Please describe your job! What does a Director of Social Engagement do?
My job is to ensure our social campaigns perform well, stay innovative and follow best practice. We have a big focus on how social, mobile and UX link together so creating ideas that networks of people want to share is central to everything we do.
Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
I report to our COO Chris Freeland and I sit on the management board. Social is given the focus it needs at TMW. I move around the agency working with different teams from data and insight, to planning and client services. When I’m not moving around I am sat with the community management team, usually next to Vikki Chowney, our head of community.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
Social has really shaken up the way businesses function. The most important quality to bring to the role is a willingness to test, fail, learn and adapt quickly. Sometimes in social you need to let things go and move on, and other times you need to stick with the detail and persevere.
Never losing sight of the need to demonstrate the impact and value of what you do is key to success.
Tell us about a typical working day…
I start early because I live outside London, so travel time is spent grabbing Wifi connection to look at what’s happening. Econsultancy, IAB, Mashable, Poke, Flipboard, TechCrunch, TED, Huffington Post and Twitter all get a look before I get to my desk.
A combination of meetings, calls and pitches fills the day. We have a creative process called ‘hot-housing’ at TMW which is a chance to work with the tech, planning and creative teams. I’m a frustrated creative at heart so I enjoy the ideas process.
What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
Brands and agencies are still stuck on what KPIs matter in social and working across everything from FMCG to consumer electronics, with both a UK and global focus, really illustrates the disparity in the way brands view the challenge.
Whatever a brand’s commitment to measurement, optimisation and attribution, and whatever framework approach is being taken, my view is that it comes down to two things: the efficiency of your channel selection against other channels, and attributing value to your investment in improving engagement.
Put simply, is social the right choice and will spending money to improve engagement give a better result? There’s a strong argument to say that clients shouldn’t just pick agencies that do interesting things creatively in social, but ones that also understand channel planning and social data.
What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
Asana for task management and getting the team working well.
Basecamp for project delivery.
Global web index and comScore for insight and planning.
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
I love the need to continually move forward. At work, I enjoy change and the fact that I get to play in new areas. People interest me so working alongside teams who see things differently is a real buzz.
What sucks is long, drawn out pitches. While I enjoy the thrill of winning, getting to that stage can be a lengthy process!
How did you get started in the digital industry, and where might you go from here?
I got started in digital at one of the best points in time for new things happening. I joined an agency in 2000 that had dodged the dotcom bubble and had avoided investing in the wrong sort of tech. Thanks to my MD at the time, Steve Sponder, by 2003 I’d moved into a digital strategy role and then on to set up a planning and data team.
By 2005, I had begun to focus on social, eventually leading to me running a social agency called Headstream. Next for me this year is a focus on content marketing and helping to take more of our clients onto mobile and connected devices.
Do you have any advice for people who want to work in the digital industry?
My advice is to look at the history of the industry to work out where we’re going next. Social was a predictable evolution of digital technologies and behaviour and the challenges we have in proving value are no different to those faced when web marketing started.
If you are currently studying, or looking to make a move to digital by learning new skills, then focus on mobile and tablets. They’re going to keep all of us busy for the next five years.
Which brands do you think are doing digital well?
So many brands are doing digital well. It’s the ones that are exceptional that are worth emulating. Red Bull’s commitment to innovation and high quality branded content is impressive. Amex’s partnerships with Twitter and Foursquare launched at SXSW in 2012 and coming to the UK now really stands out.
I’d like to think that what we do for Lynx in the UK is worth mentioning. A strategy to create useful and entertaining digital assets that work on the devices that young guys use takes a commitment to creativity, innovation and a willingness to do things first. It’s an audience that is quick to let you know if you aren’t getting it right.