Exeleon Magazine

Interview with Founder of Viral In Nature Shawn Michael Alain

Michael Alain

The impact of social media has over the years become such that it is almost redundant to stress on its importance. Businesses and brands across the globe are being driven by its power and reach.

However, not many were able to master these platforms and leverage its potential to reach a wider audience pool. This prompted the emergence of an influx of social media agencies and service providers. Among which, only a few were able to truly capture its power.

Viral In Nature has been one such social media agency that has proven to be disruptive through its services. Led by Shawn Michael Alain, the award-winning agency has been able to capture the power of social media to empower its ever-growing client-base.

Exeleon Magazine spoke with the Founder and President of Viral In Nature – Shawn Michael Alain – to discuss the company, journey, and the world of social media.

What prompted the inception of Viral In Nature? What is the history behind the name of the company?

I spent a decade in the newspaper business, including Publisher of a small newspaper, and saw the rise of social media, and decline of the newspaper industry. So I decided to get out of the newspaper business and start my own social media agency. But first I wanted to get some hands on experience. Back then, there were no courses you could take on social media, it was the Wild West.

Around the same time, Sunshine Village Ski Resort underwent a major social media crisis. Long story short, the owner’s son and his friends were caught skiing on a runway that hadn’t been opened yet and a number of ski patrollers ended up being fired.

There’s a whole lot more to the story but that’s the short part of the story. So they decided to get serious about social media and hire a dedicated social media manager. I can remember reading comments on the job posting saying “I’d rather have a hole in the head than take that job.” I saw it as the perfect place to get the experience I needed.

They had a great product with a battered brand. I was there for two years and in that time won them several social media awards. But the first one I got was from Slopefillers, a ski marketing website.

On my second day at the job and a week away from opening, I asked my boss if he wouldn’t mind opening the mountain up a day early. As you can imagine his reaction was, “Who the heck are you? You just started two days ago.” But I explained I wanted to do a social media contest that would have 20 winners and a friend. We could get the media up there that day so that they have pictures for their newspaper opening day and news on TV the night before.

The contest was a huge success. A couple months later I won the award for the ‘Best Twitter Campaign’ and the judge said the contest was ‘Viral In Nature’.

What is the vision of Viral In Nature?

Our vision is ‘To be the top performing social media management and crisis communication agency in the world’.

What has the journey been like for you as a leader since being the President of the company?

It’s been fun. I’ve always said, find what you love doing and you’ll never work a day in your life. I love what I do and that’s reflected in the work we do here.

Looking back at your career, what would you have done different when starting out?

I would have paid much closer attention to who and how many people I hired. Throughout my business career, I have always remembered the saying ‘An easy way to kill a business is to hire a whole bunch of people’. And sometimes you get reminded of that in a bad way.

I got reminded of that when the economy in Calgary took a turn for the worse. We had 12 employees. I tried to keep them all on for as long as I could but eventually had to lay-off a number of them. Lots of businesses are going broke right now in Calgary, so we’ve set up an additional office in Vancouver, wherein the economy is doing quite well.

Explain the benefits offered by the Viral In Nature Platform?

In addition to our core values, I attribute much of our success to our own digital marketing strategy. We practice what we preach and offer our clients the same winning strategy.

Tell us about the biggest ongoing trend in the SMM market? What has made Viral In Nature an award winning social media agency?

We’ve become one of the top social media marketing agencies in the world according to Clutch and Goodfirms because of our core values:

  • Client Appreciation

A client is the most important person in our business. They are not dependent on us. We are dependent on them. They are not an interruption in our work. They are the purpose of it. They are not an outsider in our business. They are part of it. It is a privilege for them to allow us to manage such an important aspect of their business.

  • Constantly Improve

We commit ourselves to constantly improve our services, performance, and push through our comfort barriers to improve value to our clients.

  • Technological Advances

One of the ways we will constantly improve our services is by seeking out, testing, developing, and implementing new applications and technologies to – make our services more effective and efficient.

  • Take Ownership

We hold ourselves accountable for our performance and results.

  • Teamwork

We recognize that our strength and our competitive advantage is, and always will be, people. We will continually learn, and share ideas and knowledge. We encourage cooperative efforts at every level and across all activities in the company.

  • Elevate Others

We lift our customers and teammates through positivity, confidence, and graciousness.

  • Passion

Passion and Heart are the cornerstones of our organization and the key to driving our success. We can accomplish extraordinary results with enthusiasm and passion.

  • Quality

We are Social Media Artisans and take pride in the quality and workmanship of our work.  In order to achieve our vision of being the top performing agency in the world, we do not offer “Good” or “Better” services, only the “Best” services.

What is the process followed by Viral In Nature when offering its services? How does it capture the power of Social Media?

I don’t give away all my secrets, however, I will say that we start with a discovery session to learn everything we can about our clients business and then take a right brain left brain approach which is creative and both analytical in nature.

What according to you makes a company disruptive?

Groundbreaking ideas and the drive to make them and bring them to market.

What has been the biggest challenge for the company thus far?

The recession in Alberta, particularly in Calgary, has been extremely difficult on small businesses. Calgary was once considered the economic engine of Canada and in just a few short years, it has turned into an area with high unemployment, bankruptcies and business closures. Businesses are facing property tax increases as high as 427% in a single year.

I love Calgary and won’t give up on it, but I also need to adapt or die, which is why we are in Vancouver now as well. We also have several clients across Canada and the USA. The USA in particular right now is experiencing an economic boom and we’re happy to help businesses take advantage of that.

How do you plan to take the company forward?

Our goal is to open offices internationally, particularly in Europe and the USA.

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