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Concrete Credentials: How an Influencer Thinks About Concrete

Andrew Athias, Social Media & Digital Marketing Coordinator for Silvi Group Companies, joined NRMCA Executive Vice President Gregg Lewis, AIA, LEED APs for one of their most unique episodes yet. Gregg and Andrew discussed how influencers are made, why social media is more important than ever for the concrete industry, and how even small producers can make their mark on the internet.

For your convenience, we are posting the transcript here. To listen to the podcast, click here.

Gregg Lewis:
Welcome, everyone to the third episode of Concrete Credentials for season two. I’m Gregg Lewis. And today, I’m delighted to have, as our guest, Andrew Athias. Andrew is a relative newcomer to the concrete industry, and we’re going to learn a lot, I hope, from his fresh perspective as it relates to his relatively new role. I also expect this episode will be a lot of fun as Andrew brings an enthusiasm and passion for engaging with stakeholders through social media on behalf of NRMCA member company, Silvi Group Companies in Philadelphia. Andrew joins a growing list of social media entrepreneurs who are elevating the concrete industry across a wide array of social media platforms.

There are a growing number of industry champions who see social media as one of our best ways to engage with our customers and our communities to help them to better understand the reasons concrete should be considered the material of choice for building and paving projects across the US. Andrew, welcome to Concrete Credentials.

Andrew Athias:
I am glad to be here, Gregg. Thanks for having me.

Gregg Lewis:
I’d like to start this morning, Andrew, by talking a little bit about your background, and when you realized that you had a future in the world of social media.

Andrew Athias:
It’s interesting. I went to college at RIT, the Rochester Institute of Technology. And back in 2011, when I started school, social media wasn’t really a thing that people hired for, let’s just say that. It was a hobby that teenagers and kids did to communicate with each other. And I was going to school for engineering and I graduated with a degree called management information systems, which is essentially a dual degree in business and engineering. So I understand the best of both worlds. But while I was at school, I was also very involved with my collegiate acapella group. And our acapella group. We had Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and the guy who used to manage it graduated and no one was managing it.

So I said, “Yeah, I’ll do it. I know how to tweet, I know how to post pictures on Instagram, and I have a Facebook account. So I’ll take care of it for us.” And that’s the moment that it sparked in my brain that, one, this is kind of fun. And two, I’m having a little too much creativity with the social media world. And remember, this is back in like 2011, 2012 when you couldn’t post videos on Instagram, there wasn’t Stories. All the platforms were at its bare bones. Twitter had only 140 characters, Facebook still didn’t have your crazy uncle on it. It was all very basic stuff.

And as I continued to use social media on my own purposes and for the group and find creative ways to promote our group and get people to follow us and look at our content and engage with us, as I continued to get better at that, the platforms began to evolve and become what they are today almost 10 years later. So I’ve grown with the platforms, and when you grow with something, you become pretty darn good at using all the features and tools and just becoming the social media person that most of us are today.

Silvi Group Social Media Posts by Influencer, Andrew Athias

Gregg Lewis:
Well, I’m not going to make you sing, although I’m tempted. And I appreciate and think that background… To me, it makes a lot of sense. You grew up with it and so you could talk about these platforms being whatever, 10 or so years old, but a lot has changed in that relatively, at least to my mind, very short period of time. And so I’m curious, as you started to get into this, and I didn’t realize you had an engineering background, which I think helps me at least make more sense of this, because I know that your background, whether it was at school or prior to joining Silvi, you didn’t have at least, I didn’t think had, a real connection to design, construction or the concrete industry in general.

And I’m curious, you’re going to have to talk a little bit about some of the other elements of your social media world, and I’m hoping that you can explain, to start that off with, what exactly makes somebody a social media influencer. And how did you find yourself in that role? If you tell us a little bit about that.

Andrew Athias:
Yeah. The way I like to explain it is that there’s a social media influencer and then there’s people that use social media. And people who use social media, probably just know, “Hey, I know how to use Twitter. I know how to have an Instagram account, Facebook.” They know the basics of what the platforms are. Whereas an influencer, it’s their whole passion or premise to influence you to do something or take action on something. Or not only just to buy something, but you’re inspiring enough that people follow you because they love the kind of content that you put out.

So influencer is such a hard, strong word now, it’s just what everyone calls it. But the way that I like to see it is that there are people that just have the accounts and barely check it or use it, and then there’s power users. And I think that’s really the only difference nowadays, is that there’s power users and people that just use social media. But influencers are still out, there are people who have accounts like me, where I’m making social media accounts for Reese’s and people come to my page because they want to see the new Reese’s products that are out. They want to see any Reese’s news.

They want to see me making my weird dances and songs about how much I love eating Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. So I went from my path of being a social media manager of making Reese’s content. I wasn’t trying to be an influencer, I just had an idea about Reese’s and a song and a music video, “Weird Al” Yankovic style, and it went viral. And eventually, because the internet always demands more virality, I just kept more content. And eventually, you go from being just a regular social media user or manager to an influencer. That’s usually the path that most people go, is that they’ve made a piece of content, it goes viral, and they continue to make that content that people enjoy watching or enjoy indulging and engaging with.

Sometimes you become an influencer by accident.

Gregg Lewis:
You’re going to have to help me. Obviously, I’ve got a few years on you, maybe more than a few, and so you need to explain to me and maybe to some of our listeners, who decides that somebody is an influencer? What makes that title happen?

Andrew Athias:
That’s a great question. And again, it’s like how I said before, how influencer just gets thrown around. There’s a lot of people who call themselves an influencer, mostly because they probably hit 1,000 followers on Twitter and they’re like, “Oh, I’m an influencer now.” And that’s not the case. Everyone’s calling themselves an influencer these days. But if you’re not influencing anyone or anything and you can’t really call yourself an influencer. Even myself, people call me an influencer, I’m just doing this to have fun. People call me an influencer, but I’m not out there saying that I’m trying to get you to buy as many Reese’s as possible, if you don’t buy Reese’s… It’s the best candy ever. I’m not like a salesman for, I don’t even work for Reese’s, it’s my favorite thing.

And my whole saying when it comes to social media and content is, be the content you want to see in the world. And I’ve just always had ideas of things that I want to see on the internet and I’ve never seen anyone else make it, so I figured, I’ll make it myself. And that’s just what I’ve always done when it comes to social media. I come up with ideas that no one else is doing it, and I find a way to make that content for myself. I guess you could call me an influencer, but it’s funny that people always call themselves influencers even when they’re not influencers. And the people who are influencers are just like, “Oh, if I influenced you, I influence you, but it doesn’t really make a difference to me.”

Gregg Lewis:
It’s fascinating, I think, that we’ve got a pretty diverse audience of listeners from all over the country. In fact, there’s plenty of folks overseas that have been listening to Concrete Credentials over the last year plus that we’ve been doing this. And to me at least, I think about your role, Reese’s as a brand obviously is well-recognized across the US and I’m sure overseas as well, but it pales in some ways, certainly in comparison to the size of the market that you’re now working in when thinking about the concrete industry. And that jump right between what you’ve been doing up until joining Silvi, what you were doing before and what you’re doing now, what is that transition?

And I know you’re still doing the Reese’s stuff. How does that transition work? What have you taken from the Reese’s world and laid it over the work you do for Silvi Group? And how does that transition happen for you?

Andrew Athias:
Reese’s is a niche. Everyone doesn’t love Reese’s. Some people have peanut allergies, some people just don’t like chocolate. There’s a percentage of human beings on this planet that love to eat Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, just like how there’s a small percentage of people that work in the concrete industry. And everyone who works in construction doesn’t work in concrete, and everyone who worked in concrete doesn’t really work in construction. There are some people like me who just don’t know everything about construction, I’m just here to make the concrete look cool, so it’s a niche. And there’s riches in niches.

And if you have a niche, that means that someone else out there understands everything that you’re going through in terms of what you’re passionate about. So when it comes to making content, people always assume that you’re the only person that likes what you like. There are seven billion people on this planet, you are not as original or as unique as you may think you are when it comes to the things that you’re passionate about. There’s bound to be other people that like the things that you like or enjoy the content that you also enjoy.

And that was one of the craziest things when I started making content about Reese’s, I learned and almost started building my own community about, “Wow, there are other people that are also Reese’s enthusiasts.” Not just people who love to just eat Reese’s, but people who also make art and content and combine their other passions with Reese’s. And when I joined the Silvi Group, I didn’t know anything about construction, I didn’t even know concrete really had its own cult following until I started to look on Instagram and look at all the other different accounts that are out there.

I discovered that the NRMCA is something that exists, there’s a whole umbrella organization for concrete. And it just dawned on me again that, again, this is a small niche that a certain amount of people are involved in, and a lot of the problems and achievements and the day-to-day that I see concrete workers go through, and even myself as a social media manager for a concrete company, the things that I see that happens to concrete and people that work in concrete, other people, not just in my city and state, but across the world deal with the same things that we deal with here in Philadelphia and New Jersey and greater parts of Pennsylvania.

So it’s just interesting. Once you find your community and you bring people together, you all have something to talk about because you all understand the very specific things that have to go with your niche. And it almost goes all the way back to when I was in college, there was a website I used to own on Tumblr, we’re talking about a very old social media platform that like no longer exists. But it’s very similar to Reddit where people just blogged and wrote about stuff. But I used to have a secret Tumblr account called What Should Acapella Call Me?

And it was mostly about things that happened at my acapella group practices that I thought were funny. And I would just post it out at using GIFs from movies and TV shows to relate to it, pretty much what people do on Twitter now. It just so happened that the things that were happening at our practices, other people from other acapella groups found this Tumblr count, they were like, “Wait, that happened at our practice. That’s something that we deal with.” And eventually, that page grew to get hundreds of thousands of followers and people realizing that the acapella world, everyone goes through the same thing with us.

So it’s just interesting how, if you find your small community that you think that things are only happening to you, other people find what you’re happening with you and it becomes this own little community of everyone experiencing the exact same thing. I love it.

Gregg Lewis:
It’s a great background to talk about how you got involved with this work on social media. Obviously, I’ve got a tremendous of respect for the work that they do at Silvi Group Companies and Larry Silvi III, who I believe found you, if that’s the right term, and convinced you, that working in the concrete industry could be fun. And I, having worked with you now for, I guess, around a year, it’s clear that you’re having fun. How did Larry get ahold of you and how did you find yourself formally coming over to the concrete industry?

Andrew Athias:
It’s absolutely mind boggling. I don’t know if anyone really believes in the word, divine intervention, but I really think with social media, that’s just how a lot of this has happened. The stars have aligned, the planets are in a single line, and whatever other mythical things you believe in. This was 2019, late 2019, before the plague, and I was working for Morgan Stanley in New York, I was working in IT for them. And I was miserable. I got my job out of college that you’re supposed to get, that fancy tech job that your fancy tech degree says that you’re allowed to do. And I was miserable. I hated it. I hated sitting at my desk. I hated fixing tech issues from 6:00 in the morning until 6:00 at night.

It was okay. The paycheck was great, but what I was doing every day, it just was miserable to me. And I was thinking at the time, “Well, what if I got out of this and did social media for a little bit?” But one of the issues with trying to get a social media job is that everyone and their mother is trying to get a social media job these days. And I had never had a social media job for my resume that proves that I know all this stuff and I know all the things that I can do and I’ve done it professionally. It’s just always something I’ve done for fun. It’s like someone playing pickup basketball their entire life and possibly being Michael Jordan, but without ever going to college to prove it or playing professional leagues, not that I call myself the Michael Jordan of basketball, but you get what I’m saying.

So when I was doing all this Reese’s stuff and making all this Reese’s content, Larry actually found my page, sent me a message on Instagram and said, “Hey, we’re looking to hire someone to be the social media manager of our construction company here in Philadelphia. Do you know anyone? Or do you want to come be our guy?” And Larry has always been an unorthodox guy in terms of finding the people, and he gets it done. The way he does it, he finds his way of finding the right people to get the job done. And when I first got that message, I thought it was a scam, some kind of hack, because you get those messages on Instagram every day. So I thought it was a scam. And honestly, I ignored it for like the first couple of days.

And then he sent a follow-up message on Instagram saying, “Hey, I didn’t see your response. We really do want to hire someone and we love your stuff.” And that’s when I realized, “Oh, this is a real human, not just a robot.” And I looked at the page, I was like, “Silvi Group Companies? What is that? They only have like 700 something followers and they’re in Philadelphia? I’ve never heard of them.” I’m from Philadelphia and I’ve never heard of this company. They claim to be this concrete company that pours concrete all over the city and the state and New Jersey. I was like, “No, that’s not real.”

And then I Googled them and I was like, “Let me see.” And I was like, “”Oh, they are.” And then it made sense, “Oh, they really do need a social media manager because they have such a small following, but they’re a big company and they really do need help to grow their page and become better known.” And I actually sent him back a message saying, “Hey, I am interested in coming.” Long story short, I accepted the role, even though I knew nothing about concrete. When I went into my interview, the day before, I was Googling, I was like, “What’s the difference between concrete and cement?” Because I don’t want to ruin that in the middle of my interview and just blow my chances at possibly getting a social media job for an industry that I’ve never really paid attention to.

Larry Silvi’s dad is the guy that I interviewed with and also Larry Silvi and a few other people in the company. And they liked what I said and they liked what I was doing, so, “Let’s give him a shot.” And for a while, I didn’t really understand what I was going to do because I didn’t really think there was other things to do other than take pictures and videos of the concrete trucks pouring the concrete. But eventually, I saw what other accounts like Ozinga was doing, and I saw that there are other concrete enthusiasts. BuildWitt was another construction Instagram who had like 110,000 followers.

And at that moment I saw that he had 110,000 followers, I was like, “Oh, that means that there’s definitely a crowd that’s going to want to watch construction content on our page.” So I just did what I did. I made content that people wanted to see and I started making content by putting myself into it. The thing that I always tell other people who work for companies is, “If you’re ever struggling with content on social media, humanize it, find someone in your company who is not camera shy, like myself, and find trends that are happening, and relate it back to your industry. Find people that tell their story, find people within your company.”

Because that’s the one thing people always forget, is that companies don’t exist, brands don’t exist, it’s just a collection of people and everyone has a story and everyone has something that they can bring to your social media platforms that eventually will get other people interested and engaged with. So that’s how I got here. That’s how I took the back door route into the concrete industry.

Gregg Lewis:
It’s really cool. And I applaud Larry and his team there at Silvi Group because he’s done something that a lot of companies in our industry haven’t really delved into maybe, to the extent that they probably could. I guess that’s what I’d like to hear your thoughts about here, is, for those companies that haven’t taken those first steps into the world of social media, what would you say to them or what would you encourage them to do as a way to start to open the door to doing more on social media?

Andrew Athias:
The one thing that I would tell somebody who’s trying to get someone like me, is to hire someone. The one thing that I’ve seen a lot of concrete companies and our concrete company was doing the exact same thing, Larry Silvi was doing social media, even though he was also the senior vice president of sales and salt at our company. And you can’t be the senior vice president of something and also trying to bolster your social media content at the same time, because those are two full-time jobs in and of themselves. And I see this at other construction companies and other non-construction companies as well. It’s just hard. They think it’s hard to find somebody to manage social media, when in reality, there are a bunch of people applying for these roles every single day.

There are a bunch of universities that have majors now that are all social media focused or new media majors, social media majors, digital marketing majors. So there are people out there like me who are probably better than me, that are looking for these jobs and opportunities. But what’s crazy is, I never would have thought to apply to a concrete company or a construction company. These blue collar companies don’t just yell, “Social media role, we’re hiring for these.” When you’re trying to be a social media manager, you’re always looking towards the agencies or a sports team or something in the entertainment industry.

You’re never really thinking, “Hey, maybe I should go work for my local concrete company.” Do I even know who my local concrete company is? So that’s the thing that we’re changing here with our social media, is that people don’t know to apply for these roles that we have. And the same thing goes ashore for all these other concrete companies that are across the country, whether they’re publicly known or not, mom-and-pop shop, but you need to find somebody to manage your social media platforms.

Sometimes you have to start off with just one person and that one person will be the videographer, the photographer, the editor, the unicorn that does everything. But eventually, and what we’re going to be doing here at Silvi, is you need to build your team. You need to build somebody that will be able to take pictures and videos of all your projects. And then have somebody who can probably edit and manage all the content. Right now, I do everything and I’m fine with that. I’m me, so I can do it all. But eventually, you’re going to need a team and a whole department for your social media management.

Gregg Lewis:
I think that there are plenty of companies out there, not just in our industry, but our industry, the concrete industry is a relatively mature industry. And I think the idea of something like social media, which seems like a new, maybe folks say, “Well, this is just a fad or a trend, and it’s not going to be part of the future in terms of the way we communicate.” But some of us think clearly that this is a method of communication that’s here to not only to stay, but likely to expand in terms of its influence. Do you agree with that? And assuming that you do, what would you say to some of these companies that are maybe a little bit hesitant to delve into this world?
Andrew Athias:
Well, I hear that to this day still that social media is still just a fad, certain platforms may just be a fad, but social media is not just here to stay, they’ve already taken their shoes off, their coat off and they’ve gotten comfy on the couch. Social media is not leaving. And you saw that just by the stress tests that we’ve had in this pandemic, everything had to be online. We couldn’t see each other in-person, we couldn’t be anywhere. The way that Zoom has taken off, the way that Twitter and Instagram, Facebook, TikTok was able to emerge, platforms like Clubhouse were able to emerge.

The jury is still out on if Clubhouse is going to be just a fad or reliable social media platform, but social media as a whole is already here and is going nowhere, and it’s just going to get better over time. It’s the same conversations is when the internet first started becoming mass use and publicly use, or more things than just mathematical reasons. Back when you just started to buy things online, that was the whole concept saying, “Oh no, this is just a fad. You’re not always just going to buy everything online.” And here we are almost 20, 30 years later, and that’s the only way most of us buy anything.

Same thing with social media, it’s been around, believe it or not, for almost 20 years, almost 30, if you want to count like Aim and Myspace, and AOL, even email in some way or form has become social media because you can video chat through email now like Gmail and whatever, but these platforms are going to evolve as we evolve, and age as we age. And companies need to understand that a lot of the problems that they can’t fix, a lot the solution comes from social media. And I’ll give you a prime example. The way that I was hired here was because I didn’t know Silvi Group Companies existed.

Larry had to slide into my DMS as they say to get me here. But if I knew that Silvi Group Companies existed, maybe I would have Googled, “Hey, Silvi Group Companies hiring.” That’s what we’re doing now, we’re posting all of our job listings on LinkedIn, posting our job listings on Facebook, on Instagram. We’re blasting it out where people are spending their time, because if you don’t exist on your phone, or your smartphone, or your tablet, or computer, if you don’t exist on those devices, you don’t exist in real life. That’s the world we live in.

If you’re not having content that gets put out, no one’s going to think that you are who you say you are or what you believe you are. I don’t care how much money your industry makes or your business makes, if you don’t exist on social media, you don’t exist in real life. And that’s what we’re doing now, we want to hire new drivers. Drivers probably have Instagram or Facebook. I don’t think all drivers have all social media accounts, but the ones that do, we want to make sure that they see that we exist and they think, “Oh, I want to drive a concrete truck. Let me hire, go work for this Silvi Group Companies, whoever they are.

So we’re pushing out as much content to make ourselves become aware in the conscience of as many people as possible. So that’s helping with hiring. And I know a lot of concrete companies are having issues with hiring, mostly because they can’t get the drivers, and the drivers don’t know that their company exists. Same thing with fostering and getting involved in your community. In Philadelphia, there’s a lot of brands and organizations that would love to have a construction company, especially a local one that’s helped built the entire city involved with the things that they’re doing, but they don’t know that we exist.

So we’re just putting our stuff out there and putting enough content out there until everyone in our area knows who we are. There’s a lot of brands and industries that I don’t deal with, but I know who they are. I know who my local lawyer is in this city, I know their jingle, their car dealerships. I’ve never had to use them a day in my life, but I know them because they’ve put a song and content out there. For every car dealership in this area, I don’t drive every single car, but I know all of the car dealerships that are out here.

So I know local industries that have an impact on my city that I would never deal with. That concept goes on to our concrete company, just because you don’t work in concrete, just because you don’t pour concrete or do anything with concrete, I still want you to know that the Silvi Group Companies exist at least somewhere in your brain, because eventually that leads to them saying, “Hey, I don’t work for concrete, but I know a guy who drives a truck and wants a job, let me tell him about, ‘Hey, maybe go check out the Silvi Group Companies.'”

That’s the beauty of being known by everyone because you never know who out there is talking about you, you never know who out there is mentioning your brand or business or somebody that may be your new best hire, or maybe the next best thing to happen to your business or brand. And you’re missing out on opportunities. So there’s a lot of opportunities that people are missing by not being on social media.

Gregg Lewis:
Are you working on a jingle for Silvi Group?

Andrew Athias:
What’s funny, one of the reasons why I was asked to work here is because Larry saw the songs that I was making for Reese’s, and Larry slid that idea of saying, “He, if you come up with a song, if there’s some song or jingle for Sylvia Group or Concrete.” I can make it. I do have the creative prowess to sit here and come up with some jingles, but not now, but I think in the future, within the next two or three years, don’t be surprised if there’s a music video all about Silvi Concrete.

Gregg Lewis:
You mentioned earlier, Andrew, part of your role is evaluating analytics. Clearly, that’s got to be part of this. And I think for a lot of the companies that are members of NRMCA and even those that aren’t, clearly the investment that they would have to start to think about making to build up their social media presence and influence, that investment there needs to be a return on that investment, I think, otherwise these companies are going to be obviously reluctant to spend those dollars. And I think that that’s a fundamental business question or business issue.

When you talk to Larry and you have these conversations internally, what does success look like in your role or in general, as it relates to social media for a business like Silvi Group?

Andrew Athias:
Right now we’re still in our infancy in terms of having a dominant social media platform. So our goals are very basic, we’re trying to get an X amount of followers on our platforms, we’re trying to get enough eyeballs and ears to watch and listen to our content. So that’s the one thing, we’re building our following. Now, you ask any social media manager, they’ll tell you that followers are just aesthetic. It’s not a real metric that really means anything. And to a point, it’s true because only 20% of the people that follow you even see your content. And you also only see 20% of the content of people that you follow.

So you could have 20,000 followers, that doesn’t mean all 20,000 people are seeing the content that you’re making, but more people are probably seeing your content than the people that have 100 followers. So it does have a purpose in terms of the followers. However, a lot of the other things that we’re doing in terms of success is making sure that our presence gets known. We’re trying to get recognized as one of the best places to work in Philadelphia. We’re trying to get recognized for a bunch of different accolades, and just making sure that people know who we are.

I should be able to go to a concrete conference in Florida, or Nevada, or California and anywhere, and I should say that I worked for the Silvi Group Companies, and whoever I’m talking to should know who we are. I was just at a conference for social media the other day, and it was mostly because I was doing Reese’s and Concrete, but someone came up to me, he’s like, “I know who you are because I saw the Silvi logo.” And that to me is a spark of getting to where we’re going to be.

So success for us right now is really just continuing to grow our platform until it’s strong enough to where we can really do some damage, to the point where I better understand paid social. That’s the one thing I don’t even fully understand is paid social media. How to convert money into our campaigns. If we have specific posts that we want to throw money at, what’s the best way to throw X amount of dollars to get Y results. That’s still something I’m learning. And once we figure that out in regards to the rest of our strategy, we’re going to be, hopefully, this is a challenge to everyone listening, but we’re going to be the best concrete company on social media.

You’re not going to be able to compete with the content that we’re making, the entertainment value that we’re bringing, or the information that we’re providing. That’s a challenge to everyone that’s in charge of a concrete company, but that’s ultimately, the goal that we’re setting for ourselves, is to really just be known as the best, because we believe that we provide the best concrete, we believe we provide the best service. So we should also be the best concrete company that’s on social media.

Gregg Lewis:
That’s great. It’s a great way to explain that. I think from a value proposition standpoint, there are lots of it. You talked about a couple of the different social media platforms, and I’m curious just in the time that you’ve been at Silvi, which of those platforms do you think have been most advantageous to your work there at Silvi? And how does that inform or should that inform what the other concrete producer, members of NRMCA are looking into as it relates to the investment they are or will likely make in engaging more fully in social media?

Andrew Athias:
There are five platforms that we primarily use, so Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, and YouTube. We don’t use Twitter, mostly because I don’t want to manage our Twitter account, but also I just personally don’t believe there’s value in us being on Twitter. There’s a Twitter account that exists out there that was made before I got here, but I just don’t think that Twitter for us will bring any type of value the way that Instagram does, the way that Facebook does, LinkedIn, TikTok or YouTube will.

I think in terms of the most advantageous for us has probably been Instagram. That’s just because that’s where we have our most following, and that’s where we have our most engagement. And it makes sense because Instagram is still the most used platform. Number one, or number two, depending on where TikTok is on a given day. But the most opportunity we have is definitely on TikTok. And I’ll be the first to admit that we’re not putting as much content on TikTok as we should, or as I should, mostly because it takes some time to make TikTok.

Those 30 seconds to 60 seconds videos take almost an hour, sometimes two hours just to make an edit. But whenever we do, we’re getting thousands of views and we’re engaging with a lot of people. And that’s the one thing that almost blew my mind is how many people that are in the concrete industry are also on TikTok. We posted a video, then someone said LNL concrete is better. And I was like, “Wow.” It’s almost like the movie, The Warriors. That might be movie some of you had never heard of, it’s one of my favorite movies, but it’s essentially in New York, there’s all these different gangs. And they have their own flavor of New York that they are in terms of like their team.

And The Warriors is one, but then there’s a whole different type. There’s one that’s all baseball related, there’s all female one that’s on roller skates. It feels like that when you’re talking to these other people that work for these other concrete companies. And that’s exciting because I find out these other concrete companies exist on these different platforms. But yeah, TikTok is definitely going to be probably our most opportunistic platform, but for now, Instagram is definitely where we get the most engagement.

But for me personally, LinkedIn has become that new platform for me just on my own because I’m starting to connect with other people that work in the concrete industry and the social media industry, and sometimes the social media manager of the concrete company. So the more people who find out about me, and Larry said this too. He’s like, “Listen, if you ever want to merge your recent stuff and concrete stuff together, by all means, go ahead.” Because again, the more people who know about me are going to know about Silvi Group Company, because I’m always blasting about it and talking about it and posting about it everywhere.

Again, that comes to the humanizing of your company. I want people to know me, and by knowing me, you’ll know Reese’s and you’ll know concrete. So it depends on who you ask, but for me, LinkedIn, for our company, Instagram, but going forward, TikTok is going to be probably our new favorite child in our social media arsenal.

Gregg Lewis:
I can’t wait to see how that evolves. You’re forging new paths for the industry in doing some of the things that you’re doing. And I think that that’s really exciting and offers all kinds of new opportunities for the industry in terms of getting its message out there to a wider audience. And that will always, I think, be a good thing. I could continue this conversation with you, I’m really enjoying having a chance to chat with you. And I feel like we’re coming up on time.

What I’d like to do is to offer you the opportunity to just, if you were to ask or give rather our listeners one takeaway from this conversation today, there’s been a tremendous amount of information that you’ve conveyed based on your experience, working social media for the concrete industry and beyond the concrete industry, but what would you leave listeners with, do you think in terms of what they should be thinking as it relates to their work in messaging and communication?

Andrew Athias:
One of these days, I’m probably going to write a book, but one of the things I’m going to talk about in this book is something I’ve coined the Times Square effect. And Times Square is that part of New York City that everyone knows. And that’s why I worked when I was working for Morgan Stanley. And there’s three types of people in Times Square. There’s the people that work in Times Square, there’s people that see Times Square every single day, they have no choice. So it loses its pizzazz. So when you’re working in Times Square, you’re like, “Whatever, it’s Times Square, lights, big whoop, don’t care, overpriced food, whatever.”

And then there’s people that travel from around the world just to stop in the middle of Times Square and to look at everything. And to them, it’s the most incredible thing they’ve ever seen, that much electricity, just trying to contemplate what the electricity bill is for all of those lights together, the fascination that all of these lights and how right and incredible it is to be here. And that this is where the New Year’s ball drops. This is where the most amount of people in New York are going to be at any given point. And then there’s a third type of person, and those are people that live in New York City and avoid Times Square at all costs.

It is the plague, they do whatever they can to make sure that they never see Times Square. Those same three people exist in your industry for your concept. So for concrete, there are people who work in concrete every single day, pouring concrete is the most boring thing they can think of now because they’ve seen it a million times, they deal with the stresses of it, the logistics of it. It’s not as incredible when they first started, it’s concrete, it’s not the most incredible thing ever. But those people, they forget that they are still amazing things for people like me who traveled into this concrete world that are sitting there looking at concrete come out of this big truck and think it’s the coolest thing in the entire world.

The first time I saw a concrete getting poured out of the truck, I forgot to record because I was too busy just sitting there, looking at it. I was like, “Oh, that’s how this becomes a sidewalk.” And then I saw them actually dividing the concrete while it was still wet. I was like, “Oh, so that’s how you get the little squares that people… ” Because I always thought you already had it formed and then you just placed it and then you built it like Legos. I was like, “No, this is the coolest thing ever.” My mom tells me this all the time, she works at hospital, doctors stop and stare at the construction that’s happening outside of the hospital because it’s the most coolest thing ever when you don’t work in it, when you’re not constantly surrounded with it, and you’re not bored of it. It’s so fascinating to look and watch.

And then you have that third person who want nothing to do with concrete or construction. And those are the people that you ignore on social media. But those three people exist in whatever industry, whether you’re listening to this for construction, concrete, whatever material that you’re dealing with, or entertainment, or food, or you’re a singer, artist, those three people exist. And you need to understand that people who are in your industry are probably bored of it. You need to make your content for the people that have never seen your stuff before, and never seen what your industry does, and show all the cool, fascinating things that happen in your industry.

Show the inside of a concrete truck, show how something goes from just concrete to a full house, or to a full skyscraper. And I think that’s what has made me so successful in this role, because I’m still that person from the outside that thinks everything that’s happening is the coolest thing ever. Everyone who I work with at work are like, “Yeah, it’s just rocks that we have at a quarry, we’re blowing it up.” I was like, “You’re blowing up rocks? That’s the most incredible thing. I will go there. What time are you doing it? 5:00 AM?” I will get up and drive to go watch rocks get blown up at 5:00 AM.

With dynamite? Are you kidding me? “Yeah, we do it every week.” Every week? I’m still excited about the things that happen here. So that’s my piece of advice. Find those three types of people and understand those three types of people, and that’s how you’re going to get successful at social media, is understanding what to show to excite the people that are already working in that industry, but also to excite the people that don’t know much about your industry, and ignore people who don’t like your industry.

Gregg Lewis:
Outstanding stuff. Andrew, this was as much fun as I thought it was going to be. I appreciate you bringing your energy, and your passion, and enthusiasm for this topic to us, and particularly, as it relates to your enthusiasm for the concrete industry. I will say that there are plenty of folks in the industry who are as passionate about it as you are as a relative newcomer, but your point’s well taken. And I want to say thank you for taking time out today, and thank Larry for giving up some of your time so we could chat with you.

Andrew Athias:
He’s probably going to call me in a couple of minutes, so I will definitely let him know that you all say thank you. And this was a lot of fun. My favorite things in the entire world are Reese’s, Iron Man and the sound of my own voice. So the fact that I got to do two of those three here with you is always a good time when I get to do anything that I like. So thanks for having me. And this was a lot of fun.

Gregg Lewis:
Appreciate it. I’d also like to end by thanking our listeners. We’re always looking for feedback and suggestions as to how we can improve the podcast. And hope that you will subscribe to Concrete Credentials, which is available wherever you get your podcasts. I look forward to having you join us for more content in just a few weeks. And we’ll see you then.