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01.10.18 / ARCHITECTS OF NEXT: SARAH MORTON/ONEFIFTY

I’m from Sheffield originally and despite not having much of an accent I’m a proud northerner and an even prouder Yorkshire lass. I went to university in Nottingham and then moved down to London in 2012, where I’m currently living in Clapham (don’t judge me).

I originally wanted to be a graphic designer, but after a trip to Paris when I was 16 I decided I needed to combine my love of branding with my love of croissants, so found the perfect joint honours course for me at the uni of Nottingham studying French and Communication. This let me further my interest in design, but also let me live in Paris for a year whilst I learn to speak French.

I started social media consulting for tech startups during my last year at university where I was writing my dissertation on how Facebook can be used to retain connections that would’ve otherwise been lost when users are geographically displaced. After graduating, I got my first full-time marketing gig in Sheffield for an online travel agent, but the lure of London was too strong and I moved down here a year later where I’ve had a few different roles, both in-house and as a consultant. I’ve particularly specialised in high growth tech environments, but have done some work with financial services and at advertising agencies too.

Whilst my experience has been varied, I’m a creative at heart – what I love doing day to day is taking an insight or an idea and bringing it to life in a fun way, finding ways to communicate with audiences that don’t necessarily mean shouting about your products all the time. I love the doing as much as the thinking, and I’m happiest when I’m lost in Photoshop or After Effects, teaching myself something new.

For someone who works in marketing, I wouldn’t say I’m as involved in social media on a personal level as my peers; I don’t think much about Facebook, I use Twitter to amuse myself when I’m bored and I use Instagram more as a visual diary for myself than for anyone else. I also have a tumblr blog which is populated with my Insta feed, where my family can go to check that I’m still alive.

I’m passionate about mental health awareness; my particular frustration with social media is one that has seen a lot of media coverage in recent times, which is the effects that ‘curated lifestyles’ on Instagram are having on society’s mental health, for people of all generations. I took a personal social media detox for 6 months earlier this year, and when I made the decision to return to the ‘gram I found I was able to use it in a more mindful way.

I feel it’s our responsibility as marketers to create campaigns that encourage authenticity, and not to let opportunities for big numbers blind our perception of what genuinely works for brands and their audiences. My message to both brands and consumers is to ‘be truthful to who you are’; not everybody can travel the world and eat in the best restaurants all the time, and in the same way not every brand needs to be luxury and premium. We need to embrace who we are, and on a personal level we need to encourage younger generations to do the same, so that they don’t feel that they need to live up to the impossible standards set by the people they’re following online.

This probably sounds very negative, but I think there are so many positives to social media too. It gives brands a place to interact with their customers on a daily basis, a space where they can be clever, witty and creative with what they produce. When social data is used well, it allows brands to deliver an improved customer experience, and the always on nature of social media, when done well, means better levels of customer service and an opportunity to surprise and delight.

My favourite brands on social media would be:

  • National Geographic on Instagram and the way they use it to really tell stories, not just show pretty visuals of the world
  • Nike who consistently nail their brand experience, even when it comes down to responding to customer service queries on Twitter. (check out @NikeRunning replies for an example of how to do brand TOV right)
  • Pantone’s gloriously colourful Insta feed never fails to cheer me up
  • I don’t watch the X-factor but I could waste hours watching their audition videos on YouTube. Odd.

To stay ahead, think/do:

  • Top twitter follow: Have I Got News For You, for my daily dose of sarcasm.
  • Top Insta follow: There are a million really gorgeous grids I could name here, but if I’m honest I really just love following my mates and seeing what nonsense they get up to.
  • Top blog subscribe: Does refinery29 count as a blog? It’s my daily go-to when I need 5 minutes headspace
  • Productive habit: Moving away from my desk, grabbing a coffee, and putting my phone into ‘do not disturb’ mode when I need to get my head down and do some serious creative thinking.
  • Unproductive habit: Going on to Instagram to look something up for work then getting distracted by my friend’s stories, spending 10 minutes watching them, then forgetting what I was supposed to be doing in the first place.
  • Favourite brand: Oliver Bonas. So millennial.

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