Social Media’s First Graduating Class Finalist #1: Rich Kemp
As we announced in this post, Simply Measured has spearheaded a search for Social Media’s First Graduating Class: the marketers who set up their brand’s first Facebook page, sent their brand’s first Tweet, live-streamed their first event…the list goes on. These are the folks who started as interns, assistants, and community managers, and now head up social at major organizations all over the world.
This first graduating class has unique insight into the history of social media and what the future holds for our industry. We asked you to nominate these thought leaders, and the people have spoken — we have our finalists!
Our first finalist is Rich Kemp, Head of Creative and Social Media at LateRooms.com.
We spoke with Rich to hear about his journey.
Give us an overview of your career and how you got into social.
I’ve only ever worked in social media. After university, I knew I wanted to get on a graduate scheme and work for a huge brand. I applied for a couple and was lucky enough to get selected for Sky’s.
I was placed in their online gambling brand, Sky Betting and Gaming. I was given the role of Online Community Executive. At the time, I was like, “What is that?” Before brands did any off-site social media, it was on-site social. My role was focused on building an online community for their various products, i.e. Sky Poker.
Poker has a natural conversational element to it, and players have always talked to each other at the online poker tables. But what Sky wanted to do is facilitate more conversation between users, allowing relationships to form and carry through to the rest of Sky Poker to further build a stronger emotional connection to the brand.
From there, I became the Community Manager, encouraging more conversation, encouraging people to join and representing our brand.
When I first started in 2008, not many brands were utilizing off-site social media. But during my time there, we started to see some of our competitors make the jump. So I pitched launching these channels for four separate Sky products. I then went on to manage that presence for a year or so.
At that point, in 2011, I was approached to move over to the travel industry and work for LateRooms.com as their Social Media Manager.
They had been looking at social media as just a part-time role, so it was my job to give them some focus, come up with a strategy, and develop it in the business. It started out with a lot of education, proving value, and hiring a team. Now we have over 10 people on our social and brand design team.
LateRooms is part of a group that has divisions all over the world. So, in 2013, I was given the role of taking over AsiaRooms.com in Singapore’s strategy and advising for MalaPronta.com in Brazil. I did that for a year and half, then I was promoted to my current role, Head of Creative and Social Media.
Is there a campaign that sticks out in your mind as one that helped launch your career?
We’ve had some really big wins quite recently. Last year, in 2015, one of our campaigns won Innovation of the Year at The Drum awards.
That was a campaign called “The Magic Making Department.”
Lucky users of the site [LateRooms.com] have found a personalised gift delivered to them when they arrive at the room they have booked. This lead to an army of grateful recipients publicly thanking and promoting LateRooms on social media as they arrived to find their personalised gifts. This insight into their audience meant they could deliver an appreciated, unique service that elicited genuine positive responses towards the brand and generated traffic to the site. – audiense
We did it completely in-house with our small team.
That campaign was all about taking it right back to basics in social, emphasis on the community and the user.
What kind of returns did you see from this campaign?
There were three goals for the Magic Making Department campaign:
1) To drive customer advocacy
2) Brand awareness and loyalty
3) To get customers to come through direct rather than referral channels.
The emphasis was really about giving our customers an unrivaled brand experience that they couldn’t find elsewhere.
2/3 people who received a surprise as part of this campaign go on to publicly share their experiences. And we increased direct traffic for those involved in the campaign from 63 to 98%!
We saw some really great responses.
What has happened in the social industry that changed the way you did your job?
Part of the fundamentals of working in social is that it’s always changing. Platform updates can completely change your job and strategy. I think it’s just about having to get clever and being more and more creative about what you do. With every change, we’ve found ways to combat these changes and remain relevant to our target market.
Which trends will be big for social media marketers in the future?
The obvious ones: rise of video, live-streaming, etc. But I think visual search is actually a massive one. It’s an opportunity to look at real human behavior and see how people are conducting themselves on the web. You look at sites like Pinterest and Instagram, and the way people are consuming content now — it’s visual. It’s fast. If brands can adopt to this behavior, I think that’s going to be massive.
What needs to happen to social media to put it on par with other digital marketing channels?
I think it is on par. You just have to look at the number of brands that create accounts, launch clever campaigns, and use hashtags in the traditional above-the-line advertising. That can tell you that people are paying serious attention to it.
Social has moved to become more of paid channel and you have teams switching their budgets from search engines to social networks. It’s become the go-to customer care channel for tons of brands too. The fact that social media spans so many facets of life, from watching a movie trailer to reading a review of a hotel you want to book…It touches on every aspect of life.
I’m the Head of Marketing Communications here at Simply Measured, where I'm responsible for our content program, social media marketing, PR, and comarketing ventures. I love yoga, The X-Files, peaty scotch, hiking, and poetry. If I were a social media channel, I’d want to be Instagram, but I think I’m Twitter.