Are you on Facebook and/or Twitter right now? I’m pretty sure a good percent of you can answer “yes” to that question. While social networks can seem like just a fun way to interact with friends and catch up on gossip, the past few years have proven that social media is a powerful marketing tool, too. And it’s not only liking a brand’s page or following a fave celeb on Twitter that matters. Rachel Weiss, AVP of Digital Strategy and Interactive Marketing for L’Oreal, shares a few behind-the-scenes secrets!
AVP, Digital Strategy and Interactive Marketing
New York, NY
In such a competitive industry, how did you become an AVP of Digital Strategy of L’Oreal?
I never expected to have a career in Digital Marketing and Strategy. I actually have a Masters in Cinema Studies and thought I’d be a professional academic and teacher.
I’ve always been fascinated with how technology provides faster communication and distribution of information. I’m a storyteller and a performer who always wanted to find ways to distribute my own personal content, and as technology developed, I found myself with a whole new audience. I actually learned a lot about digital marketing when I created my first website and blog in the mid ‘90s to promote my stand-up comedy career. That caused me to find employment as someone with “internet experience,” because back then there weren’t a lot of people doing that!
Professionally, I’ve built a career as a marketer working with big companies such as Sony and Citigroup, and always seeking innovative ways to use technology to tell and sell the brand story in a meaningful way to customers. I’m obsessed with what is new in the digital space and I’m always trying to translate new technology opportunities into meaningful marketing opportunities. I started at L’Oreal working on Redken and Pureology in the Professional Products division. While there, I was able to create and test so many innovative digital programs.
I’m also very passionate about my job and our products and want the company to succeed. L’Oreal recognized that and has rewarded me with this awesome job overseeing the entire division and working on some amazing corporate programs, too. I also advise anyone who wants to work in a marketing role to find a job where you sell products that you love and that inspire you. Otherwise, you won’t be successful or happy.
How do you think social media is influencing the way we are informed about products and what we purchase?
Social media is essential in influencing the shift in the customer’s “path to purchase.” For me, social media is the largest marketing network to influence customers as they become aware and consider what products to buy. I always explain social as a network where your potential customers are not always searching for products, but “seeing” them through their personal relationships.
For example, I’ve been obsessed with Spotify on Facebook. Seeing what my friends are listening to on the ticker has opened up a new world of learning about music. If you think about it, the same concept works for any product recognition. If I like my friend’s dress on Facebook in a photo, I am going to ask her where she bought it and after that, there is a very high chance that I’m going to look for it at a retail store or online and purchase it.
The spark for me to want this product is based on a social relationship. This influence is playing out amongst our customers through their personal relationships. Brands are personifying themselves and the customer is becoming the center of the message.
How do you come up with ideas to reach your target audience?
I use both quantitative and qualitative research. I am interested in where people consume information, what type of information they are consuming and how they prefer to receive it. This is where I actually utilize my academic training in critical and psychoanalytic media theory. Understanding how someone watches and responds to film is very much like how someone is going to respond to marketing messages.
Since corporate leaders love numbers, I also always do research on my ideas to show the reach and growth of the emerging channels I’m trying to sell into the business. I’m engaged outside the digital world and a pop culture junkie, too. I also really love talking to people and asking them a lot of questions about themselves. If you are interested in other human beings, you can always be inspired by what engages them to apply to your business.
What advice do you have for someone looking to use social marketing and campaigns to grow their business?
Set your strategy and figure out what you want to accomplish. If you want to engage people to know about your brand, you better have an ad budget along with a content strategy in place to attract them and retain them. If you want them to purchase from your business, have offers and incentives in place to drive them to your store or website, and give them reasons to come back.
If you are having customer service issues, listen to your customers and respond to them. Also, you need to get your hands dirty and not be afraid to put your own personal self out there on social media. If you don’t play with it yourself, you’ll never fully understand the capabilities.
What would you be doing if you didn’t have this position?
I’d be a talk show host.
Just for fun—do you have a favorite L’Oreal product?
I have so many! Kiehl’s Lavender Scrub, Maybelline Stiletto Mascara and the full range of Redken styling products.
GIRL TALK TIME: What do you think of Rachel’s job? What is your take on social media and marketing? What job would you like to see here next?