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How I got here: Urban Outfitters' Sarah Satherley on being Snapchat savvy

Striking up a Snapchat conversation with Generation Z is all in a day’s work for Urban Outfitters’ social media editor

Sarah Satherley

Sarah Satherley

Urban Outfitters social media editor Sarah Satherley

The first thing I do in the morning is snooze my alarm about five times and then the scrolling begins. I’m responsible for 10 social channels, so I like to have eyes on everything as often as I can – even if it’s when I’ve just woken up. I look after Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Snapchat for Urban Outfitters Europe, as well as five localised Instagram accounts: @UOLondon, @UOScotland, @UOAmsterdam, @UOBarcelona and @UOBerlin.

The great thing about working in social media is that it’s an all-round role, so the variety keeps things interesting. My typical week usually starts with me shooting products or features, writing copy, analysing the performance of our social channel and, of course, checking the feeds, which has become quite an instinctive thing. If I’m at my computer, I’m always checking, but if my schedule is busy I check the feeds morning, midday and after work at the bare minimum.

Tone of voice is a huge part of it, the general personality of your social presence would be different. I see the luxury fashion space as slightly more corporate. Often a very clean, pared back aesthetic, teamed with specific terminology, industry insights and trend led copy. With high-street, particularly Urban Outfitters, you’ve got a sense of humour to utilise, a wider net to cast and more options to play with, therefore your brand’s social personality becomes bit more creative and the language more colloquial.

I always try to align the content with the experience shoppers receive in store. The physical representation of a brand needs to be reflected in its social media, after all it’s your digital shop window.

User-generated content is also a lot more prevalent on the high street, which really helps to strengthen and build your community. Let’s face it, who doesn’t love a regram? We have a gallery of user generated content on our site called our UOCommunity. Here people can shop directly from any Instagram users who’ve bought, styled, shot their purchases and then tagged us, which is really cool.

You can never have too much content, so when we see a really strong piece of user-generated content we might then repurpose it further, maybe on social, email or our homepage (all with permission from the user and credited of course). I think it’s good practice to maintain a mutually beneficial relationship with your followers where you can. As well you can also get really good idea of what’s hot/what’s not via user generated content.

My favourite social media platform used to be Instagram, but now I’d say Snapchat. It’s playful, honest and I like how the unedited nature of it can promote a healthier message to younger generations who probably find themselves pressured by a lot of other social media. I really admire what the team at footwear brand Sophia Webster are doing on Snapchat. They preview daily shows in their “story”, offering a really candid look at the brand and people behind it, which echoes their tongue-in-cheek aesthetic.”

You can never have too much content, so when we see a really strong piece of user-generated content we might then repurpose it further

We regularly collaborate with bloggers, which I see as a key part of any social media strategy. We prefer to team up with emerging influencers rather than more established names. Most recently, we worked with some really inspiring creative couples as an alternative spin on your traditional “couples’ Valentine’s Day” gig. Photographers, film-makers and artists produced super-intimate shoots, my personal favourite being Théo Gosselin and Maud Chalard – the former a French photographer, the latter a French art director – road-tripping around the US.

Inspiration for the Urban Outfitters blog comes from several touchpoints. The team and I look at the monthly/quarterly themes within the business and work out ways to enhance or complement these. I feel really fortunate that we have the freedom to create original content, it’s rare.

Currently I’d say lifestyle/home imagery posts are the most popular on social media, but in my previous roles it was always really visual, cultural content away from product that people really engaged with, such as restaurants or landmarks, galleries or views. Having these little accents helps people to visualise your offer within a particular lifestyle or environment. As we all know, it becomes harder to sell if all you’re seeing is product, product, product.

What I enjoy most about my role is being able to obtain instant feedback from your audience. It becomes a little game of how to best engage people. You really get to know your audience and I think that’s awesome. You also get to go and experience some unique places and events, too. I’m a sucker for architecture so, for me, the best part of events like Fashion Week are the venues. The Banqueting House in Whitehall for Giles Deacon spring 16 definitely stood out for me, it was beautiful.

My background has always been in the luxury sector, having previously worked at Matchesfashion.com and Liberty, so I wanted to give high street a try. The role at Urban Outfitters stood out as a unique and creative option. I fell into digital completely by accident, but I think it’s the smartest place to be nowadays.

I studied fashion PR at the London College of Fashion and was 100% certain that’s what I wanted to do. Print. Magazines. Face-to-face interaction. I guess the two job roles PR and social media aren’t miles apart, but I never thought I’d be talking algorithms and HTML.

Having a thick skin is important because when your work is so visible on social media, everyone has an opinion. You have to manage that and learn to trust your expertise. Proofread everything. When you’re pushing out 25+ pieces of content a day, you have to treat each one as important as the last. If you slip up, there is always someone who sees it. And finally, never use #snapchat, it’s pretty X-rated to say the least and I definitely found out the hard way.

While at times it feels impossible to keep up with how fast-paced online is. I think a strong personal interest is the key, the rest follows. Although, sometimes I feel like I need a bit of a tech detox. Sadly my personal best is 12 minutes without checking something, but I’m working on it. The last thing I do at night is check all my social media channels, both work and personal. It sounds a bit sad doesn’t it, but social media truly never sleeps.

Plan B

In another life I’d be running a milkshake shack in Brighton with my best friend, playing pop punk all day. The name would probably be a terrible milk-based pun. Tough Udder, The Dairy Isle… I could go on…

CV

Education

2009 – 2012 BA (Hons) Fashion marketing and promotion, London College of Fashion

Career

September 2015 – present Social media editor, Urban Outfitters

December 2014 – September 2015 Women’s social media editor, Matchesfashion.com

April 2014 – December 2014 Social media co-ordinator, Liberty

December 2012 – March 2014 Online content assistant, Liberty

November 2012 – December 2012 Press intern, Browns

August 2012 – November 2012 Press intern, Liberty

 

 

 

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