How to Get a Job in Social Media: Carrot Creative

By Matt Van Hoven 

We’ve noticed that in the advertising and public relations industries, agencies are increasingly on the lookout for professionals experienced in social media. We can argue the merit of who has social media expertise and who doesn’t later. For now we want to know: what are agencies and their clients looking for in this burgeoning field?

Over the next few days PRNewser and AgencySpy will run interviews with major agencies seeking social media hires. These are not exhaustive interviews, just 10 quick questions aimed at peeling the lid back. Hopefully the questions we asked will help you guide your career path, if social media is part of it. Today, an interview with Katy kelley, Vice President of Communications at Carrot Creative.

1. What are the core skills of the social media staffer?

If you don’t like people, get out of social media. You have to have personality, show a little spirit and not be afraid to strike up a conversation with a stranger at a bar. You know digital marketing strategy and how it differs from traditional thinking. We look for people that have a natural curiosity; digital changes too fast to focus on only one platform at a time. And for God’s sake be able to multi-task. On average, each staffer has over 20 tabs open, are carrying on six IM conversations and creating a project management time line all at once. Juggling is part of every job, but in the social media space, it’s all happening live so if you drop a ball, everyone will see it. Basically, being a bit A.D.D. doesn’t hurt.

2. What are the breakdowns of SM title/roles within the agency &#151 ie jr, associate, coordinator, senior, VP and so on.

Social media being the young business that it is tends to be very flat, not a lot of hierarchy since everyone is more concerned about collaborating to get the work done well and fast. However, like a typical agency, we have a breakdown of titles: Rookies, Jr & Sr Creative, Jr & Sr Developers, Strategists, Directors and VPs.

3. Where does the top social staffer rank in the agency hierarchy?

We’re all a bunch of smart, digital marketers who each have a thorough understanding of the social web…we don’t have a specific department set aside for “social media”. It’s what our company does. There are three departments, each overseen by a VP; creative & strategy, design & development and deployment

4. What are clients looking for in SM and what is Carrot recommending they do? I realize this is broad &#151 so talk about the client that is looking for the most from your agency.

Client needs have shifted dramatically in the last 2 years specifically. In the beginning, most brands came to us through PR or advertising agencies that called us in a panic saying, “GAH! We don’t understand social media, digital and tech development. Help!” But now brands are skipping the middle man and calling us directly. About 50% of our clients are already engaged with social media and the other 50% are coming to us because they want to start. When the client is new to social media we often perform a brand analysis, provide strategy, design all creative and build all the development in house. If the client is already engaged and familiar with the social space, most ask for an audit to see where they need improvement, then ask us to revive their creative or build out more unique features for their mobile/iPad applications.

5. What did these candidates do to stand out? Any interesting stories of someone “breaking through the noise”?

The ones that stand out are the ones who come to all the events we host (Digital DUMBO, NYDD events), are always commenting on our blog, talk to us on Twitter and recognize our faces beyond the avatars. When looking for a social media staffer, it comes down to interaction and the best candidates make the effort to connect with Carrot in our communities. We hired Jacob Cass (@justcreative, one of the top 3 design bloggers worldwide) all the way from Australia because of our conversations with him on Twitter.

Applicants that stand out most to us have their submissions posted on our Carrot Tumblr account ( &#151 everything from zombie carrots to Jaws. Also interesting side note, 57% of applicants choose the word “zombie” to use on the refrigerator magnets game.

We set up the gaming element to the application process for two reasons. One, we’re not a traditional agency and we’re not looking for traditional people. We like people who can think on the fly and aren’t afraid of seeing something different when applying for positions. And two, we needed a way to filter all the resumes and portfolios we’re inundated with. In fact, the resume is generally the last thing we look at &#151 you can’t even get through that door unless you have a LinkedIn and Twitter account (because if you’re not interacting in the sm space, how would you be able to help our clients?).

6. Do you plan to seek social media aor status?

We are already the digital AOR for many of our clients, which in Carrot’s world includes social media. Nothing is more effective than when we can work with a client on retainer since that allows us to fully understand the brand. Brands are making social media a full time part of their marketing and communications plans, they need a digital company that knows what they’re doing.

7. How many SM staff are you hiring in total?

This has been a landmark year already for Carrot Creative and we’re only in April. Learning how to scale in size appropriately without hurting culture is our biggest concern. We are always looking for talent but in a company with such a tight knit crew, we are very selective and want to be sure who we hire fits for the role, but more importantly, the office culture. That being said, we are looking to double in size by the end of the year.

8. Anything else to share regarding you company’s SM initiatives?

When we’re not working directly on client initiatives, we are busy building technologies in our Carrot Labs that clients will be asking for in 6-months time. We built the Carrot “Where Brooklyn App” last year in an effort to learn geo-location tracking, which is hot right now with brands. We’re working on specialized and highly segmented iPhone applications, designed only for closed groups (such as offices) to track rewards and what we call “Carrot Cred”. Our team is always one step ahead; Carrot Labs gives them the opportunity to play in the space before putting it in our client’s hands.

Visit our public relations blog PRNewser Monday for an interview with PR agency Burson Marsteller.

Further Reading: How to Get a Job in Social Media: R/GA