Having started his own business aged 19, Alexander quickly realised the power of social media in building communities and generating sales. Following his own success, Alexander started helping friends grow the social media for their enterprises. This evolved into the creation of a new company which, in less than six months, has amassed over 70 clients with the majority coming from referrals. Alexander specialises in Instagram but has experience across almost all social media platforms. There is no job too small for him and he has worked with a number of start-ups to create accounts from scratch. At the opposite end of the scale, he has also helped to grow existing multi-million pound businesses. With his extensive range of clients, he has experience in most areas, from personal brands to multinational companies!
Ali, tell us a little bit about you and your work. What does your working week usually involve?
I work with over 70 clients across a range of different business fields. We have clients all over the world from Switzerland to the USA, so no day or week is the same! There’s no 9-5 routine in our business as we try and keep our clients happy whatever the time of day.
How did you get into social media as a career?
I started my own online business aged 19 and managed to generate over 80% of my sales through social media without any paid ads. I started to help out friends with their social media which then snowballed into a new company called FrontPage Digital.
Do you feel you have a certain style or approach? Is there a typical ‘Ali Onslow’ way?
I don’t use the traditional social media marketing agency techniques. Instead, my focus is more on utilising algorithms. However, this has to be done in conjunction with careful management of content and engagement which I spend lots of time helping clients with.
What have some of your highlights been so far – big or small.
Landing the contracts with some of the largest private aviation companies has been a big career highlight, as well as being given the social media accounts to run for the former head of e-commerce at B&Q and New Look.
What are the challenges currently facing your sector?
The algorithms that run our social media are changing rapidly and maintaining a good understanding of these is paramount in order to keep driving account growth efficiently.
Do you find a lot of people try to do their own social media and then get stuck? Do you have any advice for them if so?
It can be a bit of a daunting task to try and grow a social media account from scratch. Good content is imperative as well as building an engaged community you can keep at your fingertips.?
Who would you love to do the social media for?
I actually find doing social media for smaller companies the most enjoyable as they can really appreciate the results I generate for them.
You started your business aged 19. Do you recommend entrepreneurship as a route for young people?
It is easier than ever to start your own business as a young entrepreneur. Most of the skills you learn running your own business can’t be taught so the best thing you can do is get out there and do it! It is an increasingly popular career path as you can choose your own working hours and sculpt exactly how you want your business to evolve. This degree of ownership over your work is an attractive prospect to many young people.
What advice would you give to people just leaving school or university and looking to work in social media?
A good track record is key in social media. This may mean starting by running accounts for free. Once you have a few successful businesses under your belt, this will put you in a stronger position to start your own social media agency.
What do you think your industry will look like in 10 years’ time?
The industry is likely to be far more mainstream. Given that Instagram is less than 10 years old, it is still a relatively new platform.
What do you do when you’re not working?
I enjoy all things outdoors, from scuba diving to tennis. I also particularly enjoy travelling and still have lots of places on my list to visit.
What’s next for you?
I want to continue to grow my business and look forward to working with lots of new and exciting ventures!