A Week in My Life: Rob Illidge, CEO of Social Republic

David Prior's picture
by David Prior

Rob Illidge, CEO of Social Republic, takes us through a week in his working life. To suggest another senior media or creative figure for A Week In My Life, please email david@prolificnorth.co.uk.

Monday 23rd April

4:30 wake up. Who am I kidding. There’s only one 4:30 in the day, right? I started the week at 6:30am with boxing expert and personal trainer, Adam Taylor at Fighting Fit. Despite the gruelling nature of an early morning training session, it’s an unusually effective way of kick-starting your week, when you finally start to breathe again, that is.

I’m a huge believer in healthy body, healthy mind, and all that jazz. Especially with the stresses associated with running your own business. And there’s nothing more satisfying than letting loose on a 30kg punching bag, with our team encouraged to do so whenever they wish.

Adam’s thoughts on fitness, boxing in particular and the workplace are as follows:

“Boxing not only changes your body, it changes your mind, your attitude and your mood. In turn improving your quality of life outlook and productivity.”

Once I’m in the office, I deal with Monday’s inevitable plethora of emails and team planning for the day. I’m then out to meet Rebecca Macdonald at Rabble Post, Manchester’s only full service post production facility, to find out how they can help improve our video offering.

It’s then time to spend time with the team, ensuring we’re on track with campaigns and ready to report on them the next week. Do they need anything? What can I do to make their life easier? The rest of my day is spent prioritising proposals; with e-commerce, sports and charity prospects potentially joining us as clients. We create bespoke proposals so there’s substantial time and effort involved in the process.

A few days prior I posted a video on LinkedIn celebrating 10 years since moving to Manchester to start my career. The post at this point has achieved 240 Likes, 33 Comments and 18,096 views. Jacka-nacka-nory.

Tuesday 24th April

Normality. In the sense of a regular wake-up time and call with Twine CEO, Stuart Logan, with the view to increasing our network of freelancers. We currently work with 300 global freelancers, whom are experts in a variety of industries, all with social media marketing backgrounds. Working with Twine would allow us to increase this network to over 200,000.

Once I’ve spoken with our team and signed off client proposals, I’m spending the rest of the day working on investment preparation. For many entrepreneurs and start-ups, investment is seen as the Holy Grail and a benchmark for success. I advise any new business owner that the path is long, seriously long, like middle-earth quest to destroy the ring, long. And you will most certainly meet goblins along the way. That said, if you’re looking to grow quickly, it’s an experience worth being a part of it.

Last thought of the day: Just when you thought the world couldn’t get any more bizarre, there’s someone, namely, Jeff Kerr, general counsel for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) fighting for the right of a monkey, yes a monkey, to be considered as the copyright owner and author for the now famous selfie he took with a photographer's camera.

Wednesday 25th April

I’m spending the morning with global construction consultancy, Turner and Townsend, getting them to grips with LinkedIn algorithms and strategies. As someone who works in the social media marketing industry it’s often easy to forget that despite often utilising social media networks, many professionals only have a basic understanding of using them for marketing purposes. I love to peruse Twitter and LinkedIn threads criticising anyone whom uses the word ‘guru’ in their job title, probably rightly so, although your job title could be ‘head of tea and biscuits’ but actually run the company single-handedly. My point is that you can only offer this guarantee of specialism if you continue to keep up to date with the almost daily changes to platform and the industry itself.

This afternoon we are working on something a little bit more exciting, now don’t get too excited, it’s only testing Snapchat augmented reality (AR) lenses. If you are nerds like us, then this is an exciting project. It’s an intelligent move for Snapchat, pushing the boundaries to make their platform more engaging. Following the launch of what it likes to call Snappables, these lenses allow developers to create and users to play interactive augmented reality games on the social network. Games = increased use of lenses + users utilising the app for longer.

Just when you thought I couldn’t have any more fun, I’m meeting with a partner of Social Republic’s to discuss providing Facebook and LinkedIn campaigns for businesses in the dental industry. If you’re a fan of Alan Partridge I can only describe said meeting as less like that with BBC commissioner Tony Hayers and more like Chris Feathers, before his unfortunate demise, of course.

We will be taking on 50 new clients from the dental industry over the next 12 months, which makes me think about growth, how quickly it can occur and how we have to be ready for every eventuality. Growth is important, but strategic growth is imperative.

Bed. Another few paragraphs of the book I’m reading, Whatever You Do, Don't Run: True Tales of a Botswana Safari Guide by Peter Allison. Which makes me think about the dilemma, would you rather fight one horse-sized duck or one hundred duck-sized horses? I’m sure there’s a business analogy in there somewhere. Asleep.

Thursday 26th April

Back to training with boxing personal trainer, Adam Taylor. Start the week as you mean to end it, that’s my motto. Well it’s not, and it’s not the end of the week but it’s close. Following the session, and my extended period of recovery back to life, our video team visits the gym to give Adam and his team advice and direction on GoPro filming. We will be helping Adam’s business to grow their social media presence, and video of training sessions and techniques will form an important part of the strategy.

For us, having processes in place is critical. This follows the theory discussed in John Warrillow's book, Built to Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You. John believes that the number one mistake entrepreneurs make is to build a business that relies too heavily on them. As a result, when the time comes to sell, buyers aren't sure if the business can stand on its own. The two key lessons are, avoid price wars by specialising in doing one thing better than anyone else and generate recurring revenue by engineering products that are often repurchased.

Following our morning session, and with video content on my mind, I have organised meetings with suppliers of video equipment for commercial use. We are looking to invest in producing higher volumes of quality content for clients and our own brand, having this option in-house will not only guarantee the level of quality we expect but also the rate in which it can be produced.

I’m spending my evening with 21,000 others at the Manchester Arena, watching grown men throw tiny pointed projectiles at a round board. I’m talking about Premier League Darts of course, and it couldn’t be any more glorious. Now I can’t play darts, didn’t spend my childhood in pubs or grow up watching Bullseye, OK perhaps Bullseye but I’m not what you would imagine to be a traditional darts fan. It’s a difficult spectacle to describe, but that’s the beauty of it, it brings together a plethora of audiences, young and old, men in suits, men dressed as retro football players, everyone is encourage to attend. If only you could bottle and sell that atmosphere.

Last thought of the day: [Unknown]

Friday 27th April

I am surprised that during this diary I haven’t mentioned replying to what seems like 10 million emails I receive every day. I’m sure anyone reading this will feel the same. With emails I think there’s an important process you can implement; delete, reply or archive/forward. I sometimes notice in client meetings people will have thousands of unread emails, I think my head would genuinely explode if I were in that situation.

The same goes for organising your business and personal life. One of my LinkedIn connections recommended a system which requires you to organise the day’s tasks into order of priority. High priority tasks should be completed with one hour, medium in the following two hours, low priority contains everything else and there’s after work hours, for all the procrastinating activities. It’s a similar system to one recommend to entrepreneurs on the NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator.

Today, Friday or Fri-yay for many, is a day of GSD, or getting sh*t done. Why wait until the next week when it can be done immediately. This means tying up loose ends, replying to or deleting emails you have been meaning to work on, creating a better Monday for yourself.

I’m fortunate to have worked both in-house and for agencies and I like to think I’ve taken the best parts of each and implemented them in my own agency. Team meetings don’t have to be long, they just need to be effective.

One of the favourite parts of my role is meeting with potential new clients, learning about their backgrounds and how they want their businesses to develop. As someone who has been through the process of starting and developing businesses I can understand the excitement they have and I always want them to know that we’re on the same journey with them.

I have two meetings with e-commerce brands, Bishyika and Charley Chau who are both looking to take their organic and paid campaigns to the next level. The former is an up-and-coming clothing brand based in Manchester, with founder Eric telling me of his campaign to support Eve, one of the victims injured in the Manchester arena attack. Whilst running his own business, Eric has created a product line and online store for Eve, with her receiving 25% of sales for her recovery. A fantastic campaign indeed and certainly one we will be supporting in the next few weeks. Check out #CampaignForEve.