The Linkup: Mariya Spektor
This is The Linkup, SocialChain’s new series putting you inside the minds of the people behind our award-winning work. For our debut interview, I chatted to SocialChain US’s director of content for social media Mariya Spektor. A master creator and queen of personal branding, Mariya jetted to Manchester from her home in LA to tell me her route into the industry back when social strategy wasn’t even a thing; why more brands should lean into TikTok; and tips for overcoming impostor syndrome.
Hey Mariya! Talk us through your typical day as director of content (social media) for our US team…
I work East Coast time, so I’m usually up at around 5am. Coffee first. I like listening to something to set me up for the day. Could be a business or comedy podcast or a new album – whatever mood I’m in.
Every day there’s something new and reactive to tap into. I’m normally scouring my social feeds for whatever’s in the news that day that has potential for reactivity for our clients.
We also post daily bulletins from our reactive meetings in our agency Slack chat, so everyone can identify opportunities for our brands across the UK and US to tap into.
When I’m not doing that, I’m planning social calendars, creating reports, working through client approvals, focusing on an event or pitching new clients. No one day is the same. But it means there’s no monotony. I couldn’t do spreadsheets all day! My brain doesn’t work like that.
Social is such a fast-moving industry, especially recently, with Threads and now X. Do you ever feel pressured to know everything about social updates and what they mean for clients?
Yes, but at the end of the day, social media professionals are adaptable. There’s nothing we can’t learn on the fly. And we have the availability to test and learn because our clients trust us.
We also have transferable experience from other channels because I think there’s no originality anymore when it comes to platforms.
For example, there’s not a lot of difference between X and Threads. Obviously, the type of consumer and user behaviour varies from platform to platform. But ultimately the features themselves are the same.
Good point. And what about your life outside of work?
I teach spin and boxing after work. It’s a lot but I love it. Not only does it give me a side hustle, it helps me physically, mentally and emotionally.
Fitness is important to you, then!
Absolutely. In fact I initially wanted a career out of it! In college was interning for these health and wellness brands, and it was all around sports marketing and brand partnerships. I travelled for three months after graduating and then got a great opportunity to work as a social media coordinator for this health and wellness brand.
At the time the only thing that brands were doing was posting their catalogue pictures or grainy sepia tone photos on their social channels. There was no advanced strategy – it didn’t even exist.
So how did you get to be in this job?
I basically said yes to everything.
As a social media coordinator I was involved in a rebrand and got to do creative direction and copywriting for a magazine we launched. I improved my knowledge of paid media. From there I moved to a medical agency where I got to work across multiple clients. Then I moved into cannabis, B2B, tech, and now I work at a social agency that’s partnered with every type of client from food and beverage to travel. No path in social is linear, but everywhere I’ve been has allowed me to learn and grow and be better.
You’ve got a wealth of experience – what’s your number one piece of advice for brands working with agencies?
One of the big trends we saw this year was an increase in TikTok overtaking Google as Gen Z’s search engine of choice. Thoughts?
I’m a millennial, but TikTok has replaced Google for me too! I think it’s a missed opportunity for a lot of brands, still. The beauty of TikTok is that you can see what products look like in real life, as opposed to a polished photo that Google’s pulled from a retailer website. And ads don’t feel as ‘paid for’, even if creators are the ones who are paid to promote the product.
If you partner with creators the right way on TikTok, you can really tap into that searchability, especially for verticals like travel and retail.
Sharing your own story and experiences is something you’ve mastered, particularly on LinkedIn. Any tips for personal branding?
Just post it. It’s the only way to overcome the impostor syndrome if you’re scared to put yourself out there. Just post it, and everything else will come.
Devise a posting strategy for yourself, whether it be being reactive, being personal, thought leadership, or all three. People should know what to expect when they visit your profile – it should feel cohesive.
Final question. What’s the best thing you’ve worked on while at SocialChain?
We took one of our clients, TikTok, to Cannes Lions recently. Our job was to figure out their social strategy and show how easy it can be to make good creative.
So we partnered with creators to incite a real “FOMO” experience for viewers, and we had videos that were garnering over 7 million views. 99% of our content was shown on the For You page and we gained 18,000 followers the week that we were there. An extremely rewarding experience.
SocialChain put out some coverage of you guys there. It looked amazing!
Very hot, but very amazing!