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Alex Packham, CEO and founder of ContentCal on perfecting social media & content

Agnieszka Gibbon (Social Media Portal (SMP)) - 21 June 2018

CEO and founder of social media marketing company ContentCal Alex Packham on effective content



ContentCal logo 150x150Social Media Portal (SMP): What is your name and what do you do there for ContentCal?

Alex Packham (AP): My name is Alex Packham, and I am the CEO and founder of ContentCal, a social media marketing company.
 
SMP: Briefly, tell us about ContentCal.

AP: ContentCal initially began in 2014 as a social media agency, creating social content for a wide range of businesses. Having experienced the pain that comes from using Google Docs, spreadsheets, and emails when creating a robust content/editorial plan for clients, we built ContentCal to speed up and simplify the way that teams and individuals plan and publish content. ContentCal achieves this with its familiar and intuitive calendar interface.

Photograph of Alex Packham, CEO and founder of ContentCalSMP: When was the company founded, how many people work there and how is it funded?


AP:
In 2014, when I was 23, I made the decision to set up my own social media agency, ASTP. The company was created to assist businesses in navigating the social media landscape, helping them to develop and facilitate strategic social media strategies to successfully aid their goals.

I soon discovered a gap in the market for a social media planning tool with a simple user interface that would focus on planning as opposed just scheduling content. As a result, just 18 months ago, we launched our software to satisfy this market need.

There are now 30 members of staff here at ContentCal and we’ve had £1.6m of angel investment. ContentCal has also doubled its revenue YoY since it came into existence and currently has 7K users of the platform including WPP, Amazon and BMW, as well as thousands of SMEs. However, we also still continue to manage growing creative media budgets for our clients.

SMP: Why did you found ContentCal and what makes it different?

AP: ContentCal differs from our competitors as we’ve tackled a bigger market - mostly freelancers and agencies rather than brands directly, as well SME marketing departments where the usual marketing pain points are a common occurrence.

I have seen the challenges for marketers myself, from my time working at Sky and Odeon where I’ve witnessed first-hand the ways in which marketers aren't planning their content in advance using a clear calendar format, or utilising multi sign-off process with clients / junior team members before publishing posts.

This process (or lack thereof) is the same in businesses of all shapes and sizes and gives us a unique selling point in a competitive market for social media tools. We’ve taken the best practices that corporates are applying day to day within SMEs, small agencies and freelance businesses to give them a competitive edge. This is exactly the reason why I founded ContentCal: to fulfil a niche in the social media tools space.

SMP: Who are your target audience and why?

AP:
Our target audience is predominantly agencies and freelancers, as our software offers a multi-step sign off process that allows clients to approve content plans before they go live. This is also a popular feature for large marketing teams. Our software has been built with collaboration at the forefront.

SMP: What are the challenges that you’ve encountered and how are you overcoming them in what you have been doing so far at ContentCal?


ContentCal website image 600x300

AP replies with:

Establishing our proposition has been tough – as much internally as externally. We have a clear mission but articulating that to the team and our prospect customers in the most effective way possible has been hard. We’ve overcome this through sheer perseverance and letting the market decide what they want to buy from us.
The other challenge has been around creating clear unity within our team. When you bring a group of strangers together, especially talented ones, they all have opinions and views. It’s critical to align these as quickly as possible, and at times remember not to run your business by committee and make decisions where needed.

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

AP: ContentCal has had £1.6m of angel investment, has doubled its revenue YoY since it began, and currently has 7k users of the platform including WPP, Amazon, BMW as well as thousands of SMEs. There is nothing that gives me more satisfaction more having a lot of happy clients and a happy team internally. We work incredibly hard but try to ensure we celebrate the wins we have as a team when they happen, and then get back to work.

SMP: What do you see as your biggest challenges and opportunities for your sector and the competition that you have?

AP: The content and social media industry currently is worth around £313 billion globally and continues to grow year on year. Social media has become increasingly complicated – especially in recent months with the latest Facebook data scandal and GDPR coming into play. The level of knowledge required to become successful at social media is becoming complex and as a result, there is an increasing need for specialists to help businesses.

We’ve researched the space and found that the growth of internet adoption continues to increase YoY. As this grows, so will the use of social networks so there are no signs that things will be slowing down in this marketplace. We see a huge opportunity to take everything we’ve learned thus far and apply it to businesses on a global level. We have the backing, proof points, and expertise to execute this.

SMP: What do you think is going to be the most interesting aspect regarding content, social media, social networks and/or technology for the next 12 to 18-months and why?

AP replies with:

  • The fact that more and more advertising spend is going to go into these networks and that formats will continually change to deal with the increased investment which will make things very complicated for brands. There is no slowdown in this space coming, and technology providers as well as the social networks will need to significantly up their game in campaign delivery and reporting.

  • I see a decline in Facebook prioritising live video simply down to the fact most people won’t adopt it and it will be only be niche users of the platform. They have tried to force it and it worked for a while, but it won’t work at scale and therefore Facebook will downgrade it.


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


AP
replies with:

  • Social networks will address the need to be clear what is ‘social’ on their platform with regard to their users and what is ‘media’ for advertisers, and this will become clearer over time. It’s been too confusing for many brands whether social networks want direct response advertising cash from brands, or brand marketing cash. They can do both, and I think they are starting to understand they need to differentiate their propositions to buyers to make it clearer.

  • Brands who tap into both the social and the media part of this equation will continue to see the most business success – there is a reason legacy businesses across the world are in decline, and one of the key ones is being slow to adopt social media marketing as a central part of their business.

  • Content will see increased investment as brands continue to favour volume of content to appease social networks and SEO over fewer, high quality pieces with mass distribution. There is less risk in creating a high volume of content than there is creating one hero piece and hoping people like it en masse.

SMP: What are your top overall content and social media tips and why?

AP replies with:

  • Have a plan for your social media marketing, including things like resources and budget. Neglecting to consider these factors will set you up for failure.

  • Don’t make your content too promotional, you should aim for about 20% promotional content and 80% other content. Bring more value to your audience with a variety of content.

  • Remember that social media is constantly evolving and changing. Be willing to adapt and change your strategy to roll with the times and jump on new trends.

  • Don’t post any content without an image, video, or gif attached. Otherwise your content will be so much less effective and unlikely to get much engagement.

  • Remember to post frequently, consistently, and at peak times for when your audience is online to maximise the potential for engagement.

SMP: Best way to contact you and ContentCal?


AP: By email or through marketing manager, Hayley Snow

ContentCal website image 600x300

Now some questions for fun

SMP: What did you have for breakfast / lunch?

AP: I’m doing intermittent fasting at the moment, so I only eat 12 – 8pm then the rest is fasting.

SMP: If you weren’t working at ContentCal what would you be doing?


AP: Probably another social media startup!

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

AP: I went to the Amalfi coast, for the food and views

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


AP: The first thing I do when I wake up is re-write my to-do list in line with the business priorities and do as many emails as possible. I have a desk at home so I do this before I get into the office, so that all office time can be focused on reactive things the team need.

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

AP: If I had a superpower it would be to time travel! I'm fascinated by history and would love to go back and drop into different periods of time to see how they've impacted where we've got to today in the world.


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