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If you’re an avid follower of fashion, the likelihood is you’re familiar with the racks of glossy magazines which dominate the floor of your local newsagent. You’d be forgiven for thinking that these faithful faces form the backbone of the fashion marketing and advertising industry, with their pages bursting with ads for the latest collections and products to be released. Yet social media is rapidly becoming a marketing powerhouse for fashion and beauty brands; a way to engage their followers and potential customers organically, without the need for intrusive ads. I caught up with Bobbi Brown’s Karmel Mandrick to talk all things influencers, Instagram, and experience.
Hannah: First of all, what is your job title and can you give a brief description of your role?
Karmel: I’m the Social Media Manager for Bobbi Brown Cosmetics in the UK. Day to day, I run Bobbi Brown’s localised content, which means working closely with the team in North America to strategise content for the UK. I also manage the Social Media Coordinator and we work together very closely. Together we form almost a two pronged role; on the one hand it’s very creative as we manage the social media content to boost shareability and likes. On the other hand, it’s a lot more analytical: making spreadsheets; scheduling posts, distributing budgets. Broadly speaking, the role is about driving the visibility of Bobbi Brown, whether that’s through user generated content, pro artists (a 6 strong team of professional artists in the UK), or influencers. We work to boost the visibility of our 120 counters and stores in the UK through a social media ambassador programme for each store which speaks to their regional audience and engages local following. We look at how social media drives sales and awareness through Facebook and other social media, such as for product launches. I also collaborate with a media agency to figure out who the brand speaks to and when, to further spread the message.
Hannah: A lot of influencers tend to be based in London, with other UK cities losing out on the spotlight. Do you believe that the beauty industry, especially surrounding social media and influencers, is London-centric?
Karmel: A large share of our following is based in London, so we work with our PR team to identify new influencers, especially outside of London, to really speak to the whole nation. There’s a huge area of opportunity for aspiring influencers in cities other than London, as there’s less competition. Being from the North West, you’re probably at an advantage to London based influencers, as there’s a niche market for aspiring influencers in contrast to the saturation of influencers based in London.
The quality of influencers’ content is hugely important, more so than the size of their following, and influencers from big cities tend to have a better grasp on what makes engaging content. In London there are so many places to go as well as frequent store and brand launches which make compelling content for social media, but influencers from other cities shouldn’t be daunted; it’s an opportunity to get creative with their local environment and make engaging content based on their own surroundings.
Hannah: What experience did you need to get your position? Did you use any of your skills from University?
I did a post-grad in journalism and the selection process was really tough. There were 10 of us altogether and we had to go through a lot of tests to get on the scheme. The flexibility of teaching staff at Lancaster was a huge advantage when preparing for the exams. The opportunity to do two minors was also such an advantage, as it allowed me to change my course to something I was truly interested in and I don’t think I’d have ended up where I am today if I hadn’t changed from American Studies to Film and Cultural Studies after first year.
Hannah: Tell me about your previous roles and experience. What have you done and how has it helped you with your current role?
Karmel: While I was on my journalism post-grad, awards were handed out to different people on the course. I certainly wasn’t top of the class, but I got the fastest short hand award, which you never know, might come in handy if we ever lose our dictaphones, and also the best dressed award. My tutor at the time actually knew Duncan Edwards who was head of ASOS magazine in-house, and he just happened to mention my interest in fashion to him. I got the role at ASOS as Junior Writer and Entertainment Writer, where I learnt to love fashion and realised that that was my true passion!
Hannah: In your opinion, is it better to have a fashion related degree in order to work in fashion and beauty, or is experience just as prized?
Karmel: I personally think that it doesn’t really matter what degree you have when searching for a full-time job; experience is much more sought after. I would advise getting as much work experience as possible while at Uni, either in the summer or a part time job. It just gives you a chance to see if you truly like the fashion and beauty industry, or if it’s actually something you hate. My biggest advice is making contacts. When I left college before Uni I did some work experience at FHM and I managed to stay in touch with all the people I worked with there, which has really come in handy throughout my career. Even just being smiley, chatty and going to the pub with them helps maintain contacts, which could be key for finding positions in the future.
Hannah: What has been your favourite project you’ve worked on to date?
Karmel: I’ve worked at some amazing music festivals all over the world which was quite stressful, but very fun. I think my favourite was probably South by South West in Texas, sourcing shoots, finding and interviewing bands. We even went out most nights too, so we were exhausted, but so worth it! I got to meet so many people and really got my teeth stuck into work, so I loved the travelling.
Hannah: What sort of person would thrive in your job role?
Karmel: I would say someone who has right and left brain thinking; having the strategic side for budgets and spreadsheets, but also thinking creatively to make compelling content. Certainly if you’re studying a few different subjects at once, or even a few different modules, it teaches you some great left and right sided thinking skills, so highlighting that on your CV is fundamental. Being forward thinking in terms of independent study is also key to success, as it shows you’re driven to achieve your goals. If you can attain a top grade while proving you can work independently, find sources by yourself and generally work through your degree without having your hand held all the way through, is hugely important when working in social media.