Ricky Brandt, content strategist/account executive with Social@Ogilvy in Chicago, phrases it best in his LinkedIn profile: He’s passionate about “helping clients navigate the world of digital.”
Brandt started as a social intern with Ogilvy in June 2014 and now leads social media efforts for global clients. He’s currently working with clients in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry, specifically in household cleaners, with additional client responsibilities in the fuel and insurance industries. In his role, he’s responsible for bringing a client’s brand story into the social space. In addition, he collaborates with the creative team, assists with new business projects, and helps develop new methods for social listening, keyword monitoring and community management. When Brandt isn’t working, he’s passionate about running his blog called Dumbed Down Food, which is aimed at “the countless professionals who go to work hungry after graduation.”
As new media innovations constantly disrupt the market and offer new opportunities for telling client stories, Ricky acknowledges that keeping up on the latest industry and technology trends is important. Using his global network at Ogilvy and his own curiosity/research in his position, Brandt provides insight on the ways in which his team (and Ogilvy as a whole) respond to innovation:
Brittanie Chludzinski: What are your main responsibilities as an account executive with Social@Ogilvy?
Ricky Brandt: “My role is to kind of take the big idea that we’re working on for the total brand and make that work in the social space. So figuring out the right way to bring their story to life and the right touch points that we need to be on with social media to help them connect with their target. From there, it’s making sure the message is nuanced in such a way that it works on the platform, and we’re doing everything we can to ensure the impressions they generate from the spend on their social media are working effectively to drive sales and whatever their business results may be. At a high level, that’s our goal on a day-to-day basis.
BC: How would you describe the relationship between social media and innovation?
RB: I think a lot of what we do is really tech driven. If they come out with a big jump in 3D technology tomorrow, that’s going to affect what I’m expected to weigh in on. So we have to be keeping up on those trends. I think the line gets really blurry as to where it’s social media and where it’s not. And I think that’s creating a lot of confusion in the industry as to where our role starts, stops, and what it should really be. That is a big question that I think hasn’t been solved yet. Whenever these things are coming out [innovations], the platforms typically adapt to include them as part of their general offering. I think as a whole, the social platforms are really converging in terms of what they offer to consumers, so it really starts to become what type of person is using what platform. I think as the content landscape shifts, the platforms are very responsive to it, so we really are on the forefront of that shift.
BC: How do you take to keep up on industry news?
RB: There’s a big sense of knowledge sharing in the office. People are pretty quick to share articles that are coming out and we’re on top of things that way since there are so many people at Ogilvy across the globe working in digital. We’re connected in a kind of learning community through webinars and newsletters so there’s no shortage of information sharing going on. And I think the more we get to interact with vendors, the more we get to learn. For example, we’ll meet with Google and they’ll tell us more about what’s going on with VR. On top of that, there are always people going to SXSW and other trade shows just trying to stay on top of things. It’s really ingrained in everything we do. There’s not one mechanism.
BC: Since starting as an intern with Social@Ogilvy in 2014, what is the biggest change you’ve noticed?
RB: I think the biggest shift is definitely a shift in mindset of how we use social and what a business should be doing on it. It used to be a part of your content marketing approach and it would be about how often you’re posting, how much content you can possibly put out there, and trying to get as many likes, retweets and comments as possible. Now, we are much less focused on engagement and on how many people are liking which posts. We really focus on making sure that we reach the right people at the right time. So a lot more of a paid approach to social than relying on an organic approach since that’s not really a thing anymore. It has really required us to rethink everything we do and especially what our content looks like. We really need to think a lot more about what’s going to be in a post. We’re now a much bigger part of the puzzle. We’re just as important as other digital channels, so we get just as much respect.
BC: What are some technology trends on your radar that might be impacting your work on the social team in the future?
RB: I think that right now, the biggest thing that people are running toward is 3D video and virtual reality. I think they’re becoming incredibly important to brands just because they’re trying to create content that really grabs consumers. But I don’t think it’s going to be as powerful as people think. It’s just another content type at the end of the day. It’s not going to be a seismic shift. I think the biggest things that you’re going to see shift are not that sexy. It’s going to be about targeting, it’s going to be about how we reach users and how that changes our content. I think it’s at a very macro level right now as we start to approach data differently.
BC: How does innovation impact the communication strategies of Ogilvy as a whole?
RB: “Change is the only constant. I think it becomes less, ‘How do we take advantage of these tactics?’ and more of “What’s right for the brand and how do we implement that in from the beginning so that it’s not an afterthought?” And that’s why it’s hard to really pin down how this [innovations] changes what we do. In general, the brand’s principles generally apply to any new updates. We just try to think at that higher level to be flexible and ready for change if need be. For us, it’s rarely about being the first brand to launch something. How do we do it right rather than how do we just do it?”
BC: Are there any other important aspects about responding to media innovations that we didn’t touch on?
RB: I think the biggest thing is just really understanding that there is a huge convergence in social right now and it doesn’t mean that Facebook and Snapchat will ever become the same thing. They won’t. They’re inherently different and they have different consumer motivations. But feature wise, it’s a big game. From a marketing standpoint, it’s just about where you reach your consumer. That’s really what ends up being important. You can always craft the content for the space, so don’t make the space the story.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.