Call it fate, or just good timing—Stephanie Abrams Cartin and Courtney Spritzer found each other through a mutual acquaintance from Courtney’s alma mater New York University. Bonding over a love for helping businesses grow their social media branding, they started their business as a side hustle for 10 months.
Their client list quickly grew when they both ceremoniously quit their day jobs in May of 2012 to start Socialfly, a social media marketing and influencer agency based in NYC. Four years later they are now the co-authors of “Like, Love, Follow,” the female entrepreneur’s guide for using social media to grow their business.
Her Agenda went behind the scenes of their social media agency to discuss what’s the next in social, what brands are doing it right, and how you can be an influencer:
Her Agenda: What is your origin story as partners?
Stephanie: Right out of school (Cornell University) I worked for The Hilton and The Marriott. I had friends starting businesses coming to me needing help with sales and marketing strategies because of my background. So I started telling them, you have to start using social media—this is the way of the future. This was back in 2008-2009 when social media was first ramping up. I just had the foresight and knew how important it was. So I started helping some people on the side of my full-time job, and quickly realized it was something that wasn’t an afterwork activity…it was an actual business. I had that ‘aha’ moment, I have to do this, this is my calling. I’m going to start something. So I started a business with a friend of mine who I worked with at Hilton and our partnership didn’t work out. About a year later, I met Courtney through a friend who went to New York University with her.
Courtney: One of my best friends from NYU was at a trade show and met Stephanie who had started a social media agency. We got introduced, stayed in touch, and once Stephanie was looking for a new business partner I was definitely very interested. At that point I was now at American Express and they were doing a lot with social media—forming partnerships with Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter and doing some really cool things. I wanted to learn more about it and no one really understood social media or how to use it. It was a really good time to get in the space. We started working together on the side of our full-time jobs for about 10 months. And then we quit on the same day, May of 2012 and we’ve just grown it to a team of almost 15 and now we are attracting really great, big named clients.
Her Agenda: What kind of qualities do you think people should look for in a business partnership?
Stephanie: Look for a business partner that has opposite skills that you possess. If we had the exact same skills it wouldn’t be a good partnership because we would be doing the exact same thing. So, I focus mostly on sales and business development, and Courtney is operations and finance. It’s been a really great partnership because we can divide and conquer.
Courtney: I would echo that. That’s very, very important. In the very beginning we’ve always said, “Ok you’re going to do this, and I’m going to do that. And then we come together on these areas.”
Stephanie: You have to trust your business partner. I know that I can trust Courtney with anything. And what she says she’s going to do gets done, and that we both care about our business first—it’s like our child together.
Her Agenda: How can someone become an influencer?
Stephanie: It depends on the type of influencer you want to become. Deciding what your niche is going to be is important. Find that specific target you are looking to reach so you can create content around that and decide what platform you want to be an influencer on. So if you want to be a fashion Instagram influencer then you need a lot of really great photos, you need to be able to post new things all of the time that have to do with fashion, and look at who you want to reach and start engaging with those type of people. It’s not as easy as it sounds!
Her Agenda: What do you see being the most engaging or up and coming social network right now?
Stephanie and Courtney: Snapchat!
Courtney: Yeah, Snapchat for sure. A lot of people are using Snapchat right now. It’s still hard to measure, but from an engagement perspective people are spending a ton of time on Snapchat. Personally I’m spending more time on Snapchat than on Instagram right now.
Her Agenda: What is your biggest social media pet peeve?
Courtney: Saying something for the sake of saying something. It’s really all about content and I hate it when brands put out something that looks terrible because they felt like they needed to say something that day. It actually hurts you more than it helps you.
Stephanie: I also think brands who are too salesy and in your face–”Buy this now! Buy this now!” You have to build relationships with your customers and guests and that’s what’s going to eventually sell them. Have real conversations with them.
Her Agenda: If someone is interested in becoming an author how can they start?
Courtney: There’s still a lot that we need to learn, but we learned a lot along the way. For us we self-published because these were real facts about platforms that are changing all of the time so we needed to get this information out quickly. For us to do that quickly we had to self-publish and we found this amazing company called Advantage Media. Once we finished writing it the process took about three months if you meet all of the deadlines, and they handle everything for you once you put the words on paper.
Stephanie: And I would advise if you want to go the traditional publisher route to reach out to someone who has done it before, have coffee with them and find out how they did it and get advice from someone who did it that way. Don’t try and reinvent the wheel.
Her Agenda: You recently attended SXSW, can you share something that you are still thinking about today because of the conference?
Courtney: One of the things that really stood out to me was the people doing activations and trainings on Periscope, Twitter, and no one was really doing anything pertaining to Snapchat, and one of the articles that came out during was that “Snapchat Won SXSW (and they weren’t even there),” because people were talking about it on Snapchat. So that’s something I’m thinking about.
We also went to a lot of the sessions where keynotes were women. It was really great to see these women start their own companies, grow them, and talk to these audiences about what they learned along the way. The common theme amongst all of them was how beneficial social media was to their careers and to their businesses.
Her Agenda: Who are some brands or people doing it right on social that you find inspiring?
Stephanie: Do you follow Gary Vaynerchuk on Snapchat? He’s a social media expert. He has a social media agency and he’s this huge personality. You will either really like him or hate him—but he’s always talking about what’s next and what people have to do to grow their businesses.
Courtney: From a brand perspective, I would say DiGiorno and Denny’s—what they are doing on Twitter is really funny. And then what we are doing on Facebook for Full Beauty I would encourage people to look at that, because they are getting such tremendous results in terms of sales from the content they are putting out there. On Instagram, I would say a lot of fashion and cosmetic companies are doing a really great job.
Her Agenda: As a growing company do you have any open positions right now? Who is your ideal applicant?
Courtney: Someone who knows what they don’t know and knows how to Google it or ask the right people. Someone who isn’t afraid to ask questions and be curious. Also someone who is hungry and wants to grow their career and volunteers to do things outside of their day-to-day. There are the people who want to grow their careers, and there are the people who want to get in at 9 and leave at 6 on the dot—that’s ok too, but that’s not what we are looking for here at this growing company.
Stephanie: More people with entrepreneurial spirit who look at this as a place where they can grow their career, and where they can help grow a company and they are a part of that.