Mitch Williams, Social Media Director at Serviceplan Middle East tells TMN about his current role and what he thinks about the media industry in the region…
Name: Mitch Williams
From: Johannesburg, South Africa
Current job title: Social Media Director, Serviceplan Middle East (SPME)
When did you first arrive in Dubai?
Where did you work prior?
In South Africa, I worked with The Creative Counsel, Investec, The Platinum Group, Media 24 and Wunderman South Africa before moving to Dubai in 2013. In Dubai, prior to my current job I worked with Wunderman MENA as Social Media Brand Manager and most recently with Create Media Group as Social Media Director.
What were your first impressions of the media industry in the Middle East?
Back in 2013 I remember realising how the media within the region was still heavily geared towards traditional channels and there were only a few agencies working with brands to effectively elevate their online presence and approach to new media.
Has your opinion changed much?
Yes, the media industry has completely changed and is now extremely competitive across not only traditional media, but heavily so on the new media side through digitisation.
Tell us about your current role…
I currently head up the social media division within the agency and I’m responsible for not only managing my team, but also working across the agency to deliver creative and innovative ways of using social media as a key tool in all campaigns for clients. My role also entails managing the growth of my division within SPME and leading on all strategies required by clients.
What challenges do you face?
Platforms are always changing and so are the different types of content that people consume. I don’t see it as an inherent challenge, it’s quite exciting actually as it ensures that you keep up to date more often on what’s happening in the world of social.
How do you stay updated with the latest trends on social media?
Through alerts, it’s one thing having a list of websites that you refer to on a daily basis for information, but as we know you might actually make the time to read or even open them. That’s why I have set up alerts through social networks whereby I am notified as soon as a key platform updates something and there is an article to read I’m notified in real time. So yes, I have a ton of notifications on my mobile phone, but it’s part of the job to make sure I am on top of all news.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
Working with my team, in any role where you are so pressured to deliver in shorter than usual timelines it’s the people around you that make the difference. On the other side of that is obviously being able to conceptualise a campaign for a client and watch it go live!
How would you rather be contacted at work?
Since I am always in a meeting, a text message or email.
How has digital media in the region evolved over the years?
Digital has gone crazy within the region as there are no restrictions in terms of access to digital media and also there are a wealth of talented individuals based here who are constantly driving people and brands to do more online. The region has shifted most of their efforts into digital media and also drives and challenges people to adapt and adopt new digital behaviors faster than most can keep up with.
Has user-generated content shaped social media campaigns in the UAE’s marketing industry?
User-generated content (UGC) has greatly affected the success of social media campaigns within the region largely due to the fact that the region has a multitude of highly influential people on social media who have made a career out of generating unique content tailored to specific audiences. Brands that effectively work with people who have built out their own niche and audience have an opportunity to create unique content to share on their corporate pages. It also comes down to accessibility and mobile technology which is allowing for everyday people to create, curate and collaborate in creating content defined by a brand’s objective.
How do you measure marketing success in the UAE’s digital community?
The easiest way is obviously to track and measure all key metrics against set Key Performance Indicator’s (KPI) which are defined for campaigns, but the true measure of success is in the implementation of cross channel campaigns which creates an infinite loop between initial interaction of a consumer and them coming back to the brand through various media.
What role does social media play in building a brand’s reputation today?
Social media has become a key part in driving authenticity online as previously brands used to try and push messages to people without trying to consider how people interact and communicate. Brands are now more focused on building an emotional connection with people, which leads to a more human interaction and being relevant to them when they need something.
How has digital advertising influenced consumer behavior compared to traditional advertising?
It’s disruptive and intelligent at the same time. With traditional media, we had no implicit way of ensuring each consumer interacted with the brand or even saw our messages. But now with digital advertising we can build a digital footprint of your activities and use that to understand what interests you and then tailor key messages to you that would catch your attention. Human behavior has also changed where we now are always online and connected to the rest of the world through our mobiles giving advertisers direct access to you when they have something to share, they no longer have to wait for you to show up or buy the magazine they can target you through the many apps and websites you interact with daily.
Describe yourself in five words…
Hyperactive, passionate, determined, considerate and easy-going.
What’s your most overused saying?
So many buzz words.
If you weren’t in your current role, what would you be doing?
Good question, I’ve always been inspired by design and architecture so probably would be involved in something related to those fields.
What is your favourite form of media (i.e.; TV, radio, print)?
Obviously social and digital media.
What’s your most used social media platform?
For work all of the platforms, personally I enjoy Instagram, but will always have a soft spot for Twitter.