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INTERVIEW: Could “Small Data” be the key to Social Media, Victor Pineiro at Big Spaceship thinks so?

INTERVIEW: Could "Small Data" be the key to Social Media, Victor Pineiro at Big Spaceship thinks so?

Roy Weissman of MediaJobs.com spoke with Victor Pineiro from Big Spaceship on a wide range of important Social Media issues in the industry today.  Especially those involving advertising and how to gauge success for your social media outreach endeavors.

Listen in or read along as Roy Weissman talks with Victor about why he believes that “Small Data” is critical to social media.

You can listen to the interview as well as read it below:

Roy:                       My name is Roy Weissman from MediaJobs.com, and we’re talking with Victor Pineiro, the Vice President of Social Media at Big Spaceship. Victor oversees the agency’s social media and content team. Over the course of his tenure at Big Spaceship, he was the lead copywriter and strategist for Skittles during its first three years on Facebook and Twitter. His clients have included Google, Crayola, Wrigley, Lucas Film, Sonos and Chobani.

Victor was listed in Business Insider’s 30 most creative people in social media, and he’s a frequent contributor to Ad Age, Digiday, Fast Company and Mashable.

Welcome, Victor.

Victor:                   Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Roy:                       It’s a pleasure. One thing I want to mention, could you tell us a little bit about Big Spaceship? How long you’ve been around, what you guys are up to, how many employees?

Victor:                   Absolutely. Big Spaceship’s been around 15 years now. This is our 15th year, and we are here in Dumbo, Brooklyn. We’ve evolved a lot, of course, as you can imagine. Fifteen years is a really long time for any digital agency. We really started off as more of a flash shop where we would create really intense websites, usually around entertainment and movies. Then after a few years of that, we really evolved into the brand space, and we were doing a lot of strategy work as well as a lot of product creation as well.

Then, for the last three or four years, we really shifted where now we really do equal parts social media strategy, digital market communications and a lot of product design as well.

Roy:                       Do websites matter anymore with mobile so big?

Victor:                   I find that websites do matter quite a bit. I think it’s interesting. For all that social media can do, at the end of the day, often people like to be pointed places and really like to experience things a little bit more in depth, so I find almost like a hub-and-spoke model, where social media points to a lot of places, but it still needs places to go and really gorgeous, well-designed websites are one of them.

Roy:                       That’s fantastic. Now you focus on the social media area.

Victor:                   Exactly, yes.

Roy:                       It’s always interesting because everybody talks about social media, and originally social media was about being theoretically social, like Facebook or Twitter. Now social media seems to include Snapchat and all kinds of services. What is social media these days?

Victor:                   Yeah. It’s so difficult to really describe it. Like you said, it really started where social was a big part of it, but now, I find that with the emergence of dark social, which is talking about everything from one-on-one communication such as Snapchat or things like WeChat and Kick and all those one-to-one messaging services, that’s all under the umbrella of social, so a lot of social now is what they call “dark social,” which is anything but social. It’s almost like anti-social media.

I think that right now what social really seems to mean is it’s what makes up the bulk of the Internet, and it’s the primary way that most millennials communicate, whether it be on social broadcast platforms like we’ve been used to for a few years, or one-on-one platforms or even messaging platforms.

Roy:                       What would you say are the top two or three … obviously, Facebook is big, but … let’s include Facebook. If you were saying what are the two top or three platforms, if you had to put all your money in there, all your efforts, which three would they be today?

Victor:                   Sure. I would say that in terms of culture relevance and where people seem to be focusing a lot now and culturally focusing, I would say we have the two major ones in that space are Instagram and SnapChat. Now, it’s a tricky question in terms of what I would focus on because while Instagram really caters to brands and really caters to agencies as well, Snapchat is very much around focusing on page, so it’s really hard to have an organic presence on Snapchat, which means it takes a really different strategy, and Snapchat’s even … I speak to them from time to time, and they sometimes really talk about being considered TV or traditional media. They’re appointed based. You really buy ads on them.

To me, in terms of culture relevance, I’d pick Instagram and Snapchat, but in terms of what I would focus on, I would probably focus on Instagram and Twitter.

Roy:                       It’s interesting. We think about Pinterest, and Pinterest is all about pictures and that doesn’t even come into the vocabulary anymore. Everybody only talks about Instagram, because Instagram is so different in people’s minds. Have people forgot about Pinterest?

Victor:                   It’s interesting. I think people in very specific categories focus quite a bit on Pinterest. It does really well when it comes to often more woman-targeted brands and also retail does quite well there, but you’re right. You hear far, far less of it in meetings and definitely, the focus has steered away from it in some sense, but they still have a very important role to play. I just find that with the brands that we work with at Big Spaceship, very rarely do any of our brands want to focus on that. I’m sure there are other agencies that are very much more focused on Pinterest where it really means a lot more.

Roy:                       I’m going to ask just how you started in with Instagram. Continue.

Victor:                   Yeah. I think what Instagram did is a couple of things. They really went mobile first and were really native to mobile early on, and because they had that advantage early on, they were able to gain a ton of momentum and a lot of cultural cachet, so by the time everyone else caught up, Instagram was out the gate, and they’d been acquired by Facebook and all of a sudden, they were ballooning into this huge cultural juggernaut. They really have the upper hand now.

Roy:                       You said something very significant here. You said, “Instagram was mobile first.” I just heard a statistic a couple weeks ago, and I think I have it correct. It’s something like 60% of the online access comes from mobile phones today.  Do you think the definition of success for a brand or for a site is going to be mobile first?

Victor:                   Absolutely. It has to be. We work a lot with Google, and Google very much everything … their mandate is to always be mobile first, and that’s something that we see across a lot of our more forward-looking clients.

Success really can be measured mobile first, especially when it comes to social media. The way that most people on social media are experiencing it is mobile first, and we’re seeing that become more and more clear ever year as mobile adoption when it comes to social platforms is really skyrocketing. Yeah, I do think that really is the way that we’re going to be measuring success from here on in for a while.

Roy:                       When you design a campaign for your brand, do you focus on mobile first, or is it all depending on the objectives? How does that element of it play into your campaign strategy?

Victor:                   Yeah. Great question. What we really try to focus on, more than anything, is we go behavior first. For any given campaign, we try to look at, what are the behaviors that that audience or that segment is really … what behaviors we see emerging from that segment or that audience and then, how can we really tailor what we’re doing, our strategy and our execution around that?

Often, mobile does play a huge role in that, because what we’re seeing behavior wise is that these social networks and these sites are being accessed on mobile, so yeah. We do have to think mobile first and think about it in that context and not really rely on an old model where we were really looking desktop first.

Roy:                       Yeah. I was in a meeting the other day, and one of the guys said … it was a meeting with some students from a college, undergraduates. He said, “Make sure you learn a lot today because in three years, you won’t know anything.” He was pointing out that you need to learn how to learn. My father used to say, “Change is the only constant,” but I love that saying, and listening to you talking about how you’re an agency, and the discussion of the evolution of your agency just demonstrates the value of working with someone because the world keeps changing even faster, and being able to keep ahead of it or at least with it is so critical.

Victor:                   No, I think it’s so true, and it comes into play a lot when you’re hiring. Often what I’m looking for are just people who are really good thinkers and strategists and very creative at the core, and sometimes I’ll bring people in who have no experience. I’m hiring a community strategist here. I don’t always look for experience because … to your friend’s point exactly. A lot of the experience is so new, and it’s changing so quickly that I’d rather have a sense that they have a really good creative and strategic base and then work from there rather than start device first or platform first.

I don’t ever look for Tumblr experts or Twitter experts. I look for people who are really smart and show that they’re always thinking about this stuff.

Roy:                       I always like to survey 18-to-22-year-olds. Sometimes I teach classes and things, and I’ll ask a question. I’ll say, “How many people use Facebook? How many people use Twitter? What are you using? What do you do?” Obviously, everybody texts, but when you get beyond that, you see a huge divergence in what people do. I’m wondering today, with all the different social media options, everything from Snapchat to Twitter, Facebook, whatever, it’s a lot of work involved just to think one of them work.

Victor:                   Right.

Roy:                       As you well know, because the essence of social media is a conversation as opposed to just posting things.

Victor:                   Yeah.

Roy:                       How do you make it work? There’s so much work involved. Is it cost effective? Because you could spend a ton of money just doing all this work, and the results maybe not be significant. How do you approach that? How do you handle that?

Victor:                   Yeah. What we try to do more than anything is, it’s all about focus for us. We’ll try to figure out, what is the most important channel that we want to launch this brand on and we really want to focus on? For example, we launched YouTube Gaming recently, and that’s a brand that we spoke a lot to them about, about where we should launch. We really focused it just on Twitter because we thought what we’d like to do in the way that we do with a lot of brands is focus on one social network. Really get it right, and then start deciding where you want to invest your time and efforts because you have to get such a good sense of the audience, where they are. Where they’re going to be and how they do that.

For other brands we have here, we’re on so many different platforms, and again, it’s about focus. What’s the overall message you want to do? How does it translate to these different channels? Which ones are more optimized for conversations versus which ones are a little bit more optimized towards content?

For example, when we post something maybe for Google Play or Google Maps, and when we post it to Twitter, it often results in a lot of conversation. When we post it to Instagram, it really results a lot more in engagement but not as much conversation. It’s really trying to figure out what are we optimizing for what channel, and how are we not getting aloft by focusing on so many different things at once.

Roy:                       What kinds of metrics do you use to measure success?

Victor:                   Yeah. It’s quite different for each one. We have a really awesome data practice here. What we really try to do is … we call it “Small data,” which is for every client and every project, we try to come up with just a couple of very specific KPIs, specific numbers and metrics that are going to tell us what we think success means in that moment. It could be anything.

For example, often if it’s a campaign, maybe it’s about awareness, and it’s a very broad metric, for example. In that case, all we really want is reach numbers. Or every once in awhile, it’ll be around a specific … leading somewhere specific, and then it’ll be about click through.

Then for other ones, it gets much more specific where we’re really trying to shift the needle a little bit when it comes to brand perception or sentiment, and then those KPIs get really specific, so it’s not just like around likes and favorites and retweets. It’s around much more specific things where we’re really calling out the way that people are talking about a brand or the things that people are saying about them. That’s when it gets really interesting.

Roy:                       Is anyone optimizing for conversions yet?

Victor:                   Yes. They are, actually, and I’ve seen a lot of interesting progress being made where measuring the way that links are moving through the Internet. A lot of times, people can measure what happens between a tweet and a purchase on an e-commerce website. I’m starting to see conversions become a factor but so many times, social is used better for things like awareness and brand affinity and really, like you were saying earlier, around deepening the relationship with a brand through conversation and engagement and that.

I’ve seen that in certain campaigns that we do. We do try for specific conversions, and we do have that as a KPI, but I think it’s still shifting, and there’s so much that social can do that it’s definitely not laser focused on that for a lot of brands we work with.

Roy:                       It sounds like when you’re talking about optimize over conversions, you’re talking about attribution elements versus an actual conversion on a Twitter visit or on a Facebook visit. Is that correct?

Victor:                   Exactly right. Exactly right.

Roy:                       Okay because I know that I believe YouTube and now Twitter, they’re all trying to introduce the ability to purchase something right through their platform. Is that happening yet? Are people getting sales that way?

Victor:                   We’re just on the verge of seeing … it’s just on the verge. I know you could just announce that really fascinating product placement capability, and Twitter’s been on it for a little while. I haven’t seen a lot on either of them yet. If it happened, it was under my radar, but I’ve been watching that space, because I’m really curious to see, does it work? How does it work?

Because honestly, what I’m seeing more and more is that people don’t want to click on links on any of these websites, and they want to stay in that social network. It’s almost like they have anxiety about leaving that platform, so they want to stay on it. I’m curious when there’s new elements introduced that ask you to click off of platforms, I feel like less and less people do it every day, and is it going to be successful at this point?

Roy:                       That’s why I guess what I’m wondering, leads me to a question I probably should have asked earlier was, what percentage of the social media effort that you do is involved in a conversation versus just a communication?

Victor:                   Oh, that’s a great question. I would say, if you’re doing it right, that number should be 80/20, I would say, or generally, 80% is conversation. I’m saying that in a vacuum, so it really just depend on the brand and the goal.

Roy:                       Right.

Victor:                   What I try to look for when I see a brand that seems to be performing really well in social and really seems to be thriving, often what I’ll see is it’s geared a lot more towards conversation, and then that broadcast messaging is a bit more limited because even when it broadcasts, people are finding ways to have conversation around that.

Roy:                       Right. That’s why … although so many brands just do a rudimentary social media effort. They just post tweets or they post Facebook posts, and it’s just a one-way, buy-a-trip-to-Los-Angeles-on-United or whatever.

Victor:                   Right.

Roy:                       There’s no conversation. It’s just an ad.

Victor:                   Right. But look … Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Roy:                       Go ahead. Go ahead, what you …

Victor:                   I was going to say, what’s interesting about that is, being on the other side of it, too, is the honest truth is that I would say 90% of brands if not more, people just don’t want to have conversations with them. It’s really few and far between that those brands exist that the audience actually wants to have real quality conversations with them.

We’re seeing it with a couple of brand we have here, and it’s just night and day. They’re the brands that really struggle and try to get people to talk to them and bend over backwards for a conversation, and then, there’s other brands we work for where we post absolutely anything, and there’s 100 comments, and everyone’s dying to talk to us. It’s such a fascinating thing.

You can’t really blame some brands that do more broadcasting. I imagine they’ve tried the conversational route, and it’s been a struggle.

Roy:                       If a brand comes to you that you don’t think is a conversation brand, would you say to them, “Let’s not waste your time?” Or would you say, “We can come up ways to create conversation.”

Victor:                   Right, so the latter. Then it’s a real creative challenge of, “What is there around this brand that we can really create some up-ended conversations around? Is that a possibility, and it it’s not, are there ways that we should [inaudible 00:16:45] the crowd or are there things we can do? Can we partner with somebody? Can we have a partnership where we create some interesting content that’s conversation worthy? Are there any routes we can take towards actually mattering enough so that our audience does want to have conversations around it?”

Roy:                       This is one of those meetings in your office on a Friday at 5:00 when they break out the beer, and you call the creatives in and say, “We’re now representing Ace Machine Tools, and they want to do a lot on social media,” and the room just stares at you and looks at you. You’re like, “Why don’t you have a beer and let’s talk.”

Victor:                   Exactly. It’s either that, or we have it first thing in the morning when everybody’s a little more awake. It could be caffeine in the morning or beer in the afternoon.

Roy:                       That must be the excitement of an agency, because you get these challenges because if a brand can do it themselves, they’re not hiring you. If they’re hiring you, it’s because they’ve run into issues they’re not solving, and they need somebody with the expertise. That’s, I know, part of the excitement of working at an agency.

Victor:                   That’s exactly right. Yeah. Some of the people we hire, that’s another thing, too. We always look for people who really get actually excited about that, and that’s the part that excites them are these really crazy challenges that seem really difficult or close to impossible.

Roy:                       Do you have a good story to tell us about some great work you’ve done for a client you could share with us?

Victor:                   There was a really fun one we did a few months ago that I thought would be neat to share, which is something to do with Samsung Mobile. Maybe it was almost a year ago, this one, but I just find it interesting.

It was called “It Doesn’t Take a Genius,” and it was around the launch of a new phone they had, and the launch of the phone coincided with the launch of Apple’s new iPhone, and because of that, they wanted to find a way. “How do we really command some conversation, not just around the launch of our phone but during iPhone’s big keynote? Is there a way for us to also be present in that conversation somehow?”

That was really interesting. It took a lot of thinking and also a ton of digging into social listening, and we were getting a sense of the audience and the audience overlap. What we came up with was, we created a studio presence. We got all of our guys in a studio, and we hired a few actors, and we had them dressed up like they were in what looked almost like an Apple genius bar studying, and what we did is during the keynote, we had all of our writers and our producers in the studio, and they were actually creating content live that was in reaction to the actual Apple keynote as it was happening.

We went back and forth, back and forth, and that was the keynote where there was a big not power outage, but technical difficulties, and the stream froze for a while, and while it was happening, we quickly rattled off a few scripts, and we created some 30-second ads around that in these short videos and then posted those to YouTube almost immediately afterward. It was really neat because it was happening so quickly, and it was on the heels of all this conversation that was happening.

It was very much in the moment, but it looked … this was a great example of a time that we actually were able to nail very commercial-quality video as it was happening. It was real-time, commercial-quality video happening during this big Apple keynote event. Because of that, it really propelled the content, and I don’t know the [inaudible 00:20:11] numbers, but I know that it was at 15 million views just a few weeks after we launched, and it was getting a lot of [inaudible 00:20:19] because people really dug the timeliness of it. They loved that we were poking some light-hearted jabs at Apple, and it was a lot of fun.

Roy:                       I remember a million years ago, they did the Pepsi/Coke challenge because Pepsi was so frustrated they couldn’t compete with Coke, so they went to malls, and they would pour one of each, and they’d ask people, “Which is which?” Inevitably, people would say, “This Pepsi.” They’d say, “That’s Coke.” They’d say, “No, it’s Pepsi.” It almost sounds like you took this and it was almost riffed off of that, willing to challenge the market, this huge company that’s so well known and to go out and say, “We can show you what we can do,” and you took it on real time. That’s a huge challenge.

Victor:                   It really was. It was a huge challenge but it was also a ton of fun, and that’s also a big risk in terms of … that could have very much fallen flat, and I think we just got lucky that we had the right people in the right room and a lot of people who spent a lot of time with those brands and had a really good sense of how that would work and how it would jibe with our audience. Yeah.

Roy:                       That’s fantastic. This is real exciting. That takes on a real challenge that you’re willing to do that in real time. That’s what social media is about, something happening right that minute. Right in the moment of time people are experiencing it, so to be able to do what you did showed that you participated in the true spirit of social media. That’s exciting.

Can you think of any examples whether they’re yours or someone else’s of brands or whatever that you think have done a fantastic job with social media?

Victor:                   Oh, gosh, yes. Whoo, there’s so many. Let’s see.

Gosh. Yes. I’d rather not share … there’s the obvious ones, the ones that always do really well. There’s always Red Bull. Red Bull’s always doing really well, and that’s because they’re a media company first before anything else.

Then there’s some of the smaller ones.

Roy:                       Is there anybody that you would say, “These people are not conversation starters, but they’ve done such a creative job, they’ve created a conversation?”

Victor:                   Yes. You know who I think is good about that? When it comes to creating conversation, Dove actually did such a good job with their Real Beauty. Bringing something out that a lot of people are talking about anyway, and it’s really … they really created a campaign that started steering a conversation in an interesting way. Every time they come out with a new commercial, it’s this big social campaign they have around it, and they’re really involving the world in their conversation. Because it’s such a big conversation, it’s not just about Dove.

I think it’s not about Dove at all. Because it’s about the idea of real beauty, and that’s such a hot topic, it makes a lot of waves far outside their audience, and it really has an enormous reach, and that’s because they’re really smart about the conversations they want to have within the idea of real beauty and what the conception of beauty is today and really going into feminism and everything.

Roy:                       That campaign’s been going for what, six or eight years, something like that?

Victor:                   Exactly, yeah. I really feel that that campaign, because social has exploded and it becomes almost more relevant every year as the conversation continues growing and growing with every new mini campaign within it.

Roy:                       A lot of people look at a campaign as a point in time or a period of time. Dove’s created a whole business out of it. It’s very impressive, what they’ve done.

Victor:                   Exactly.

Roy:                       Is there anyone else you could think of, maybe not as good as Dove, but somebody else you’d want to bring up that maybe wasn’t a conversation started that somehow figured out how to use social media well?

Victor:                   You know who’s an interesting one? We managed social for all of YouTube, so I always liked looking at the way that social platforms expressed themselves on social media, and the one that I really enjoy is Instagram. What I mean is, Instagram’s social presence on Instagram. If you follow Instagram, that content stream.

That one’s really interesting because I talked to the head of content, and they have this really neat, enormous group of curators who … what they do is they’re consistently looking out into the world of Instagram creators … and I’m talking globally, not just in New York. They’re very global … and trying to find who are the Instagram creators that are telling the most interesting stories, and how do we highlight them in a way that piques our audience curiosity?

If you follow Instagram on Instagram, every week, they have a couple of highlights and spotlights of different people around the world that are doing really interesting things. For example, recently, the one that really got my attention was somebody who does a lot of underwater photography but really, these epic underwater photographs where they follow whales and things like that, but they’re very much on a shoestring budget. It’s somebody who just does it as a hobby.

A while ago, they had a really neat one of somebody who travels the world with their partner, and every picture they take is of their partner leading them somewhere, so you see her hand reaching out to his, and they’re in some new, gorgeous place around the world. There’s so many of them.

Then they’re really delving a lot into art now where they’re finding really interesting artists outside of photography who take pictures of their work, and then they’re delving into the biographies of these artists.

It’s a really fascinating take. A lot of people celebrate National Geographic for doing that on Instagram and, of course, National Geographic does an incredible job, but Instagram themselves does a really good job, too. That’s really interesting because the way that they’re really focusing on growing the platform that way is a purely editorial approach and really just focusing on who are the users that are doing it right and how can we use them to inspire people to use Instagram better but also to follow the right people?

Roy:                       Again, this reminds me of if you go back … and you might want to do this just for the fun of it … go back and look at Kodak advertising from, I don’t know, 40 years ago.

Victor:                   Interesting.

Roy:                       Kodak was all about promoting the value of pictures and because, obviously, they wanted to become the leader in photography, so they were selling people on … they always had pictures of families and dogs and all the good little things, and great, amazing pictures. Years ago, in Grand Central Station, there used to be a huge picture over the whole station where the Apple Store is now. There used to be a huge picture up there that Kodak would put up there every month, this enormous picture.

It’s funny, when you talk about Instagram promoting life and excitement and the world through pictures, someone should just do this study and go back. I’m a huge believer that, what do they say? Back to the Future, kind of thing.

Victor:                   Yeah. Absolutely.

Roy:                       If you go back and you do the research, you’re going to find out Kodak’s ad campaign, I think if I researched this … I study advertising and marketing all the time. The stories are amazing. I’d research this, and the Kodak campaigns, what you’re talking about sound very parallel to what Instagram is doing.

Victor:                   If it isn’t … back then, you could inspire with it, but now what you can do is actually follow those people, and it’s almost like subscribing to the magazine as a photographer back then, if they had one. Now you can follow them, and you consistently are seeing more and more of my Instagram feed is just fed by the creators that Instagram is hiring for me.

Roy:                       Also, today, you have much more intimacy. I can pick someone who I like, and I can follow that individual or people like Rupert Murdoch posting on Twitter whatever. I can follow these people personally. That’s different, obviously. Social media is about that intimacy and that personalization, but it’s interesting when you talk about following it.

Now that you brought up Instagram, now I’m going to have to follow them because it sounds really interesting.

Victor:                   It’s fun.

Roy:                       I’m curious to follow them.

Of all the new social media platforms, there’s so many. We’ve talked about Periscope. I love Periscope. I was showing my wife. “Look.” We’re sitting out having a drink at 8:00 or 9:00 at night downtown one day. I said, “Here. Let me show you what they’re doing in Spain,” and there we were, in someone’s living room. I think it was in Spain or France, looking at Periscope, and she was like, “What is this?”

I’m like, “Those people are live right now.” Six hours later. It’s 3:00 in the morning in France, and these people are sitting in their … they probably came back from a party.

With all these crazy new things going on, is there any one that you really are intrigued about or would love to explore more or you see opportunity with?

Victor:                   Yeah. The one that I’m personally fascinated by … and I think it was a lot cooler to be fascinated by it a year ago, but I’ve just been non-stop fascinated by it for a while is “Vine,” because to me, what fascinates me about social networks in general is emergent behavior. The audience or users who are using it use it in a way that’s so different than anyone could have guessed.

Vine comes out, and everybody thinks, “Oh, my God. They finally created Instagram for video.” This is before Instagram had video. “This is the Instagram for video. Vine wins. Vine wines.” They’re thinking everybody’s going to be out there producing videos all the time of anything in their life, but all of a sudden, what happens is Vine becomes a platform for just like a dozen maybe tops, 20, 30 people who all become celebrities and everyone just watches these 30 celebrities and nobody else. Everyone is just tuned in to 30 accounts on Vine.

Talk about a different conception from what they thought it was going to be two years ago. Now they’re changing their entire strategy to account for that, and it’s really just about these influential celebrities. It’s not about anybody Vining their lunch, they way that you would do on Instagram or Twitter, and that sort of stuff just fascinates me.

Roy:                       Isn’t it true, though, if you look at my whole background being in media and technology. The programming, the videos on YouTube to get the most views are the most professional ones or the ones that have the stars?   Because do most people really care, video of somebody taking out the trash? Not really, and they don’t know the people, and it’ not done very well. I think with Vine, what a lot of people think … people think a six-second video is easy.

Victor:                   Right.

Roy:                       It’s probably 10 times harder.

Victor:                   Mm-hmm (affirmative). Absolutely. Right. Very difficult.

Roy:                       I can see why that might refocus on the top people there and everything. That’s pretty good. Are you guys going to try to do something with Vine? Are you trying to do things with Vine?

Victor:                   Yeah. We dabble in that quite a bit. Yeah. We’ve dabbled with Vine a few times. There’s a lot of fun you can do with it. I think often with Vine, so much of it has to be influencer based to really get that reach that it limits it a little bit where it’s not enough to just … unless you’ve been growing your Vine presence for a long time, it’s not worth it to invest unless there’s an influencer strategy often.

Roy:                       Do you find anything exciting about Periscope? Are you utilizing that or is that just it’s own little thing?

Victor:                   Yeah. Periscope is interesting because I haven’t quite seen it yet, but I know we’re getting on the verge of Periscope just like Vine, just like Instagram before it, just like Twitter and just like YouTube before all of them, there are starting to become influencers on the space. I find it so fascinating that a new social platform opens up, and all of a sudden, just a few months later, there’s already people emerging to the top in terms of influence. I love following that and getting a sense of it.

We have used Periscope for a couple of our brands, and it can be quite useful, but we haven’t done like a Periscope campaign yet or anything like that. We’re still keeping tabs on how it’s growing.

Roy:                       That’s fantastic. Sounds like you guys do a lot of fun things there. You really know everything about social media. Can you give us a sense what a typical day might be like working at Big Spaceship and what kind of people you think would thrive?

Victor:                   Absolutely. Honestly, for any given position here, there’s no typical day. I’ll give you a fun example with YouTube, for example. YouTube is a platform that pumps out a ton of content. Whereas some brands are posting once or twice a day, YouTube posts 20 times a day. We have a few people here who really curate that content, and they’re really watching up to 400 YouTube videos a day, trying to find which are the ones that make the most sense, which resonate, which are the best with our audience, and you have to check a lot of boxes there.

Once we’ve culled it down, we’re creating content around all those videos, and it’s really interesting because of a few clients we have, and YouTube primary among them, we really feel like we get this great sense of being on the front seat to culture where we’re seeing all of it. Any YouTube videos that are resonating, our YouTube team will send it out to other teams to check it out, and through that, it’s a really neat system we have.

Actually, in terms of our typical day, I’ll tell you, there are a few things that are typical in a day.

First thing in the morning, half an hour to an hour before everyone else gets here, we have somebody who comes in and creates what’s called “Internet Brunch.” She scours the Internet. She has all these different social sites she looks at. She has all these different new sites she scours. She has a whole system, and she puts together this long newsletter called “Internet Brunch” that tells us everything that’s happening on the Internet over the last 6 to 12 hours.

When everyone gets in, everyone reads Internet Brunch. It hits their inbox somewhere in the first hour that they’re here. Everyone reads it, and they get a sense of, “Oh, maybe these specific things might make sense for our brand to do today,” or “This will make sense for us to include in our conversations.”

Everyone gets in. A few things settle down, and then a couple of hours into the day, each team has a different scrum. Big Spaceship is very team oriented and project oriented where we don’t separate people by discipline. We’re all separated by project, so the YouTube team sits together. The Samsung team sits together and on and on.

Each team meets in the morning, and it’s the entire team. It’s not just people who write the content. It’s not just the people who are producing. It’s not just the strategists. We have the entire team meet, and we all take a look at what happened the day before or the last couple of days, so every single post. We take a look at it. We talk about why it did well or why it didn’t perform well. We hypothesize around it, and we get a sense of that, and then we also get a sense of, “What are some opportunities that we can talk about today? Are there real-time opportunities that we can seize in the moment?” And that sort of thing.

From there, it starts to vary quite a bit, but in general, I think the things that really differentiate Big Spaceship are that we are very, very deeply collaborative. Everybody is invited to every brainstorm on a team, so it’s never just … nobody here has the title “Creative,” because everybody here needs to be creative to be hired. When we’re in a brainstorm, a typical brainstorm involves the entire group and often, what’s interesting is you start to get a sense where, for example, on the YouTube team, we have an analyst, a data person, who comes up with so many of the best ideas, such a high percentage of all the most interesting ideas.

On one of our Google Play teams, we have a producer who’s just unbelievably creative, always coming up with interesting ideas. Here, what’s interesting is the creativity is very spread throughout the agency, and we’re not very into hierarchy, either, because we feel that to get the best ideas, we really need everybody to have an equal voice and because, often, the people who understand the Internet the best are the youngest, we want … no matter how long you’ve been in the agency world, we want everyone to be able to pipe up.

As much as possible, we’re flat and we include everyone in the brainstorms, and because of that, we’re deeply collaborative and so, the teams are always collaborating. Our producer does a lot of the writing, and then our writer does a lot of the community management, and our community manager does a lot of the production, and it bleeds together on some of them, because we can be so collaborative.

To answer the final part of your question, in terms of who does what here, I would say the Number One trait that people share who do well here is that they’re really good at being completely autonomous. We really don’t like holding hands a lot. We trust people that we hire. We spend a lot of time trying to find the right person to hire but then, when they’re in here, we love throwing them in and having them be part of the team from Day One, so people who are real self-starters do well here, and people who are not really into that often struggle the first month here because they’re like, “Oh, my God. I didn’t expect that you guys were just going to let me jump in and have all this responsibility,” and it’s like, “Yeah. That’s how we do things here.”

Roy:                       It sounds like it’s a challenge, and it’s exciting, and it sounds like a place where someone could learn a lot pretty quickly.

Victor:                   Yeah. Yeah. We like to think so. It’s definitely a lot of fun, though. We got really lucky in that we’ve been around long enough that we can be choosy about the clients that we pick, and we try to pick clients that are both really, really challenging and also just really, really fun. The kind of YouTubes and Samsungs and Google Plays and Google Maps of the world. Brains that just are interesting and have really interesting challenges that are a joy to work with.

Roy:                       Now in terms of who you’re looking to hire, their specific roles or things you’re looking for primarily?

Victor:                   Right now, there’s a lot of openings because we’ve brought on a couple of really interesting larger brands, and we’re just getting that role. We’re looking for a lot of community strategists, which are, in other agencies, they’re called Community Managers.

Also always looking for good people in data analytics and that sort of stuff, but really, across the board, I would say everything from strategy to analytics to production right now because we’ve got a lot of really interesting new business coming in. We’re probably going to be looking for the whole gamut.

Roy:                       What kind of experience level? Could it be somebody out of college? You want somebody with three to five years? What kind of experience level are you looking for?

Victor:                   Yeah, just a wide range on that as well. It’s great to have people who have a little more experience in the game, especially with some positions like Community Strategists and analysts. We’ll often take people who are just really smart and capable but don’t have a ton of experience. Yeah.

Roy:                       That sounds fantastic. Is there anything else you want to add or mention that I didn’t ask about or you wanted to bring up?

Victor:                   No. I think it was a great conversation. Yeah. Thanks for having me.

Roy:                       We’re going to thank you for taking the time to spend some time with us on Media Jobs.

Victor:                   Thanks so much. I’ll speak to you soon.


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