Wondering what defines the role of a social media strategist?
What does a social media strategist’s day-to-day look like?
Working as a Planning Director in Buenos Aires, then moving to US as a Director of Strategy at MullenLowe, today Kelsey is the Head of Strategy at Deutsch LA where she coordinates campaigns for Taco Bell and Target brands among others top brands.
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What does it mean to develop a career as a strategist? With Kelsey Hodgkin
- As a head of strategy, how does your day-to-day schedule look like?
- What common media marketing lessons have you learned over the years?
- What is the obstacle you had to go through in your career?
- What are your career goals?
- Can you share with me a recent successful campaign performed by Deutsch? In your opinion, what made it successful, and which were the followings for this campaign?
- What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success in social media?
- What are the most important things brands need to keep in mind when building a successful social media campaign?
- What’s your advice for someone who wants to become a social media strategist?
- In this dynamic social media landscape, what is your advice for the ones who want to ‘do strategy’?
Kelsey Hodgkin: The only predictable thing is that it will be consistently unpredictable - a truth that I think it is the slightly addictive feature of advertising regardless of which level you are at.
I remember in my first job at Lowe London, Sir Frank Lowe came out of retirement one day, took the whole team on the account I was working on and set up an entirely new agency - with that client. That was probably the height of daily unpredictability, and it was when I only just started!
At heart, I think advertising is a profoundly personal business - which is why it will always be beautifully unpredictable because people are.
Today in my role, that manifests most prominently in me prioritizing time with the people on the strategy team, looking out for their interests, their experiences, helping them get the best out of their work. And that, in turn, can take any given day in any number of directions. And I love that.
Kelsey: The biggest thing I have learned is that media can be as creative as the message. The more media is an intrinsic part of the idea, the more effective everything becomes.
My favorite creative campaigns and work will always be the ones where the idea manifests itself in a media form as much as the message.
Not only that the media is the message, but applying the integrity of the idea to the media plan as much as the work itself.
Kelsey: Well, like everyone I expect, there are always the jobs I didn’t get - which can be pretty devastating at the moment.
Especially, when you go through a long interview process and find yourself in a deep, irrational – apparently one-sided – love affair.
But then each time, with a little perspective, you look back and realize that maybe things happened for a reason after all. Perhaps something better came along, or something didn’t work out quite the way you thought.
None-the-less they can feel like huge obstacles when you are going through them. Rejection is often when you have to dig the deepest!
In general, I do look at most of the obstacles as the best ways to learn.
As someone once taught me: it’s not what happens; it’s how you respond to it that counts. That was after I first moved to America and the agency I moved to shut down almost immediately. That was pretty tough and surreal, and a lesson in asking the right questions before traveling across continents!
Kelsey: Always to do great work.
I feel fortunate to be working at a time when we are just feeling the frontiers of what can be done in the social space.
It is a huge opportunity, and I am not sure anyone has cracked it yet. It’s kind of like the fourth wave of advertising: if first came words and pictures on walls, then came radio and audio, then TV and video.
Now I think we are in the age of social, and it is a much more behavior-driven world than ever before.
5. Maria: Can you share with me a recent successful campaign performed by Deutsch? In your opinion, what made it successful, and which were the followings for this campaign?
Kelsey: There are a couple we have done this year that I have loved – to relax people on tax day, we filmed a 12-hour live stream of a sloth for H&R Block, which was fun, and got more than 3m unique views.
We also did a Smear Campaign for Heinz Mayo that was special.
When you get the chance to dig into an internet audience and how they behave - are they likers or lurkers, posters or voyeurs, for example - you can start uncovering some lovely ways to interact with different people.
And, as we all know the psychology of people when they are on the Internet is a little bit... different, shall we say, compared to how they behave in everyday life. And I love that.
Thinking about it and playing with their reality in that space, our alter egos, our other-selves. Why we share or do what we do? It can be a lot of fun.
Kelsey: A core principle of our social strategy at Deutsch LA is that social is a behavior, not a channel. That it is about different people/ entities interacting with each other, creating a social exchange.
To do this effectively, brands need to think about resonance - driving an emotional connection that shows we get someone - and from there, encourage and inspire digital actions.
What is interesting is to understand how different degrees of emotional connection and resonance drive different actions.
Some brands are more aesthetically driven, for example, and the way they emotionally connect in social is different from those who are more voice (for example, comedy) driven.
Also, it is useful to measure how content makes people feel alongside the specific actions they take (shares, dark shares, comments, reposts all the way to site visits and purchases) in order to continue to build your brand relationship and not fall into a short term tactics trap.
7. Maria: What are the most important things brands need to keep in mind when building a successful social media campaign?
Kelsey: In the past, I think brands could get away with campaign thinking- turning on their different versions of themselves, based on the particular moment, message, or product.
Now, you will get judged as much for a tweet as a product launch and as a celebrity endorsement or CEO quotes.
The whole brand is a marketing department. Everything needs to ring true to the same essence, and belief system - whatever that may be - for social to work to its best ability.
Kelsey: Follow the edges. Know the fringes of the Internet better than anyone else. Understand where the tide is going, not where it is. Be mildly obsessed with the weirder corners of online space; understand what is happening between the posts, and use your instincts to have a point of view on where the behaviors are headed before others.
Where are the edges and which ones will become the middle? This is something you can uniquely bring to the team, and the more in-depth your knowledge of social behaviors, the more valuable your perspectives for the team will be.
9. Maria: In this dynamic social media landscape, what is your advice for the ones who want to ‘do strategy’?
Kelsey: Nurture a taste for, and deep appreciation of your audiences and their nuances. The web relentlessly commoditizes. Falsifies. Sensationalizes.
But at the same time, it has created memes - perhaps one of the purest forms of content around. You can’t fake a meme. It is built on deep layers of meaning.
Great social strategists can understand the nuance of their online audiences in a way that is uncannily simple, and perfectly unexpected, but at the same time, we see it, and we all get it. And once you unlock that, the possibilities are endless.
This article is part of a series of interviews with social media strategists and social media managers where we're trying to define what skills you need to develop for this job.
If you enjoy our conversation, check out more interviews from this set.