Lessons From Running 400,000 Social Media Contests

Jim Belosic, CEO & Co-Founder of ShortStack, joins the Social Pros Podcast this week to discuss putting the customer’s success first, scaling your business with technology, and how it all comes back to pancakes.

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Full Episode Details

From Pancakes to Social Media

Jim Belosic is a man of many talents. Not only has he grown from a freelance graphic designer into the leader of one of the largest social media software companies in the world, but he can also flip a serious pancake. In fact, Pancake Labs (the name of Jim’s company) and ShortStack (the specific social media software), come from his ability to make three-dimensional pancakes.

Jims Pancake Star Wars

At three years old, his daughter had high standards and was not willing to accept ordinary pancakes for Saturday breakfast. For fun, Jim figured out how to make three-dimensional pancakes and posted pictures on a blog. Naturally, his blog blew up, and soon he and his daughter were on Rachael Ray and other TV shows, flipping pancakes. A book soon followed.

But Jim’s rise to success wasn’t in the world of pancake fame. Instead, he wanted to build another kind of company. After his pancakes took off, his nickname became ShortStack, so when the time came to choose a new name for his business, he went for it.

“I can tell you it makes bank tellers look at you really funny when you go cash a pay check or try and get a mortgage or something. They’re like, ‘That’s not a real business.’”

From Internal Fix to Scalable Technology

The ShortStack software specifically came about because Jim needed to solve a problem for his clients. Planning to use the software internally, it was developed as a content manager to run contests and promotions on Facebook. They soon realized it was scalable as a do-it-yourself tool, which took them from 20–30 regional clients to the 550,000 global users. “By scaling with technology and intelligence it allowed us to get to where we are today.”

ShortStack has not only grown their user base, but also their usability on different social media platforms. Jim and his team realized they could get kicked out at any moment if Facebook changed a process or started to deny apps. And with more platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, and YouTube becoming primary social channels for many companies, it made sense to expand. “We realized that instead of trying to be very, very specific to one thing, we should just allow our customers to talk to their audience anywhere that is.” 

Now ShortStack runs contests and promotions on nearly any social media channel, while also allowing user to create landing pages, and collect data from visitors. Their challenge nowadays is to keep it easy to use, while being able to offer more powerful and robust features. “We’ve always had this onion philosophy,” Jim says. From the outside, it’s pretty easy, but you can start peeling away layers to do just about anything you want.

Social Marketing for a Social Company

Like many companies, ShortStack felt the negative impact of the Facebook algorithm change that has essentially forced businesses to pay to play. Their reach to their audience on Facebook was 40–50% and then overnight, it went down to 3%. They have found other ways to market on social, such as with partnerships. They center their partnerships around bringing customers success. ShortStack will recommend another marketing tool to their audience that they trust and truly believe is useful. Then, that partner does the same for ShortStack with their own audience. Everyone wins.

Another way that ShortStack markets itself is through the blog, where they curate content that they feel is valuable to their customers. They produce as much of their own content as they can, but at the end of the day it’s time consuming and can be expensive. Finding and sharing content that they feel will help bring customers and potential customers success is the goal, with the hope of building trust and long-term relationships.


See you next week!

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