While Seattle may be best known for its tech scene, at UW AMA we're also really lucky to have some incredible agencies in our own backyard. Project Bionic is a great example, a social media agency based just a short bus ride away in the Ballard neighborhood. This fall, we took a field trip to their office to learn from them about everything that goes into a business' social media and how they adapt in an ever-changing digital world. It was fantastic to get this glimpse behind the scenes (but we'd be lying if we said the two adorable "guard dogs" of the office wasn't the best part of our visit).
We only visited for a few short hours, but learned a ton, starting with...
It’s All About Excellence
At this agency, they have their own internal system of checks and balances created to ensure that they deliver excellent content and offer their clients nothing short of that expectation. A core part of this system is their team, which consists of:
These talented individuals not only work together to give their clients the best experience, but also treat each client uniquely—they don’t have a standard formula they apply to everyone. Instead, they try to really understand the company or the product, and the objectives that line up with what they truly desire. Not only that, they bring back something that has us groan because of how nostalgic it makes us of elementary school—testing your hypotheses (and here you thought you were done with it forever).
Yes, that’s right. That sounds oddly reminiscent of the scientific method, doesn’t it? At Project Bionic, they test their creative hypothesis, which is based off assumptions that they make from speaking to and researching their clients. From here, they continue to theorize, test, and analyze results, crafting a social media plan that is custom-built for each client. There really is a method to the madness of social media, and a way to make it work for you, instead of against you.
Case by Case
We got to see into a few of Project Bionic’s past and current projects, and the clients that they had a chance to work with:
For this case, we got to see the marketing strategy behind one of Windstar’s (a cruise ship line) questionnaires. At Project Bionic, the focus of this campaign was to find a way to educate the audience on Windstar’s offerings, and exactly what could be expected from a cruise with the company. They did this by having the questions themselves get the audience thinking about what they could gain by winning a cruise (which was the prize at the end of the campaign). The potential free cruise gave people incentive to respond, while the questions educated consumers who may choose to convert into customers.
Almond Roca… the brand of candy many of us know as “the candy my grandmother eats.” For this campaign, PB was tasked with helping the candy brand increase their sales with customers that are normally very passive. From this campaign, it is clear that “likes,” or any other form of follower count are proofs of social validation. These little measures of success show whether the brand is social or not and allow for instant measurability. The challenge here was striking that perfect balance between introducing the Almond Roca brand to new and younger consumers without alienating older, more loyal customers, and Project Bionic managed to do just that, securing them Almond Roca account for good.
Sports-science and modern recovery systems… You would wonder how it would be possible to market this type of product in the social media world, but it isn’t as difficult as it seems—at least, the team at PB had a few ideas up their sleeves. When it came to this client, their approach was to take advantage of the growing trend of influencers, trying to find ones that would be good fits for TimTam, whether that be cross-fitters, bikers, or even massage therapists. These were customers who could speak candidly and honestly about the company’s products, while providing testimonials for prospective customers who were not quite ready to make the purchase leap yet. This idea of finding others to vouch for your product isn’t all that foreign, as it speaks volumes for the brand’s authenticity if an influencer truly believes in the product, and that concept can be carried into other industries as well (food, travel, athletics). After all, we would all trust a friend or someone we look up to over an ad.
Ah, glassybaby. One of the leaders of cause marketing and one of PB’s examples on how it is definitely possible to measure success in the realm of social media. While digital is still an evolving area of marketing, it isn’t impossible to procure metrics. For the campaign for the handmade motives company, Project Bionic proudly examined their return on ad spent, which is a spin on return on investment. Only a decade ago, such metrics were difficult to even begin to try and measure, but now, even social media is measurable (if not even more so than traditional media)! The world of marketing is constantly changing, but it is our job as marketers to make sure that we do not fall behind! After all, knowing the trends and how to track them is one of the tricks up our sleeves.
In social, brands are like caricatures, or personifications of the identity of a company. For example, Geico has their gecko, and Jack in the Box has Jack. At Project Bionic, they believe in the same concept, but instead of creating caricatures for brands and companies, they help humanize brands. They believe in striving to not only tell a brand’s story, but in building the brands of tomorrow. By humanizing brands, PB can help the brand’s message come through as more genuine, resonating well with consumers who may be looking for authenticity. Through this approach, PB can deliver a human element in social media, a world dominated by the digital presence.
To be in social media is to be in it for the long haul. There is no magic is social media—it is a tool for brands that can do magical things, but it is not magic. It is a blank canvas where diligence, consistency, and even all the “boring” stuff is necessary so that a brand can win the long-haul game, not the short term “win.” Each day is important when it comes to creating that human element that gives a brand life.
What Skills Do I Need?
To work effectively at a social media agency, we got some advice from the pros:
Learn to embrace change. Working in social media, or even digital in general, means that you will be thrown into a world where the technology and the “norms” are constantly changing. Instead of getting comfortable with where you’re at, learn how to get “uncomfortable” and embrace the fact that nothing will be the same three, six, nine months down the line. Heck, things may change even month-to-month, but that should not discourage an adaptable marketer!
Be a self-starter and a self-motivator. When working in marketing, you have to be able to figure out what to do and when to do it. Nobody will hold your hand through the process and there is no “formula” for how to do things right. There may even be multiple ways to do something “right” or to maximize the client’s value from their marketing budget. You have to be capable of setting your own goals and deadlines so that you can serve your client the most efficiently and make sure that they get their money’s worth. After all, the client is ultimately your customer, so you want to make sure you can get tasks done right for them, and with a spirit of excellence.
Know how to communicate. When in the world of marketing, even if you are not an account manager dealing directly with consumers and relationships, you have to know how to talk to people and communicate their message clearly. Even as a creative, such as a writer, photographer, or videographer, you have to make sure you are conveying what the company or brand wants to convey. While you may have a vision, you have to make sure that it comes across clearly and effectively, without the message getting lost in the imagination.
Thanks for all the advice, Josh, Doug, Megan, and Sophie at team PB!