Natalie Labuda Interview

Nimble & Authentic Social Media Marketing: An Interview with Natalie Labuda of E*TRADE

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To say that 2020 brought a little uncertainty to the world of marketing is a bit of an understatement. However, being nimble is a trait that many professionals in the industry have harnessed for years, so with the pandemic and political landscape throwing the whole world for a loop, social media marketers had the upper hand when it came to adapting and changing course at the drop of a hat.

Natalie Labuda, Senior Director of Marketing at E*TRADE, will be speaking on a panel at June’s Social Media Strategies Summit titled “How to be Nimble & Authentic with Everyday Crisis.” She’ll use her experience in social media and advertising to discuss topics around how marketing teams can be authentic, react rapidly and fast-track through approval processes.

I was lucky to be able to ask a few questions before the virtual event to get insight on how Natalie and her team at E*TRADE worked through the chaos of 2020 and her thoughts on the future of marketing.

Knowing what you know now, what marketing advice would you give yourself back in spring of 2020?

The importance of being flexible and getting comfortable with the unknown. Many times, we like to plan our marketing campaigns months in advance but that of course all changed in March 2020. We had to learn to be flexible and operate knowing entire campaigns and creative could change overnight. There was no more advance planning but more real time listening and making sure we were providing customers with the information and support they needed during this unprecedented time.

While there continues to be a push for brands to be more human, many companies aren’t willing or sure how to make statements on current events. How do you get buy-in from leaders on starting a campaign like this?

It’s important for brands to be authentic and make sure their values align with whatever campaign they are going to launch. Otherwise, it can come off as opportunistic and consumers will quickly know. My recommendation would be to first ensure whatever campaign you are looking to launch aligns with your brand or company values so that you are able to develop meaningful work that will resonate with consumers. If you’re able to do this, then buy-in from senior leadership should not be a challenge.

[Read More: What is Brand Empathy?]

Working remote can sometimes be tricky when it comes to working nimbly as a marketing team — how do you communicate to make quick decisions or changes in game plans?

It took a bit of trial and error but the main learning for our team was to have open communication on each individual’s preferred working styles. When we all were in the office, we knew each other’s schedules or where someone was but that does not happen when working remote. We had to find a solution to that while ensuring there was a balance of the communication; not everything could be a fire drill.

As a first step, I had the team fill out their preferred working styles in a table and which applications (email, messenger, text, phone call) they used when. Next, we were able to align on a system on when to use each application and that helped guide us to communicate more effectively and efficiently. For example, we aligned to use text/phone call for any urgent matters.

[Read More: Creating Culturally Relevant Content on Social Media]

What does authentic marketing mean to you?

Authentic marketing is rooted in a real human truth, insight or pain point. It has a human element and relatability that consumers pick up on almost right away. In today’s age, with all the advertisements and communications out there, people are eager for brands and companies to speak to them in a relatable way.

How do you manage approval processes for social media when content is timely?

We have many stakeholders involved so we set up a system in place a few years ago that we iterate annually based on needs and learnings. For the timely content we insert ourselves in, we notify each key stakeholder either via messenger or email to let them know of the opportunity while we work on the creative. This helps ensure they are aware and looking out for it so we can secure quick approvals. Many times, we’ll hop on the phone too. We have great partners, so our strong cross-functional collaboration makes our jobs easy!

What is a social media campaign you’re most proud of?

I’m most proud of the social campaigns that the team comes up with that are unique and differentiated, experimenting within our industry. The one that comes to mind is when we launched our GIPHY page and supported it with fun, relatable and lighthearted GIFs with content from a previous TV production shoot. We knew GIFs were a popular format for users and consumers to communicate with each other and we thought it would be a great way to insert our brand into their conversations in a very authentic way. The results were stellar too! To date we have over 69 million views and during the Super Bowl one of our GIFs was trending. This was all done without paid support as well.

[Read More: 10 Examples of Controlled Media]

What is your prediction for the marketing world for the rest of 2021?

It will still be challenging to find the right messaging to appeal to consumers. Behaviors and current events will continue to shift like they did in 2020 and we just need to be ready and nimble to adapt our messaging.

Catch Natalie at Social Media Strategies Summit online on June 8-11, 2021

Follow Natalie: LinkedIn

Follow E*TRADE: Instagram

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