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Agency Life

California Dreamin’

California Dreamin’

Natasha Smith

Natasha Smith

February 20, 2019

Advertising in America’s innovation capital is nothing short of interesting.

"A fun mix of chaos and reason. It’s such an epicenter of culture, art, and innovation, it makes living here exciting and inspiring."

Caine Fair, Director of Social Strategy at Havas San Francisco, explains why there is no such thing as a bad social campaign. Hmm. Plus, he describes what it’s like having the SFO as a beautiful backdrop.

 

So, tell us where you are from. Did you grow up in California?

I was born and raised in Laguna Beach, in Southern California. Laguna is a coastal artist community, almost an equal distance between Los Angeles and San Diego. I lived down there through high school until I moved up to San Luis Obispo, on the Central Coast of California, to study business entrepreneurship and graphic communication in college—then headed up to San Francisco. I guess I’ve tended to hug the coastline of California; I don’t think I’ve ever lived more than five miles from the ocean. It’s a huge part of my life.

How is living and working in San Francisco different from other major cities?

It is awesome. A fun mix of chaos and reason. It’s such an epicenter of culture, art, and innovation, it makes living here exciting and inspiring. The fact that you can walk from the headquarters of the world’s largest companies in the financial district, through Chinatown, Little Italy, and into touristy Fisherman’s Wharf—in all of about ten blocks—is quite amazing. That being said, the hills and foggy weather do get a bit repetitive.

So, how’d you get your start in advertising and social strategy?

I think I’ve always had it in my blood. I came from a family of designers, fine artists, and entrepreneurs, so I was brought up learning the connection between art and business—and how to use both to portray an emotion and drive action. I found social media to be the perfect mix of both business and creative expression; it is also one of the best advertising tools authentically express the voice and tone of a brand. Growing up within the social media movement, the platforms that I work on have been somewhat second nature to me, which, of course, doesn’t hurt.

How do you explain your job to someone who is not in the industry?

In short, I help brands create a volunteer marketing army by connecting them with their audiences through social media—to provide an authentic experience (through content) that people are compelled to share and engage with.

How do you define social media?

A place for personal expression. An ecosystem of emotionally stimulated digital communities and platforms that allow users or brands to inspire, connect, and educate each other on a variety of topics or experiences.

What makes social media effective or impactful?

I think, at times, it turns those unreachable moments into reality. Where else can you have a two-way conversation with your favorite athlete? Meet someone who has the same rare disease you do? Or see a live behind-the-scenes look at the factory of your favorite brand as they gear up for a product launch? Social media provides authenticity and transparency that connects an audience to a brand or individual at an emotional level. It’s unlike any other platform.

"As rapidly as the social space has expanded, I think it is just at the beginning of what it will allow brands to do and how it will allow them to connect with their users."

What are the basic steps for developing a brand strategy for social media?

Understanding your audience and finding the right channels to participate with them. Not just their age or their social interests, but how these users are interacting with specific pieces of content on certain social channels. This allows your content to have the greatest chance of success. And of course, these decisions need to agree with the greater brand goals of the client—why we are on social in the first place. There needs to be a reason behind each piece of content published.

Are there any similar guidelines that apply to both a commercial brand and a personal brand on social?

Share and engage with content that inspires you and your audience.

What’s the best way to measure success on social media?

Ha. That’s the million-dollar question. It’s a tough question. But in short, it totally depends on the brand’s execution or campaign goals. Sometimes the amount of views on a YouTube video is the greatest measure of success, while other times it may be how many people landed on a microsite from a Facebook post or how many Snapchat filter activations occurred at an event. I believe the biggest measure of success, beyond a data point, is to create something that users are willing to experience, share, or engage with on their own behalf because they feel inspired to do so.

The best social campaign you’ve ever seen?

The Ice Bucket Challenge. Ha. Joking, although it was quite impressive and proved the power of social media. It’s quite the case study. I’ve always enjoyed watching how brands amplify awareness and engagement on social well beyond the products they offer.

Take KFC, for example, and how they bring their witty, timely brand voice to life through content and two-way conversations on social. Nike does an amazing job leading with experiences to highlight the benefit of their products, all while using social to promote and stand by their business beliefs—even if controversial. Their “Dream Crazy” social-first campaign last year was a perfect example of that. Also, one can’t forget to give our local San Francisco underground transportation system, BART, a shout-out because they have one of the funniest Twitter handles I’ve ever seen.

Worst?

There are no bad social campaigns, just ones that could’ve used a bit more thought.

What do you hope changes in people’s perception of social media?

I hope social doesn’t become a battleground of ego, pressure, and competition, but rather a community comfortably expressing itself culturally, emotionally, and artistically. It should be celebrated rather than judged.

What do you hope stays the same?

I actually hope it doesn’t become static, but constantly evolves and grows as it has been for the past handful of years. As rapidly as the social space has expanded, I think it is just at the beginning of what it will allow brands to do and how it will allow them to connect with their users. But if I had to choose one thing to stay the same, it is that people continue to use social media as a way to connect, learn, experience, and witness things they never thought imaginable.

Anything that you’d like to add?

I want to give a shout-out to my SF social media squad and our leadership team for trusting, inspiring, and motivating us to push the boundaries of what we can do for our clients through social media. If you’re ever in San Francisco, swing by the office; it’s full of warm smiles and cold drinks. Oh—and shoot me an Instagram follow @cainefair to stay connected. Don’t hesitate to reach out.

"A fun mix of chaos and reason. It’s such an epicenter of culture, art, and innovation, it makes living here exciting and inspiring."

Caine Fair, Director of Social Strategy at Havas San Francisco, explains why there is no such thing as a bad social campaign. Hmm. Plus, he describes what it’s like having the SFO as a beautiful backdrop.

 

So, tell us where you are from. Did you grow up in California?

I was born and raised in Laguna Beach, in Southern California. Laguna is a coastal artist community, almost an equal distance between Los Angeles and San Diego. I lived down there through high school until I moved up to San Luis Obispo, on the Central Coast of California, to study business entrepreneurship and graphic communication in college—then headed up to San Francisco. I guess I’ve tended to hug the coastline of California; I don’t think I’ve ever lived more than five miles from the ocean. It’s a huge part of my life.

How is living and working in San Francisco different from other major cities?

It is awesome. A fun mix of chaos and reason. It’s such an epicenter of culture, art, and innovation, it makes living here exciting and inspiring. The fact that you can walk from the headquarters of the world’s largest companies in the financial district, through Chinatown, Little Italy, and into touristy Fisherman’s Wharf—in all of about ten blocks—is quite amazing. That being said, the hills and foggy weather do get a bit repetitive.

So, how’d you get your start in advertising and social strategy?

I think I’ve always had it in my blood. I came from a family of designers, fine artists, and entrepreneurs, so I was brought up learning the connection between art and business—and how to use both to portray an emotion and drive action. I found social media to be the perfect mix of both business and creative expression; it is also one of the best advertising tools authentically express the voice and tone of a brand. Growing up within the social media movement, the platforms that I work on have been somewhat second nature to me, which, of course, doesn’t hurt.

How do you explain your job to someone who is not in the industry?

In short, I help brands create a volunteer marketing army by connecting them with their audiences through social media—to provide an authentic experience (through content) that people are compelled to share and engage with.

How do you define social media?

A place for personal expression. An ecosystem of emotionally stimulated digital communities and platforms that allow users or brands to inspire, connect, and educate each other on a variety of topics or experiences.

What makes social media effective or impactful?

I think, at times, it turns those unreachable moments into reality. Where else can you have a two-way conversation with your favorite athlete? Meet someone who has the same rare disease you do? Or see a live behind-the-scenes look at the factory of your favorite brand as they gear up for a product launch? Social media provides authenticity and transparency that connects an audience to a brand or individual at an emotional level. It’s unlike any other platform.

"As rapidly as the social space has expanded, I think it is just at the beginning of what it will allow brands to do and how it will allow them to connect with their users."

What are the basic steps for developing a brand strategy for social media?

Understanding your audience and finding the right channels to participate with them. Not just their age or their social interests, but how these users are interacting with specific pieces of content on certain social channels. This allows your content to have the greatest chance of success. And of course, these decisions need to agree with the greater brand goals of the client—why we are on social in the first place. There needs to be a reason behind each piece of content published.

Are there any similar guidelines that apply to both a commercial brand and a personal brand on social?

Share and engage with content that inspires you and your audience.

What’s the best way to measure success on social media?

Ha. That’s the million-dollar question. It’s a tough question. But in short, it totally depends on the brand’s execution or campaign goals. Sometimes the amount of views on a YouTube video is the greatest measure of success, while other times it may be how many people landed on a microsite from a Facebook post or how many Snapchat filter activations occurred at an event. I believe the biggest measure of success, beyond a data point, is to create something that users are willing to experience, share, or engage with on their own behalf because they feel inspired to do so.

The best social campaign you’ve ever seen?

The Ice Bucket Challenge. Ha. Joking, although it was quite impressive and proved the power of social media. It’s quite the case study. I’ve always enjoyed watching how brands amplify awareness and engagement on social well beyond the products they offer.

Take KFC, for example, and how they bring their witty, timely brand voice to life through content and two-way conversations on social. Nike does an amazing job leading with experiences to highlight the benefit of their products, all while using social to promote and stand by their business beliefs—even if controversial. Their “Dream Crazy” social-first campaign last year was a perfect example of that. Also, one can’t forget to give our local San Francisco underground transportation system, BART, a shout-out because they have one of the funniest Twitter handles I’ve ever seen.

Worst?

There are no bad social campaigns, just ones that could’ve used a bit more thought.

What do you hope changes in people’s perception of social media?

I hope social doesn’t become a battleground of ego, pressure, and competition, but rather a community comfortably expressing itself culturally, emotionally, and artistically. It should be celebrated rather than judged.

What do you hope stays the same?

I actually hope it doesn’t become static, but constantly evolves and grows as it has been for the past handful of years. As rapidly as the social space has expanded, I think it is just at the beginning of what it will allow brands to do and how it will allow them to connect with their users. But if I had to choose one thing to stay the same, it is that people continue to use social media as a way to connect, learn, experience, and witness things they never thought imaginable.

Anything that you’d like to add?

I want to give a shout-out to my SF social media squad and our leadership team for trusting, inspiring, and motivating us to push the boundaries of what we can do for our clients through social media. If you’re ever in San Francisco, swing by the office; it’s full of warm smiles and cold drinks. Oh—and shoot me an Instagram follow @cainefair to stay connected. Don’t hesitate to reach out.

Natasha Smith is the strategic communications manager for Havas Group. She happily represents 404 in the 212.

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