Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

My first day as an intern at a social media content creation and influencer marketing agency was nothing like the episodes of Mad Men I had watched. It was nothing my alma mater, Vega School, could have prepared me for either.

My only work experience, at that point, was waitressing at a Mexican restaurant – and yep, you guessed it, it didn’t exactly prepare me for agency life. However, I put on my first-day-of-work outfit, tagged #ootd and went to work. It was my first day at TILT.

A couple of days later, as I inhaled my lunch (I quickly learnt that lunch breaks don’t really exist) while fixing code on a client’s website, I had a sink-or-swim moment: had I made the right career choice? I realised that agency life was both intense and what my boss coined as “ridiculous” (a little more on that later). However, I am happy to report that I chose to swim.  

It was actually the first-ever meeting that I attended that made me realise I had indeed made the right choice. This meeting stood out for me: first, because I felt so privileged to be part of it, and second, because I was surrounded by suits in a grey boardroom. This was vastly different from the Mexican place where I used to waitress, and being the youngest person in the room was beyond intimidating. TILT began presenting. It was so cool to see how the tone in the room changed completely and how excited everyone became.

The meeting had started off being about selling pens and the role social media influencers could play in growing sales. However, the meeting soon took a “ridiculous” turn and we ended up having a discussion about weddings. Was this what marketing was all about? If so, then I loved that ridiculousness and soon saw that quite often, the more ridiculous something was, the better. And yes, the suits ended up loving the campaign.

One aspect of my job is pairing brands with social media influencers. To me, it is obvious that the role of influencers is a real thing in marketing and they aren’t going anywhere any time soon. To others it isn’t so obvious. Let me give you some examples of the power of influencers. Ryan ToysReview is a six-year-old who reviews toys on YouTube, and believe it or not, he has 17-million followers. All it takes is for a brand to get him to mention it and BAM! 17-million people know about its product. TILT recently worked with a lifestyle blogger who was able to increase a product’s sales by 100% just by talking about it on her Instagram Story. These are the facts, and if you still don’t believe me, Google it.

Another aspect of my job is what we call #setlife. This involves being in a studio, all day, shooting social media content for clients. I enjoy these days because it gives me a break from my desk and my overflowing inbox. On one #setlife day in particular, we shot content for a big corporate, an office furniture company – and naked women (yes, you read that right) for a body positivity campaign. Having three shoots in one day was “ridiculous” too, but it was a blast and, as we now know, ridiculous works.

About the author: Dominique Egan. Picture: SUPPLIED/TILT
About the author: Dominique Egan. Picture: SUPPLIED/TILT

In saying this, the marketing industry is also so much more than thinking out of the box and being outlandish. The industry is at a point where it has never been before. Audiences hold brands more accountable than ever before, diversity in marketing has taken the front seat (not the back) and brands have had to adapt more quickly to this change. In all honesty, I don’t think I could have joined this industry at a more exciting time. The Mad Men or “golden era” of advertising seems boring compared with what is happening today.  

Older generations love to “millennial bash”. However, without young people in the room, things don’t get shaken up. Young people put pressure on the status quo and bring about change. They also come in handy when top execs don’t know the difference between Snapchat and Instagram. At least there is someone in the room who can explain the difference!

I have now worked at TILT for close on a year and I have learnt so much. As a newcomer entering this industry, here is what to expect:  

  1. Brainstorming. It’s important to listen and contribute when you are working in a team.  
  2. Creative. You do not have to be the most creative person in the room to stand out. Hard work and passion will make up for it.  
  3. Be dumb. You don’t know it all.
  4. Teamwork. Arrive on time, and before you sign off at the end of the day, ask your colleagues if there is anything extra that you can do.
  5. Clients. Observe how your colleagues deal with certain situations and the language they use.
  6. Keep motivated. This can be challenging when you are given the not-so-fun jobs, like hours and hours of updating Excel spreadsheets.   
  7. Relationships. The industry in SA is small and you never know when you might meet up with someone again.
  8. Be interested and interesting. Add value to conversations, actively increase your knowledge about the industry and your clients.  
  9. Play.

My time at TILT has been beyond my expectations. I’m doing what I love and when my mom asks me how work is going I can at least tell her it’s going well (yay!). Except for when an influencer starts acting like a diva and goes what us TILT’ers call “rogue”. That’s when, for a second, I think serving fajitas and margaritas may be an option after all.

This article was paid for by TILT.