Tauranga-based social media agency Likeable Lab has significantly increased in size after the acquisition of Hamilton agency LeadSocial. This comes after a challenging few months which saw Likeable Lab lose a large percentage of its revenue in the first week of the nationwide lockdown. Likeable Lab owner Nick McDonald, who has a financial trading background and an eye for a good transaction, says, ironically, tough economic times were the catalyst for the acquisition. “After emerging from lockdown just four months ago, beaten and battered, we decided that some of our competitors were likely beaten up too and it might be a good time to look for acquisitions,” says Mr McDonald. “However, we didn’t find a bargain – better than that, we found a solid performer that made a lot of strategic sense.” While the global pandemic has brought a lot of economic uncertainty, opportunities have also emerged, and online marketing is one of the strong performers, he says. “With lockdowns forcing people to do more business online, the need for a strong online presence has never been stronger. Many businesses are realising that social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, are not only a business’ shop window, they are the vehicles for making a sale,” says Mr McDonald. “Those businesses equipped with strong websites and well-managed social media can be agile in a rapidly changing environment. And, with continuing uncertainty globally, it’s no longer a nice-to-have; it’s essential.” Established by Steve Carpenter six years ago in the living room of his flat, LeadSocial has grown to become an industry leader in the Waikato. Its purchase has strengthened Likeable Lab’s skillset, adding video production, specialist photography and website capabilities to the company’s suite of design, copywriting and social media ads expertise. “The team that Steve has built is top-notch and this has translated into a small business that has been punching above its weight for many years now. We plan to honour the legacy the team has built with staff and clients, especially in the Waikato region, but also beyond as we start to add more national and international clients,” says Mr McDonald. Mr Carpenter, who describes Lead Social as his “first baby” says he is excited to watch the growth continue at a faster pace than ever before. “I know it is in great hands with Nick and the amazing team around me who will not only remain but rise to the top,” he says. The two agencies, which have a combined staff of 15 across the Bay of Plenty and Waikato, will continue trading under their respective names for the time being.