Texas is booming again and so is Social Sharks, a startup digital marketing skills agency based in Fort Worth that focuses on search engine and social media marketing. But even in the Lone Star State, bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. Like its eponymous animal, Social Sharks prides itself on staying hungry — not idle.
“When I started college, I wanted to become a sports agent,” recalls the agency’s founder Ryan Flaherty. “So, in the summer of 2014, I took an internship in Hollywood, California with a creative agency that worked with a number of NFL and NBA players. I realized that they did a ton of work with digital and social media marketing for businesses in the Los Angeles area. That was really the inspiration for Social Sharks.”
When Flaherty returned to Texas State University, he began applying his social media skills by building Instagram and Facebook pages for local businesses. When he graduated two years later, he decided to keep growing his business rather than go the corporate route. Since then, Social Sharks has quietly blossomed into one of the most dynamic and fastest-growing marketing companies in the Dallas Metroplex.
Even though Flaherty began his career in social media, he says that it’s been a challenge to keep up in an industry known for being constantly disrupted. Social media marketers must now handle everything from video editing, to advertising, and search engine optimization (SEO) — most importantly to stay up-to-date with Google’s ever-changing search algorithms.
Lately, with the Great Resignation in full force, finding the right people and keeping them has been a challenge as well. Employees must quickly become experts across social media platforms and across industries, as well. Social Shark’s clients run the gamut from human resource management apps to restaurants and health care.
Flaherty says that, regardless of the industry, the company’s mission is the same: take the hassle out of building an online presence so his clients can focus on the other aspects of their business.
“We tailor all of our clients’ campaigns around profitability so they can see the return on investment,” Flaherty says, “and being a local agency, we pride ourselves on our attention to detail and our upfront advertising approach.” Unlike most digital firms, Social Sharks separates the ad spend from its service fees, so that clients know exactly how much of their spending is going to reach potential customers. “We may swim with the sharks, but that doesn’t mean we have to be sharks with our clients,” he jokes.
Four years after leaving college, Flaherty, who also publishes an advice blog called Social Sharks School, says he has no regrets about foregoing a corporate job. As an entrepreneur, he’s learned more than he would have working behind a desk, and has discovered that money follows passion and hard work.
“You can monetize anything,” he says. “Once that part is figured out, you’ll never work another day in your life.”