Manchester is known around the world as a city of industry, where new ideas spring up everyday and go on to change the world. The city has always been a hotbed of engineering and manufacturing, but it’s starting to look like modern media and communications industries might define the city’s future.
With that in mind, we’ve had a look at Social Chain, the social media giant born, bred and headquartered in Manchester. Local success stories don’t get much bigger than this…
Social Chain is one of Europe’s fastest-growing social media agencies, winning many awards and reaching more than 200 million people along the way. It has grown into a worldwide phenomenon, with clients including Apple, the BBC and McDonalds on its books.
However, that glittering portfolio hides humble beginnings. Like many such companies, Social Chain was started by a pair of friends – Steven Bartlett and Dom McGregor – who dropped out of university to pursue an entrepreneurial dream.
While studying a business management course at Manchester Metropolitan University, Bartlett began to envision a social media-assisted platform which would connect students in the same city and allow them to do anything from advertising an event to selling old textbooks. Named Wallpark, this platform would aim to be a Gumtree-style service.
At the same time, McGregor was running a hugely successful twitter page for Edinburgh students, posting funny and relatable content which attracted thousands of followers. Seeing an opportunity to weave brand messages seamlessly into this outstanding content, Bartlett got in touch and the first seeds of Social Chain were planted.
First clients and lasting success
Bartlett credits the success of their very first campaign – with a gaming app called Tippy Tap – as being the breakthrough moment. After keeping Tippy Tap at the top of the app store for weeks on end, not to mention making BBC headlines, it was clear that the sky was the limit for Social Chain.
The next few years saw Social Chain consolidate its status as one of Europe’s most influential agencies. Contracts with companies including Microsoft, Spotify, Comedy Central, Puma and Just Eat followed – and helped to attract the interest of Glow Media who soon invested heavily in Social Chain.
Today, Social Chain has additional offices in Germany and New York to complement its Manchester base, employs more than 300 people and is publicly listed on the Dusseldorf Stock Exchange with annual revenues of almost £200m.
As a company, it is the perfect example of a Manchester success story which is continuing the city’s proud legacy of innovation and achievement on an international stage.