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12 Questions with Eric T. Parks

by • October 7, 2015 • InterviewsComments Off on 12 Questions with Eric T. Parks4945

Social media and the campaigns that drive brand success, are nothing without the people who make things happen!

Each week we profile one innovative industry executive and get them to answer 12 questions. Then, we share their insight with you!

Also Read: Tumblr TV Is The Best GIF Search Engine Ever

This week, I met with Eric T. Parks, Director of Digital Platforms and Innovation at Tempo-OMD Athens.

Hi Eric!

Hello! As Linleigh said, I am Eric Parks. So with that, let me just give you a little bit of a background! Where do I begin?!

Well how about for starters, I got my first computer when I was 7; a ZX Spectrum 48K with all of 48KB ram! So I guess that’s the point to which I began a life-long geekery!

Some of my interests include (well, you guessed it): digital marketing, games, technology and startups. So much so that I’ve worked in the field since 2001; which in itself is a bit ironic considering my studies are in Criminology and Law. As it turns out, the study in itself is virtually “How the wrong professional degree will help you today.”

I co-founded Sunnyvale, California based messaging startup Pinnatta, am an advisor in quite a few Greek tech startups, while also previously having worked for both Leo Burnett Athens and the Athens-based “The Newtons Laboratory”. AND finally, as Linleigh also said, I’m currently the Director of Digital Platforms & Innovation for Tempo OMD;”Greek Media Agency of the Year” two years running (insert proud plug here).

So with that, let’s jump right into social media!

About Social Media in General

1. Which is your favorite social media platform? (please briefly explain why)

Answering on a personal level rather than a professional one, choosing a favorite social media platform is kind of like choosing your favorite band. It comes down to which sound best allows you to express yourself (or see yourself being associated with) at a given time in your life. You grow out of phases, into others, experiment, and come back to classics. So in light of that, I would probably say Tumblr.

In reality picking just one is hard, because, my Twitter has allowed me to meet fascinating new people, expose me to a variety of new views, and ideas. Facebook, on the other hand, has helped maintain contact with a large number of acquaintances, people I already have met, people I know.

However, what I’ve found is that they both have increasingly high “maintenance” costs. You find yourself thinking twice about posting or doing the mental calculus of whether you should post something. It is these mental double-takes/ the increasing serotonin-fueled urge to quantify social validation, which I find quite tiresome. We’re turning into Pavlov’s dogs, in a sense, we even have bells jingle on our phones. All in all Facebook and Twitter are becoming less fun.

Tumblr is pure chaos. Its energetic, frenzied, and all with a relatively high barrier to entry. Even so, for probably for the same reasons, I also have soft spot for Reddit.

2. Which social platform is used most by your brand/agency?

Mostly Facebook although we also run quite a few campaigns on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Greece has an extremely high Facebook penetration; we jokingly call it our “National LAN”.

Having said that, Twitter in Greece, while having fewer user proportionally than the global average, does tend to have a higher social impact than in other countries. The overall effect and footprint of Twitter is larger than elsewhere.

Practically, this means things can get rowdy and you enter Twitter and market on it in a different manner. This in itself is interesting because it shows how the “One shoe fits all” approach doesn’t necessarily apply and you need to localize correctly in each market and correctly.

Ignoring the local reality is something you do at your own peril and expense.

If you like our stories, there is an easy way to stay updated:

3. In your opinion, what is the future of social media, and which platforms do you think will lead the way?

Okay wow this is kind of a big one. So let me first say that the future is certainly be mobile. However, it’s a bit like a relationship status- “it’s complicated”.

That being said, we can certainly see aspects of the future from where we’re standing.

If you take your cues from what the younger generation is doing, you’ll see one-to-one connections, ephemeral posts and a focus on ‘come-as-you-are’, authentic moments rather than the idealized self-users who tend to curate presently. I think this is both an expression of counter-culture as well as fatigue with some current offerings. Single interest platforms like Twitch are also factors in creating this future.

These are the ‘easy’ marketing answers and we’re certainly far from full-fledged maturity in existing platforms at this stage. It’s a growing area and will be for the foreseeable future.

However, by definition, all of the above is making assumptions based on the current level of tech and past patterns of evolution. I suspect in the next few years we will be seeing a paradigm shift towards independence and openness, and not in the manner of say Ello, which sought to replicate, but in the manner of Firechat, that was used to create ad hoc social networks in civic protests that didn’t require internet providers.

We’re looking at services and platforms that are utilized in ways their creators haven’t necessarily foreseen. Don’t forget, Twitter had a similar start. So keep your eyes on this space.

About Great Social Media Campaigns

4. Please tell us about the one social media campaign you liked the most this year.

Digital marketing is a jealous budding affair and if you don’t often come across campaigns that make you think “Man, I Wish I thought of that” then you’ve lost your passion.

The campaign that probably resounded with me the most was probably, The Last Selfie for WWF.

It combines the best of what we in the digital marketing industry are looking for:

  • – Using a platform in its totality: For this campaign, the very concept of the ephemeral message is tied to the idea of endangered animals being lost.
  • – It used a new innovative platform; Snapchat
  • – It created an ancillary secondary buzz.
  • – And it exuded effectiveness.

Really well done.

5. What about the latest campaign your brand or agency was involved in?

One thing that we’re trying to love to do here at Tempo OMD is to take a different look at something you think you know. On a daily basis this translates into going back to basics and seeing how the most mundane tools and platforms can be re-utilized in amazing, innovative, fun and memorable campaigns.

One of the campaigns we really enjoyed recently was working on Disney’s Inside Out. (A great movie btw). Among the various activations in this campaign we went back to what the movie was all about: emotions. We looked at the most shared through social media and found that quite regularly, where those that elicited an intense emotional response: Happiness, Sadness and so on.

So we reimagined the humble but widely shared news article and used it as a powerful social media tool.

We effectively chose to piggy back on this ever present content in a simple way. We scanned articles for emotional feeling and inserted within those articles pages the appropriate Character-Feeling (Omitting of course controversial or inappropriate content) as targeted multimedia display ads. Thus, in an uplifting emotional article we’d place the character “Joy”. In an article about a weird, cuisine offering we placed “Disgust”, or in a nostalgic piece we would place Sadness.

We basically painted content that was already being disseminated with our Emotional characters and rode that cresting wave as it was shared around various social media.

Fun stuff.

6. What is the most important thing brands and agencies must keep in mind, in order to build a successful social media campaign?

Disrespecting your audience should be a criminal offence.  But then again, maybe it shouldn’t because if you do disrespect or patronize them, you will most certainly pay for it.

We’ve moved along quite a bit since the early days of social media being Terra Incognita for clients but we’re also in a situation that’s quite dangerous: The era of partial knowledge and floating KPI’s.

When people THINK that they know, it can be quite dangerous (AND this goes double for agencies.)

Therefore, if there’s one thing that agencies should keep in mind is to respect their audience and not just go through the motions. If this means saying ‘no’ to the client and standing up for what has to be done, then you should say so.

7. In your opinion, which is the most important KPI to watch during a social media campaign?

Engagement trumps almost everything. While amplification, reach and economics are obviously also critical but you start to stand out by actually getting people to react to what you put out there.

You should always optimize economics to the hilt anyway. You can buy reach and I’m very suspicious of shareable amplification when the content is often not even engaged with.

But engagement means they had a moment with you. That you earn.

About the Future of Social Media Marketing

8. What will be the role of social media in the marketing mix of the future?

In the expanded definition of social media as encompassing personal communication and creating and sharing ideas, content and information, it’s obvious that social media will be an ever expanding ubiquitous part of the marketing mix.

To ground this to the present and actionable, avoid navel gazing. I think that various social media platforms will get a greater budget share to the detriment of ‘passive’ media –online of offline.

The real question is however: How do I continually create unique interesting experiences? And that’s hard to answer. Brands and agencies would love –and do love- the ‘Pure’ buy that mindlessly scales. The thing is: Quality scales in a more difficult manner.

So I think the answer to this issue and the extent of social media in future marketing will prove more elusive. I’m watching with particular interest for example how Instagram will be eventually tied in with Facebook.

9. What would you say is the biggest obstacle within the field of social media marketing?

I think we should go to war against floating KPI’s and Gurus plus Jargon. Speak clearly. Don’t obfuscate. Why? Because things are already hard because of the real challenge of the field and its constant evolution.

However, I wouldn’t rate that as an obstacle as this almost living evolution is key in why this industry has passion and is fun.

10. If you had to give one piece of advice to someone who has just started out in the industry, what would it be?

Don’t lose sight that “All of this” (Think of this phrase as being in 50 feet flaming capital letters on top of a mountain), is unique.

You are part of a unique experiment in human communication. Don’t lose the awe, curiosity and wonder. Really.

11. In your opinion, which is the “ad format of the future”?

One that isn’t a direct ad. I strongly feel that beyond a certain brand awareness point, you are always looking at values. The most effective ads for me have been those that present the product while providing meaningful entertainment. And it doesn’t need to be as large or elaborate as War and Peace.

When I play FIFA with my son on the Xbox, I always choose Arsenal (yes, it’s been miserable this year, but please let’s not go there) and I see Emirates on their shirt.

Is this an ad? Yes.

Does it actually make me feel that I’m enjoying this product more because it’s more ‘Authentic’? Yes.

There you go. That is, as the Zen proverb says, the sound of one hand clapping.

Fun Fact

12. Finally, tell us one thing someone would NOT be able to find about you from looking at your social media profiles.

Despite being a techno fetishist and in the process of basically surgically inserting my smartphones into my cranium, I do not and will not own an E-reader. My one Luddite passion is books and my library. Over 2000 books, I’m well on my way of completing a full set of Jules Verne’s books from 19th century printings.

As I jokingly tell my kids, my library is probably the only part of their inheritance that will exist if the power ever goes down.

Awesome Interview! Thanks Eric!


Stay tuned for more fun with WeRSM; where we live and breath all things social media.

So until next time… Cheers!


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