon. If you’re waiting for things to go back to normal, you need to change your thinking immediately and say, “This is the world we’re in, what do I need to do?”. Especially – one of the most obvious businesses here – restaurants. I spoke to a guy the other day who has a platform and is trying to beat out the GrubHub-type services who take out so much money from the equation, from both the restaurant and consumers. So he is trying to solve that issue.
If you’re in the restaurant business, you might be stuck at 20 – 25% capacity, inside especially, as the winter months come. So assume this is going to be the normal and think of what you need to do. What does it take for you to make the margins you need, without giving it away to someone else for delivery purposes? There are definitely opportunities. Out of the last recession we had, companies evolved such as Air B&B, Uber, the Zoom world, and all other things that facilitate being remote. Services that facilitate it is obvious, but what are the other non-obvious things to come out of this?
Transition: Final Question – Where Do You See Social Media Headed for Businesses in General?
David: I’m actually going to reverse this and ask you your opinion first! Being on the front lines and talking to small businesses all day and every day, what do you see and what do they see happening?
Ryan: Based on the conversations that I have, a lot of businesses that didn’t have a strong digital presence – whether that be on Google, websites, or social media – are now more alert. They are trying to really educate themselves on how to be successful on social media, as well as who they are able to trust and go to. Thankfully, over the course of this pandemic, there have been a number of small businesses that we have been able to onboard and work with.
I would say the biggest thing is that these business owners didn’t think about social marketing before. They relied on traditional word-of-mouth marketing in their brick-and-mortar locations and weren’t worrying about having a web presence and social presence. Now, with more people at home and online, these business owners are really trying to navigate through the world of social media. That’s where we come in! So I’ve definitely noticed an increased sense of urgency from small businesses and going into 2021 I don’t think that will change. I think we will probably start to see the steady upward trend that social media has had, and people trying to establish themselves; and if they are already established, then just increasing their presence overall.
David: Yeah – having, overall, the digital presence is the thing that’s amazed me in terms of the small number of businesses that focus on it. If you’re still advertising in other ways, you are going to miss the boat if you don’t have a strong social presence. You got them to say, “Hey, I do want that – I want a carpenter to come in… I’m going to look up you, as the carpenter; and if you don’t have something there, I’m going to find someone but it won’t be you”. I’m going to look for something that looks interesting, creative, catches my eye, and I’m going to do business with that person instead.
I say it all the time – Facebook came up with the holy grail of advertising. You know exactly what somebody wants, in the exact right moment, and you can deliver to them in the exact right place and time, etc.
Ryan: Yeah – it’s definitely going to be interesting to see where technology puts us, going into 2021, and how even more connected all of us will be!
I think that’s all the time we have for today. David, thanks again for joining us! Be sure to check out the rest of our episodes on YouTube, the SocialMadeSimple Show, and our website to get some more information on everything we do related to social. Until then, I will see you guys next time!
David: Thanks Ryan!