In our backyard (featuring local industry leaders)

Lacy Faught

‘So the internet doesn’t implode’: Meet Spry, our digital guide to a healthy online life

Madalyn Baker

As the old saying goes: give a man (or a woman) a fish and you feed him or her for a day; teach a man (or a woman) to fish, and you feed him or her for a lifetime.

Founder Lacey Faught puts that old adage into action with Spry, the social media management and consulting agency located in downtown Vancouver, Wash. As a one-woman shop in 2011, Spry now consists of five "Sprytes" (as affectionately known as its employees). How did Spry grow so fast? Simple. Faught and her team taught their clients how to fish.

Well, not literally fish; although one of the Sprytes does live on a sailboat, so you could try them for fishing advice. But Spry teaches about social media marketing and how to live a digital lifestyle, whether the audience is a client, the community or just a follower. However, when Faught started Spry, education was not the original goal.

"When I originally started Spry," Faught said, "I could see there was an opportunity in the market. The first company I worked for charged $250 a month for SEO services. And when I came in, I realized very quickly we weren't doing anything for those $250 a month. So first, there is room in this market because people are willing to pay for this even if they don't understand it. Second, I want people to understand it, so they don't get duped by a company that's going to charge them for something and do nothing."

Faught's story isn't an uncommon one. Look up "SEO scams" on Google, and you will find articles titled "The 5 signs of an SEO scammer" or "Top 10 SEO scams and how to avoid getting burned." People are now aware of companies taking advantage of them and want education.

The Sprytes are happy to help people learn more with workshops, webinars, podcasts, blogs and consultations. Offering so many of these resources (especially free services), one may ask, why would Spry be willing to share so much of its SEO knowledge and education on social media for free?

"There's always a benefit to understand what the purpose of any sale channel is or else you are not going to be able to convert that need when it comes to you," Faught said. "If someone doesn't understand what we're doing and we don't have this clear idea of what their values are, then we’ll attract an audience that's different.”

But Spry goes beyond just educating its clients; Spry also teaches its community through interactive assemblies for students that provide them with guidelines for a healthy digital lifestyle and visits seniors to educate about social media. This education goes beyond Spry and gives back to its community; it's a sense of responsibility Faught feels Spry owes to people and the youth of today. She shared the importance of giving guidelines and instilling habits for youth to build on, so "the landscape that we're using to make money on doesn't implode."

While other professionals in the industry focus on meeting the client's needs and ensuring they are "fed" for the day, Spry steps in to ensure Vancouver's clients learn to fish and are able to feed themselves for a lifetime. Why? Faught said: "Because if it gets bad enough, then people are just going to reject that platform as a whole; people will not use social media anymore if it is causing more negativity in their life then it's causing positivity. And so, if I want to maintain the ability for my company to operate in the landscape of social media, I'd better be working very hard to improve people's relationship with it or else they won't have the opportunity anymore."

Perhaps it's time to update the saying for the marketing industry and our digital community: Provide a man or a woman with SEO services and you market him or her for a day. Teach a man or woman how the SEO marketing process works and you protect the media landscape and strengthen your client bond for a lifetime.