Despite the rapid growth, expansion and billion dollar valuations of social media companies such as Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook, there are still skeptics out there who think using these services is a waste of time and that the role of the social media/community manager isn’t a legitimate career path.
They don’t take into consideration that in today’s connected economy, consumers expect a certain level of access, transparency and accountability from the firms and businesses where they spend their money. Social media outlets provide a great platform to deliver on a few of these stakeholder expectations, thus putting social media strategists and managers in a unique position to influence (for better or worse) or uphold the perception of a brand in the marketplace.
For the heavily-regulated financial services industry the stakes are even higher especially in the digital space. And there’s no one who understands that more than Kelley O. Williams (@MissKelleyOhh), who currently heads up the social media team for JP Morgan Chase’s Community Giving properties.
I recently caught up with Kelley to get more insight into her role at JP Morgan Chase and to learn more about how previous roles at American Express, Discover and Walgreens prepared her for where she is today.
Keep reading to find out why Kelley O. Williams is one to watch.
Hashtags + Stilettos (H+S): You’re currently the Assistant Vice President of Social Media at JP Morgan Chase. Can you describe your role in more detail? What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
Kelley O. Williams (KOW): I lead the social content strategy for Chase Community Giving, which is one of the largest social properties at the firm with over 3.7 million followers [across all platforms]. I drive the editorial strategy, social campaigns and lead content production. However, because our team follows an in-house agency model, I touch a lot of different properties, such as [our] Chase Small Business account on Twitter.
H+S: How did you get started in the digital space?
KOW: My first official “digital role” was at Discover Financial Services. I was a marketing intern on the Internet Acquisition team. From that point on, I continued to choose roles that allowed me work on a number digital projects that ranged from channel management to UX to data visualization.
H+S: I know that no two days are the same, but what is a day in the life of Kelley Williams like?
KOW: Busy! Scope of work and direction change by the day here, which can be very exciting, but at the same time very challenging. I’ve had days where I’m pulled in at 9 am to deliver a solution to a senior leader by end of day, and other days where I’m going to a site visit to meet bright young girls who just graduated from a 10 week Girls Who Code program.
H+S: You mentioned that you’re responsible for managing a community of more than 3.7 million people. How do you even begin to approach something of that magnitude?
KOW: Chase Community Giving fans follow the page because they believe in what we’re doing for their communities. So, I feel very responsible for ensuring that our content and experience delivers on the promise that we made to them when they became a part of our community.
H+S: Do you have a team that supports your efforts?
KOW: We have a cross functional team that supports Chase Community Giving that spans from Social Media, PR, Philanthropy, Legal, Compliance, etc. We also have agency partners that help support the strategy and execution of the program.
H+S: The financial industry in general has been slow to embrace and/or see value in having a digital media presence. Would you say the atmosphere at JP Morgan Chase is still apprehensive or are they more open-minded to exploring the possibilities?
KOW: The financial services industry is highly regulated, so that definitely poses challenges. Risk is always an issue when looking at exploring new platforms. However, it really forces us to be more innovative, and think of better and more effective ways to play in the space. For example, Chase Community Giving was really the first of its kind in the space and continues to lead the way.
H+S: What would you say are the most important aspects of your job?
KOW: Relationship management. There are a number of stakeholders involved due to the size of the program. I see myself like a traffic cop, making sure that everything is moving in the right direction and that everyone is on board.
H+S: You’ve held a variety of marketing roles for companies such as Discover, Walgreens and American Express. Which of these roles had the steepest learning curve and which one most prepared you for the work you’re doing today at JP Morgan Chase?
KOW: Each role had a steep learning curve, but I feel like all of my experiences have prepared me for my role today. Walgreen Co. taught me about B2B sales. Discover Financial Services taught me about the quantitative side of marketing and the importance of analytics and insights. American Express really rounded out my knowledge of the financial services landscape, the elements that make a phenomenal brand and the importance of building/managing relationships.
H+S: What advice would you give to someone who wanted to get pursue a career in digital strategy? Corporate America?
KOW: What’s great about digital is that it’s literally everywhere. So, if you’re interested in getting into the space, try to find projects/work that give you that experience. If you are interested in Corporate America in general, definitely continue to sharpen your skills for the role that you want, but it’s actually more important to build relationships with those who are in the field that you want to be in.
H+S: What challenges (or misconceptions) do you think social media/community managers face? Advantages?
KOW: Social media is fun and creative, but it’s actually extremely tactical and you have to be detailed and execution oriented. The major advantage is being so close to customers, fans, and advocates and being able to directly influence their perceptions and interactions with your brand.
H+S: Who or what inspires you?
KOW: My family and friends, and the fear of not reaching my full potential.
H+S: Do you have any mentors in the industry? If so, what impact has their presence had on your career?
KOW: Yes, I have a number of mentors in my industry and in other industries. They have been really helpful at different crossroads in my career when I needed to weigh in on different perspectives in order to make a decision.
H+S: What’s been the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your career so far?
KOW: I think that a lot of people feel overworked and unappreciated, especially in this economic environment. It’s more important now than ever not to assume that people are going to give you what you want in your career. You have to tell people what you want, why you want it and why you deserve it. Not because you’re going to get what you ask for each time, it’s more about creating a dialogue to understand how your leader, boss or peers perceive you so that you can work through those perceptions to ultimately get where you want to go. High performance gets you in the door. It’s the soft skills/intangibles that usually prevent you from going to the next level.
H+S: What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?
KOW: The key to success is doing what you say you’re going to do. Deliver on your promise!
H+S: Name a book that has inspired you or had a profound impact on how you view your career and/or life.
KOW: Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family by Condoleezza Rice. I enjoy how Condoleezza focuses more about how her family was really the driving factor in shaping her success. At lot of times in this individualistic focused society, we tend to forget that our success comes from small and big favors of people who believed in us enough to help us along the way.
H+S: In addition to your work at JP Morgan Chase, you’re also doing some exciting things in the publishing world. Can you talk a little bit about that?
KOW: Yes, I am also a children’s book author! My mom and I have a children’s book series that teaches kids about careers in STEM and other advanced concepts at an early age. The first one is Paige Finds Her Perfect Fit and Paxton Finds His Perfect Fit. You can find the books online at PaigeandPaxton.com or on Amazon.
H+S: Okay, one last question. Why are you one to watch?
KOW: I am one to watch because my ambition won’t let me stop until I make it to the top!