Canada’s Twitter agency

Social media is smart media.

We’re Canada’s only Twitter specialists. Of course we work every day with Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook but Twitter accomplishes things other channels can’t.

That’s because key decision makers are on Twitter. The entrepreneurs, politicians, influencers and business leaders are all on Twitter.

Combining Twitter with other social channels delivers great results.

Our clients come from digital marketing agencies and PR firms that do social on the side. Social media cannot be done on the side.

Here’s an interview with the founder of Sky Alphabet, Steve Yanor. Here are answers to questions people ask the most.

Sky Alphabet is a weird name. What gives?

Starting the only Twitter agency in Canada is also weird. Or at least highly contrarian. But to me it made a lot of sense. Here’s why.

A lot of companies struggle with awareness. But if you’re a public company and you lack awareness it’s a primary concern. Awareness translates to liquidity. Or at least it should.

I was a day trader for three years. Prior to that I was a communications consultant advising investment banks and corporate issuers. The trading experience really heightened my awareness of the importance of communications. Social media is an ideal environment for communicating detailed facets of a company’s story. Traders and investors love discrete pieces of information to build into their models. Even small tidbits can give a small company a huge advantage.

When I named the agency I adopted the concepts of alpha and beta. I figured this would make sense to the people who hire us: CMOs, IROs, CEOs and CFOs. And then I stuck my initials on the front. I thought SKY sounded better than SLY.

AlphaBeta sounded too much like alphagetti the spaghetti so it was shortened to Alphabet.

6 months after we got the skyalphabet URL, Google announced it was changing its name. To Alphabet! What are the odds?

But even stranger is that another company by the name of sky alphabet registered a “.net” two weeks after we did. I wasn’t sure what to make of that. I mean, who else would come up with the name Sky Alphabet?

Steve Yanor sits in front of a green screen during a recording session of the web series IPO Roadshow
Steve Yanor

 Why start a Twitter agency in Vancouver?

I was freelancing for agencies and I could see that many of them were successful with digital, but nobody was doing social. Or at least doing social the way social needs to be done. To my knowledge we are the only pure-play social media firm. You can’t do social “on the side.” It’s too much work.

Here’s how to tell if your PR or digital marketing agency does social on the side: check how many Twitter followers they have.

Many of the agencies are just now starting to hire social media specialists. Everyone is behind the curve because everyone follows the money. The money is only starting to materialize.

The business plan I wrote for Sky Alphabet uncovered some fascinating research. The research showed that SEO budgets and digital ad spend are starting to shift into social media. Even more recently, Forrester reported that social media is “the channel that best suits engaging digital-first buyers.” Obviously that’s a big deal.

What’s a typical day at Sky Alphabet?

Busy! 6:30 am start and typically the last post is 9:30 pm. We have clients across the country so we adjust for the different time zones which is why start so early. There’s always a lot that happens on social media overnight.

I’m working on making the shift to a 24/7 operation so that we can take advantage of the immediate nature of social. There are so many opportunities everywhere, especially since we have expanded from Twitter to 11 other platforms. But we still believe Twitter should be the cornerstone for any brand serious about becoming fully valued.

Twitter delivers the holy grail of what modern audiences want: real-time search, up-to-the-second news and as many people as you want to connect with. Let’s face it: 360 million people are enough for eny brand to work with.

 

Why do you prefer Twitter?

Both Twitter and LinkedIn have the most desirable audiences: college educated, wealthy, loyal. In short, these are audiences that buy stock, drink wine and own a house. All the things that brands clamour for.

The investment in developing an audience on both Twitter and LinkedIn is worth it. Twitter has exceptionally low CPMs and hopefully it will stay that way. When I refer to CMPs I am talking about “cost per thousands” in an organic sense. Which is the reason why no agency specializes in Twitter because the audience development side of the business is brutal. It’s difficult. It takes time. We developed our own software to help us find and develop audiences. MAGnet really takes the grind out of attracting audiences.

Having a good Twitter account really sends a signal that a brand knows what it’s doing.

Especially in the small business space — lawyers, dentists and all the occupations and startup categories where there is loads of competition — mortgage brokers, investment advisors, accountants, decorators, real estate agents, home security firms, plumbers — for all of these everyday categories Twitter is perfect. Perfect.

Twitter is unrivaled for its access to institutions and VCs. There’s a lot of money on Twitter.

The thing that most people don’t know is that a platform like Twitter gives you direct access to anyone that follows you through a secure email channel. What a great feature. So you can rely on that when you’re ready.

A lot of people make the mistake of sending these direct messages: thanks for following me and so on. Keep your powder dry. Wait for the right opportunity.

There are some pretty big traps out there. Social media is a public forum. But if you’re clear about your goals anything is possible.

Do you want to improve your search results? Use social. Do you want to improve your reputation? use social. Do you want to build the value of your company? Definitely use social. There is a long list of use cases that most people haven’t considered.

What’s around the corner?

Everything is unpredictable. If we follow the business plan we will be hiring people in data science, audience development, SEO, coding, content marketing, communications strategy and a bunch of creative generalists. Maybe a lawyer or two.

There’s a huge side of data with social. That’s the opportunity. And that’s where we’re going. We just finished coding our first audience development tool.

In many respects social media marketing is still in its infancy. But the process of tapping someone on the shoulder and relating to them is as old as the pyramids, probably older.

There are probably cave paintings of people tapping each other on the shoulder — ‘hey: there’s a hungry lion in that bush!’

This awareness action is what social media boils down to: tapping the right people on the shoulder and having an ongoing conversation with them. If they feel like it. You have to tread carefully. If you’re a brand, time is your best friend.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions about social media?

If you think of social media as pre-marketing or “pre-sales”, you begin to see the possibilities. If you see it first as a sales channel then you are headed into the danger zone. Social media is a pre-sales channel. It’s a touchpoint. It’s where you rack up points for being a good brand and a good online citizen.

Consumers are spending more time on social but they’re not spending time talking to their friends. They’re spending time reading the news or chatting with people they’ve never met. People are really comfortable with that. But this also means they are spending a lot less time with Google.

People are searching on Twitter and Facebook now. Google search is too outdated. No one wants results that are a day old.

Search is moving to social. That’s a huge opportunity.

Our slogan is “social media is smart media”. Social media is smart because it is natural. It is semantic. The happy face is the most primal form of online communication. Hitting ‘Like’ is an automated thing for a lot of people.

Of course this doesn’t mean social media is a panacea. Look at what’s happening with Snapchat. Growing pains.

But that’s because the audience on Snapchat is too young. And Facebook is much too saturated. It is unclear whether Snapchat can tread water long enough to generate free cash flow. It is interesting to watch. They are failing much larger than Twitter ever did.

Any recommendations?

We recommend a content calendar so that the big events throughout the year are well served. As the years pass you get better and better at really punching the big events and augmenting them with programmatic audio or something extra. Social works really well when there’s an additional component, like outdoor advertising.

It’s also a good idea to keep really good paperwork: KPIs, strategies, records of your postings. Experiments are a must.

Where does Twitter fit in with thought leadership?

Thought leadership is crucial for any business. I don’t care if you’re a winemaker, plastic surgeon or personal injury lawyer, people who are buying from you are making decisions based on 5 or 6 data points. Using Twitter and the other social channels is an absolute must if you intend to truly be a thought leader.

I love the recent example of Tinhorn Creek which is a BC winery purchased by Andrew Peller. The CEO Sandra Oldfield is the #1 ranked CEO on Twitter in Canada with 16k followers. I asked her: “has Twitter made a difference to your business?” She said “absolutely.” Who knows if social Tinhorn’s social media played a part in the acquisition but she definitely had the loudest voice of anyone in the BCE wine world on Twitter. It certainly can’t hurt.

Twitter is powerful. All the important people are on Twitter. It can be a difficult platform to master, but it’s the platform that can help brands get a distinct competitive advantage, especially those that are publicly traded.

 

About Steve Yanor

Steve Yanor is the founder of Sky Alphabet Social Media Inc. (almost known as Sly Alphabeta). With a background in investor relations and corporate communications, he was one of the world’s foremost authorities on IPO marketing.

From 2002-2007 Steve oversaw the investor roadshows of some of the largest IPOs in the world. Working alongside Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, UBS and other major investment banks in New York City, Steve was responsible for ensuring international investor marketing campaigns were executed with flawless perfection. Steve wrote a book on the subject of IPO roadshow marketing now available on Amazon titled Roadshow: the Marketing of Corporate Finance.

With more than two dozen roadshows to his credit, Steve’s ability to create investor content while managing the complexity of large group meetings around the world earned him top spots at some of the world’s most prestigious IR marketing firms, including Imagination (GIC USA) and The Global Consulting Group.

Prior to New York, Steve worked at prominent IR consulting firms in Toronto and Vancouver, and assisted Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. with their reverse IPO while employed as Lions Gate’s VP Marketing and Communications.

In all, Steve has directly participated in the raising of more than 45 billion dollars through various securities transactions involving Initial Public Offerings, mergers and debt issues.

Steve started Sky Alphabet Social Media in the Summer of 2016 and incorporated the company in June 2017. He holds a marketing diploma from the Institute of Communication Agencies.

Please connect with Steve on LinkedIn