In feature 015, we sat down with Elfried Samba, to learn about his journey from humble beginnings to becoming Head of Social at Gymshark and now Co-Founder & CEO at Butterfly 3ffect and Chief Community Officer at Ioconic.
Elfried shares with us his thoughts on LinkedIn as a creator platform and the importance of content on Social Media. He explains what community means to him and gives advice on those making it a priority in their strategy along with the challenges he has faced in his career and how he overcomes them.
1. Tell us about yourself, when did your marketing career begin, what is your current role(s) and what role(s) have you previously done in marketing?
I always aspired to follow in my father’s footsteps and become a doctor, but I was sh*t at science. Instead, I had a passion for creativity, storytelling, and bringing people together but was unsure how to turn these interests into a fulfilling career.
It wasn’t until I watched Steve Jobs’ iPhone keynote in 2007 that everything clicked for me. Witnessing his innovative ideas come to life on such a grand scale was a game-changer, and I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in marketing.
The Mark Zuckerberg story got me obsessed with Social Media, as I felt that it would replace the “Place” on the “four P’s” on the marketing matrix. This inspired my dissertation topic titled “How SMEs can leverage social media to compete with larger competitors” which was unfortunately marked down due to a lack of Harvard References at the time. I then set on the journey to becoming that reference!
My first few roles were in account and marketing executive positions, but it wasn’t until I landed a job at Gymshark heading up their social media that my career really took off. Over the course of seven years, I worked my way up from a social media executive to the Global Head of Social Media. It was an incredible experience, and I learned a lot about building and engaging communities online.
Today, I am fortunate to serve as the co-founder & CEO of Butterfly 3ffect and the Chief Community Officer at Ioconic.
2. Are you able to describe a typical day in your life as Co-Founder & CEO at Butterfly 3ffect AND Chief Community Officer at Ioconic?
As someone who is involved in two start-ups, my days can be pretty chaotic, and I’m often faced with unexpected challenges that I need to deal with. To help me cope with the chaos, I try to organize my day into four main phases.
Phase 1: Self-Work (6am – 9am)
I like to start my day by focusing on myself, which includes either a morning workout, working on my personal brand, and/or learning through podcasts or Blinkest.
Phase 2: Get Shit Done (8am – 12pm)
In the mornings, I try to avoid scheduling meetings and instead, use this time to tackle the most challenging and time-consuming tasks of the day. Depending on the day, I work for either Butterfly 3ffect or Ioconic, sometimes dedicating 2 hours to each.
*Lunch and Recharge/Coffee Meetings (12pm – 2pm)
Phase 3: Connect (2pm – 8pm)
Since many of the Butterfly 3ffect and Ioconic teams are based in the US, I typically have in-house meetings, client meetings, and creative collaboration sessions in the afternoon/evening. I aim to be present during these meetings and provide as much value as possible. In the afternoons, I also like to have 1-2-1 sessions, where I check my daily deliverables and assign new tasks for the following day. I often host mentoring sessions and participate in virtual podcasts and talks during this time as well.
Phase 4: Wind Down (8pm – 12am)
I try to spend this time with my wife, eating dinner, and watching something on Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon, or YouTube. I enjoy watching documentaries, trending shows, and podcasts, as they are entertaining and help me stay up-to-date with the current state of culture. They also help me prepare for my LinkedIn posts for the following day/week(s).
3. You’re known as the ‘King of Content’ on LinkedIn. Are you able to share your thoughts on LinkedIn as a creator platform and the importance of content on Social Media?
I don’t know who’s calling me that, but I appreciate it regardless!
LinkedIn is a total game-changer. It’s the first platform where you can build a community and become culturally relevant based on your professional skills and not just because you’re pretty or have a crazy talent.
It’s dope to see people with careers sharing their learnings and people actually want to soak it up.
I’m super excited about where LinkedIn is headed. As long as creators stay true to themselves and focus on bringing value to the table, it’s gonna keep booming. My only concern is that folks will fall into the same habits as other platforms, where they lose their unique flair and just try to appease the algorithm.
I’m all about content, but context is king. You gotta know your audience and play by the rules. It’s like knowing how to act at a party versus a funeral. The same goes for social media. Study the platform, learn the lay of the land, and then figure out your sweet spot.
4. During your time at Gymshark, you worked on many Social Media campaigns. What was your favourite campaign and what are your takeaway lessons when building a campaign?
That’s a really difficult question, but if I had to choose one, it would have to be Gymshark 66. It’s a campaign that I’m really proud of because it was one of the first ideas I pitched when I started working with the brand. Collaborating with the creative team at Gymshark to transform the campaign from a simple concept about helping people stick to their new year’s resolutions, into the cultural phenomenon it has become within the fitness industry (Over 800k hashtags on Instagram), is something that still blows my mind to this day.
To be honest, I still participate in the Gymshark 66 challenge every year because it helps me kickstart my year in the right direction!
5. More businesses are focussing this year on building communities. What does community mean to you and what advice would you give to those who are making this a priority as part of their 2023 social strategy?
I have a different view on building communities than most people. I believe that communities are not owned, but rented. That means brands should join a community that they want to be part of and work hard to become a leader in that community. This takes effort every day because if the brand doesn’t keep up, the community will go somewhere else.
Being the authority of a community can be a secret weapon for most brands, especially for generating repeated sales, word of mouth at scale and defence whenever your brand makes a mistake. This is because audiences that are part of the community will feel that the brand aligns with their identity and reflects what they believe.
However, not every brand needs a community, like Amazon. You just have to be comfortable with having a transactional relationship and competing on practicality.
6. You have been working in Marketing for over 10 years. Could you share the biggest challenge you have faced and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge I faced in my career was my own imposter syndrome, which made me feel like I didn’t belong and that others knew better than me, even when I had results and achievements to prove otherwise.
I was a perfectionist and criticism and failure affected me more than they should have. It was tough balancing what was best for the community and what was best for the business.
However, when I started embracing failure and trying new things with a test-and-learn mindset, I gained more confidence and learned more. Posting on LinkedIn also helped boost my confidence as people engaged with my point of view.
I believe it’s important to put your work out there, even if you risk failure because each failure is a lesson that can lead to success.
7. You have recently launched Butterfly 3ffect. What is it about and why did you create it?
Butterfly 3ffect strives to ignite change in the creative industry by promoting diversity in creative teams. We strongly believe that the most effective problem-solving teams are those with diverse perspectives working towards a common goal.
Unfortunately, despite the potential of diversity to be a superpower, the creative industry remains largely homogeneous.
To drive change, we showcase what diverse creators can achieve when they come together. Our bread and butter lie in supporting challenger brands with seemingly impossible ambitions and taking them on a journey to becoming market and cultural leaders. This not only fulfils a critical need in the industry but also demonstrates the true value of our team.
8. Where can our community follow and engage with yourself, Ioconic and Butterfly 3ffect on social media?
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