WILKES-BARRE — With a toucan at his side, Ryan Hertel, a 24-year-old entrepreneur from Dallas, is cultivating his enthusiasm for rain forest preservation into a new creative branding agency.
Socialocca, with a toucan as its mascot, is the canopy under which Hertel is managing a growing number of offshoots staffed by an amalgam of local creatives.
Socialocca’s home base is at 900 Rutter Ave. in Forty Fort, and Hertel still resides in the area.
The brand’s first success came with Tree Frog, an organic Instagram growth service started last summer. In just six months, Tree Frog emerged as one of the leading services in its category, captivating more than 400 monthly subscribers from 17 countries around the world.
The explosive growth necessitated the firm’s first round of hiring — and got Hertel thinking about how he could apply the talents of his employees to complementary businesses.
“It took a while to assimilate into NEPA culture when I moved here in fourth grade,” Hertel said. “NEPA is truly a different animal. However, there are a ton of perks to growing up in a small area like this, that I believe provide the opportunity for business success.”
Hertel said his home area — versus a large city — has been the perfect place to incubate Socialocca.
“Less people means less competition and influence over your ideas,” Hertel said. “A simpler lifestyle means more time to invest into growing your business. I’m not certain I would have been able to hit the ground running as quickly as I did anywhere else.”
Hertel’s newest venture is Inkaloo, an ultra-modern website design platform that will debut in May.
“After Inkaloo, we’ll be launching our own visual media and public relations divisions as well as releasing a proprietary social media management software solution,” Hertel said.
Socialocca is the encapsulation of “crazy social,” but Hertel’s master plan is far from crazy.
By forming personal relationships with clients ranging from fashion models in Hong Kong to NFL players, Hertel is keen on building a full-service creative agency that blends software engineering with traditional marketing to provide high-value service at a price that most competitors cannot match. And he regards the feedback he gets from clients as one of the firm’s most valuable assets.
The Socialocca website was recently redesigned to reflect the comprehensive nature of the products being offered while highlighting how they all can — and should — work together.
“My goal for the revamped website is to position it as the storefront of this ecosystem and highlight real success stories in order to show that we can compete with other agencies around the world,” Hertel said. “Things move fast at Socialocca and we’re utilizing software across our product catalogue to deliver superior value.”
The first iteration of the company was launched to help Hertel manage digital design and social media projects that originated from acquaintances and local businesses who were referred to him mostly by word of mouth. Much of what he learned about branding, promotion, and customer service came as he pursued a career as a DJ.
“I honestly never imagined that I could make a career out of this,” says Hertel. “My plan was to pursue a career as a musician. It turned out that one of the main ways I was able to stand out as a DJ was by using social media marketing strategies. I never imagined that social media would end up being what I was known for.”
Hertel continues to donate a percentage of sales to conservation efforts and is actively searching for new team members. Inkaloo’s launch date is May 15.
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.