The SocialMadeSimple Show – Hayley Kinne: Episode 4
“With SocialMadeSimple, we’ve combined the two; where we provide agency-level service, but it’s at scale because we leverage the power of our proprietary platform.“
Ryan: All right welcome back to the fourth installation of the SocialMadeSimple Show! Today, I’m joined by our Strategic Program Manager, Hayley Kinne. Hayley, thank you for joining us today!
Hayley: Thanks for having me!
Transition: The SocialMadeSimple Show
Ryan: Well, I know that I’ve been with the company for just over a year now and I think it is honestly kind of funny when I was going over your interview questions yesterday that I still don’t really have a full grasp on all the hats that you wear for the company. So I thought this was going to be an awesome interview to do for today. For me to learn a little bit more and for everyone else to learn a little bit more, just about your role at SocialMadeSimple, and all the great things that you’ve done since you’ve been with the company.
Transition: Get to Know Our Strategic Program Manager
Hayley: So I went to the University of Vermont, I graduated in 2016, and I actually started at SocialMadeSimple relatively soon after that. I really hit the ground running during my senior year to try and make sure that I had a job when I graduated. I found SocialMadeSimple actually because one of the founders and CEOs, David Black, actually also went to the University of Vermont. So I DM’d him on LinkedIn and let him know that another fellow Catamount was interested in working at a digital marketing agency, and the rest is history. So I started back in 2016, and I’ve been with the company ever since.
Ryan: Awesome! So I know that you started out then and now, you’ve evolved into the Strategic Program Manager role. Can you just talk about the role that you started in, and just how you’ve kind of evolved with the company over the past few years.
Hayley: Yeah definitely. My roles within the company sort of are a testament to our growth; how quickly we’ve grown, how quickly we’ve expanded our services, and the direction that we’ve gone in.
I started at SocialMadeSimple as a Content Specialist, which is the most entry-level role that you can start with. Where I actually was at the forefront of our service, fulfilling on the core of our product: content. I was writing posts for all manner of different clients. These were predominantly small businesses, at the time, and I had about 250 to 300 accounts that I was fulfilling on regularly but, again, I’m very motivated and I like to get things done quickly. So I was typically able to fulfill my portion of responsibilities early on in the week and then I would move forward to helping other teams.
As a result, I ended up moving into the email marketing department, which was a totally new space for me. I had not done any email marketing in the past, so it was a big learning curve. We were working as a dedicated vendor for Constant Contact which, of course, is a really popular platform that a lot of different small businesses, large businesses, and agencies rely on today. So I ended up becoming an Email Marketing Specialist where I was taking my content experience and actually inputting it into email campaigns for a variety of small businesses as well.
That gradually rolled into a little bit more of a client-facing role, where I was actually on the phone with customers as opposed to just being behind the scenes, fulfilling on our product. So I ended up being promoted to an Account Manager. I definitely was able to identify that some of my strengths were in communicating with customers, so becoming an Account Manager was a very natural progression, it made a lot of sense, and I really had learned a lot just in the short amount of time that I had been at SocialMadeSimple. The Account Management role was sort of a middle ground of working with email customers and account management for social media customers because we had both.
And that also quickly progressed into what was actually in the role that had yet to exist at SocialMadeSimple, which was the Strategic Partner Manager. So we started to have more channel partners, white label partners, and a variety of other different types of partnerships that really required someone who was at a slightly higher level, communicating with key stakeholders in these partnerships. So I was sort of a middle ground in account management, corporate account management, and also a little bit of sales because a huge part of these channel partnerships is that you are attempting to increase the program size by acquiring more and more customers within that channel.
So I was that the Partnerships Manager for quite an amount of time, and then eventually evolved into my current role as the Strategic Program Manager. What we were able to identify as a substantial need was having someone who was basically involved in all aspects of designing and building strategy and expectations within programs, as they got bigger and bigger. We moved away from small businesses, which we still provide service for, but we started going after larger clients because we were able to scale with those clients and their needs. With that type of scale, there’s a lot of different moving parts: setting the standard onboarding protocols, fulfillment strategies, reporting structures, and then overall marketing strategies that exist within these programs; there really was a need for someone to be that point person. That’s where I exist currently and most of my time goes towards communicating with the corporate representatives of the programs and clients, that we work with, on identifying expectations, shifting strategies, rolling out large scale updates for programs, and things of that nature.
Transition: Tips for Social Media Ad Campaigns
Ryan: Of course, we know just with the constant change of the state of social marketing and advertising. What do you think is the most important thing to consider with a social media campaign?
Hayley: Definitely. It certainly keeps us on our toes! Every single week it seems like there’s this new trend or new campaign strategy, or new tool available in Facebook advertising that you have to jump on. Even something along the lines of shifting to video content, which you know happened about two years ago which took advertisers by storm. Basically overnight everyone was doing video advertising, so there’s definitely a lot to keep in mind in order to stay on top things.
One thing I want to make note of, though, is that there is one component of social media advertising that never changes and probably will never change; and that is brand consistency. No matter what you’re doing, what you’re putting out there, how much your advertising, how much you’re spending, what networks are on, etc. As long as your brand is consistent, you are meeting the minimum standard for your social presence. Making sure that your messaging is consistent, your imagery is consistent; down to tight consistency and color scheme consistency. If you are putting out a lot of different messages and images that aren’t consistent with your brand and your target audience and your overall brand goals, you’re not going to be successful in social and that’s something that has not changed and, like I said before, will not change in my professional opinion. So that’s always top of mind for me- it’s always top of mind in terms of how we actually scale our programs and how we fulfill our programs. It’s also actually one of the things that draw a lot of customers towards us. It’s that we are able to successfully manage brand consistency at a very high level and at a very large scale. So, that’s at the core of the most important thing that I can think of when it comes to social media.
When it actually comes to things that are constantly changing, one thing you always have to make sure that you are considering is the objective that you’re using and the outcome that you’re looking for. You need to make sure that you’re not just grabbing a new tool or grabbing a new feature that Facebook has available, putting the same message out, and just expecting the same results. Facebook has a new tool, such as Messenger lead-gen advertisements, you need to make sure that the strategy that you’re putting in front of that objective makes sense based on the action that you are looking for. So that’s something that I think a lot of advertisers forget. They don’t cater their messaging and cater their strategies based on the new features that come out. That’s something that we are quite literally always considering, always revising, always making adjustments to; particularly because Facebook is releasing new tools pretty much every week at this point in time.
Transition: 2020 Impact on Social Media Marketing
Ryan: With the current state of politics and just the pandemic this year has had a huge impact on social media as a whole. How do you think those trends and the current state of the world right now has had an impact on those different social media strategies that we’ve implemented, and how they’ve had us adapt?
Hayley: Yeah absolutely. So it certainly has been a crazy year- probably the craziest year for me, professionally, in terms of how I’ve had to revise strategies and work with clients very quickly to address these issues. One thing that I think people forget is that social media is inherently social; the whole point of that is for people to communicate. While advertising is kind of the second component of social, the whole point is that it’s a place for people to provide commentary, feedback, opinions, so on. That’s where the concept came from in its inception. So it’s not something that I was particularly surprised to see, other than the scale at which it was progressing in a very negative way. So that’s, of course, when it becomes a big concern for business names and the clients that we work with which is: we’re putting ourselves out there in a space that’s very volatile right now. How are we going to make sure that we are not harming our brand by being present during what is considered to be a very tumultuous time?
Transition: Guiding Our Clients Through COVID-19
Hayley: When everything started in terms of the COVID-19 and then also a lot of the social justice issues that are being presented consistently across social platforms, I had to have very serious conversations with all of our large scale clients. Strategizing where they stand, strategizing how we were going to take that stance, and push it across all of their locations and make sure that there was consistency there, and how we were going to appropriately use advertising in a time where some people might say, “How could you possibly be advertising right now?”. So that goes back to the importance of brand consistency, but also just the messaging and what you were placing, where you’re placing it, and how you’re going about placing it.
Two of the main things that I focused on was one, if a client wanted to address COVID-19 and make sure that they were speaking out about it, we want to make sure that it is our responsibility to keep putting out content that we believe to be truthful, accurate, and from credible sources. So that was a standard across the SocialMadeSimple policy; where we were not going to be pushing out content that came from sort of nowhere. We felt that was our responsibility as a Facebook marketing partner to do so. So I worked with our clients on making sure that they were comfortable with the sources that we were sourcing, and what we were going to be pushing out, again, for the ones that wanted to post and advertise in the context of COVID.
The second was making sure that for, you know, one of the fitness franchises that we do advertising for, which is one of our most successful clients, making sure that when we decided that we wanted to continue advertising, we were contextualizing the ads with what was going on. We weren’t just pretending like nothing was happening. We were speaking out about health concerns, the benefits of maintaining your strength and wellness and boosting your immunity in the context of fitness. Also building up what we consider to be a waiting list concept, so we identified the fact that there were closures, weren’t encouraging people to workout, but encouraging people to stay engaged with the brand.
Those were, you know, very important things. So making sure that during all of this you were using our platform on behalf of our clients to ensure that information that was being put out was accurate and truthful. Then also making sure that the strategies that we were maintaining addressed what was happening and made sure that it was appropriate and that we weren’t just saying, “Come in and work out! It doesn’t matter what’s going on, we’ll see you soon!”. Everything was kind of shaped around what was happening at the time and still is happening today.
Ryan: Yeah, I feel like a lot of your position with the different brands that we work with is just a constant balancing act and it’s just constant communication to make sure that everyone’s on the same page and that all the work we were putting out at at the time is, you know, adapting to what’s happening currently not only with their business but also just with the state of the world.
Transition: Why Choose SocialMadeSimple?
Ryan: What do you feel makes us stand out just in terms of being a social marketing vendor on specifically even a multi-location and franchise level.
Hayley: Yeah, I definitely believe it’s our ability to provide a scaled marketing solution that does not compromise on the quality of the service that we’re providing and ultimately does not compromise on the quality of the results that we’re generating for our clients. So, you know, a lot of agencies struggle to provide services of this nature at scale because of the way that they’re built. They’re built with single representatives, individuals, it’s hourly billing, and it’s just not an affordable solution when you are looking at a franchise that has 100+ fitness locations or a lawn care company that has 200 locations across Canada and the United States- an agency does not work for that.
Then a singular software as a service, where only the software is doing the work, also isn’t really a solution at scale for these businesses because we have franchisees and individual owners who really aren’t familiar with social advertising. So when they have to take it into their own hands to use a platform that they have to manage entirely on their own, they’re not really able to see results because they don’t have any expert input. So essentially, with SocialMadeSimple, we’ve combined the two; where we really provide agency-level service but, again, it’s at scale because we leverage the power of our proprietary platform. We change things on our platform constantly if we identify a need, particularly at the individual program level. I couldn’t even tell you how many times I’ve had conversations with our developer about a scaled need for a client and if we can identify how scaling or adjusting our platform can benefit our other clients with whatever tool we’re building or adjusting, then it gets built. I think that because of our size, because of our growth, because of the direction we’re going in, because of our proprietary platform, we really are able to be kind of the perfect solution for a franchise and multi-location business, while still identifying and addressing service for small businesses that need it. So we have kind of those two different primary product lines that really help us stand out in my opinion.
Ryan: Yeah no absolutely. I know that you touched upon earlier and even just now when you’re saying, you know, that there are companies that can’t adapt at scale when it comes to fulfilling the advertising and social marketing aspects. What was it like you know in your eyes of seeing SocialMadeSimple go from serving small businesses to adapting into a more multi-location level? I know you were in the heat of it just because of the different positions that you’ve had, but was it exciting? What was it like?
Hayley: Yeah- it definitely was exciting and definitely was challenging, I can tell you that! When you’re working in the small business space, in what was at the time a little bit more of an agency experience, it is very difficult to get your mind outside the box, in terms of how you can onboard 100 customers in two weeks; when you are so used to having two kick-off calls in a day- so ultimately 10 kickoffs a week. Going from that, to such a substantial scale really challenged me, challenged the operations team, and challenged the fulfillment team to work together and come up with solutions that, not only made sense and worked but also was a great client experience. So that was definitely the hardest part of the growing pain.
Shifting from workflows and things we were very confident in and we knew worked for us, to applying those, but at scale. As well as changing the fact that we did individual onboarding calls to large-scale onboarding calls, where I’d host an onboarding call for 15 different franchisees at once and get them turned around in five business days. So efficiency decisions such as that, are the important decisions we’ve had to make. How we maintain information about individual locations I think has probably been the hardest thing for us to progress from because if you are someone who’s working on 5 accounts, it’s very easy for you to recall everything you need to know about those accounts; but when you’re working on 200 accounts, it’s more difficult for you to recall, at any given moment, what the price point is, what the offer was last month, and so on.
In order to prevent us from missing things and completely not providing an adequate representation of that business because we couldn’t stay on top of all these moving parts, we built the platform. So information that you need is always there when you go to an account, everything you need is there: the log communication, email threads, specific notes, special requests, themes, things that worked, things that didn’t, we have comprehensive tagging and categorization that makes it easy for dedicated representatives to access all their accounts in one place. So that was probably the second-biggest challenge: Making sure we weren’t compromising our top of mind recollection of strategies and history of individual accounts just because we were managing more. So those were definitely the most difficult to manage, and we still have difficulties here and there that we have to identify and address- particularly when you have a pandemic hit and everything really gets turned upside down but the fact that we were able to act very quickly, in terms of the pandemic, and we had very little impact on the accounts we were working with- the majority of our accounts stayed active, but it was a big shift- that goes as a testament to the systems that we’ve put in place and our ability to manage things at scale.
Transition: Where Do You See SocialMadeSimple in 5-10 Years?
Ryan: As the final closing question, it seems like I ask this for everyone, where do you see SocialMadeSimple in the next 5-10 years?
Hayley: Well I certainly would like to see SocialMadeSimple become kind of the premier service for franchise and multi-location businesses and I certainly think we will get there. I think the only thing that has prevented us from getting to that point and becoming more known, in terms of our name, is that we need to work within more verticals. We have seen success in every vertical that has come to us: the fitness space, lawn care/home services, medical, health and wellness, etc. Those are just some off the top of my head. We have seen success in those verticals as soon as we were able to onboard those clients, scale them, and give them the results that they were looking for. We still have some verticals that would like to penetrate and would like to build programs for and show that we have success in those verticals as well. So I think that once we are able to check off those boxes and say, “Yes, we’ve worked in this space and that space”, we’ll be able to stand out as the better marketing solution than a singular software as a service and a singular agency because I really believe that no other competitor at this point in time, provide the same level of service. There are a lot of brands that I could list off right now that do very similar things to us but they, in my opinion, don’t do it as well, or they charge way more. So I certainly think that more and more awareness of our services and more and more experience in different verticals will ultimately be where we progress in the next 5-10 years; and we will be the primary solution that most franchise and multi-location businesses see.
Ryan: Absolutely! Well, I think that is all the time that we have for today with our questions. Thank you again for joining me, Haley, be sure to check us out on all of our different social channels, be sure to check out our YouTube to see the other episodes that we’ve filmed, be sure to check us out at socialmadesimple.com but until then, we will see you guys next time!