Q&A with Helena Langdon, Innocent Drinks

Q&A: Helena Langdon

As Head of Digital and Communities at innocent, it’s Helena’s job to talk to people on the internet. She needs to entertain innocent’s fans on their social channels, to attract new ones, and to listen to them when they have something to say. Helena leads innocent’s digital and customer service team, and does everything from writing tweets on the train on her way into work, to writing and producing campaigns across digital, outdoor and on TV, to dealing with serious (and ridiculous) customer service issues, and pretty much everything else in between. She also takes the credit for creating the #DogsAtPollingStations hashtag on Twitter – so she’s pretty sure her career is all downhill from here.

We caught up with Helena ahead of her appearance at this year's Digital Day...

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself. At university you studied History, how did you end up in social media?

Being in the right place at the right time and a lot of luck, basically. I was planning to do my PhD in history, but changed my mind at the last minute. I needed to get a job, so ended up working in sales at PepsiCo for a few years, and then got a job at innocent in the commercial team. Sales was never right for me, so I started sniffing around other departments in the hope I could get into something more creative. After badgering our copywriter at the time for a while, she let me start writing the innocent blog in my spare time, and then the weekly newsletter, and eventually I wormed my way into innocent’s digital team, where I’ve been for the last 5 years.

What’s involved during a typical day for you as Head of Digital and Communities?

My working day generally starts on my commute into the office, where I’ll tweet about the weather or something else that’s going on in the world. Once I’m in the office, I split my time between managing my team, planning and creating campaign creative, and helping define innocent’s longer term digital marketing strategy. It’s a really varied (and brilliant) day job.

Being so active on social in your day job, do you use social media yourself or tend to stay away from it in your personal life?

I do use it, but try to limit myself so I don’t go mad. Instagram is by far my most regularly used platform, but I keep a close eye on Twitter too. When I go on holiday, I try to ignore it completely so that I remember what the real world is like for a while.

Innocent is a very unique and versatile brand. What are the best projects/campaigns you’ve worked on and which have inspired you the most?

Last year’s Big Knit campaign was brilliant to work on, because a small team of us got to make an advert that ended up on TV and in cinemas. I’ve been working on The Big Knit since 2012, so it’s easy to take it for granted – but it’s such a brilliant charity campaign that helps so many people. Working on it last year and getting to meet June and other people who have benefited from the donated money was really special.

Which social media platforms do you feel are the most effective in terms of building a brand?

This is a tricky question, because the world of social moves so fast. innocent built its online presence back in the early days of Facebook, when brands didn’t have to pay to play, and it was easy to reach your community. Brands starting out now will have a completely different experience of it these days. I’d say Instagram is the best place to start from scratch, if you have the type of brand or product that looks visually interesting. Twitter is the best place to have proper two way conversations though, and innocent fits most naturally on that platform, so I’ll always have a soft spot for it.

Innocent’s Twitter account has around 290k followers, and the Facebook page is sitting at almost 600 thousand likes. How do you ensure you are creating fresh content for the huge audience you’ve got? Do you ever get the fear of posting to such a large audience?

I definitely get the fear, especially now when the internet is ready to be outraged at pretty much everything. But we have this rule at innocent, ‘if you’re 70% sure, go for it’, and that’s how I live my life through innocent’s social. If you live in constant fear that you’ll mess up, you’ll never put out anything interesting. You just have to back yourself to get the tone right (and be prepared to get fired if it all goes wrong).

And finally, you have worked at Innocent for over 6 years now. How have their marketing strategies developed since you started?

It’s changed loads over that time, because as a company we’ve grown a lot and naturally our marketing is going to change with it. In terms of social, when I first started we had no budget to promote anything – we were just left to our own devices and existed on the fringes of innocent’s marketing strategy. These days, we’ve recognised how important digital is to innocent and it’s now a key component of our wider marketing mix. So we have to balance creating big marketing campaigns on social, as well as entertaining our fans every day and not losing the brand personality that has made us so popular online. In reality, it means we post a bit more about our drinks than we used to – but we still tweet as much nonsense as we ever did. So it all balances out in the end.

 


Digital Day is taking place on Thursday 17 May at Edinburgh's Royal Botanic Garden. Get your tickets here.

Keep up with Helena on Twitter

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