In order to run a successful social media agency, you need a team of talented individuals constantly pulling together in the right direction to make things happen. We are proud of our team of strategists, creatives, influencers, community managers and marketers, and we’d like for you to get to know them a little bit more.
From CNN in London to OST in Cambridge, next up in our ‘meet the team’ series is a die-hard Judy Garland fan, podcast enthusiast, runner come voyager, and Senior Account Director, Stef Lait.
What is your role at OST?
I’m a Senior Account Director within the client services team, working cross-functionally with the operations teams to ensure our clients’ projects and campaigns are delivered on time, on brief, and on budget. I also work closely with marketing and sales teams to ensure we’re reaching our target prospective clients with content and offerings that align with their value perception.
Could you talk us through a normal day for you?
Being in the middle of lockdown 3.0 with two small children at home, it’s hard to remember what a ‘normal day’ looks like. It would usually start with a team briefing to recap priorities for the week ahead, and flag any potential barriers. Calls with UK clients, creative brainstorms, and potential client calls would usually follow, as well as reviewing our client services processes, as we’re always looking at how we can improve.
I usually end the day a bit earlier to ensure I can entertain my two kids – swimming, homework, that sort of thing. I then manage to jump back on for a bit in the evening to finish anything up or jump on a call with our US clients. None of this would be possible without the full support of my amazing colleagues and a company that supports flexible working. No two days are ever the same and I love the challenges that each one brings.
What’s your favourite social channel and why?
Personally, I love YouTube. Many people probably don’t think of it as a social channel, it’s just a part of their life, like Google. I couldn’t live without it, and I wouldn’t want to. I am just old enough, and likely part of the last generation of people, to remember when there wasn’t a YouTube or Google and I had to ask my parents or consult an encyclopedia (which let’s be honest, I rarely did) to find stuff out. Now, when I don’t know the answer to something, my 5-year-old daughter will just roll her eyes and tell me to Google it. She doesn’t know how much she takes it for granted.
Also, whenever I see an advert that actually makes me pause and consider before skipping it, I make a mental note of what it was that made me want to keep watching, as that’s exactly the kind of value-driven content we aim to produce for clients.
Do you have a favourite social media advertising campaign?
I have many favourites, but I recently saw a partnership between non-alcoholic beer brand O’Doul’s and dating app Match, in which the campaign aimed to normalise conversations around drinking little or not at all. I am a great fan of brand collaborations – it just makes sense when you share the same target audience and your brand values align.
In this case, the value they offered fans was a chance to win a virtual date kit including candles, phone stands, and conversation cards to break the ice. It was a very relevant and timely campaign, given its dry January and the majority of us are still housebound. I also liked how the initiative in itself was inherently social, which is particularly effective when your target demographic is looking for meaningful connections.
Who influences you on social media and why?
I love The Female Lead on LinkedIn for its quick nuggets of inspirational genius that seem to always land in my news feed at just the right time. Working at a social media agency, I know a bit about just how they do that, but in those moments it’s nice to just think of them as serendipitous. I also closely follow Social Media Examiner on YouTube (they also have an excellent podcast series) for all that’s going on in social media.
“With social media, there is an ever-growing expanse of opportunity, and as such, requires professional marketers who are constantly seeking new and improved ways to solve people’s problems, to make their lives better, while remaining ethical in our practices.” Stef Lait
What are your passions and hobbies?
It might be more for an excuse to get out of the house for an hour rather than fitness, but I am a proud fair-weather runner. I love to travel, and often find opportunities to blend the two interests by navigating through unknown terrain when in a new place.
I am also really into podcasts and audiobooks at the moment, as while I’ve always been a keen reader I find myself quite time-poor these days, so they allow me to make the most of the time I do have. I am currently listening to Louis Theroux’s Grounded series 2 and Katherine Ryan’s Telling Everybody Everything. As a fellow Canadian ex-pat, I enjoy her hilarious anecdotes of life growing up in a small town in Southwestern Ontario (I myself am from a small town just 120 miles away) and outsider observations about class systems in the UK (something that is relatively non-existent in Canada).
What future social media and/or developments in marketing are you excited about?
I am really enjoying Reels – they put the content front and centre and are a very underutilised feature among brands, so there is less competition to be seen organically, which is rare these days. Another exciting ongoing development, which has been accelerated by Covid, is the switch from traditional offline operations to online – things like meetings, tradeshows, and even yoga classes have all been embraced by the online community and are likely to stay. This creates an even bigger opportunity for brands to produce value-driven customer-centric content for their audiences to enjoy, giving them a sense of what they are all about and what they have to offer.
For e-commerce companies specifically, it means embracing more opportunities to sell via in-app purchases and exploring different platforms to understand where and how their customers really want to shop.
Why did you choose a career in social media?
It was more of a case of it chose me. I was working in PR at CNN International when I began looking after the @cnni Twitter account. This was back in 2009 when there were relatively few of us who knew what a tweet even was. That one event exposed me to a whole new way of marketing, bypassing the middleman and speaking directly to our target audience.
I soon joined their first Digital Engagement team and created content for Facebook as well as dabbled in early mobile site and app development. It was an exciting time to be working in, what we now know as, digital marketing. It seemed every week that new technology was becoming available – from iPads to iPhones to, well, mainly Apple products driving the transformation. And it has really never slowed down. With social media, there is an ever-growing expanse of opportunity, and as such, requires professional marketers who are constantly seeking new and improved ways to solve people’s problems, to make their lives better, while remaining ethical in our practices.
If you weren’t at OST you would be…
Probably working client-side for a like-minded brand, or singing in a hit West End musical (a girl can dream).
Tell us one random fact about yourself?
I was obsessed with Judy Garland films as a kid and won a public-speaking contest (in primary school) on the topic of her life and work. I can recite word-for-word all the lyrics from her musicals and still tear up during “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” (which was especially poignant over the holidays just gone. “Someday soon, we all will be together, if the fates allow. Until then we’ll have to muddle through somehow…”)