In our digital world, companies know that their success depends on pouring an exorbitant amount of time, money, and resources into their online presence, but it isn’t always clear whether or not this investment is actually paying off. As the Social Media Manager at Similarweb, Itay Gross makes it his business to know.
Similarweb is a leading digital data provider that measures online traffic in order to help businesses scale up and stay a step ahead of their competitors.
It’s Itay’s job to build the brand’s organic online presence by ensuring that Similarweb’s social media content is not only on brand, but reaches as far and wide as possible. We sat down with Itay to hear his insights on managing branding and social - in times of peace, and in times of war.
Put users first
People often think of company branding as a process that starts from within; a company first defines their values and messages, and then figures out how to package them for potential customers. Itay believes that this approach is backward. “People misunderstand that a brand should be outward and not inward facing,” Itay explained. “Company headquarters are a bubble, and the things that interest you aren’t necessarily the same things that interest your customers.”
"If you turn your brand into a billboard for your company, people will lose interest. Your job is to provide users with content that is both helpful and entertaining"
When asked how companies should shape their brand identity, Itay’s answer was quick and simple. “Just put the user first,” he said. “If you turn your brand into a billboard for your company, people will lose interest. Your job is to provide users with content that is both helpful and entertaining, without making them purchase, sign up, or commit to anything first.”
Of course, in order to fulfill this task, companies need to understand their audience and speak their language. “It is essential to develop a deep, thorough understanding of your target market,” Itay emphasized, “You need to think ahead - what is your value proposition to current and prospective users? What sort of content will interest them?”
This is not something vague or theoretical; it is the litmus test for all of the content that your brand puts out to the public. “You may not get it right the first time,” Itay admits, “but you do A/B testing until you do. You need to follow growth, impressions, and engagement, fine tuning all of your content until it speaks to and reaches your users, while also reflecting your company accurately.”
"Every time I enter a Social Media Management role, I train myself to write and create content using the brand’s voice. It’s like putting on a hat or adopting an alter ego."
Once a company has successfully achieved the brand messaging, the most important thing is consistency. “The best brands are those that are recognizable across all channels. Users always know what to expect from them,” Itay explains, “In order to do this, every business needs a succinct mission statement that defines its voice. Every time I enter a Social Media Management role, I train myself to write and create content using the brand’s voice. It’s like putting on a hat or adopting an alter ego.”
Consistency is important for all internal and external company communication, but perhaps most critical for social media. Unfortunately, this can be especially complicated, as many companies are reluctant to bring big social media teams inhouse.
When outsourcing social media to freelancers, Itay emphasizes the need to manage expectations. “Social media teams need to be built out carefully and gradually,” Itay warns, “A company needs to go through a process of trial and error, see what works, and keep a close eye on what milestones are reached. This will help leadership.”
Stay one step ahead
This mission is further complicated due to ever changing patterns in the world of social media. For example, “in 2012, Facebook and Instagram were all about images, and Twitter was mostly text. Today, with TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts, video has become much more significant,” Itay explains. “Companies need an efficient system of project management and prioritization to determine on which platforms they want to be present and how to hire talent accordingly.
"The best thing about my job is getting to think creatively and then make successful content. Getting all those likes not only feels good, but it’s amazing to see the excitement spread across the company and get the whole team on board.”
This requires constantly staying on top of trends and being one step ahead of the competition. “Marketing teams need to look at the analytics of each platform, make note of spikes in follower groups and top performing posts, and track impressions,” Itay says, “But when you do it right, it can be so rewarding. The best thing about my job is getting to think creatively and then make successful content. Getting all those likes not only feels good, but it’s amazing to see the excitement spread across the company and get the whole team on board.”
Being an Israeli company in a global world
The Similarweb headquarters are located in Israel, but the company has offices and customers across the globe. This has made the last three weeks particularly challenging for Itay and the rest of the Israeli team, as they struggle to continue working through the current war. “The first two weeks were extremely difficult,” notes Itay, “many of the employees were called up for reserve duties, schools and kindergartens were closed, and we were in a state of shock, fear, and trauma following the horrific terror attacks on October 7.”
However, with the country now deep into an existential war that may last many months, perseverance is key. “We’re wrapping our heads around the new normal,” sighed Itay, “it feels reminiscent of the early days of Covid, but with an added layer of stress and fear.”
“Business as usual” in a time of war
Israeli tech companies that serve a global customer base have to figure out how to move forward. One major question is whether or not to post about the current situation on social media, and if so, how. “I think a bit of silence is okay right now,” Itay admits, “This isn’t actually business as usual, and we shouldn’t have to pretend that it is. It’s also important to post publicly about our solidarity and support for the people and state of Israel and to refrain from the more humorous or light-hearted posts in respect for the gravity of these times.”
However, there is also value in the “business as usual” approach and in keeping the economy running. “This is part of what it means to be resilient,” he claims, “I’m drawing a lot of inspiration from the people of Ukraine. The Similarweb employees in our Kyiv office have continued working despite the fact that they have been under attack for more than a year and half and are often working from bomb shelters under rocket fire. In the last few weeks, Ukraine has spoken out with strong support for Israel.”
These complex times also require flexibility. “We will have to continue updating our strategy as the situation on the ground develops,” Itay explains, “all we can do is take things one day at a time right now.”