Standing out from the crowd and harnessing the power of social media is no mean feat in a crowded digital climate.
Big businesses are willing to splash out millions of pounds on slick marketing and advertising campaigns in the hope of bolstering their bottom lines.
A growing number of big-name brands are utilising the skills of young professionals who have grown up in the digital world and understand what it takes to capture the hearts, minds and wallets of online users.
SocialAmp and Fanbytes are two companies making rapid strides in the online digital marketing world and their success indicates there is still space for small businesses to grow and prosper in this sector.
In charge: The four SocialAmp founders, from left to right, Andy, Scott, Tom and Matt
SocialAmp is a digital marketing agency founded in 2017 by four ex-Facebook employees, Matt Collino, 31, Scott McKenna, 31, Andrew Scrase, 31 and Tom Scrase, 30.
Collectively, they had 15-years worth of experience working at online giant Facebook.
Fast-forward to 2022 and SocialAmp, which is based in London and Glasgow, has announced record profits and is embarking on plans for its global expansion.
The group raked in a £1.5million profit over the past year and its founders think it will reach a profit of £5million by the end of the next financial year. SocialAmp also has ambitions to launch an initial public offering within three years.
To date, the company’s clients include Boohoo, Pretty Little Thing, MTV, Nickelodeon, Cernucci and Billionaire Boys Club.
It harnesses the power of platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Google Search, and has, with the help of investment from KM Capital, rapidly made its mark in the world of digital marketing.
Co-founder Scott McKenna, who spent seven years working for Facebook and Instagram, said: ‘We’re dedicated to helping clients harness the power of digital platforms through effective and tailored ad strategies.
‘All four of us have distinguished backgrounds in digital marketing, social media and consultancy. We know exactly how to take businesses to the next level and maximise digital performance.
Fellow co-founder Andrew Scrase, who started his career as an advertising sales data analyst at Twitter, said: ‘It is fantastic being involved in a business that stretches across so many different industries and witnessing the impact the pandemic has had on numerous fields.
‘SocialAmp is in a position to help companies transition to digital and survive the pandemic.
‘Being part of their journey has been an incredibly rewarding experience for us and has felt like a real privilege to have had the responsibility to help so many businesses get through those tough moments and explore new areas of opportunity.’
High-flyers: Fanbytes is run by Timothy Armoo, left, Ambrose Cooke, middle, and Mitchell Fasanya, right
Winning the hearts of Gen-Z
Fanbytes is another digital marketing company that has enjoyed sizeable success over the last few years.
Its website is emblazoned with a simple message about what it does: ‘We help the most forward thinking brands win the hearts of Gen Z.’
The influencer marketing agency’s three founders, Timothy Armoo, Ambrose Cooke and Mitchell Fasanya, are now celebrating becoming millionaires after recently selling, for an undisclosed sum, Fanbytes to Brainlabs, a private equity-backed digital marketing company.
The company, which will now operate as the Influencer division of Brainlabs, is backed by former Dentsu executives Jerry Buhlman and Nigel Morris.
Fanbytes’ 60-strong team is led by chief executive Armoo, who started the company in 2017 while at university and was named last year in Forbes’ 30 under 30 Europe list.
The firm expanded rapidly to offer services to over 500 brands around the world and has grown 130 per cent year-on-year for the last five years.
Fanbytes boss Armoo, who grew up on a south London council estate, said: ‘From day one, Fanbytes has been about more than just an ambition to fundamentally change how brands can speak to consumers (and vice versa); but always being one calculated step ahead in how we achieve that.
‘From being first advocates of Snap and TikTok before the industry took either seriously, to literally inventing new ways for brands to use those channels, we’ve always carved our own path, and helped our clients carve theirs, and we’re excited to continue this with Brainlabs.
‘Through Brainlabs’ global network we can supercharge what we do, bringing our technology, expertise and talent to an even bigger audience. We’ve also found a kindred spirit that shares similar ambitions.’
Brainlabs global chief executive, Daniel Gilbert, said: ‘I’m super excited about welcoming Fanbytes to Brainlabs, not only because I’m in awe at what they’ve achieved in such a short space of time but I also see them as an essential piece of the jigsaw in our digital media offering.
‘Influencer marketing has rapidly become an integral part of the digital media mix so to be able to offer it alongside our other capabilities under one roof is a huge advantage to our clients.’
Armoo spoke to This is Money about the ups and downs of starting a business and why Fanbytes has proved to be so successful.
He said: ‘A lot of the most challenging times when building a business can be down to the simple fact that you don’t know what you don’t know.
‘You are figuring things out from first principles, which is exciting but also quite stressful as there can be a lot of pressure to have the right answers quickly. For a business to survive you must always be driving forward.
‘However I’ve seen that launching a business can be the best course for personal development. The person you become as a result of breaking through the many barriers that come with this journey is very powerful.’
He added: ‘We had a focus on solving a key problem for customers – everyday we spent our time doing that, and this maniacal focus served us well.
‘We were relentless in how we operated. In fact we got called cockroaches for our ability to survive anything!
‘There were times when we thought we might run out of money or lose a client, but we just kept going and going.
‘We also hit the market at the right time, we rode a wave that so many were trying (and failing) to surf and we invested in the right people to help us build on that momentum.’
Steven Bartlett led the way for digital marketing
Successful: Steven Bartlett found success with social media content and marketing firm The Social Chain
Multimillionaire, Dragon’s Den star and presenter of Diary of a CEO podcast Steven Bartlett is an established figure in the world of digital marketing and honed his knowledge of the sector over many years.
His story can be heard in a special bonus This is Money podcast with Simon Lambert.
Bartlett found success with social media content and marketing firm The Social Chain which he launched at the age of 21, at a time when many were wondering whether or not the sector would really take off.
Within six years he had built it into an international agency which listed on the Dusseldorf Stock Exchange.
Alongside former Social Chain managing director Oliver Yonchev, Bartlett launched Flight Story at the end of 2021, capitalising on the intersection between social media and the rise in young DIY investors.
It sets out to introduce companies which are looking to list or are already listed to the people and technology needed to increase retail investor interest.
In February, the group launched Flight Deck, which is a tool that converts social media interactions, search data and paid media reach, which is cross-referenced with trading volume.
This allows companies to identify the channels, activity and interactions that moved the market.