Tencil Talks: Daniel Simmons

Daniel Simmons is the Founder of Populate Social, based in Cardiff.

Populate is an award-winning ‘no-nonsense’ social media marketing agency, focusing on all things social. They have worked with both major brands and exciting start-ups from all across the UK and have a unique focus on transparency, removing the ‘fluff’ that surrounds the industry.

After leaving Cardiff University in September 2015, Daniel set up Populate, was crowned Young Businessperson of the Year in 2017, and a finalist in the Great British Entrepreneur Awards in 2018.

Today we have decided to catch up with him on his career success to date.

Q. Talk us through your career success so far, why did you decide to set up Populate Social?

DS: I started Populate straight after I finished University in 2015. Ultimately, I was in a similar position to a lot of graduates and had to make a decision about the first step in my career. I had always harboured the ambition to start my own business and having spent some time both running my own student events whilst at University and also two summers working with one of the world’s leading sports marketing agencies, I felt as though there was a gap in the market for a specialist social media marketing agency.

Ultimately social was still a relatively new marketing concept at the time and a lot of agencies had treated it as an ‘add-on’ to their current offering when in reality it is just as much of a beast as other forms of marketing and requires specialist advice/support.

Q. In your opinion, what is the most challenging thing about the industry?

DS: A lot of people have had bad experiences with social media agencies this can often make it difficult to get others to buy into the concept. Alongside this, the environment is incredibly fast-paced and new technologies are brought out by the platforms. Again, this can be difficult when it comes to clients as there needs to be a stage of education to get them to understand what exactly is possible.

Clearly, with social media usage hitting the extent it has, there has been a huge growth in the number of people offering services in our industry – this brings with it both challenges and opportunities.

Q. What excites you most about the industry?

DS: The transparency that is now available on the results you can generate via social media is incredible. It is important for us to be able to show how effective our work is and the extent to which we can do this now is amazing. Alongside that, the platforms change so quickly which makes innovation a key part of any good agency.

Ultimately, social media is fast-paced and incredibly varied. It makes for a fun environment!

Q. What is one thing you would like to change about the industry?

DS: Social media is not suitable for all businesses, and there are many levels at which you can adopt social media. I believe that more could be done to educate business owners/executives on the power of social media and also the limitations for their business – this is ultimately the responsibility of the agencies they deal with. It would be fantastic for more agencies to be open and honest about what is possible.

Q. There are some very decent pubs in Cardiff, but what are your top three and why?

DS: Great question! For me, it’s got to be the Pen & Wig, our office local is a great pub – good beer, friendly atmosphere and a great beer garden. Rugby is embedded deep into the blood here in Wales so on a match-day all pubs are absolutely buzzing, however a personal favourite has got to be The Queens Vaults – right opposite the Principality Stadium. And finally, not strictly a pub but it’s great to have a venue like The DEPOT in the city, an alternative style warehouse venue which plays host to some great events!

Finally, we would like to thank Daniel for taking the time out of his busy schedule to talk with us earlier today.

If you would like to hear more information on opportunities that exist within digital marketing, then feel free to reach out to Joel.Williams@tencil.co.uk

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