I recently spoke to Jessica Sappenfield, a Digital Account Supervisor with the Social Media team at Motive, an advertising agency in Denver, Colo. Sappenfield just celebrated her two-year anniversary at the agency. She loves her job because every day is different and she’s constantly on the go. Here’s what else she had to say about how she got her start in social media and her thoughts on the constantly changing industry as a whole.
Tell me about your background. How did you come into your current role at Motive?
I graduated from the University of Mississippi with a B.A. in Marketing. After I graduated, I worked in marketing for a few different skin care companies, helping one launch a new skin care line in the U.S. from South Korea. A big part of what I found was that it was so much easier to connect with the consumer digitally. Taking into consideration the cost and that time is money, I saw that our social media following kept growing and our digital marketing efforts were just really outperforming everything we did with PR and traditional advertising by leaps and bounds, which just solidified my path down the digital career. My husband and I moved to Denver, Colo. a couple years ago, which is when I made the switch to agency life.
I currently run the day-to-day digital marketing efforts for three brands (Highland Park Whiskey, Nature Raised Farm and AMP Energy Organic) at Motive. I work on everything from strategy to execution on social media, influencer programs, website rebuilds, product launches and promotional work.
What are some of the challenges you face in your role and what are some of the challenges the industry is facing as a whole?
Client education is probably the biggest challenge. Digital just moves so fast that it’s hard for people to keep up with so you have to make sure you’re really taking to heart the responsibility of educating your clients so they can make informed decisions.
In terms of challenges facing the industry-- I think transparency from the social media platforms right now is a big issue, especially for advertising. Even this whole presidential campaign and Russia buying ads on Facebook to sway public opinion. I think that social channels are going to have to start realizing that if they want to play in the big boy league, they’re going to have to start following the big boy rules. They’re going to start being regulated and it’s going to limit what we know today as inherently social and it will stop being purely organic coming from the brand side in advertising.
Do you see the marketing/advertising industry changing because of social media?
Absolutely. It’s already changed so much. When launching a new product, if a brand isn't working on an integrated launch where social media is a key part of that strategy, that’s a huge miss. It used to never be like that. Big brands used to never consider social media as part of their big launches and now we’re putting snap codes on packaging and finding new ways to utilize Instagram and Facebook to communicate a larger story to the consumer and get in front of them. I think it’s going to be a much slower change now. I think we’re over that hill where things are very disruptive and in the new. I think social channels, especially the big ones are really slowing down now. There’s not a lot of new innovations that are really coming out that are changing the game so to speak like they did 10 years ago.
Do you see brands investing a lot more money in social media instead of traditional advertising?
It’s a funny time to ask that question. I think things are going back and forth now. Working with Pepsi and Tyson Foods, which are big consumer product companies, I’ve seen them pull away from content creation and going back to their roots and doing what they “know works.” I think that’s a big sign that these social platforms are becoming these advertising platforms yet they’re really unable to show that ROI and really give us the analytics and the data that we need to really prove that they’re really making an impact on the bottom line. It goes in ebbs and flows and it also depends on the brand culture and who they are and what makes them social.
You touched on this a little before—social media is constantly evolving. How do you educate yourself and how do you stay on top of the latest trends?
You’ve got to pay attention. You’ve got to keep up with all of the news alerts and technological advances. Understanding how consumers use them, understanding how brands are using them. That’s the biggest way is keeping your thumb on the pulse by research and doing it yourself, and reading websites like Tech Crunch, Tech Wire, and Social Today just to name a few.
Any advice for an individual or small business looking to create their own social media campaign?
You really need to do your research and understand what your consumer really wants from you. Don’t just throw an ad up there expecting a real return because you need to figure out what you’re giving the consumer and why do they care first. Consumers are scrolling through these platforms a hundred miles per hour scanning and if it doesn’t grab their attention in a matter of seconds, they’re going to keep scrolling. So really understanding how these platforms integrate in the consumer’s life and being there at that point and giving them the messages that they want to hear and see from you on social channels.
*This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.