We talk to Lee Cassanell an Editor at the global creative agency, We Are Social. Lee tells us about growing your businesses online presence, how to use social to drive business value and the power and future of social media.
We also hear about Lee's other ventures into scriptwriting, viral blogging and pretending to be a Hollywood producer...
Hi Lee, please can you introduce yourself and your work?
I’m an Editor at the agency We Are Social and my main client is one of the world’s leading entertainment brands. I suppose I’m a cross between a creative, a strategist and a writer. I do a bit of everything and I prefer it that way. I like to muck in.
Can you tell us more about We Are Social and what they do?
We Are Social is a global creative agency specialising in social.ig clients. We Are Social are brilliantly creative and have bags of experience. The approach is to focus on the behaviour of people, not platforms, and we use social insight to drive business value. We Are Social is a global agency with 11 offices around the world, 150 here in our London HQ. Our clients include Adidas, Audi, Google, and Netflix. If I wasn’t working there already, I’d want to.
What is your thought process when coming up with editorial/creative ideas for the brands you work with?
It’s all about research and knowledge. I’m something of an entertainment specialist because I grew up with a love of movies and my general knowledge of film history is pretty solid but even so, I read about shows and films every single day. If I was working for a brand that I didn’t know a lot about then I would research the hell out of it. Its history, previous campaigns, copy, design etc. It’s a bit like acting, every brand you work with is a different role and if you know your lines and understand the text, the rest is much easier.
You pretend to be a Hollywood producer on Twitter. How did that come about?
I was writing film reviews, going to premieres and occasionally ending up in the VIP section of a random party rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous. It was fun, for a while but the reviewing became a chore and the parties lost their sparkle. It was all very dull and joyless so I got together with a friend and created The Studio Exec, a kind of ‘Daily Mash’ for the movie industry. We’re a niche outfit and we don’t promote or advertise but we’re very well known in the industry, for better or worse.
Did you ever want to be a Hollywood producer?
Not so much a producer but I’ve always fancied being a screenwriter or a director. Maybe one day. I’ve been writing a script since I was nineteen and I haven’t finished it yet! I lacked a lot of patience in my youth, I couldn’t commit to just one project but I’m getting better as I get older. I wrote a play in about six weeks last year and it’s the longest piece of work I’ve ever completed. It’s hideous, violent and unfit for public consumption but hey, at least it’s finished.
Can you tell us some more about your satirical blog?
We’ve been going nearly four years and between myself and my writing partner, we’ve written in the region of 4000 articles. Out tweets get a lot of press pick-up and occasionally one of the articles goes viral but it’s all about having fun. When writing becomes your profession and you have to stick to strict guidelines, having an outlet that allows you to have creative freedom and dabble in anarchy is good for the soul.
Growing social media
What are the best ways for a brand to grow their social media and gain recognition?
There are many theories, of course. Personally, I think you’ve got to push boundaries and take risks. A lot of brands play it safe on social, often to their detriment. Twitter is my favourite platform, it’s the wild west and anything goes. If your tweet is good enough it can explode no matter who you are. I suppose the real key is the obvious one. Work with professionals and experts if you can afford to do so. If you can’t, be brave and prepare to put the hours in.
What are your best pieces of advice to people starting and running businesses today?
Communicate with your customers. I’ve heard many people regard Community Management as being a cheap and easy discipline but that’s absolute rubbish. A skilled community manager can do wonders for your business if you give them a bit of trust and a bit of freedom. Also, hire people from different backgrounds with different experiences. Social diversity enriches any business.
What can they do to stand out in the swamped world of the internet?
It’s all about good ideas. No matter how many people you have on a team, how many levels of management or armies of administrators, if you don’t have any good ideas, you’re screwed. I think creativity can be undervalued and taken for granted in this industry but those companies that nurture and reward their creative people are the ones that produce the best work.
Social Thinking - an article published by We Are Social sums up perfectly why social media has been so incredibly popular:
‘Humans enjoy and seek opportunities to be surrounded by friends and share personal experiences. The popularity of social networking sites, and the explosive rate at which they’ve been adopted, clearly demonstrate this fundamental human desire. Brands that can tap into this at a deep business level, creating a unique and unassailable bond, can drive long-term business benefits. But to make this happen, you have to start with the ‘why’ and then get to the ‘how’.” http://wearesocial.com/uk/thought-leadership/social-thinking
Can you expand on this and how do you apply this to your work?
For me, Social Thinking is an aspiration. We all know that social media has unbelievable potential with regard to human interaction, creativity and knowledge sharing, and brands can play a part in that if they are willing to do so. Personally, I’m all about the shared experience. We live in a very fractured society and it’s difficult to get people to share a moment but the right post at the right time can achieve that. The brand I work on is lucky enough to have a very active and loyal community and it’s my job to inform, entertain and encourage conversation. If you can get people talking, laughing or thinking, you’ve done something magical.
What do you anticipate for the future of media/online business?
Virtual reality is the future of social, at least for the big brands with dollars to spend. I think we’ll see a lot of traditional media (newspapers) move completely online, some will make it and some won’t but as far as I’m concerned, the fewer media barons in the world the better. In general, social platforms are like civilisations, they rise and they fall and those businesses that keep up with the changes are the ones that will reap the rewards. There will always be a place for great copy, great design and great storytelling. Words and pictures are the foundations of it all.