My name is Natalie, I’m 23 and I’m the Brand Executive here at After Digital. Aside from all things social media, I’m a big fan of Lord of the Rings, makeup, museums, musicals and cheesy pop tunes, as well as my larger than life cat Angus (you’ll get to meet him shortly).
I’m a self-confessed bookworm, that barely gets the time to read, and I’m currently trying to work my way through the pile of Margaret Atwood books by partner got me for my birthday. However, I frequently get sidelined with what’s new on Netflix or whatever documentary I can find online.
How did you become a Brand Executive, what made you pursue this as a career?
I went to university and started studying to be a journalist, with ambitions of being the female version of Louis Theroux (not really, but I do love him), and I found fairly quickly that journalism wasn’t for me, but that there were aspects of it that I would find useful in a future career. So, I stuck with it and got my Bachelors Degree and then began training myself up on various digital marketing skills in hopes of working in this area.
With a lot of self-taught skills and tenacity, I applied for several entry-level roles in a bid to get a foothold in the job market and, of course, got knocked back a lot due to not having a relevant degree or the right amount of experience. Eventually a Glasgow start-up took a chance on me and I became their ‘Social Media Engager’, I then worked my way up to Social Media Manager, gaining new skills and a few fab interns along the way, before also adding Assistant Editor to my title as the start-up expanded and added a magazine to their online offering (thank god I took journalism). After working there for a few years I decided to branch out of the niche market that this business was focused on and try something new, where I felt there was an opportunity for more growth and learning, and I joined the AD team early this year!
If you weren’t a Brand Executive, what would you want to be?
I’m not entirely sure, I love social media and this job suits my skill set pretty perfectly. However, as a naive young thing (said the 23-year-old) I had always dreamed of being a vet or a forensic scientist. But, when I realised how much science was actually involved in these professions, with a slight lacking in talent for this area of study, I put that dream to bed and focused on what I was better at; writing and English.
More realistically, I suppose I would like to have been a news reader or an investigative journalist, should I have followed my degree career path.
As a Brand Executive, what is it you do at After Digital?
As a Brand Executive, I uphold the tone, voice, and personality of the After Digital brand in our marketing efforts. Ensuring that our social media is regular and engaging, this also extends to writing informative blog content for our website and PR pieces for publications and online news sources, and that we are a recognised voice as a digital agency in the UK. Whether that’s shouting about our achievements or making a bid for awards across the UK.
I also work with a list of clients who pay for our digital marketing services, focusing particularly on social media, I create ads and promotions across platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram and work with the client to successfully identify key audiences and methods of attracting that audience to boost online sales, traffic or brand awareness. I’m also partial to a bit of blog or PR work if they’re into that.
Describe an average day for you at AD.
An average day for me at AD starts with climbing the Mount Everest of staircases, before sitting down to recover from it for at least 15 minutes at my desk. I tend to really start the working day by reading my emails and writing out a detailed list of what to do that day, including every task whether it’s big or small. This allows me to tackle every day with a clear mind and it sometimes seems more achievable as you tick tasks off throughout the day. Working in the marketing department can be a bit hectic at times, it’s hard to have a fully planned out and structured day, with tasks flying in at all angles whilst you also try and keep on top of your daily list, but it’s part of the reason I enjoy it so much.
I always check over our clients' social media campaigns every morning too, to ensure that they’re getting results and that nothing is going wrong with them. From there, it really is a mixed bag. Some days can be chock-a-block with client-focused tasks, some days can be me writing screeds and screeds of content for blogs and PR and some days can be focused on audits (analysing a potential client’s social media in comparison to a landscape of competitor brands, offering advice and tips on how they can improve) or reporting on the previous months campaigns. And some days can be a mix of everything. There really is no set plan each day working in the marketing department!
What is the hardest part of your job?
The hardest part of my job would be trying to keep on top of all the tasks, it really is up to you to remind yourself what you need to know and you’d think it would be easy but with some tasks ending up with weeks or months between one point to the next, it can be easy to forget.
So, I would say that is what I find hardest but making use of my Google Calendar and making obsessive notes in my planner keeps me on top of that.
What is your favourite part of your job?
I love researching in general, for social media audits, for a new blog post, you name it, I love to research it! So, getting to work on something new that requires research is certainly something I enjoy doing, which lends itself well to marketing, as the environment is constantly shifting and changing.
I also moonlight as Noodle’s part-time photographer when I need to rope her into my social media efforts on the After Digital pages, which of course is a joy and a breeze… if I have a treat, that is.
How do you get ready for your working day each day?
I get up around 5.30/6 in the morning and try and avoid jostling Angus, who believes that from the minute your eyes open to the minute they close at night, you must tend to his every whim and all of those whims orbit around him being fed. I know I teased him earlier on, so here he is in all his glory below.
After getting ready (which involves a lot more makeup than is maybe necessary), and rushing for the train, I make the journey from our small country town to the city centre, where our office is just a stone’s throw from the train station. I do aim to have a breakfast before leaving the house, but 9 times out of 10, I’m eating almond milk porridge with a banana at my desk by 8.45am.
How do you unwind from your working day?
I don’t get home until around 6.45pm at night, which is a lot of time out of the house each day, as we leave at 7.30am. However, when I get in, I like to try and always make a dinner from scratch with fresh ingredients. Again, this means battling Angus for said ingredients. Usually, I will watch some Netflix, have a bath or go for a walk with my mum around the forestry that sits behind her house. On a Thursday night it gets really wild, I am a clean freak and will insist on a thorough weekly clean, as you can imagine my partner loves it, but it helps me destress.
I do the majority of my winding down on the train home, where I’ll listen to a podcast. My current, and long-standing, favourites are Casefile, Lore and Those Conspiracy Guys.
Top 5 tips/top 5 tools that you would recommend for everyday use?
Google Analytics - Obvious and generally great for getting information on your web traffic, but it’s also a useful tool for when you’re creating target audiences on social media. You can look at where the visitors are coming from, what age they are and what social channel is most popular. A few of the very many benefits this tool has.
Canva - An easy image editing software for those who aren’t Photoshop proficient. Meaning, if your design department are too swamped, you can take matters into your own hands and knock together something acceptable for your social media.
Social media scheduling tools - Think of Hootsuite and your Sprout Social. At the time of writing this, I’m staring down deadlines and a heavy social media calendar before I head off on my late summer holiday. So, Hootsuite has been a life-saver as it means I am able to schedule a lot of content in advance, meaning I don’t have to leave any work or content behind me once I’m off on holiday. It’s all ready and scheduled to go out, leaving my colleagues to get on with their own work!
Spreadsheets - Google Doc ones specifically, this gives you the ability to plan out content for you and your clients, which prevents any later confusion on budgets or content, but since it’s online it creates a collaborative environment and makes it easier to keep up to date with your client and what they want. Overall, it just makes the client and agency dynamic easier as they can edit copy and suggest changes where they see fit, without a paper document or an offline document going back and forth leaving multiple copies in its wake.
A phone - This one might seem a bit basic or a bit random. But I have been in a good few situations where a client asks me to start a campaign urgently with little notice and not enough information, leading to a game of email ping-pong, which can often end in an unanswered but much-needed email. This can postpone the campaign and lead to a too-short runtime or a less impressive result. In these situations, I prefer to just pick up the phone and get the answers I need immediately, removing the barrier that email can create. Emails are still great and I will use that 80% of the time, but sometimes it’s best to just talk it out over the phone.
What advice would you give someone thinking about pursuing a career as a Brand Executive?
I would say, make sure you keep up to date with all the happenings in the land of social media, first and foremost, there’s nothing worse than a client asking a question you don’t know the answer to. Keep your ear to the ground on that one!
I would also say that you should get as many skills under your belt as you can. When I was studying for my degree, we were taught that all journalists should aim to be proficient in multimedia. Not just being able to write copy, a journalist should also be able to edit video, sound and images, film to a high degree, be comfortable in front of a camera, be able to edit copy and also be able to fully grasp social media. This is something a marketer should also be able to do, in my opinion. Where there are gaps that need to be filled, whether that’s missing imagery for your blog or a client would like a GIF made of a video for a Twitter campaign, a marketer should be able to find a way around that themselves in order to keep up with the faster pace that comes with digital marketing. I still need to fully get to grips with Photoshop though, we’re all still learning!