How to Get a Job in Social Media: OgilvyPR

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 we have an interview with John Bell, Managing Director of our 360 Digital Influence

What are the core skills of the social media staffer?


Our team is made up of Digital Influence Strategists. This reflects our pov on social media as a new venue where we are all influenced in new ways by new people. The Digital Influence Strategist is expert at evaluating a client situation and developing a comprehensive digital strategy that includes social media outreach, online marketing, development of user experiences, search visibility programs and innovative ways to engage people. He/she must be fluent in all aspects of social media. They might even have their own blog or participate in social networks.

They know from experience how to develop strategy from research, insight and a keen understanding of users including the digital life of people. The Digital Influence Strategist understands business objective and how to create a complete program in service of the objective with an awareness of the client’s business model.

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

We are a flat organization. Essentially we have Digital Influence Strategists and we have a Social Web Experience team. In the former group, we have folks with different levels of experience. Some bring special expertise or have developed special expertise around industries, practices or marketing disciplines. One may go deep on corporate communications, another on B2B and yet another is expert at what we call “Conversation Management” via Facebook.

The Social Web Experience team has user experience content developers, designers, programmers and producers. They are responsible for creating and distributing content and creating remarkable social web user experience.

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

I am the Managing Director of the 360° Digital Influence team. I manage all of our social media teams globally. I report to Christopher Graves, global CEO for Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide.

4. What are clients looking for in SM and what is Ogilvy recommending they do. (I realize this is broad, so talk about the client that is looking for the most from your agency)?

Our clients are major brands like Ford, Unilever, Cisco, American Express &#151 many of them global. They need 3 key services and we supply a fourth. They want enterprise-level social media consulting and services to help them change and build capacity within their organization. This means training, organizational modeling, implementing listening programs and establishing social media guidelines. All need marcom program services meaning social media marketing to achieve a business objective behind a product or service. And they want the most effective and impactful programs. That means social media integrated across all other marcom disciplines. The third service they need in tandem with the other two is measurement &#151 both performance measurement and ROI evaluation. Our open measurement model works for them. The fourth service we are delivering now are specific turnkey platforms that scale impact. Our Insider Circle platform that creates a dedicated channel with select influencers is a good example of a valuable platform.

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

The best candidates are those that mix some mastery of traditional marketing and a personal use of social media. There are too many social media “evangelists” or “gurus” who don’t know how to apply it to communications or marketing. We &#151 and our clients &#151 need folks who get both and have real experience. Most credible candidates connect with me personally via LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. That used to be remarkable but now it has become a standard step that candidates ignore at their peril.

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

We are the defacto “AOR” in social media for many clients.

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

We are growing in all 4 markets of the world &#151 North America, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. We have so much client demand and growth that we have open positions in each market in various offices. It’s difficult to name a number of open positions and we are always meeting great new talent.

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

We likely see the social media landscape a bit differently than most. We see the true benefit for brands in social media to be around activating some form of word of mouth from consumers and influencers. Ultimately everything an influencer does online, whether they are a traditional key opinion leader or a Twitter mom, is some form of word of mouth from recommending or talking about a service to passing along a link or “liking” a video. It’s all some form of endorsement which in many cases is the most influential source for opinion or purchase decision in many markets.

We focus on three things to generate the most impactful social media-driven word of mouth programs. Social Influencer Relationship Management (Social IRM) identifies and engages a new collection of online influencers. Social Grassroots activates a broad customer or fan base to share with their peers. Content strategy really super-powers our “owned content” via search intent modeling and broad distribution across the social web. These three disciplines are the best building blocks for brands to push social media to do all that it can for them.

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