It’s the people that make this place, we’ve always said it. One of our faves is social media and digital marketing consultant Kirstie Smith, who dropped in for a chat over a glass of rose about new night Social Circle.

Q: Hi Kirstie, how are things? Let’s start with a drink.

A: I’m grand thank you. If you’re asking, mine will be one of the natural wines – red, white or rose – please. Apparently, you’re less likely to get a hangover due to the absence of sulphates. Plus, it’s the best tasting wine in Brum in my humble opinion.

Q: A glass of rose it is. Not strictly served in a schooner, but we’ll allow it. We already know you’re a JQ resident, but has it always been this way?

A: I’m originally from down the road in Evesham but I’ve spent most of my time since college in Leeds and London. I moved to the JQ nearly 4 years ago because I fell in love with an old jewellery workshop that required renovating and I wanted to be back in the Midlands. I’m now living in said warehouse, although I’m not quite sure when the renovation will actually be finished.

It’s amazing to see the regeneration and the new energy in the city especially over the last 2 years. Birmingham has come a long way since I used to visit as a teenager. It feels at long last like the City wants to stand up and be heard for the great place it is. 

Q: Agreed! Now, like us, you’re big into social. Tell us about how it all started for you.

A: I’ve been in the industry for about 7 years now. After working in retail in London I found myself drawn back to Leeds (my uni town) and kick-started my career in digital marketing working for First 10. Dropped right in at the deep end, I had to learn digital marketing from scratch, and I became hooked! 

Now living in Birmingham, I’m a Social Media and Digital Marketing consultant. I work for numerous clients across the Midlands including a full-service digital agency Connecting Element and teaching on the undergraduate and Post Grad Digital Marketing degrees at BCU.  

Q: It’s fair to say you’ve put in the hours then. Are there any particular brands you’re proud to have worked with?

A: I’ve been lucky to work with loads of fantastic brands throughout my marketing career so far. Closest to home I spent three years working with Mitchells & Butlers across a number of their businesses, including Miller & Carter, Nicholson’s and All Bar One to name a few. I’m also very proud to have supported the guys from Me and My Golf with their digital strategy a few years ago. 

Around the corner in the JQ, I’m currently supporting P&Co, a home-grown fashion lifestyle brand with a global following.  

Another beer-related brand, but over the channel in Copenhagen I’m currently working with the Carlsberg Corporate team on their Global Social media strategy across 40 markets. 

Q: You’ve definitely got a knack for working with beer-related brands, which is unsurprisingly our idea of a dream job. A lot of people will be asking: why is social the future for brands?

A: Marketing has always been about storytelling, and social media allows for storytelling on steroids! Having said that, it’s important to remember that Social Media channels are driven by people not brands – social isn’t a free marketing channel, its where people go to connect. Brands need to respect the primary function of the channel and simply join the conversation rather than trying to shout the loudest about their goods and services. Social is also a two-way conversation channel, which means it’s the easiest way to get a feel for a customer’s perception of your brand and gather direct feedback. Previously this would have been costly and time consuming whereas you can now go on to social and see in real time what people are saying about your brand. For years huge brands held all of the power, but now there’s a levelling of the playing field. That means smaller businesses with a great story can gain traction, even in a mature market.

Q: We could chat social with you for hours, but we really should move on to Social Circle. Give us the lowdown on what it’s about.

A: Social Circle was born from monthly get-togethers between friends, where we’d gather round with a few drinks and chat about the latest in social media marketing. We wanted to be better for ourselves, for our clients, and because we just really love social media. So, we decided to open the circle to other digital marketers, with the goal to take social to the next level and share inspirational, instant, and actionable insights. All the key snippets we’ve picked up over the last month as well as the coolest and best run marketing campaigns, rounded up into one evening with tangible take-aways. We’ll also keep everyone in the loop by sharing all of the key insights from the night by email. It’s also here in 1000 Trades, so beer on tap (literally). 

Q: Here’s one we get to ask everyone: Birmingham is a city of a thousand trades. If you could pick one, besides what you do now, what would it be and why?

A: It would have to be jewellery. I’m living and working in the heart of it, which is incredibly inspiring. I’ve previously run a small upholstery and homewares business and I’ve always loved screen printing and sewing… but I think jewellery could be my next chosen trade.

Q: And finally, is it an exciting time to be doing what you do in this great city?

A: There is an influx of young professionals and big brands (hello Channel 4!?!) moving out of London and bringing some new life to the city. As a result, we are seeing a new wave of agencies starting up and loads more events for creatives. It’s all very exciting. It also feels like businesses help each other in Brum – it’s a closer-knit community and there is room for everyone to work together to drive both the industry and the city forward.

We’re ready to join the circle. Catch Kirstie and other digital marketers at Social Circle on Wednesday 12th September from 6pm.