Home Articles & Features People of the North: Steven Bartlett, CEO & co-founder of Social Chain

People of the North: Steven Bartlett, CEO & co-founder of Social Chain

Steven Bartlett, CEO & co-founder of Social Chain
Steven Bartlett, CEO & co-founder of Social Chain

Social Chain is a global social media marketing agency, with offices in Manchester, London, New York and Berlin.

CEO and co-founder Steven Bartlett leads a team of over 100 like-minded individuals who are quickly disrupting the ever-changing social sphere.

How did your journey with Social Chain come about ?

Before setting up Social Chain, I began a business management course at Manchester Metropolitan University, but dropped out at 18 after realising that I would benefit more from experience in the real world over a lecture theatre.

One thing I took away from my stint in higher education was that university communication was outdated and students required a new, modern platform to chat with each other. Around the same time, I became captivated by the intriguing world of social media and so I decided to launch Wallpark: a social media network created specifically for students. It was whilst looking for ways of marketing Wallpark that I first met my business partner Dominic McGregor and had the idea for Social Chain.

At the age of 25, I’m proud of my business success and regularly promote the company through global public speaking engagements. I’m also proud to be part of a panel of business experts for the Plusnet Pioneers campaign – an initiative aimed at helping small business owners as they build and grow their businesses.

How long have you been running your business and what does your business do?

After launching Social Chain in late 2014, it has become one of the most disruptive and progressive social agencies globally.

We work with some of the world’s biggest brands and run some of the most famous pages on social media, such as Student Problems, which collectively have a total reach of more than 386 million. We use these pages to drive awareness of our client’s products or services, latching onto a current trend in the hope of making it go viral.

What or who was the inspiration for the current business path you are on?

I have always been inspired by business and showed my entrepreneurial spark early, organising coffee machine deals for my local school and money-making social nights in my area while growing up.

One bit of advice you wish you’d been given before you started Social Chain?

We live in a society where we think success is fast. But when people realise that success doesn’t happen overnight, people tend to quit.

Remember to embrace the fact that whenever we try something new that we haven’t done before, we should expect to suck at it. More importantly, your dreams aren’t over when things don’t go to plan and you learn the most from making mistakes.

What is the one most important thing you’ve learned during the experience of running your own business?

According to research conducted by Plusnet, almost a third (29%) of UK small business owners find accessing finance their biggest business challenge.

My top piece of advice is to not raise investment unless you’re sure that it is necessary for your business. You must be confident to seize an opportunity that won’t be there in the future because there’s increased competition.

If you are already running a profitable business, we would tell you not to raise investment and to scale from your own success. Taking this approach builds a sustainable business and one that’s not built on a fixed set of investor terms.

What do you see as your future business challenges?

In the crowded social media agency sphere, it’s always challenging to ensure Social Chain remains a cut above the rest – but we believe it always will.

Social Chain is distinctive because we follow a social-first approach to marketing, using the latest technology to drive strategy, creativity and distribution for some of the biggest brands in the world.

We’re an agency with a difference, running some of the most famous pages on social media that give us the platform to quickly distribute content. In this way, we quickly convert reactions into trends, and trends into global movements.

What would you like to leave as your business legacy?

I’ve always believed in the basic premise that humans buy from humans, and they prefer to buy from humans who appear to be more knowledgeable or intelligent.

Most importantly, the best way to be heard and trusted is by being completely honest, and that’s something I live by day-by-day.

What would you say is your biggest business achievement so far?

It’s fair to say that Social Chain in itself has been my biggest business achievement.

In less than four years, Social Chain has exceeded our every expectation. After having recently acquired The Football Republic (TFR), a network of sport social media channels, from FremantleMedia, our vision is that we’ll continue to dominate more and more viral pages in the future.

When you are not running Social Chain, what do you do to relax?

Working in social media is incredibly fast-paced and what’s more, I’ve become a public speaker over recent years – sharing my knowledge on entrepreneurship and marketing.

It’s easy to get stressed out at times, but for me it’s important to have a good work-life balance and enjoy time with friends and family.

What would you be doing if you weren’t running Social Chain?

If I wasn’t running social chain, I’d probably be leading another business with a unique proposition. I think I was born to run a business and put 110% into it.

Most importantly, I’m a huge advocate for building a brand for yourself using your own knowledge and expertise and I’ve discovered the best way to network is to use your own social media channels to create dialogue.


Find out more at the Social Chain website

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