Interview with North East Times Magazine

Ellie Rees founded Collab Media, a 24/7 Teesside-based social media consultancy, in 2015. Here, she discusses the background of the business, her short and long-term plans, and her advice for anyone looking to take the leap with a start-up idea.

Tell us about Collab Media.

The journey to running the agency began back in 2013 at The University of Central Lancashire – where I studied Brand Management. Social media was only just taking off and ‘online influencers’ were slowly emerging across platforms like Instagram.

I established my blog ‘Your Daily Dose of Style’ – consisting of a mixture of fashion, beauty and lifestyle posts – which to date has a readership of over 250,000, and a significant following on social media. My blog became an outlet for my creativity, as well as to fuel my passion for social media.

Through my blogging career, I’ve had the opportunity to attend press/blog events which gave me a real insight into the industry. I built up relationships with PR companies and have worked with numerous brands, including Foot Asylum and Intu Metro Centre.

Since returning home from university in 2015, I was reminded of how great the North East is and how I proud I am of the region. During the final months of completing my degree, I took the plunge and set up my own social media consultancy business – Collab Media – with the aim of supporting local independent businesses.

A significant part of Collab Media’s philosophy is to showcase what Teesside and the wider North East has to offer, including the fantastic independent boutiques, micro-pubs and restaurants. I work with over 60 independent businesses locally, nationally and internationally, on their social media campaigns and strategies.

The team works with all types of businesses; to help them build an online presence and create brand awareness, primarily through quality content and engagement with customers.

Our team is made up of a content writer, photographer, communications manager and a graphic designer, all working together collaboratively to create social media content.

What is the most rewarding aspect of running an independent business in the region?

The most rewarding part is the community you grow by owning your own business. There really is positive momentum in the North East, a feeling that people genuinely want you to succeed and I am proud to be a part of the local business community.

Another rewarding part of having an independent business is seeing it grow, in terms of clients and the relationships I am building. As I specialise in SMEs, it’s great to see these brands and businesses grow online and seeing the effects our social media campaigns and strategies are having. From seeing the engagement statistics rise, the number of followers increasing to seeing sales being made off the back of an advert. The whole experience is exciting.

I enjoy the freedom. Freedom to make your own decisions, creative freedom, you have to solve your own problems (and clean up your own mess!), and be flexible.

And the most challenging?

A challenge from day one for me was being a young woman in business. From establishing Collab Media whilst studying at university, I found it was a struggle to be taken seriously, especially in the social media sector that people didn’t acknowledge the value of at the time.

It was a constant challenge to defy social expectations as there was a high number of networking events I did attend where I was not only one of the only females, but also the youngest in the room. I have turned perceived negative perceptions and feelings of not having a voice into a positive, and now I find it a great way to stand out from the crowd and get people’s attention.

What are the short and long-term plans for the business?

My short-term plans for Collab Media is moving into my new premises in Teesdale. This was meant to happen on April 1, but plans are on hold with the current situation. I can’t wait for the next chapter after working from home for five years, it’s going to be a welcome change.

My long-term plans for Collab Media include employing two full-time members of staff as account managers, this will enable me to double my client base and take the business to the next level.

What advice would you give to anyone with a business idea?

My advice to anyone looking to launch their own business is: go for it! It was by far one of the best decisions I have made. I’ve learnt so much about myself and also learnt so much along with way.

The second piece of advice would be to create a clear working space. I have worked from home for the last five years but I’m lucky to have a home office. This has helped to set clear working hours and, on an evening once I leave the office, work is done for the day. It enables you to create more of a realistic working routine and helps establish a work/life balance.

And the final words of advice I would give is don’t do it alone. It’s a difficult time setting up your own business and you need a good network of support around you (and afterwards). I spent a lot of time bouncing ideas off my parents and friends for their opinions. This also helps to talk about any struggles – it’s always important to have a sympathetic ear when in business. I also had a business mentor. A qualified expert is the greatest support you can have – especially if they’re in a similar industry and have been through the start-up process.

How have you adapted your service in light of the COVID-19 pandemic?

We have adapted our service in a number of ways;

We’ve amended all our clients content plans and strategies to fit with the current climate. We are creating more helpful conversations online and providing useful information, relevant advice or simply trying to make people laugh to give some light-hearted relief creating a break from negative content.

The customer service side of our social media channels has increased as we’re informing all our client’s customers of changes to the business. From restaurants turning into takeaways to butchers offering an online service. We’ve had to start from scratch with some of our clients, as they have completely changed their business model, therefore their social media has also had to adapt.

The Indie Series – Ellie Rees, founder of Collab Media

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Facebook Update – January 2018 #CloserTogether and What it means for Businesses

On 11th January, Facebook and more specifically Mark Zuckerberg released a statement announcing their plans for 2018.

One of our big focus areas for 2018 is making sure the time we all spend on Facebook is time well spent.We built…

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday, January 11, 2018

Over the next few months, Facebook will be making updates to ranking so people have more opportunities to interact with the people they care about.

Facebook’s mission for users to have a deeper, more meaningful interactions with people they care about. The facebook feed uses a process called ranking, this determines what areas of your feed and in what order, based on what they think you’d be interested from the algorithm information they’ve collected.

A like, comment or share is one sign that a post matters to a user, this mean the post you are likely to interest with generally gets a higher ranking score.

Mark Zuckerberg states that ‘You’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.’

The new Facebook newsfeed update means that person to person interaction will be more valuable than person to page. Connections to people in your network will get a bigger boost, meaning you’ll be seeing their content more often.

Over time Facebook believes that people will see more posts from people they are connected to and less content from publishers (pages). They also believe that people overall people will spend less time on facebook but their goal is that the time people do spend on the platform will be improved.

So what does this means for Facebook Business Pages / Publishers?

Pages may see their reach, video watch time and referral traffic decrease. The impact will vary from Page to Page, driven by factors including the type of content they produce and how people interact with it. Pages making posts that people generally don’t react to or comment on could see the biggest decreases in distribution. Pages whose posts prompt conversations between friends will see less of an effect.

How to avoid a decrease in reach?

Page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in News Feed. For example, live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook – in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos. Local businesses connect with their communities by posting relevant updates and creating events.

How to beat the Facebook Algorithm?

– Use compelling headlines
– Avoid overly promotional content
– Try new things (live video)
– Long video content, directly uploaded to facebook
– Use facebooks publishing tools (audience optimisation)
– Authentic communication – genuine stories)
– Link posts
– Refer to trending topics (timely posts are ranked better)
complete your user profile.

What the Facebook algorithm dislikes:

– Clickbait
– Like baiting
– Post that includes spamming links
– Repeated posts
– Text only updates
– Frequently hidden posts
– Posts that ask for comments, likes or shares
– Overly promoted content

Facebook considers baiting sort of content to be less meaningful and they are going to demote these sorts of posts in the News Feed. Examples of engagement baiting are:
– Vote baiting
– React baiting
– Share baiting
– Tag baiting
– Comment baiting


Publishers and brands are the losers.

Don’t panic & stop using your Facebook page, keep an eye on your Facebook engagement over the next few months to see if you notice a difference in your reach if so you need to rethink and re-evaluate your social media strategy. – Get in touch with Collab Media and we can assist with this.

Don’t fully invest all your social media time on Facebook, remember there are other social media platforms out there, cross-promote and use a variety of marketing tools for each one.

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Business Goals for 2017 Social Media Marketing

Have you got a social media strategy for your business for 2017, if not keep reading to find out what discovery paths that matter in social media marketing that help customers find the right business online.

SEARCH. The search path occurs when the customer is “searching” for a company, product, or service. The search path is the province of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), largely on Google but also on sites such as Yelp or Amazon that work via “keywords” to help customers find stuff that they want. AdWords advertising is also helpful in this path.

REVIEW / RECOMMEND / TRUST| These paths are based on “trust indicators.” In it, the customer already has created a list of vendors that they might use, but he is researching “whom to trust.” In this path, a customer might use the “reviews” and/or “stars” on Google or even Facebook reviews as “trust indicators” to predict which business are good (or bad)

EWOM (electronic word of mouth) / SHARE / VIRAL|

For Example: ‘Yum! Our food was great, lets take a picture of the meal & upload it on Instagram and tag #foodporn) The share path occurs when a customer loves the product, service, or experience enough to “share” it on social media – be that via electronic word of mouth, a share on his or her Facebook page, a “selfie” on Instagram, or a viral video on YouTube.

INTERRUPT | Interrupt marketing occurs when you want to watch a YouTube video but before you can watch it, you have to view an annoying ad, or when you get a spam email. An interrupt path is largely used in advertising and largely used to “push” products that people aren’t proactively looking for.
BROWSE. The browse path is all about getting your message adjacent to what a person is reading or viewing on the Internet. In it, you’re looking for something, reading something, or watching something, and alongside comes something else. For example, you go to YouTube to look up ‘Jeremy Clarkson,” and in the suggested videos at the end is a video for Amazon Prime. Or you see The Grand Tour trailer videos suggested at the right of the screen. You’re not proactively looking it, but you see their information as you “browse” for related content on sites like YouTube, Facebook, or blogs.


All of these paths can come into play in an effective social media marketing strategy. In an overhyped online world many businesses feel like they “must” be on Twitter, or they “must” have a presence on all social media platforms. Social media guilt, however, is to be avoided: if you define a clear business value proposition, know where your customers are, and establish clear goals and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), you’ll be able to focus on those social platforms that really help you and ignore the ones that are just hype.

WE currently have 20% off all our services, so grab a bargain while you can and get on top of your social media for your business. More information HERE 

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Make 2017 A Success In Your Business with Collab Media

What’s your 2017 Social Media Strategy? 20% Discount Code Inside!

Can you believe it’s almost 2017 already! Every year, I have to think back and chuckle at all the people who claimed social marketing was just a fad—as little as a few years ago. It’s clear now that social media marketing is here to stay, and its huge staying power is attributable to one key characteristic—the fact that social media keeps evolving. It responds to new tech like mobile devices, constantly exceeds users’ expectations, and competes within itself to bring us more and better features.

With all these changes, new applications and features in the online world, social media is becoming more and more overwhelming and incredibly time consuming for brands and it is only going to get worse.

Here’s a question, does this sound like you?

You have recently launched your blog or business online, but you’re not seeing the results you’d hoped for – or maybe you’ve been doing it for a while now, but you’ve hit a wall and you’re struggling to grow your following, stay focused, and take things to the next level? Or are you looking to grow your existing client base? Or maybe you wanted to reduce the amount of time you’re spending working on your business?

Whatever your goal is for 2017, let Collab Media help you achieved it.

We propose that your New Years resolution for 2017 should be to improve, update and utilize your social media platforms. Collab Media (Social Media Consultancy) is offering 20% off all packages and services for the whole of January to new customers for 2017.

Action Plans for your social media – £30 > £24
Face To Face Consultations £50 > £40
Phone Call Consultations £40 > £32
Social Media Takeover – £180 > £144 (1 month package)
Complete Collaboration £200 > £180 (1 month package)
Social Media Makeover £140 > £112 (1 month package )

To find out the package information click | HERE |

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