It was the summer of 2007, and Facebook had recently opened up beyond college students, to welcome everyone to its platform. My wife Carrie and I were in the first year of our bootstrapped word-of-mouth marketing agency, then called theKbuzz, and following our baseball stadium sponsored wedding, we were serving clients through mall events, store grand openings, and guerrilla marketing—even more events at baseball stadiums.
We had an assignment for Verizon FiOS, then a new cable TV alternative, to find influencers (yes, in 2007!) who had FiOS, and offer them house parties, where they would watch a big TV event and sign up their friends and neighbors for Verizon. The problem was, FiOS was still quite new, and we had trouble finding people who both already had service and wanted to host (even free) house parties. An intern suggested I try Facebook—and after 12 hours of exploring, I was hooked.
We recruited house party hosts for Verizon using Facebook, but then we successfully pitched Verizon to launch their first business Facebook page, and then 1-800-Flowers.com, and then Neutrogena, and IMAX, and dozens of other brands. We quickly refocused on social media as word of mouth. (It turned out to be much more efficient than baseball stadium events!)
We were doing social media strategy, content, and advertising for dozens of household brands, but our company name was still theKbuzz. It needed to evolve. The tipping point was when Queens Borough President Helen Marshall called our office and said, “I hope to hear you one day on the radio.”
“Huh?” I replied.
“Don’t you work for that radio station, kbuzz?” she asked.
Carrie and I knew right away we had to change the name of our company from theKbuzz—but to what? Facebook was about to launch the “Like” button for brands at the time, and an early employee, Jenna Lebel, suggested Likeable. It was love at first sight.
We renamed the company Likeable, and then I had the privilege of writing one of the first big books on social media, Likeable Social Media. By 2011, the agency was growing quickly, and winning awards for both client work and team culture. We had built a team of 30 amazing social media strategists, content creators, and account execs. We had a defined purpose: to create a more likeable world.
Social media was evolving as well. What was once a one-trick-pony in Facebook was quickly becoming a much more complex landscape, including Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest. In 2012, I published my second book, Likeable Business—arguing that businesses needed to embrace social media far beyond marketing in order to meet the growing expectations of consumers.
In 2013, I stepped aside as CEO of Likeable Media to pursue new business ideas, and my partner Carrie took over as CEO. She had become a thought leader herself as the host of the popular All The Social Ladies podcast and the author of Work It: Secrets for Success from the Boldest Women in Business. Carrie professionalized the business in a way that I hadn’t been able to—she brought in senior leaders, built incredible relationships with world-class clients, and continued to build our team.
The agency continued to evolve and grow to over 50 people over the last several years, and so did social media: Snapchat and Instagram and TikTok and Clubhouse became increasingly important, and so did paid ads and influencers across every social network. With the rapid acceleration of social media, Likeable needed a brand promise that reflected this, so Carrie and her team launched: “Faster service from the smartest in social, with likeability guaranteed.”
I loved it—but still, we wondered, “Could social media marketing alone help companies become more likeable?”
The answer became increasingly clear: In order to truly evolve to best serve our clients and the world, we had to partner with a company that could support the complete end-to-end digital transformation for companies. Today, I am delighted to report that Likeable has been acquired by 10Pearls, a global firm that helps businesses truly reimagine their futures through a digital lens.
With the acquisition of Likeable, 10Pearls is now 750 employees strong. One third of their engineering staff is female and by 2025 they are aiming for 50% gender equity. 10Pearls brings tech thinking to the important work of digital transformation, and Likeable is happy to support the social media piece of that reimagination. Most important, 10Pearls and Likeable are both purpose-driven companies—so they were the perfect fit for Likeable’s evolution.
Social media will most certainly continue to evolve at a rapid pace—today, for example, brands are clamoring to figure out what to do on the new social audio app, Clubhouse, along with the increasingly crowded market of Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and Pinterest. The evolution will continue, and along the way, here’s to Carrie, team Likeable, and 10Pearls evolving together to create a more likeable world.