In The Hot Seat – Samuel Turner

We chat with Samuel Turner, Managing Director of Those Social Guys, who talks about his current role and offers his thoughts on content creation and the content marketing industry in the Middle East…

Name: Samuel Turner

Age: 25

Nationality: British

Current job title: Managing Director, Those Social Guys.

When did you first arrive in Dubai?

My family first arrived here around eight years ago and I was between here and the UK. However, since 2013 I’ve been fully based in Dubai.

Where did you work prior?

My first job in Dubai was actually in 2013 with Arms & McGregor International Realty, a real estate company, where I worked in the marketing department. I followed this with time at ITP from 2014 – 2015 working across brands such as Esquire, Harper’s Bazaar and ShortList, and most recently with MO4 Network as Strategy and Social Manager.

What were your first impressions of the content marketing industry in the Middle East?

We’re so behind. Even looking at social media – there are a lot of companies who were operating in a different area and kind of said ‘oh look, social is the way to go let’s add that to our services.’ There was never the care, focus or expertise to be able to offer value to a client or customer with that service. For any agency to not have in-house content creators is a crime!

Has your opinion changed much?

Not massively – we’re still so far behind what is being done and produced in the US and the UK for example. Therein however, lies a big advantage for me and the team as we look to compete with those companies and produce work that’s ahead of the market there, let alone here.

Tell us about your current role…

I take care of the day-to-day running of an exciting content and social house in the Middle East. What that really means is I watch a lot of amazing, hard working and incredibly talented people do what they’re the best at every day and simply find new outlets for them to create for.

What challenges do you face?

Adding to the points before about content in the Middle East, it would be education and risk management. Education of new technologies and services that we want to offer before putting them into action, and the risk management versus rewards behind a client investing into something that no one else in the region has thought about.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

Constant creativity. The ability to work with great people and great clients on a whole host of projects is like having ten jobs in one day. Seeing the success and response to a crazy idea we’ve had, or the feedback of a live stream that we promised would work is always amazing. Having all the guys with me who are such experts in their field allows me to learn more in a day about colour correction, or after effects, or 360 photography than I would ever have if I had taken a course for example.

How would you rather be contacted at work?

Any and every way. Whatsapp is number one, but feel free to Skype, email, or even drop into the DMs!

Does the region’s cultural diversity pose as a limitation or advantage to content creation and marketing?

It is a limitation in the way that an individual piece of content will not reach the entire population. Different nationalities and demographics also all use different platforms in different ways. This is simply a challenge that we enjoy overcoming, creating specific content in different languages and making sure our targeted advertisements are hitting each and every demographic.

How has content marketing influenced consumer behaviour today compared to traditional marketing?

It allows a potential consumer to have an incredible amount of background knowledge of a product or service before making a purchase decision. Videos for example, can show off every facet of a new product, or help you get a real feel for a new restaurant or café. A brand that is honest and proper with their content on social media will always win.

What are the most common digital marketing mistakes companies make?

One of a few things would be – first, not exploring new opportunities. Social media and content moves so fast, that if you’re not running full pelt ahead, you’re dead. The second would be going 100% off what they know, or going 100% off the advice of an agency or consultant. The best work and results comes from offering real value to one another and working as part of the same team.

How do you stay updated with the latest trends on social media?

We’re lucky enough to have a distribution platform that reaches millions of people – 7.9 million in the last week for example. Access to such an audience allows us to keep a finger on the pulse of what’s really going on. Imagine having a focus group of eight million people available 24/7 – It’s a huge competitive advantage for us. 

Describe yourself in five words…

My least favourite question ever!

What’s your most overused saying?

Trust me.

What’s the most exciting thing that has happened to you in your career?

This one will sound cliché, but it’s so true. The most exciting thing is the current day. We learn things at Those Social Guys every single day. These things come from experience and delving into new strategies and tech, and cannot be taught by traditional education. Try and tell me that an 18 year old studying marketing can learn more in class in one day than he could with us working on a Facebook live campaign, a video shoot and an Instagram story campaign in one day.

Five things you can’t live without?

My phone, my second phone, the team I work with, a creative outlet and Chips Oman.

If you weren’t in your current role, what would you be doing?

I watched the movie ‘Chef’ yesterday, so right now it would be a food truck or restaurant owner. Ask me again tomorrow though.

What is your favourite form of media?

Social Media, but of course I would say that!

What’s your most used social media platform?

Instagram, definitely. It’s my ‘five-minute platform’ – the one I will go to with five minutes to spare before a meeting, or to do a five-minute check on a new brand or product.

How do you see the role of content marketing changing in the Middle East in the coming years?

In less than five years we will be having this conversation over virtual reality (VR), and a little later after that through holographic images. Voice activated marketing is also exciting. We’ve already seen Burger King use Google’s Alexa device in a very clever way. This will continue, not only with voice, but also with artificial intelligence (AI) in general. AI will know more about us than we do ourselves. It will read our mood from our facial expressions and know that we’re in a rush as we’ve entered the kitchen later than in the previous week. The willingness to adapt to these changes, and produce specific content and strategies using their advantages will directly relate to a companies success in the coming years.