By B.C. Manion
The word ballywho means fanfare, hoopla or publicity, which is exactly what Elissa Nauful and Scott Plumley seek to achieve for clients of BallywhoSocial, the company they created nearly four years ago.
Nauful, who is knowledgeable about public relations and marketing, paired up with Plumley, who is an expert in information technology (IT), because they saw a need in the market they wanted to fill.
“We saw social media starting to really explode, so we thought, with our expertise and background, this would be a great business to start,” said Nauful, who is majority owner of the business based in Wesley Chapel.
“I think that the reason that we’re successful is because social is all we do,” Nauful said.
The company’s first-year revenue was around $20,000. Now, its annual revenues are in the millions, Nauful said.
“In the social media business there are a lot of ad agencies who will do social media,” Nauful said. “PR companies, the same thing. … What we realized is that a lot of clients really just need help with social (media). Large companies will hire us to manage everything social, and that’s all we do.”
Being focused on social media, employing a quality team and staying up on the latest technological tools and trends are key elements in the company’s success, Nauful said.
BallywhoSocial has done so well that it opened a second office in Austin, Texas and plans to open an office this year in Washington, D.C.
“We have a very flat organizational culture,” Nauful said. The company has 12 fulltime employees and about 20 freelance writers around the country.
BallywhoSocial helps companies figure out how to harness social media to support their goals, Nauful said.
“I think the first question you need to ask is, ‘Why am I doing this?’” Nauful said.
Companies need to tailor their social media efforts to match their specific needs, she said.
“Facebook isn’t for every business. Twitter isn’t for every business. Businesses don’t understand that,” Nauful said.
Social networks are like cable television channels, she said.
“It’s very important to make sure that you’re communicating on a platform the best way for the audience,” she explained.
For instance, Nauful said, a cable channel that focuses on professional football wouldn’t be the best place to pitch feminine hygiene products.
“Bad social media is worse than no social media. If you do it poorly, it’s worse than not doing it,” Nauful said.
Nauful said keeping abreast of new developments is important: “Social media changes every second.”
She described her company this way: “You know, we’re not experts, because no one is, because it’s changing so quickly. What we are are people who have been in the practice of doing (social media), and we understand it better than most people, and we are willing to stop and think through things and ask questions and not provide a cookie-cutter solution,” Nauful said.
BallywhoSocial helps companies address concerns they have about using social media
“Social media is wrapped in a lot of fear,” Nauful said. She added, “The fact is, that once you put something out there it’s always there. I think there are people that don’t want to hear bad (comments or reviews).”
But negative reviews will happen, she said.
“No company, no business, either small or large, is ever going to have 100 percent of customers that are satisfied all of the time,” Nauful said. She added, “The question is how do you deal with that situation, and do you deal with it?”
Negative feedback often yields valuable information, Nauful said.
She thinks the most effective response to negative feedback is to respond directly to the person making the complaint, apologize, take the conversation offline and address the issue.
“A lot of people don’t realize that social media isn’t just about talking,” Nauful said. “It’s absolutely about listening and then talking. I think that is lost. We talk a lot about social listening. Our answer always is be authentic, be who you are, don’t lie. … If you say you’re going to fix it, then you better fix it, because if you don’t you’re going to have an even bigger problem.”
She’s excited about the future of social media.
“I think we’re at the tip of the iceberg of all the ways that social can be used,” Nauful said. She added, “The biggest trend is mobile. Mobile is where it is going.”
How social are you?
BallywhoSocial has a new tool called a Ballywho’s Social Media eValuation. It’s a free evaluation of a company’s social media acumen, measuring such things as social media presence, audience engagement and social influence. Want to know more? Visit www.showmemyscore.com.