Conversation with James Mowdy, founder of b|spoke - a brand consultancy
(Santa Fe, New Mexico) - Simply Social Media’s Caitlin Jenkins and Amy Tischler have had a busy 2015. Perhaps even busier than they expected, having formally established their business just last spring. There have been highlights. In less than a year, their @SimplySantaFeNM and @TravelNewMexico Instagram channels have grown to a combined 22.4k followers, becoming powerful, regional platforms with national reach, while their unique blend of social media management, strategy, content creation and real-world “Instameets” are eagerly sought out. 2015 also brought a fair amount of Santa Fe press, with interviews and features, as well as an important Albuquerque Business First mention. This, with ongoing, positive word of mouth and B2B referrals, appears to be positioning them for an even brighter 2016. I had the opportunity to meet Caitlin and Amy while working with Santa Fe Opera this past summer (on different projects). We recently had an opportunity to discuss their business and 2016 outlook at their Santa Fe office.
James: Thanks for joining me today. As you know, I’m excited to learn more about Simply Social Media. This is where I stop talking and you tell me more about what you do.
Caitlin: Sure! (Laughing) We offer social media management, social strategy consulting, and content creation. Our goal is to build engagement for our clients through promotional activities, resulting in brand name recognition and a good return on investment. We’re really passionate about helping businesses engage with their target market in a meaningful and lasting way using social media, in particular the emerging platform of Instagram.
Amy: We specialize in Instagram for Business workshops to provide business owners and social media managers with what they need to get started and be successful (on social media). Earlier this year, we published a terrific E-Book, “The Complete Technical Guide to Instagram”, which is a How-To for getting started on the platform. We think it’s a great intro for anyone interested in Instagram.
James: So, how have you worked with people on Instagram? What does that mean?
Amy: We’ve been fortunate to work with a variety of clients since the beginning of 2015. For example, we created in-house social media workshops for Hotel Santa Fe and David Richard Gallery, both of which were tailored to their respective business needs.
Caitlin: We also produce InstaMeets for our clients, which are collaborative experiences that use social media to build virtual and real-world community. We work with local businesses to create unique events based on their sales, publicity, and advertising goals. So, what does that really look like? Well, we start by brainstorming with our client to develop a unique experience that’s not normally available to the public. Sometimes it’s behind the scenes, sometimes it’s something extra. Once it’s mapped out, we bring influencers from Santa Fe and beyond to an event location, working to create buzz and achieve agreed client goals. Ultimately, Instameets are about moving people from interacting with just their smartphones to interacting with each other in real life. We’ve hosted nine @SimplySantaFeNMInstaMeets this year. With this account, we repost images of Santa Fe that locals and visitors share on Instagram using our #SimplySantaFe hashtag. We also like to highlight select images on our Twitter feed, offering a link and photo credit to the original Instagram photographer.
Amy: Caitlin’s absolutely right, we love bringing the community together for InstaMeets. In fact, as you know, we had a really great experience this summer with Santa Fe Opera. We were hired to help promote the 59th Opera season. Working with SFO, we created, managed, and facilitated two unique #SFOInstaMeet events for their “Daughter of the Regiment” and “Rigoletto” dress rehearsals. For the #DOTR Instameet, influencers were escorted to the backstage area and allowed to photograph and post images about the experience. Our group was then treated to an exclusive lecture with director Ned Canty and the conductor, Maestro Speranza Scappucci. And for the first time ever at Santa Fe Opera, we were allowed to take pictures and post during the performance itself. For #Rigoletto, we organized a tour of The Ranch, which are the amazing grounds, and had incredible one-to-one time with director Lee Blakeley in the Opera Club. We’re thrilled that we were able to produce significant social (media) buzz for their season.
Caitlin: Yes, the results were amazing! We brought 80 people (to the Santa Fe Opera) and for a lot of them it was their first experience with the opera. It was an amazing opportunity for them to get involved and to learn a little bit more about the organization. We create a specific hashtag when we do these events so that we can collect all photos taken and showcase afterwards. We had over 300 Instagram posts using the hashtag #SFOInstaMeet from our participants. On average, we were able to deliver over 1 million impressions per Instameet and robust Instagram engagement with very high levels of re-sharing.
Amy: We’re absolutely thrilled to have been a part of the 59th season at Santa Fe Opera, a world-renowned organization that we hope to collaborate with again.
James: I think (Simply Social Media) added so much value (to the 59th season)...it was such a pleasure to meet you both. So, I know that you’re both photographers, let’s touch on that.
Caitlin: Absolutely! Both of us got our start in social media through the medium of photography and actually met through social media! (more about Simply Social Media’s founding here). I’m a professional photographer specializing in portraits of people and animals. I also do event photography for numerous well known local businesses and organizations in Santa Fe. I began to utilize Instagram to showcase my photography, and the majority of my new clients find me through the platform.
Amy: As for me, I’m an avid amateur photographer. I have always been interested in the medium, but until smartphones and Instagram, hadn’t had access to the equipment necessary to create quality imagery. These new tools have inspired me to capture as much of my daily life as I can as I continue to grow and evolve my processes. So, I love using this interest to help clients unique create content.
James: What else have you been involved with?
Amy: We’ve hosted 10 Instameets, nine photo contests, a #SimplySantaFe juried photo exhibition, produced a photo essay for Santa Fe Persuasion on SantaFe.com, and received 2nd place as the Santa Fe Reporter’s “Best of Santa Fe” Instagram account. We’ve also attended 10 social media/press events, including being part of a select group of Instagramers who received press passes for The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta for the first time ever, which is the most photographed event in the world. We also co-hosted an Instameet with @IgersABQ at the Balloon Fiesta which was attended by photographers from all over NM and even AZ!
James: That sounds wonderful! Congrats on all of your recent successes. Yes, I really enjoyed your SantaFe.com interview and I also recall that you were featured in a Canadian TV show?
Amy: Yeah! We were contacted through Instagram by Tamy Pepin, a travel photojournalist who produces a travel show called #TamyUSA, which is based on her experiences traveling the United States while exclusively reaching out to people through Instagram. Tamy reached out to us after finding our #SimplySantaFe hashtag, asking us if we’d be interested in showing her our favorite things to do in Santa Fe. We were so fortunate and thrilled to spend an afternoon with Tamy and her crew, showing them various Santa Fe businesses, events and festivals. It’s so crazy that it worked out!
Caitlin: We also connected Tamy with people we’ve met exclusively through social media, like Sheryle Moon at Lacuna Galleries and Jordan Eddy, who is the co-founder of the Strangers Collective, a collective of emerging artists and writers based in Santa Fe.
James: So basically you’re turning social into real world.
Amy: Yeah, absolutely. We’re going from virtual to IRL.
James: So what’s next for Simply Social Media?
Amy: Well, we’re really excited about our upcoming Social Media Marketing Strategy for Business workshop, in collaboration with Carole Baker of Cherry Pie Social. It’s on Friday, January 22 at the Drury Plaza Hotel in Santa Fe. As you may know, The Drury was recently restored and renovated with great results. We’re thrilled to partner with (The Drury Santa Fe) and honored to have their sponsorship. Our workshop is focused on helping business owners and social media managers build their brand on social media and, in the process, build influence that improves bottom lines.
Caitlin: Carole Baker will be presenting a section on Twitter, and Amy and I (Simply Social Media) will present a section on Instagram. As Amy mentioned, this workshop is primarily for small business-owners or professionals involved with the advertising or marketing aspects of their business. We want to help maximize their time on Twitter and Instagram, with measurable results.
Caitlin: Bottom line is this: we think It’s critically important to keep up with the ever-changing world of social (media). Gone are the days of marketing only through traditional media, which was usually a one-way conversation. People are going to talk about your business on social media, that’s a given, so (business owners) must position themselves accordingly, ready to manage social conversations, engaging with existing customers and meeting new prospects..
Amy: Sharing insights that have made us successful is extremely gratifying. We’re also eager to meet the real people behind the attendees’ social media accounts and learn a few things ourselves! We’re passionate about the positive power of social media done well, and the potential for lasting and meaningful relationships (with clients and customers). Curating and creating great content, engaging with our community, and helping promote our great state are what we live and breathe 24/7.
Caitlin: We sleep occasionally, but pretty much dream in hashtags.
Friday, January 22, 2016 | 10AM - 4PM | The Drury Plaza Hotel in Santa Fe #SocialSantaFe
By James Mowdy, founder of b|spoke - a brand consultancy