Brandeis International Business School

034: Making the Most of Social Media

Today's guests are Jason Mitchell and Eric Dieter. They oversee and run an agency called Movement Strategy, which they co-founded in 2009. The agency is an independent, social-led creative agency with a focus on digital marketing initiatives. They use social features and tools and are on the cutting edge of digital trends. They have done work for partners such as Under Armour, Warner Brothers and Netflix.

Movement Strategy is a full-service social media agency. When Eric and Jason came out of school, social media was a space that they were both spending a lot of time on. Facebook was just getting started, as well as some of the other big players today. So they wanted to help companies figure out how to be really effective on social media.

From the Dorm Room

Jason and Eric both went to college at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Both of them were going through school without knowing exactly what they were going to do with their careers. There certainly wasn't a track for social media or digital marketing at the time.

They both went to the journalism school at CU in their advertising program. Thanks to some amazing professors, they both became very inspired about the creative work and creative opportunities in the advertising industry.

The idea for their business really began with spending time on Facebook from our dorm rooms and saying, "Hey, these are really interesting and emerging platforms." And when Jason and Eric started the conversation around, "Do we have the potential to start a company and be successful in marketing?" they really looked at social media and the potential role that was going to play in marketing once brands have access to those platforms to reach their consumers and build relationships.

To the Boardroom

When they first started Movement Strategy, Eric was just graduating from college and Jason was still a student. They were working with local companies, charging them a few hundred dollars a month, and their cost of living was very low. It didn’t cost them much to start up a new business.

Neither of them had any other experience, which felt like a blessing and a curse. It was helpful that they didn't have any preconceived notions of what the business should be like, an they figured out everything as they went. At the same time, they didn't (and still don't) have a lot of perspective on how other companies and agencies do it.

A big way they’ve overcome that is by surrounding themselves with people that do have quite a bit of agency experience that could help them navigate through some of the challenges that an agency has as they're starting out. Especially one where the founders were in their early 20s and didn't have any real world experience.

Over the last 10 years, they’ve built out a strong core competency around how they can work with companies to help them across all of their social media channels and outlets. From running the social media accounts for clients, advertising across those social channels, creating content and working with influencers to help their clients understand how they get the most out of influencer partnerships.

So while they didn’t carry their college education directly into their careers, they both believe they picked up skills there that they incorporate and carry into their entrepreneurial journey.

“I always find value in knowing the principles,” Eric says. “I think that college is amazing at helping you develop an understanding of an industry, knowing what some of the milestone or benchmark work was that occurred in that industry. And I think that is all so, so valuable.”

The Entrepreneurial Edge

Every week, we highlight one piece of advice for aspiring, struggling and successful-but-want-to-be-even-more-successful entrepreneurs:

Jason: “One of the most interesting things, and I think it's also a good lesson for people, although a bit of a cliché, is this idea of luck being when you put yourself in a position to capitalize on something, it just happens.”

Eric: “I can't tell you how many times Jason and I were told, ‘Hey, just so you know, it's super hard to go into business with one of your best friends. You guys should make sure that you're really thinking long and hard about doing that because don't want to lose a great friend or have any sort of drama come up between you guys.’

“And I recall a conversation from the living room of our house when Jason and I were living together, and we said, ‘Hey, how are we going to break this thing down? I'm going to be responsible for this. What would you like to be responsible for?’ And so, at that moment in time, we really delegated our work. Since that day, we've really taken this approach of dividing and conquering. And we're not trying to do the same exact thing. And I think that decision, that conversation has been a huge turning point for us as we started the business and just set us on a track of success as partners. And we're able to hold ourselves accountable and each other accountable and remain really great friends because we're super clear on who does what.”


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