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In this interview series, we are talking to founders, CEOs, and ecommerce business leaders about how to use social media to grow your ecommerce business. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Eitan Reshef.

Eitan Reshef

Eitan Reshef

Eitan Reshef is the CEO of Blue Wheel, an award-winning omnichannel digital commerce solutions company, which has been an Inc. 5000’s Fastest Growing Companies for the past three years, and recently became a Detroit Free Press Top Workplace in 2021.

In 2020, Blue Wheel launched its proprietary Amazon advertising technology, Companion, helping the company become 1 of 18 of the most important companies in the marketplace industry, as named by Insider.

Eitan’s thoughts on the evolving digital landscape and beauty marketing have been featured in the New York Times, Refinery29, Glossy, Digiday, and more.

Outside work, Eitan enjoys volunteering for causes he holds near and dear, playing a few instruments, exercising, and spending time with his wife, identical twin boys Lev and Eilon, and his dog Malcolm. He is a proud graduate of the University of Michigan.

Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Growing up, music was (and still is) a big passion of mine. I was really interested in getting into the music space, but at the time, the industry was struggling. Record labels were slow to adapt to the changing digital landscape, and the rise of music piracy at the time was making it difficult to generate the same revenues as the industry was used to. 

I had multiple internship opportunities at Sony, which at the time was the creme de la creme of the music industry. In my second summer, I chose to work in the Global Digital Marketing Department. This was the most forward-looking team in the entire company, so I felt that if I were going to be a part of something that was working with and not against technology, it would be in this team. 

That being said, it was still a struggle to fight the proliferation of downloads. While we had some of the best digital marketing tools and technologies at our fingertips, we were still ultimately pushing CDs. I recall a phone call that my boss (who I really respected and looked up to) had me join with our “digital agency.” It was during this call that he explained how much Facebook advertising we were buying for some of the upcoming album launches. We were spending hundreds of thousands each month on this new and novel channel, yet we were having a hard time figuring out the ROI. 

That being said, the agency that managed our buys seemed to hold the keys to the kingdom, and when I asked Eric how they got paid, he outlined the fee structure that the agency was charging Sony, which seemed enormous to me. 

It was at that very moment that I said to myself, “That’s where the opportunity is, I want to go do that.” I've spent the rest of my career in the digital advertising and marketing agency space.

Can you share the most exciting story that has happened to you since you began at your company?

By the end of 2019, Blue Wheel had grown to 40+ people, and then, of course, we entered the pandemic period. We were scared, as I'm sure everyone in the industry can relate. The world was in turmoil, and the state of ecommerce was largely in question. 

That being said, we bore witness to the meteoric rise of e-commerce. Despite the chaos of the world, Blue Wheel nearly doubled in 2020, launched its proprietary advertising technology (Companion), acquired and integrated a best-in-class creative services department, and was named an Inc. 5,000 Fastest Growing Company. 

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson did you learn?

In my first job out of school, I was working in business development for an advertising network where our job was to facilitate relationships between online advertisers and digital publishers. I moved to New York City from Oklahoma, signed a full-year lease on an apartment that was well above what I was comfortable with, and started a 90-day temp-to-perm trial period at this sales job with absolutely zero experience. 

I will never forget when I lost a brand new advertiser client on the first day they launched with us. I had matched them with the wrong publisher, turned the campaign live too quickly, and the client got upset and terminated [their contract] on the spot. I was completely shocked and convinced I’d lose my job. Everyone on the floor of the office saw it happen in real-time and felt my panic. Moments after it happened, my boss screamed from his office for me to come in there.

I was sweating and scared for what was to come. As I walked in, he asked, “Eitan, did you just lose that new client we JUST signed??” I replied calmly, “Yes, sir.” He said, “Well, now you know how that feels, and it won’t be the last time it happens. Now, learn from your mistake, do better next time, and move on.” 

At that moment, I understood that failure is a part of this business, and I needed to not only accept that reality but also use it as a tool for self-improvement and growth. It would happen again many times, but each time, I learned something new. 

Luckily, through a lot of hard work and late nights, after the 90-day trial, I got a permanent job and ultimately rose to be a top performer.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people? 

We’re currently working on programs at our agency to help emerging and established brands unlock the power of TikTok to help build their businesses while the barrier for entry for this blossoming platform is still remarkably low. 

Take Blue Wheel as an example. At the end of 2021, seeing what was happening on TikTok and knowing this would be fleeting, we decided to build our own account and introduce Blue Wheel’s best-in-class creative work to the world. In six months, we grew our following to over 150K followers and have seen incredible benefits to having such an amazing social following, both with brands wanting to work with Blue Wheel after seeing our account AND potential employees applying to Blue Wheel because they loved the content we were sharing and what that meant for the culture and environment of our company. 

Now is the time for younger brands and businesses to go all in on TikTok, as they have the opportunity to gain awareness and market share with a much more level playing field. All it takes is a leap of faith and a partner like Blue Wheel to get started. 

photo of tom and eitan in warehouse

What are three traits about yourself that you feel helped fuel your success?

1. Hard work is binary—the harder you work, the luckier you get

I’ve always found that my ability to work hard superseded my IQ. To me, hard work is binary. You either commit to it, or you don’t. It’s not to say it’s the only way people should live or operate in their careers. It’s just how I personally like to operate and what I believe has helped me be successful on my own. 

For example, whenever we’d have sales competitions at my first job—I usually won. If the challenge were who could make the most sales calls in a day, I’d do it. I felt that my peers could very well be smarter than me, but my commitment to the work and to delivering helped me persevere. It also gave me more access to my superiors and, ultimately, more opportunities. 

Again, to me, it’s always been very simple. It’s possible I cannot work as efficiently as someone else. Maybe they can clock in at 9 and out at 5 and feel great about their productivity, while it may take me an extra hour. Instead, I’ll put in an extra 3 hours or more. I’ll show up early and stay late. By being willing to burn the midnight oil, I had a better output in results, and my superiors recognized it and then gave me more opportunities (again, the luckier you get). 

2. Integrity always wins

If you lead with integrity and people can feel it, you will ultimately be better off. I cannot quantify how many times I had to turn down an opportunity or point someone to another company or solution outside ours because I felt it was the right thing to do. And it always comes back to you. We’ve had customers come back years later to work with Blue Wheel because of the way we handled the conversations early on and the integrity we showcased. 

3. Knowing when to delegate and elevate

One thing that I think is often overlooked is the ability to acknowledge when you either do not understand or know how to do something or are not the best person for the job or responsibility. 

For companies to continue to grow, it’s essential to be aware of our own limitations and to understand that an investment in someone who has the answer and can get you there faster is often the best way to ensure the continued success of the organization. 

For example, in 2020, we recognized our workforce was growing in both size and needs, and we decided that the next hire needed to be a seasoned Head of People. We recognized that this was a bit outside our comfort zone, as we were used to either solving for sales or operations roles and had yet to take a step back and think about our culture, talent experience, and recruiting pipeline as its own critical department. We ended up making the investment and brought in the right leadership, knowing that we had reached the limits of our own capabilities. 

Since making this hire, our talent experience has been streamlined and seen dramatic improvements, and now we could not imagine our company without leadership in this area. 

What was your original vision for your ecommerce business? What pain point(s) were you trying to solve for your customers?

For us, we’re an agency that is determined to help our clients succeed across direct-to-consumer, e-retail, and marketplaces. We are trying to help brands drive commerce success through the entire journey of their customer—from top-of-the-funnel acquisition, to middle-of-the-funnel nurturing and storytelling, and bottom-of-the-funnel conversion and fulfillment. 

We had a good sense of how interconnected and interdependent all of the prevailing advertising and marketing channels were, and we knew how to execute across both paid and organic. We also recognized that there was a general lack of qualified coverage across these channels from an agency perspective. Blue Wheel’s mission is to serve in a leadership capacity across digital commerce for its brands from both a strategic and execution standpoint.

How did social media help you grow your business? What were your strategic objectives, and how did you implement your social media plan?

Simply put, social media helps grow your business by creating awareness for your brand and educating users about your products or services. When you grow a social following with the right audience, retargeting them with ads has a higher likelihood of returning since that awareness and engagement is already there.

Which social media platforms have you found most beneficial for ecommerce specifically? 

Instagram is currently the most beneficial platform for ecommerce, but TikTok is adopting more commerce-focused features and will likely surpass Instagram in time.

When it comes to influencer sales, we find that TikTok has a higher potential to drive influencer sales due to the algorithm’s ability to make content go viral.

What social commerce trends are you most closely paying attention to, and how are you preparing to leverage them for growth?

Social SEO—and more specifically, TikTok SEO—is growing in popularity. Users are relying on TikTok videos for everything from product recommendations to travel tips. They often trust this information more than results from Google because it is coming from real people reviewing or discussing products in a native and authentic way. 

Blue Wheel is working, both internally and with our clients, to leverage this by optimizing keywords within videos to lead to higher discoverability and, therefore, conversions.

What are the most common mistakes you have seen when companies try to use social media to promote ecommerce? What can be done to avoid those mistakes? 

While social media is a place to encourage commerce, it's important to find a balance between building a community of people that love and engage with your brand and being overly sales-driven in your messaging. 

Brands should always tag their posts with products so that users can explore them, but steer clear of including overt sales messaging in posts outside of key promotional moments to keep things social and authentic.

Based on your experience and success, what are your top 5 ways to use social media to grow your ecommerce business?

Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing is currently the #1 way to drive conversions from social media tactics. Influencers have an engaged audience of people who trust their recommendations and create fun and captivating content that often leads to purchases. We further incentivize conversions through influencer content by offering influencers a discount code to give back to their followers.

We have an amazing case study with our client Voloom. 

TikTok SEO

Studies have shown that about 40% of people aged 18-24 are looking to social media platforms for their searches instead of Google. To capitalize on this, brands need to consider the text both they and their influencers are using in their content. From captions to hashtags to on-screen text, using keywords can lead to a higher chance of discoverability and conversions.

In-app Instagram shops & checkout

A seamless user experience can only help facilitate conversions. With Facebook and Instagram’s adoption of in-app checkout, users don’t have to leave the app to buy something. 

In order to best optimize their shops, brands should create categories like they would on-site for ease of use and always tag their posts with relevant products.

Pull UGC into a shoppable gallery on site

When shopping on-site, UGC galleries can be very helpful for users in making their decisions. Just as they read reviews, seeing products in “real” scenarios allows them to best choose their colors, sizes, etc.

Social customer service

Oftentimes in the commerce space, there can be roadblocks and questions that users need to ask before making a purchase. Instead of turning to the site's customer service, which can take days to get a response, users now often utilize the direct message feature or comment on the brand’s posts directly to have their questions answered. 

Brands should be responding to questions and comments on a daily basis to close the loop and ultimately lead to more purchases from those viewers. They should also use these social FAQs to populate product pages to close the gap for future purchasers.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most people, what would that be?

In today’s uncertain political and macroeconomic environment, it’s more important than ever for the younger generations to understand the power of their voices through voting in our democratic elections. 

Regardless of political ideology or beliefs, it’s critical to cast your vote and be heard. Every vote matters. 

We have an enormous amount of influence coming from platforms like TikTok that can be utilized for good if influencers are arming their followers and fans with the right encouragement to get out and vote. I’d want to reinforce this notion by leveraging an army of influencers to think about the greater impact they can have by empowering their followers to participate in our precious elections and not take them for granted. 

This is how real change can happen from the bottom up.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Check out our website:
Follow us on TikTok: @bluewheelmedia
Also, follow us on LinkedIn and Instagram.

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Francois Marchand
By Francois Marchand

Francois Marchand is passionate about helping and educating business leaders, ecommerce professionals, and digital marketers grow their skill sets to stay ahead of the competition. Francois holds a BA Specialization in Communication Studies & Journalism from Concordia University (Montreal, QC) and 20+ years of experience in ecommerce, marketing, traditional and digital media, and public relations, including The Vancouver Sun, National Post, CBC/Radio-Canada, Unbounce, and Vancouver Film School.