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Social Media Portal interview with Mike Hollingbery from Bozboz

Tim Gibbon (Social Media Portal (SMP)) - 15 November 2013

Mike Hollingbery from Bozboz on the changing social media landscape

Bozboz's Mike Hollingbery shares the latest on creatives for social, design and taming technology and DJ handles

Bozboz logoSocial Media Portal (SMP): What is your name and what do you do there at Bozboz?

Mike Hollingbery (MH): Hi. I am Mike Hollingbery, CEO of Bozboz. I generally try to look busy and draw a lot of diagrams about the internet in meetings with customers.

SMP: Briefly, tell us about Bozboz (for those that don’t know), what is it and what does company do?

MH: Bozboz are a creative digital agency based in Brighton, UK. We thrive on being on the cutting edge of design and technology, constantly finding innovative ways to keep audiences engaged online. Our client list includes international airlines and world famous DJs. We understand the power of digital marketing in building brands and have years of experience helping companies reach and interact with new audiences.

SMP: Who are your target audience and why (who you try and build relationships with and why)?

MH: As an agency, we have no set target audience. We work closely with our clients helping them to engage their own audiences on a personal level. Social media channels are especially important in this regard, providing a means to connect brands with their customers and engage them at every stage of the customer lifecycle.

Photograph of Mike Hollingbery, CEO of BozbozSMP: When was the agency founded, how many people work there and what’s the story behind the name?

MH: Bozboz was founded in 2008. Since then we have been in high demand, growing quickly to 29 people (and counting). We’ve recently been recognised as one of the fastest growing digital agencies in the South of England, which was great. I count myself very lucky to be surrounded by such a creative group of people every day. Bozboz seems more like a family than a business to me – we’re a close-knit team, all with our own special skills and creative input.
The name Bozboz – it was a gift from the Gods! It used to be my DJ name back when I was at university. It stuck and became the name of the business as things took off.

SMP: What are the low moments of what you have been doing so far?

MH: One of the greatest challenges occurred near the start of the business. I developed very bad tendonitis and was told by doctors that I had to stop using computers forever and get a new career! It turned out I have a rare condition called intersection syndrome. It’s pretty unusual and normally only happens to concert pianists and Olympic rowers.

I had to have microsurgery on my right hand, so I learned to type with my left hand instead. I had great friends around me who helped me keep the pace up, without them Bozboz would not be what it is today. I learned a lot about delegating during that time and Bozboz actually grew quicker as a result.  Every cloud has a silver lining as they say!

SMP: What are the high moments of what you have been doing so far?

MH: There are too many to count. Someone once said find a job you love and you’ll never work again, for me that is what Bozboz is. It’s been six years nearly it’s still a 24/7 deal for me.

We get to work on some really creative campaigns, which is infinitely rewarding, especially when great creative people approach you to work for them, which happens to us all the time. Every now and again I get a chance to stop and take in what’s going on around me, there’s always a buzz in the office, and being surrounded by so many creative people is very rewarding. Our client list is eclectic, for me there is nothing better than been surrounded by people on your wavelength and working with them creatively. If it’s a good fit then it doesn’t feel like work - and the results are better too.

SMP: What are the main social channels your clients tend to use, why and which are the most effective for them?

MH: Most of our clients use Facebook, it is by the most established and useful social network for virtually any brand at the moment. Twitter is great too, and can be very effective if used correctly. There is more of a knack to it – for me it’s an essential channel, which I think is often overlooked and undervalued. Google+ is becoming more important all the time too. Google has a lot of leverage in the online space and Google+ is definitely not one to ignore any longer, especially if search engine rankings are important to you.

Bozboz website homepage

SMP: What sort of activity / engagement are your clients receiving across the social channels they use and how do they create / sustain this?

MH: Our clients have huge amounts of engagement on social media and it’s growing all the time. Growing reach (fans) is essential, but engaging them and keeping them interested is another game entirely and just as important. Having lots of fans without engagement isn’t worth very much.

For example take one of our client’s Fastjet. We’ve built their fan base to 100,000 Facebook fans in less than 12-months. To be effective you need to know the technology and have an analytical mind so you can understand your audience.  Most of all you need to be creative, and think outside the box. You can get the idea by looking at Fastjet’s page. Across all of the channels we work on, the key is creating unique content – and matching it to the needs and interests of the audience. Another example can be seen here with one of the music festivals we work with called Sundown.  Working social media properly can be time consuming, but is great for brand awareness and generates great ROI over the long term. That’s why people are rushing to it the world over.

Fastject Facebook image

SMP: How important are creatives in what you do and how to you ensure what you produce is on point, especially for digital environments?

MH: Creativity is incredibly important, without the right mix of creative vision and technological skills you won’t get very far, that’s why at Bozboz we have such a diverse range of skills in house. Something which may seem simple like a Facebook post, can involve a huge range of skills – from a graphic designer making custom infographics, to a copywriter writing a ‘hook’ and a social media specialist working out when to post content and how to maximise its exposure.  

Being on the cutting edge of technology is exciting, but it does take work. We constantly read blogs and share information with each other. Being innovative and pushing the boundaries of possibility core to everyone at Bozboz, it’s what gets us out of bed every day. We’re not afraid of learning new things, but we also have an eye for detail, and processes for quality control to make sure that our output is good and our plans realistic. Everyone who works at Bozboz is a creative in one way or another; even people without seemingly creative jobs have ideas and input. That’s the great thing about creativity, everyone has it!

SMP: How are you seeing the type of creatives produced changing to adapt to the changing environments?

MH: Many of the skills are the same, but the creative briefs adapt constantly to take account for new mediums and trends. Content is viewed in such a variety of ways now that there are a lot of angles to cover. ‘Responsive design’ is the best way to describe it, whereby content reacts to the device you’re viewing it on. This is something we believe strongly in and are integrating it in all our most successful campaigns.

SMP: With appreciation for more marketing and less digital marketing (finally), how would / are you approaching this thinking?

MH: I think the central thrust, is that marketing online is the same as offline. We’re all still targeting people and trying to inspire them.  It’s just the medium that has changed, not the technique. People are too focused on the method (i.e. SEO or social media) but now start to realise that marketing techniques are all relevant online as much as online, the output is different, but the channels are maturing and are just another element of the modern marketing mix.

SMP: What do you see as the biggest challenges and opportunities for your clients as the use of digital / social media increases?

MH: The lines between customer service, marketing and commerce are blurring. The rules have changed and the modern business needs a fusion of creative and technical understanding to communicate effectively with their customers, whom all expect quick answers. This presents both a challenge and an opportunity.  As businesses need to take on a range of new skills and also react quickly to a variety of situations. If managed correctly this is definitely a great opportunity for any brand, this is where Bozboz comes in.  As digital brand guardians with the skills to maximise and look after any brand.

SMP: What’s going to be the most interesting aspect regarding social media, social networks and/or technology for the next 12 to 18-months?

MH: Social media and networks are disrupting virtually every sector of business and society, redefining the way we work and some people say even the way we think. Recent revolutions in the Middle East, show social media's power to help people to organise and have a voice, whilst recent privacy issues also show the darker side and the power of the internet as ‘Panopticon’.

Social media is changing society on a fundamental level. It has the power to be very democratising, but its ownership is also concentrated in the hands of powerful companies like Google and Facebook that are fighting it out at the top like the clash of the Titans. As a tool for business and social engagement it is fascinating, but has so many other dimensions. The true power of social media is connecting people together, the challenge is to ensure the flow of information isn’t corrupted or left in the hands of a small elite.

BozBoz blog image

SMP: What are your top five predictions for digital and social media for the next 12 to 18-months?

MH replies with:

1. Social media will increasingly become part of everything we do. We’re already seeing the rise of the ‘internet of things’. In tomorrow’s world our home appliances will tweet us and our keys will tell us where they are when we lose them.

2. Big brands and small brands will increasingly be on a level playing field. Those that adopt social media channels as a primary point of interaction with their customers will be most successful at growing market share.

3. The digital space will become even more crowded. The need for good, unique and original creative content will become even more important.

4. Facebook and Google will continue to fight each other and the British and American governments will keep getting caught with their hands in the till.

5. MySpace will be massive again. Justin Timberlake will use its success to run for president. That one is a long bet, but you never know!

SMP: What are your top five digital and social media tips, particularly when creatives are concerned?

MH replies with

1. Be original - Creative content has much more reach and ideas can move quickly if they’re unique and poignant.

2. Be quick – Time is of the essence and the art of social media is living in the moment. Some things can be planned, but spontaneity is also important. Carpe diem!

3. Be real – Social media is a two-way communication channel, don’t just use it to blam out sales messages. Your fans are real people, and have the power to carry your voice much further. They won’t do that or stick around for long if you just spam them.

4. Be inquisitive - Keep your eye on new developments as you can never tell what will be the next big thing. However, with so many apps and networks vying for our attention, you need to plan your time well and invest it wisely.

5. Be analytical – Your audience will engage with what you do. Use analytics to learn what they like, and what they don’t. Some ideas will work better than you think, some may fall flat, but look at the data often and you will see trends. Good data combined with a healthy dose of creative thinking and experimentation will be the key to your success!

SMP: Is there anything else we should know, or is there anything that you’d like to share?

MH: That’s a big question. There will always be something else to know – that’s part of the fun, the most important thing is to keep innovating and enjoy the fact that things change. We update our blog often; it’s a great place to pass by now and then to keep up to date with what’s new at the Bozboz blog.

MH: Best way to contact you and Bozboz?

We’re social animals! We live on Twitter most of the time and can be reached @bozboz. If you are oldskool you can email us ask @ I heard a vicious rumour we have a fax machine too – but haven’t ever seen it.

Now some questions for fun

SMP: What did you have for breakfast / lunch?

MH: Black coffee, an apple and a wheat grass smoothie with a spoonful of Greener Grass. (That’s a mix of kelp, hemp protein and spirulina).

SMP: What’s the last good thing that you did for someone?

MH: I’ve been donating some time recently to speak to jobseekers about the benefits of starting their own business. This is part of an initiative run by Brighton and Hove Albion’s charity arm and is very rewarding.

SMP: If you weren’t running or working on Bozboz what would you be doing?

MH: I’d be an international DJ, a comedian and an environmental campaigner.

SMP: What is the best activity / campaign that you’ve seen in the last six-months and why?

MH: The full development and implementation of Fastjet’s website and digital marketing strategy has been a great display of what Bozboz is capable of. Our multi-faceted marketing strategy has boosted Fastjet from 0 to over 100,000 Facebook likes in less than 12-months, making them one of the most recognized brands in Tanzania on Facebook.

Using social media channels effectively allowed us to connect directly with the local population and to amplify the mood on the ground from thousands of miles away. This aided awareness and adoption of the brand to a tipping point ,which has helped springboard it to further success. Since launch they have seen over 3,500,000 page views over 300,000 ticket sales, strong growth for an African airline in an emerging market. We are excited to be involved in the next stage of their evolution, opening international routes into South Africa and beyond.

SMP: When and where did you go on your last holiday?

MH: Went to an amazing place in Kefalonia (Greece) called Assos. It’s a tiny village at the bottom of a mountain, very quiet and tranquil. Just what you need when you’re on the go all the time – a place to recharge the batteries and get a bit of perspective.

SMP: What’s the first thing you do when you get into the office of a morning?

MH: Drink Coffee and plug myself into the internet!

SMP: If you had a superpower what would it be and why?

I would be able to pause time! If I could just answer all those emails before more came in, once in a while that would be very useful :) Not to mention rescuing people from burning buildings and all that stuff too.  I’d use the power wisely!

NB: Facebook fans and ticket sales update on 15/11/2013 at 14:40.

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