Just in time for Halloween, we interview Socially Powerful, the agency behind an award-winning “zombie parkour” video.

In an abandoned shopping mall, a dead body is being savaged by a zombie. An armed woman approaches from behind and breaks the zombie’s neck with a sickening crunch. “Check him out. Take the ammo,” she says, gesturing to the first body. “I’ve got your back.”

So begins a heart-pounding, blood-spattered POV chase across rooftops culminating in a narrow escape from an undead army in the back of a van. Chances are you’ve seen it. The “zombie parkour” video, which went viral last year, gained 120 million views, and was conceived to promote Last Empire War: Z, a 2D mobile game.

The agency behind the video, Socially Powerful, is based at The Record Hall in Clerkenwell. “It went out of control very quickly,” CEO Majid Bahi tells me in the cafe area. “LADBible picked it up…the clients were super happy.”

The video, which generated 10k daily downloads of the game, was made on a small budget, very low in comparison to a TV ad. It is Socially Powerful’s biggest success so far, and won them best Viral Campaign at PR Daily’s 2017 PR & Social Media Awards. The company now works with global clients including mobile phone company Huawei and Chinese tech giant Tencent.

Majid launched Socially Powerful two years ago with two co-founders, having previously worked as a strategy consultant in financial services. They left job security behind them and took the plunge together, funding the startup themselves. 

At first Socially Powerful was an influencer marketing platform before it morphed into a full-service social agency a year ago. And despite the headline-grabbing video production, it is influencer marketing — using celebrities and popular figures on social media to act as brand advocates — that remains at Socially Powerful’s core.

“At the beginning we were just a platform connecting influencers and vloggers to brands”, says Majid. “We saw a lot of people using influencers the wrong way, creating content that wasn’t relevant.”

It’s easy to waste money on influencer marketing, says Majid. “It’s a bubble at the moment and it costs a lot. If you don’t use your budget well you won’t see return on investment.”

The company spotted an opportunity not only to connect clients with influencers but also to advise them on their social media strategy. “We told them how to leverage influencers, and ask them the right questions,” says Majid. “What do they want to achieve? Sales? Awareness? Engagement? Then we put together a strategy using influencers, content and community to achieve these objectives.”

The ability both to create content and do the strategy gives Socially Powerful an edge over its rivals, Majid believes. “We have created a methodology to build a sustainable social media marketing engine for our clients,” he says. “We know where to put this within the entire marketing mix - alongside PR, TV, traditional media.”

Socially Powerful first moved in to a Workspace building a year and a half ago, renting a small office with four desks at Barley Mow Chiswick. The company scaled up to a bigger office for 10 people before moving to The Record Hall in May this year. “Strategically it made sense to move into central London because it was easier to meet clients,” says Majid.

Recruiting people and attracting talent has also been easier since the move Socially Powerful now employs 20 full time staff. The company has also benefited from synergies with its neighbours. As well its own production department and network of content creators, Socially Powerful is lucky to be surrounded by talented people, entrepreneurs and other businesses — including a production company next door — that could help it achieve its vision.

@Joshrose via Unsplash

Majid is hoping to scale up again soon. “In a year’s time hopefully, we’ll be on the top floor here - there’s an office for 100 people,” he half-jokes. At this early stage, though, nothing is certain. “It’s a rollercoaster. One day you are happy and the next you are down.”

Ultimately, though, the objective is to leave something behind. “It might be the company, people who’ve learned something, happy clients, or content that went viral,” says Majid. “The objective is to leave a legacy.” Certainly, if the zombie video is anything to go by, Socially Powerful is well on its way to achieving its goal.