Things I wish I’d known at the start of my career

It is now just over 11 years since I started my career. Whilst, the vast majority has been spent working inter-agency alongside other agencies from a plethora of various marketing disciplines such as PPC, POS, ATL on integrated campaigns, my entire career to date has been spent working exclusively within social media agencies both independents and global agency networks.

From pulling all-nighters writing pitches for huge globally recognised organisations to helping small start-ups begin their journey in social, it’s been an interesting and challenging decade, to say the least. Whilst it’s been a lot of fun so far (and as you can imagine I have plenty of hilarious tales to tell) there are a fair few things I wish I’d realised 11 years ago.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Whilst the title of this section is a little cliché, to be fair there’s a huge amount of truth in those few words.

Agencies have a reputation for being fast-paced, non-stop environments especially when it comes to the misinterpretation of the language around social media being an “always-on” comms channel. Whilst that may be true, in that the channels themselves are active 24/7, it doesn’t mean you should be. In fact, I’d strongly advise you to throw that thought out the window right now.

According to Silicon Valley Strategic consultant, Alex Pong “research indicates that five hours is about the maximum that most of us can concentrate hard on something”. Therefore, that strategy that you’re still writing at 11 pm after you’ve already been at it for 14 hours is highly likely to start becoming non-sensical. That’s not how we do things here at IF and that’s not just because we’re nice people. It’s because science backs up our culture and philosophies.

Being a good social media manager means a commitment to lifelong learning

In the last decade, everything about social media has changed. In fact, It evolves and changes almost constantly and the platforms themselves tend to keep fairly quiet what they have changed, hence why brands, in my opinion, need to have a dedicated social media agency on the roster. Specialist Social Media agencies are built on the very foundation that they are experts at social media and there’s a reason for that. We never stop learning. We never stop asking questions and we have a direct line to the platforms themselves. We live and breathe social media.

Take creative inspiration from everywhere & ground it in data 

Whilst every social media professional (should be) spending time each day on the various well known social media-specific publications to keep up to date with the latest, and ever changing, platform news and being inspired by the latest and greatest social-first campaigns, it’s important to realise that creative inspiration for a well-executed social media campaign can come from literally anywhere at any time.

For me personally, it’s cinema, music and art. Since cinemas have re-opened I have been averaging about two visits a week and throughout the pandemic, I spent an incredible amount of time working my way through IMDB’s top 250 list. Cinematography, film scores and a well-written album inspire me as much as any award-winning masterful social-media campaign documented in the industry press.

Guided by data from our partners at Brandwatch and our wonderful Insights Executive Konstantins (who somehow seems to know everything about everything) we underpin our creativity with audience profiling which enables pin-point paid targeting, minimising wasted ad-spend and maximising results. This allows us to deliver wonderful creativity to the right people at the right time.

My advice is, Immerse yourself in the other forms of art you love, find opportunities in data & research and think about how that could translate for the brands you are working with. I promise you, it will bring an entire world of creativity to life.

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