Customer stories

How Social Envi opened a direct line of creative communication

Social Envi logoSocial Envi is an LA-based social media marketing firm. The company’s Creative Director, Byong Bark, told us how they convince clients that social media is not about selling and how Hightail Spaces offers a new way of collaborating.

Spray bottle for Tapatio
Spray bottle concept for Tapatio

We believe that social media marketing can be done better
Social Envi was formed five years ago when some of us who had worked at MySpace came together after it fell apart. We thought things could be done differently – that brands should be using social media a lot better than they were. Social media marketing is very different from traditional marketing or direct sales. It’s less about selling things online and more about engaging with people and making your brand part of their life.

Convincing clients is the biggest battle we fight
Some clients don’t get social media. They were brought up in a world of direct sales so they’re not familiar with the idea of engaging customers by having conversations and entertaining them. For us, social media is a way to have our client’s brand present in someone’s daily life without selling anything immediately. But when that person eventually wants what our client offers, that brand will be foremost in their minds.

Metrics are important but not everyone understands them
Clients often wonder what high engagement really means or question the value of having people visit their page. We remind them that each number represents eyeballs on their brand. Talking to customers on social media is like having people come into a store. When that happens, you engage with them and you talk to them. On social media this means creating content that is funny, interesting or compelling. That’s how you create fans, gain new customers and build your brand.

Byong Bark - Creative Director at Social EnviSocial media felt like a perfect fit for me
I started off as a freelance photographer, artist and designer before I fell into marketing through a friend of mine. I liked it but it was when I got into social media that I felt like all the skillsets I’d accumulated in my life, from photography and writing to engaging with people, were applicable. I’m a very social person so being able to use that component online has been a huge boon.

Smaller brands usually allow you more freedom
Most agencies want a big-name brand, a multi-billion dollar company. We’re not really focused on massive clients because they’re generally not as interesting or fun. Our bread and butter are small-to-medium sized businesses. They don’t confine us, so we’re free to do what we do best. Sometimes these companies have no clear brand identity, so we get to help with designing a new one or establishing guidelines for the existing brand, which is always interesting.

Social Envi promo for Belkin
Social Envi promo for Belkin

We have massive brainstorm sessions
Once we’ve established what the client needs and have agreed on a strategy, we sit in a room just yelling things out. Everyone gets involved regardless of official roles because you never know who will come up with an idea that no one else would have thought of. Once we have an idea that sounds great, it’ll go into production.

Spaces fits nicely into our process
We initially used Hightail to share files with our clients. But after opting in to the Spaces beta, it’s become a critical part of our workflow. We upload Photoshop files and design images to a Space then tag our client’s Art Director so they can ensure everything fits with their brand. They’ll go in and add notes without us having to get on the phone or send emails. It’s a seamless process and the user experience is really visual and easy to use.

Social Envi Space for Sharky's Woodfired Grill

Using direct feedback ensures nothing is lost in translation
We used to have a process where a project manager would take notes from the client and pass the feedback on to our design team. But a non-designer can miss subtle points, so it’s great that with Hightail’s inline commenting, we now get the Art Director’s immediate thoughts. Hightail provides a direct line to our design team but still keeps our project manager in the loop.

We save so much time and energy not writing emails
Our projects have lots of moving parts managed by different people. With our bigger clients, we could have one person in charge of the campaign calendar, another on content, plus a project manager. The project manager would have to ask each of these individuals to email the various assets and information so they can save it all in a folder. Now everything just goes in a Space. It’s one funnel and all you have to do is share the link. What used to take an hour now happens in a matter of minutes.

Social Envi Space for Sharky's Woodfired Grill

Spaces gives us a complete sense of transparency
Everyone can find out what’s going on in any project by looking at the content and conversations in a Space. If a project manager is wondering why a piece of content isn’t ready, they can see from the comment thread that the designer is still working on it and understand why it’s taking longer than expected. Previously, it required a conversation that may interrupt the designer’s flow, but now that doesn’t need to happen. This heightened visibility also helps keeps everyone on their toes. If your work is late, everyone knows it.

No one here wants to work long hours
A lot of us have done time at the big corporate agencies and realized that clocking in and all-nighters were not for us. At Social Envi, you can come and go as you please, as long as you’re getting your work done. Don’t get me wrong – we’re still really busy, so any way to make things easier and faster is great. If we can all get out of the office by 4PM we’re happy. Spaces helps with that – it’s a real time saver.

To learn more about Social Envi, visit or follow them on Twitter. Try Hightail for free at

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