SMB (Small to Mid-size Business) orgnizations are not only thriving in recessionary times but are also, and more notably, leveraging off social media tools and networks (SM) to strategically reinforce their brand presence and broaden market reach.
they integrated inc. of Belleville, Ontario (just east of Toronto) is one such gem of an agency. Their ‘they inspire’ brand caught my eye immediately the minute I got their follow on Twitter.
After reviewing their stream of tweets and checking out their website, I couldn’t help but engage directly with them to see if I could get a close-up look at what makes them tick and tick so well!
@theyinspire is a refreshing treat. After a few, quick and energetic back-and-forth tweets, I’ve managed to secure an interview with them. Truly, their level of engagement serves as a model example of just how social media is helping transform the way SMB’s are effectively carving out their niche in today’s 2.0 environment.
Check out what they have to say:
autom8: Based on your client base and general awareness of your local community, do you get the sense that the Belleville-Kingston corridor is up on their social media? If so, how? And if not so much, what push do you think is needed?
theyinspire: To a degree, yes. Certainly in the world of ‘social media’ Facebook is widely used and understood by everyday people. Whereas with Twitter, most people may have heard of it, but haven’t tried it and if they have, the simply say ‘I don’t get it!’
On the client side, it’s similar. I really think they (clients) are struggling with the basic understanding of social media from a business and ROI perspective. Overall, I would say that the social media landscape is emerging so quickly, it’s almost impossible to keep ‘up’. As for the geographical aspect, it’s obvious that some regions have embraced social more than others but we really don’t think of it on that level. If we do any segmentation, it tends to be by industry category, age or lifestyle.
In terms of a ‘push’ in our region, I think ongoing education from social ambassadors like our firm is helping, but some real success stories for business and/or charity on a more localized front would help as well. Just recently, we have seen businesses in this area engaging SM and a Northumberland TweetUp, which is evidence that SM is most definitely on the rise in this area.
autom8: What would you consider to be the most significant social media platform that has made a direct impact on your brand and work?
theyinspire: We’ve been ‘dabbling’ in social for a little more than a year now. Certainly Facebook has been great and we continue to impress clients with its capabilities for geographic, demographic and psychographic segmentation. Additionally, the tracking capabilities of Facebook amaze clients as well.
Speaking from a self-serving perspective, Twitter is by far the most exciting platform for our firm at this moment. It is opening up many doors for us everyday, we are tweeting with people we thought we’d never have the opportunity to meet, and the access to relevant timely information is like being tapped into the internet via an intravenous line. It is like the portal that leads to everything else social. However, like many firms, we are still experimenting with ways to utilize this service for clients.
We have been able to leverage ourselves as a first mover in the area with Social Media and also create awareness about our brand to areas and individuals that would never have known about us otherwise. Twitter allows us to showcase who we are and what we do in a new and exciting and innovative way. We are still going strong in the midst of a recession, which is not the case for many other companies and SM probably has a lot to do with that.
autom8: Are you seeing a growing interest in UGC (user generated content) among clients and prospects? If so, would you consider this as an important differentiator? If not, what do you think sets you guys apart from the competition?
theyinspire: At this point and for our firm’s clients, UGC is somewhat of an interest but in it’s very basic form. Certainly I think our firm is ahead of the curve in terms of being able to integrate SM into traditional marketing initiatives for clients in this market. I think an advantage that we have is that we’re a strategy-driven firm that is always looking at new opportunities for our clients, no matter the medium, and we’re able to tie it together quite well. And being a smaller shop, we can transition and execute fairly quickly.
autom8: Belleville, Kingston and other up-and-coming communities west of the area, in and around the Prince Edward County, have recently been making a significant mark in Ontario. Any unique observations on how SMBs like your agency will help shape and define the success of the niche markets?
theyinspire: Certainly it’s social and is playing a key role in raising awareness on many fronts by giving smaller regions a voice at the table. However (this is a bit off topic), one thing that has always amused and frustrated our firm about the advertising industry in this country — and I mean this mostly on the client side — is that there’s a mindset that an agency has to be located in downtown Toronto or Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary or Halifax, to be considered good at what they do. That thinking doesn’t exist in the U.S., or anywhere else that I’m aware of. Good work is simply good work, no matter where you hang your hat, so it’s refreshing to see how social media is playing a role with smaller shops being recognized for good creative. Also, I think there’s a growing acceptance and willingness in our area for clients to partner with like-minded SMBs and work together towards a greater collective goal.
Founded in 1996, they integrated inc. (aka @theyinspire) is a strategic marketing and interactive agency located in Belleville, Ontario. We’re a collaborative group of multi-disciplined individuals who excel at creative thinking and design excellence. Our clients span the realm of healthcare, retail, government, business-to-business and not-for-profit sectors. We are creative people, we are business people and we build value into brands.
If you’re a biz itching to share your social media story, I’m all ears. How do you inspire social media in your neck of the woods?