TDDD Interviews: Made Agency and MyCityByNight
Social media is a hot topic on the blog this week, with my featured story tucking into 10 reasons why brands need to be social. On this note, I’ve got a great guest on this week’s edition of TDDD Interviews. I spoke to a professional in the field of social media, community management, digital account management and blogging.
Meet Craig Stack, social media director at Made Agency, founding blogger at MyCityByNight and all-round nice guy. Craig has been working at Made (previously Virtual Architects) since its inception 3,5 years ago and his hugely popular nightlife and entertainment blog, MyCityByNight, has been running for about 5 years with exponential growth by the month. I was fortunate enough to work alongside Craig on some exciting projects during my time spent as an intern at Made last year. Needless to say, I learnt many valuable lessons from this social media guru and was glad to have a chat with him for my blog.
Here’s what we chatted about:
TDDD: What was your first exposure to social media from a brand or business perspective?
Craig: I started working in a digital agency around 2007. It was meant to be a 3 month internship but ended up as a full-time job, which was great. I didn’t realize that I’d learn more in those first 3 months than I did at varsity or anywhere else. I realized that this is exactly what I wanted to do, so it gave me a lot of direction going forward. In terms of social media, I began writing and blogging for Cape Town Alive, a local lifestyle blog that started around 7 or 8 years ago and is now a fully functional site for travel and tourism. It gave me a chance to learn a lot of social media lessons that I’m able to apply to my work today.
TDDD: You’ve been involved in one of South Africa’s favourite nightlife and entertainment blogs, MyCityByNight, for the past 5 years. Can you tell us briefly about how the blog got to where it is today?
Craig: Essentially, it started out with my partner, Kenrick. We had both been writing on Cape Town Alive from its beginning, which gave us the insight needed to understand what we needed to do and how we needed to do it.
So one day, Kenrick came up to me and showed me his laptop and there was MyCityByNight just sitting there. I kind of asked, “Well, what is that?” and he said, “This is now our baby!” From that moment on, it was a non-stop rollercoaster that just grew bigger and faster to where it is today. As things grew and as it got bigger, we started to learn what does and doesn’t work and what applied to our audience. We enjoy toying with new ideas and new content themes, essentially allowing us to see what works and what doesn’t. If they don’t like it, they’ll tell us, and that’s the beauty of the MyCityByNight community that we’ve developed.
TDDD: MyCityByNight enjoys a highly engaged audience who likes, comments and shares many of your posts. How has social media helped the blog to interact with its audience?
Craig: Specifically since the “share” button has been introduced, our numbers and impressions have grown exponentially. Before that, it was mostly just people manually sharing our links to their Facebook walls or commenting on our posts. Also, with Twitter growing in popularity, our Twitter following has grown and helped us in that sense.
Social media has been an important platform for us to push our content and it’s helped like you cannot believe. I don’t think we’d get the traction that we do if we didn’t post our content to Facebook and Twitter.
Craig: 8Bit has been absolutely phenomenal. With 8Bit Engage, the company is currently helping local indie sites promote each other’s content and boost impressions, and its crusade has been nothing short of captivating. In terms of driving extra impressions for us, it’s helped us greatly by having our content shared on other sites. It’s a really cool project that’s allowed people to see your (MyCityByNight) content on another websites while reading a post. The best thing is that all the sites that are using 8Bit at the moment are friends, so it’s a nice mutual way to share content and consume a variety of content all in one place. I always like seeing MyCityByNight and Dont Party, or MyCityByNight and We-Are-Awesome sharing each other’s content. It’s a cool concept and I think it has really great potential!
TDDD: You currently work at an awesome digital marketing agency called Made, how did you go about starting your journey with the agency?
Craig: About 3 and a half years ago, myself, James and Paul started up a small boutique social media agency. Our friends (who are now directors and partners) were sitting in another office doing web-development and design. We were always sending/giving each other different work to do – we’d send them digital and web work and they’d send us social media work. At one point we decided, what’s the point of being so far apart if we’re working on the same projects and clients?! So we got into an office together, and that’s how our amalgamation with Virtual Architects came about as a full service digital agency. The Virtual Architects company had been around for 5 years, it started growing and saw a need for new change; and out of this Made was born. Made is a reaction to a growing anti-advertising sentiment around the world. When 95% of YouTube prerolls are skipped, clearly there needs to be other ways for brands to connect with their audiences. As the agency grows beyond social & digital, working on these democratic platforms have really tuned us into what consumers want from brands. As a result we’ve become a magnet for pioneering creatives and brands alike.
TDDD: What sort of work do you do on a weekly basis at Made?
Craig: As the social media director, I oversee all accounts, run, manage and ensure growth across all social platforms (Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, LinkedIn etc). This role extends beyond social platforms to influencers and bloggers, as the lines between PR and social blur we’ve found ourselves in an amazing position both through experience and many great relationships.
Aside from this, I’m constantly researching, formulating and implementing new ways to reach people, and sharing learnings with the crew here from my daily engagements with so many different consumer groups.
TDDD: What would you consider to be some of the key features of social media and community management that help a brand to engage with their South African audience?
Craig: At Made, we use specific monitoring tools, ranging from free to very expensive, that help us to analyze and monitor activity. While it’s fairly simple to post content to your audience, the art is the data. Budget must be specifically afforded to the processes of analyzing your communities, and strategies need to be in place that can react to constant learning.
‘I believe that if you can understand your audience, then you’re already winning in digital and it’ll help in developing great strategies.’
TDDD: Do you have any tips for brands who find themselves in a social media disaster?
Craig: Ultimately we’re all human. When customers connect to a brand on a human level the connection becomes stronger. Often mistakes and disasters are an opportunity for the human side of your brand to come out. Taking time to apologize and reveal the person behind the posting results in new and deeper bonds. In short, turn it for the best!
TDDD: You must be quite busy during the week with numerous Facebook and Twitter accounts to manage, how do you keep up your own personal social media presence?
Craig: A lot of people ask me this question, but it almost feels second nature to me now. So if I’m posting on 5 or 6 pages, mine will act as the 7th. I treat my own personal profile much the same as a brand profile now, and if I’m working on MyCityByNight and Made accounts, I’ll make sure that I have the extra outlet. At the same time, I allow myself to have a lot more say on my personal profile than I would anywhere else, still keeping to the rules and regulations of the industry though!
TDDD: Who’s the current table tennis champ at the Made offices?
Craig: That’s a really tough one. We’ve got a constant battle going on between Dave and Paul. Dave claims he’s still got his table tennis colours for Northern Transvaal, so if you’d like to challenge him you’re more than welcome!
TDDD: Do you have any advice for young digital marketers looking to land their first job in digital marketing?
The digital sphere is one of the most dynamic industries you could be in and it’s important to keep up with what other brands are doing, what’s current and what’s best practice. Of course lead by example. Incredible stuff can be done with free tools. For example we saw a guy with his whole CV constructed by tweets. Or another trying to sell his car with the most phenomenal home-made used car commercial.
The industry needs resourceful people, clients need miracles performed for their precious budgets. The proof is in the pudding, start with yourself.
Meet Tim - a digital dreamer. Current 4th year Business Science Marketing Honours Student at UCT, e-Marketing Tutor at UCT, Digital Marketing Student at Red & Yellow and former intern at Made Digital Agency. Keep an eye on his blog for some great content on digital marketing and tech. thedigitaldaydream.co.zaView more posts from this author