A little over 13 years ago I started my first job of any real substance as a maternity-cover copywriter for a well-known retailer. I won’t mention them here but if you’ve a little tenacity and upwards of 60 seconds’ research time to spare, I dare say you’re only a few clicks away from cracking that little data nut.
What started as a six-month feather in my cap, stretched into a six-year career as I learned the trade, developed in the role, and taught new starters in turn before shifting across the digital department to look after the brand’s social media platforms.
Suddenly things were no longer just about writing, editing and publishing. It became more about the planning and the listening. I needed to anticipate, adapt and react to the trending topics and API changes of these various social media sites, and the engagement from the customers who loved them.
Though they had seemed trivial and ephemeral to some upon their inception, the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, grew to become ever more business critical (mark it up on your buzzword bingo cards, folks). At a glacial pace, awareness of the potential power of social media started to spread through the business.
Eventually I was leading a team of three and coordinating with many other areas of the business, and external stakeholders, to try and make the best use of the brand’s social media platforms as part of a broader, unified strategy with the business as a whole.
Much of this involved showing and reiterating (through presentations and regular reports) how, while the business could promote and sell products via these channels, that shouldn’t be all that these channels are used for. Otherwise, why would anyone choose to follow us over, say, just visiting our retail website? While we could potentially assist a struggling product with a brief and immediate uptick in sales, doing so would likely lead to a significant loss of brand cachet that would hurt us in the long run.
Over my seven years in the role of senior social media executive, I broadened my horizons significantly, working with new digital tools, developing strategies, parsing analytics for meaning amongst the numerical jumble and then looking for a way to convey what insight I had gleaned to the business as a whole.
It was challenging and rewarding work but, crucially, it generally wasn’t writing. I had drifted away from what I had wanted to be doing when I had joined the brand all those years ago.
So I have decided to put writing front and centre once more and to take the plunge into the thrilling waters of the freelance copywriting world.
Wish me luck!