The people behind Marketing Debuts – Jamie Maple, Strategy Director, Enter the Wilderness
Jamie has played a huge role in bringing the Social Media and Community Management programme to life. A leading expert in the field, he has also brought many of his crack team at Wilderness into the scheme as trainers in their specialist areas within social media marketing.
So, Jamie, tell us about how you got started in social.
The path I took to working in social was a little circuitous – I left university with ambitions to be a full-time musician and had a very focused crack at that for a number of years. One of my bandmates worked at Myspace and when he left there, he started an agency with two of his colleagues and one day they offered me some freelance work. I had always been a big fan of film, TV, music and books – all the things you put on your first CV to pad out the word count – and alongside playing gigs and part-time work in a bookshop I started a literary festival in my hometown. When my friend’s agency won some work with HarperCollins they asked me – with my expertise in books and publishing – to help establish the social media presences for some new releases.
That was my start and I loved it from the very beginning – the fact that the things you write, the ideas you have, the content you create is seen and commented on by the fans directly has always given me a thrill. You are the closest point of contact for your client with their audience and while that’s a big responsibility it’s also a huge opportunity – you can build a community and get feedback on what you and the brand are doing right away making it possible to shift your strategy and see improvements in real time.
What are the main things young people should be aware of when considering a career in social?
I think that despite being aware of the platforms and interacting oneself with brands and ‘entities’ on social it’s not simply a case of stepping into a role and being able to nail it right away. Being conversant in social media certainly helps but there’s an element of ‘unlearning’ what you think you know required in order to get into the headspace of using social as a brand. It’s like the first classes you take in any media studies course when you suddenly realise that the news has a bias or that films don’t suddenly appear – they’re created through the efforts of teams of people. It’s the same with social media – things don’t just happen, they’re considered, strategised, trialed and tested. Sometimes they should be far LESS considered and it can be frustrating that so much thought goes into the process but it’s really important to remember that as a social media community manager your clients are putting A LOT of trust in you. They’re trusting you with their message and their audience and so it’s no surprise that careful planning is sometimes necessary.
How did you go about building your team at Wilderness (wWhat were the big objectives and the main challenges?)
The big objective for Tom (founder and CEO) and I was to keep passion at the forefront. We’re firm believers that if you’re interested in the topic/brand then you will do your best work. There’s a challenge inherent in this – you do still need to find some perspective and do what’s right for the brand’s objectives. There are a few members of the team – myself included – that who are huge fans of RuPaul’s Drag Race. I can imagine that our in-depth of knowledge of the show and the contestants and the inside jokes would be great if we were running a fan account or handling the official channels. But when we worked on TruTv’s Facebook account and they were running repeats of the show we needed to not go too deep or risk alienating casual viewers or people that might not have seen the show. We could do a much better job picking up potential viewers AND fans of the show if we took a lighter touch approach striking a balance between RPDR super fans and TruTv followers who are fans of reality TV competition shows.
Another central tenet of our team has been about being open and honest with our clients and each other. It’s really important for us that we are presenting unvarnished reports to the people we work with. Of course, we want to be consistently hitting targets and performing strongly but we’re also firm believers that social marketing is a place where you can test messaging and try something with your audience which you can’t do as quickly or as cost effectively on TV or in OOH advertising. So, what we never do is massage the numbers to make it look like we’re doing better than we are – we want to show our partners that we tried something and if it didn’t work we’ll also tell them what we’re going to do about it – what we’re going to try next. We also try and keep distracting acronyms and buzzwords out of our reports. It’s very tempting to hide results in .000 percents with CPCs and CPAs and Average Engaged Users – what we’d rather do is bring our clients along for the ride and upskill them if they need it. We will let our partners know what to expect of us, we’ll report in plain terms and at every stage make sure that we’re not going too fast or too slow. It ultimately helps us to produce our best work if our clients are asking the right questions and able to hold us to account.
What do you think the future holds for people specialising in social?
I think that we’re entering the era of people leaving university having studied in the field and we’re going to have a lot of really smart minds joining agencies and in-house teams. We’re also seeing more people applying for roles who don’t know what it’s like to not have social media in their lives – as I mentioned above, they will need to do some unlearning of certain behaviours but as a person who had to look things up in books when I was at school I’m also really excited to work with people who have a fresh perspective. I also think that most clients and brands are far far smarter about what is possible in social and that will lead to better briefs, more exacting standards and fewer chancers in agencies trying to get away with doing a poor job. We welcome and will actively do what we can to help improve social media literacy in our partners.
What value do you believe Marketing Debuts offers young people who want a career in marketing?
Firstly, I think the benefit is in access. How can you plan for a career in a field you don’t know anything about? I doubt many careers advisors feel comfortable saying ‘have you considered a career doing tweets?’ but it’s a real job! I am a firm believer that you get the best out of people if they’re doing something they find interesting – if more people that love social media work in social media it means we’ll all be upping our game and finding better ways to connect with communities.
I also think the scheme will give young people confidence – having access to industry professionals and seeing that we don’t sit in an ivory tower, that our agency structures are open and that we’re only as good as the talent we have around us is key. Giving people the confidence that they will be listened to and that their opinions and insights are valuable is really important at the start of people’s careers.
I also think that being able to get an understanding of how an industry works is so important. For all the openness and creativity in the agency space it can also be a gruelling way of working. The pace is quick and the relationships with clients can be pressurised. It’s not for everyone and I think having the chance to figure that out is really great.
We have a number of people from Wilderness are involved in Marketing Debuts as trainers, which is fantastic. How do their sessions/ modules differ and what will each trainer bring?
I’m a firm believer that you learn from doing and you will be instructed best by the doers. We have a range of modules from an introduction to social media to creative best practice to working with paid social and each will cover a different range of disciplines – there will be a wealth of insights to pick up. The fact that each will be delivered by different members of the team means that the learners will be able to find something new from each of my colleagues beyond simply the module being discussed. Zahra is very heavily into the data and insights – you may not know that there’s that much to love about spreadsheets and graphs, but she’ll get you enthusiastic. In Saf you have an inspiring leader and a great speaker who will be able to talk you through a range of influencer marketing examples from both sides considering she is regularly often asked to trial products on her Instagram. Learning from Ali and Kat will be great because while they both have different areas of eexpertise, they are both acutely aware of the opportunities that can arise from an intern/apprentice position as they both joined Wilderness from university into this type of role. Keeley is also someone who joined us direct from education and internship and has a wealth of expertise in social content creation – her insights into the process of producing volumes of collateral for clients will be worth hearing. With Nikki and Alex, you will be brought into the complex and dense practice of paid media spending which could form a whole syllabus in itself. The guys are very calm and clear communicators and able to get across some pretty lofty topics in easy to understand ways. We’re all really excited about the modules and sessions and can’t wait to meet the learners.
Employers can register their interest in Marketing Debuts by contacting Melissa.
Candidates can apply to the Marketing Debuts scheme here.