With a cross-company social media following of over 200 million, Manchester-based Social Chain is one of Europe’s largest influencer marketing agencies, we caught up with the team on the company’s rise
The technological advancements of recent years have meant that we may as well replace our right hands with our smartphones. And with this comes the rise of social media; the new media. While Facebook and Twitter have been around for some time now, the development of the smartphone alongside the evolution of super fast 4G has accelerated the growth of new platforms, bringing along Instagram, Snapchat and the concept of ‘on-the-go sharing’. And with a social movement comes social marketing, and the rise of the influencer.
Based in Manchester with offices in London, Berlin and New York, Social Chain is now one of Europe’s largest influencer/social media marketing agencies, with a collective reach of over 200 million millennials and a rich client portfolio including Hungry House, Just Eat, Spotify, Microsoft, Puma and P&G.
At the age of 18, Steven Bartlett moved to Manchester to enroll on a Business Management course at Manchester Metropolitan University. But it wasn’t to last, as Steve dropped out after his first lecture to pursue his own business venture. Wallpark was a social media assisted platform designed to connect students in the same cities, based on common interests and university life. It was a place where students from the same cities could connect to share anything from advertising an event to selling old textbooks. After speaking at a high profile London conference, Bartlett gained investment and further grew the company until he exited the business in December 2013.
One of main things Steve learned while working to grow Wallpark was the behaviour of young people on social media, in particular, Twitter. Meanwhile in York, Dominic McGregor was running a Twitter page aimed at students, where he posted funny and relatable student content, and in turn attracted thousands of followers. Steve got in touch with Dom when he realised that there was an opportunity to use platforms like this as a conduit to connect a brand with its audience, and figured if there was a way to weave a brand’s message seamlessly into the page, engagement and following wouldn’t suffer. And so Steve and Dom created Social Chain.
Social Chain landed its first client (a gaming app Tippy Tap) with a view to market the game and boost downloads. Uncertain of the results it would yield, the pair launched the campaign into an unknown space and hoped for the best. The result: Tippy Tap sat at the top of the app store for weeks and even made BBC headlines. It was then the boys knew that they were onto something; a real breakthrough moment for Social Chain.
Fast forward two years, and a few award wins later (including The Drum’s Social Media Marketing Agency of the Year) Social Chain is one of Europe’s most influential marketing agencies. Run by a constantly expanding, incredibly talented team of young people, Social Chain is number one in youth marketing. And how did they get so good? The Social Chain team understand their audience better than anyone else. After all; they are millennials marketing to millennials.
After phenomenal growth in the first year working with countless big brands like Spotify, Microsoft, Comedy Central, 20th Century Fox, P&G, Puma, Just Eat and Hungry House (to name a few), Social Chain attracted the attention of German media power house, Glow Media. The company invested a hefty amount into Social Chain, fuelling international growth. And this investment, alongside further impressive client wins allowed Social Chain to expand into new markets including Germany, and most recently the US, with an office in New York.
Social Chain HQ is a huge creative space in the heart of Manchester. A slide, ball pit, fully stocked bar, table tennis and even a puppy park are just some of the features at the outlandish office. And the environment is recognised and appreciated as something special – which makes the culture and the work pretty special too.
Just two years young, Social Chain has grown from humble beginnings to become a dominant force in the world of influencer marketing, through the perseverance and drive of two entrepreneurs that saw opportunity beyond the traditional paths.