Thanks for checking out The Social Influencer. This blog was launched to connect with influencers and share their experiences with the world. 

Social Influencer Series | CEO refine+focus, Zach Braiker

Social Influencer Series | CEO refine+focus, Zach Braiker

I really enjoyed my time at Greater Media Boston. We rebranded our radio group as GMB Live and Local and got laser-focused on two very important developments. The first was leveraging radio as a local activation partner - helping brands drive results with creativity, promotional horsepower, events and that "local connection." The second was building out a relevant digital solution set that helped us expand our reach.

That is where I met Zach Braiker, the CEO of refine + focus, a lean strategy and social marketing consultancy. He helped us navigate a path for our attempt at digital transformation and helped us launch GMBi - our interactive business model.

Zach has developed go-to-market strategies, connected global companies and high growth start-ups to cutting edge resources and partnerships, and built digital transformation strategies.

When I joined Sprinklr - a company dedicated to helping companies make their digital transformations - I knew I had to reach back out to Zach.

Here is what Zach had to say:

What challenges do you see for radio as an industry and how can they leverage social more effectively to stay competitive and be relevant?

The number one challenge is attracting top leadership talent with an integrated, strategic vision for audience growth and engagement, monetization, partnerships, M&A, and innovative ways to improve their business models. Next is building a culture that attracts high-functioning digital native sales professionals and influential content producers. Both of these stem from vision. Leveraging social means extending this vision to the right audiences through the right channels.

Who's doing it right in your opinion? 

On the content side - Vice VideoRadiolab podcasts, Buzzfeed’s short content and investigative reporting. An executive to watch is Charlie Treadwell for digital business leadership, and a company to watch is Boston’s WBUR for building a network of influencers and high quality digital products.

What are the biggest trends you see for 2017 in the world of social? 

Leveraging platform businesses to create content, brands that engage in political discourse and take a point-of-view, a rise in influencer platforms, solutions that protect businesses from cyber and privacy threats, reframing of social networks from “channels” into “infrastructure,” and smart devices using our social data to inform decision-making.

You are meeting with the CMO of a legacy brand who needs to lead their organization through a real digital transformation. What is the punch list? What are the top (3-5) must-do's that you'd recommend they do?

Study platform business models. They are great examples of digital transformation (e.g., TaskRabbit, Airbnb, Amazon, Uber, Instacart). And they are disrupting your industry right now. Studying these companies will provide critical insight about how to build and sustain an ecosystem, develop a multi-sided value proposition, learn how network effects lead to sustainable and exponential growth, and create a legendary brand by facilitating trusted interactions between buyers and sellers.

Clarify the terms. It’s easy to get lost in buzzword bingo. When you think “digital transformation” it may include:

  • Re-imagining your entire business model

  • Developing new sources of value from your data and ecosystem

  • Evaluating whether to build a platform

  • Increasing relevance in a world with smarter cities and savvier consumers

  • Preparing for how virtual reality, AI and machine learning will transform the experience of your products and services

  • Acquiring start-ups and new talent.

Personally, I’d start at the business model.

Use a customer-centric approach. Lean startup methods, design thinking, rapid prototyping, and business modeling help companies deliver more relevant products and services. Map out the moments where new technology, partnerships, and content, for example, can provide helpful solutions to solve problems.

Plan for cultural change. You’re not just updating technology, improving systems and rethinking your business model—you’ll need to attract fresh thinking and experience.

Experiment. You don’t have to change everything overnight. Launch a skunk works project. Test a hypothesis. Try one thing and learn.

Beyond social - what is another important trend you are watching with enthusiasm for the future (and the future is now)?

Tapping into human potential. Responsive textiles that use the body's own energy to provide better sleep and performance. The rise of the quantified athlete and the quantified soldier; using technology to improve training and lifestyles. The rise and development of smart cities in the US and India.

Any advice on what you would recommend a client should look for in a social media management platform?

Like all things, know your budget. If Sprinklr is within your budget, it’s a trusted platform and I would start there. Understand your needs, as well. The landscape is crowded and the tools are diverse: analytic tools, workflow management tools, and employee enablement tools all do different things.

Speed Round:

· Go-To Social Channel? Facebook for personalTwitter for conferencesInstagramfor food and style.

· Celebratory Cocktail? Homemade chai.

· Proudest accomplishment? Mentoring world-class talent. And, of course, marrying my beautiful wife.

· A social brand that sticks out in your mind? WakieInstacart, and my favorite, Lush.

· Suggested reading for Digital Transformation 101? Without a doubt, “Platform Revolution.”

Zach Braiker is the CEO of refine+focus, a lean strategy and social marketing consultancy. His work spans a variety of industries, including healthcare, consumer packaged goods, and media, with clients ranging from Fortune 100 companies to high-growth startups. He pursues his passion helping young entrepreneurs around the world through his work with the United Nations Youth Fund and the Nexus Global Youth Summit.

 About the interviewer:

Mark Keaney is a Husband, Dad, Coach, Mentor and Leader. With over 20 years of experience in the media industry and a wild ride in the world of tech start-up & social - Mark is helping brands deliver world class CX at Lithium Technologies, where he is the Regional Vice President of Sales for the East and Central. His mantra is - Brand Globally. Market Locally. 

e: markkeaney8@gmail.com or t: @markkeaney2pt0

Social Influencer Series | Managing Director Glasswing Ventures, Sarah Fay

Social Influencer Series | Managing Director Glasswing Ventures, Sarah Fay

Social Influencer Series | President dRae Media, Dawn Wigginton

Social Influencer Series | President dRae Media, Dawn Wigginton