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“I’d like to start a movement focused on stopping littering and illegal dumping”

With Andrew Stephenson and Candice Georgiadis


There are so many different things going on around that world that I would love to help with or wish I could solve. And quite often many of them feel too big to tackle alone. So, if I could start a movement, I would start locally in my community and it would be focused on stopping littering and illegal dumping which eventually ends up polluting our lakes and oceans. There are great organizations that do beach clean-ups and road/highway clean-ups, but those are merely band-aids for a bigger problem. How do we educate more people about the effects of littering/pollution, including big/small businesses? It starts in our schools and communities and may take years or even decades, but I think this could have a huge impact on the pollution and waste that’s floating around in our oceans.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Andrew Stephenson. A 20-year industry expert in Consumer and Digital Marketing, Andrew brings together a unique combination of digital strategy, entrepreneurial vision and an unwavering passion for delivering tangible results. As Director of Product Marketing for NewAir, Andrew and his team oversee the planning and execution of new product launches through a mix of content marketing, online advertising and influencer marketing that connects with consumers along the path to purchase.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

After graduating university, I began my career at Xerox selling photocopiers. It was 100 percent commission for income, and with no work experience and little life experience, I quickly realized this wasn’t a passion of mine. This was in the late 1990s and just around the same time the internet was starting to become more mainstream. AOL was still handing out the “internet” on CD-ROMs and that kind of thing. A friend called me and said we should figure something out, because people were literally writing internet business plans on napkins and getting funded millions of dollars. Our online lifestyle magazine may not have been a winner, but I learned a lot about entrepreneurship and digital marketing. That’s when I decided to get more experience and ended up working for, partnering with, and starting up various digital and experiential marketing agencies over the last 20 years.

Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority about Social Media Marketing?

“Authority” is a word I don’t like to use, as I don’t think anyone in digital or social media marketing is a true authority. The medium changes so quickly I think it’s hard for anyone to keep up and be the authoritative expert. We’re all constantly learning what works or doesn’t work. That’s the fun part of social media: It’s one ongoing experiment. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been using social media since its inception and have been figuring it out ever since, for big and small clients alike.

I guess my big “aha!” about social media marketing is that it’s more an understanding of human behavior and communication rather than just simply pushing an ad or a message. You need to understand each platform, who uses it, what they are there for, and how you can interject yourself into their daily life in a way that feels unobtrusive while building trust.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

My agency asked me to move from Toronto, Canada to Seattle to open a digital innovation center. Being 40 years old and single, it was an easy decision, even though I had to leave my family and friends behind. Long story short, I ended up in California, where four years later I live with my wife and two-year-old son. The biggest learning for me, is that you never know what’s going to happen to you in your career or where you’ll end up. That’s what makes it interesting and exciting!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I started at my first digital marketing agency, I was an account manager and assigned a list of clients that I was responsible for managing and growing. One of the accounts I was assigned was the Canadian Auto Workers, Canada’s largest labor union. At the time, I couldn’t believe I had to work with these guys. In my mind I was like, “What the heck does some blue-collar union worker know about digital marketing?” My big lesson from that time was never to underestimate anyone, no matter who they are or what they look like. As it turns out, the CAW became my largest and most profitable account. I’ve seen so many agencies turn away smaller revenue clients because they don’t see the long-term value. Over the years I found that some of my smallest clients became so of my largest and best clients.

Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?

For us currently, it’s YouTube. I have a team of five people working remotely from the Philippines that reach out to YouTube channels to get our products placed into their videos. Each video produced focuses on our product and has an SEO title, description and link back to our site with a discount code for purchase. This year my team will have produced nearly 1,000 videos, all of which are continually driving sales through our dot-com site.

Let’s talk about Instagram specifically, now. Can you share six ways to leverage Instagram to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.

Here is what we found to work well for us as we grow the NewAir Instagram account:

1. Have a plan. Before starting on any social channel, you should clearly identify your reasons for using that channel and end your goals. As an example, we don’t use Instagram for sales. Our long-term goal is to build a community we can engage with to get feedback and thoughts about new products and to build our overall brand equity. The goal is key.

2. Start with house cleaning. Make sure your logo, image, company info and links are at the top of your page and are up to date.

3. Make it grid-worthy. When planning out your Instagram account, think about what your photography/imagery style will be, and make sure it’s consistent. For example, we don’t use any filters on our images, so the style is the same throughout. We also look at the composition of each photo to make sure it’s centered and shows certain angles of our products. At the end of the day, no matter your style, make it consistent and grid-worthy as that’s one big reason someone will decide to follow you or not.

4. Post consistently. We post every day at 4 p.m. PST. Our followers may not know this, but it keeps us on a regular posting schedule and holds us accountable.. Think about how annoying it is when a friend or a brand never post and then suddenly post five images in a row. #unfollow.

5. Create captivating captions. Despite what you may have been told, people do read your captions. To get the most out of a post, have your image and caption work together. It makes your posts more interesting and shows that you’re thoughtful about your posts. That goes a long way with your followers.

6. Engage with followers. Maybe this should be point number one, but isn’t this what social media is all about? Creating a dialog with fans, getting their feedback and building a community of loyal followers that you love back just much as they love you? Don’t just ask a question in your caption and expect that’s good enough. You need to truly engage by going off your own page and interacting with other pages and hashtags. Show that you care. Be genuine and take feedback positively so that you can improve your offering.

7. Bonus: Grow your following. This is one of the hardest things to do. Especially since Instagram isn’t the shiny new social media platform any more. Because I’m impatient, we set out a goal to grow from 240 followers to 10K this year, and the only way we’d be able to do that is through ongoing giveaways, promoted posts and collaborations. Is it a perfect plan? Not exactly, because building a loyal fan base the “natural” way is best. But the extras have helped. We’re nearly at our goal and have still managed to build a great community of passionate fans.

Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

There are so many different things going on around that world that I would love to help with or wish I could solve. And quite often many of them feel too big to tackle alone. So, if I could start a movement, I would start locally in my community and it would be focused on stopping littering and illegal dumping which eventually ends up polluting our lakes and oceans. There are great organizations that do beach clean-ups and road/highway clean-ups, but those are merely band-aids for a bigger problem. How do we educate more people about the effects of littering/pollution, including big/small businesses? It starts in our schools and communities and may take years or even decades, but I think this could have a huge impact on the pollution and waste that’s floating around in our oceans.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)

Elon Musk. I think he’s an incredible visionary and not afraid to push new boundaries. We need more people like him. I have no political affiliations, but if we truly want to #MAGA, then we need to invest in our own people and IP. Just think about what Elon Musk has accomplished in such a short amount of time. Most people are happy and work hard to grow their one business. He has at least five on the go and as a result has created thousands of jobs, all because of one visionary person.

Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!

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