Today, Banyan Branch, a cutting-edge social media and digital agency, officially joins Deloitte Digital. Find out how their audience-inspired approach has evolved as the lines between social and digital strategies have converged. Coming together is going to be something pretty special.

Today, we’re excited to announce Banyan Branch, a cutting-edge social media and digital agency, joins forces with Deloitte Digital. When any venture like this begins, there’s the initial thrill over expanded capabilities and the possibility for new and innovative projects. But even that doesn’t fully express how significantly this builds on the vision Deloitte Digital, now with Banyan Branch, has for its growing presence in the digital marketing space.

This step is part of a larger story—and a vision—that has been developing in lockstep with social’s growing role in marketing and business strategy as a whole. In short, it’s a move that launches our combined practice into a whole new level. A level that will allow us to help integrate social and digital into the very foundation of our clients’ businesses, influencing everything from product design to new market discovery.

The story: Let’s take a trip back to the way-back-whens—2007

When the popularity of online social networks began its rapid increase in the early-mid 2000s, businesses started using them as just another marketing or PR channel. Soon it became clear this was only the tip of the iceberg. The reality is, however, that social isn’t a channel—it’s a behavior, and it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. As businesses have clued into social’s far-reaching benefits, it has quickly evolved into a foundational element in what it means to be digital.

Banyan Branch has been one step ahead of these trends since it was formed in October 2007. Back then, the iPhone® had only been out for a few months, and Facebook was still a spunky little startup that wouldn’t break 100 million users for almost an entire year.

Even in 2007, however, it was obvious that things were changing quickly. Under the leadership of Alex Garcia, Dave Hanley, and Alicia Hatch, Banyan Branch has been able to grow right along with it. Before starting Banyan Branch, Alex had already become a believer in the power of digital marketing during his work at Drive-Thru Records and with Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, where he learned how to leverage online forums and sites like Friendster, and LiveJournal to create online fan groups. Meanwhile, Dave had been busy experimenting with viral marketing—back before it became yet another buzzword—at Shelfari, a social site for book readers. In just over a year, he managed to grow site membership from 150,000 to 1.5 million. And Alicia was at Microsoft, where she worked to expand Halo from a popular video game to a billion-dollar franchise that spanned comics, DVDs, novels, toys, and more by tapping into the power of fans to help build and sustain brands.

Clearly, something was happening. That was only six years ago, and Banyan Branch’s growth since then has come out of foresight into what the deep integration of social, digital, and business strategy can provide.

“I knew that starting Banyan Branch was the right move to make,” Dave said. “Alex and I had started to see the impact social media could have on brands and the future we could have if we combined our skills.”

Fast forward to the here and now—we’re going to need a bigger playground

In the years since, things have kept changing … and growing. There are now over a billion smartphones in use worldwide, and Facebook has well over a billion active users. More importantly, these two worlds—social and digital—have continued to converge, primarily through web-enabled mobile devices.

As such, social shouldn't be walled off by itself. It should be integrated into each step of digital, which is why the Banyan Branch methodology starts with social. Whether it's analytics, strategy, community management, influencer, or interactive work—social and digital must be one.

This ongoing convergence is what attracted Alex, Dave, and Alicia to Deloitte Digital.

“We started as a social-only shop, but built out a digital practice because it was something our clients started asking for,” said Alex.

“Deloitte Digital did the same thing, starting with digital,” Dave added. “And the more we talked with them, the more it seemed like the way we thought about things was the same way they thought about things. Combining our strengths with theirs just seemed like the natural next step. Not just in the evolution of where Banyan Branch was going as a company, but also where social is going within the digital landscape.”

With extensive social and digital capabilities, what’s next?

So now that Banyan Branch is part of Deloitte Digital, the question now becomes: Where are we going next?

"We’ll be able to supercharge the benefits of our combined services for clients, and that’s what we’re excited about,” said Alicia. “Coming together gives us the opportunity and resources to truly show the power of social in the digital space.”

From using social to discover new markets, to transforming the way industries think of R&D, we’ll be exploring the opportunity for social over the next few weeks in a blog series, in presentations, our participation at Seattle Interactive Conference, and other events that will continue the conversation around the evolving role of social in digital marketing today.

Join us for the discussion. And in the meantime, join us as we celebrate and welcome Banyan Branch into the Deloitte Digital family.