Brisbane Digital Spotlight is a blog series that aims to shine light on the exceptional talent within the city’s digital community. With each post, I uncover a devoted individual within my network who I’ve recognised to be deeply engaged in the digital industry. Whether it be a Digital Marketer, a Developer, a Co-founder, a Project Manager, or even a Recruiter – my goal is to highlight the work these remarkable individuals do; day in, day out.
Could you imagine if someone built a Messenger bot to showcase their CV? Or better yet, if someone used a Facebook ad to propose to their partner. Well, I recently caught up with Josiah Lau, who’s done just that! Josiah is not only the Social Media Strategist at Ladbrokes, but is truly passionate about all things digital. In this feature, we delve into his exciting projects, life at his new role, and his predictions for the social media landscape.
Tell us about your background, how did you end up in the digital space?
Throughout senior high school and uni, I’ve always wanted to join a traditional ad agency and had only paid close attention to TVCs and outdoor/ambient campaigns.
Then at this Mashable social media meetup in 2009, Sarah Moran (who was the Social Media Strategist at Josephmark then) spoke about using social media to promote NFP causes.
I was fascinated by the shareability.
Fast forward two years later after my graduation, I couldn’t find an agency role due to my Temporary Residency status. I applied for an agency’s internship program and submitted a Pinterest board with a storytelling element, when others were just pinning random images. You can check that out here.
Turned out I wasn’t eligible because I was a fresh grad and not a current QUT student, but their Head of Interactive Strategy then (Nathan Bush) suggested I should further explore social media. So I moved on and started networking on Twitter, where I met Jason Roulston (Co-Founder of Just Digital People) who gave me similar advice – just keep going, keep executing on cool ideas when everyone else was just sending normal Word docs as their CVs.
Then I remembered Sarah Moran’s talk at the meetup, so I researched how to run Facebook ads and decided to “promote” myself, driving web traffic to my online CV/portfolio.
Here’s how I spent $31.56 on right column ads as my first Facebook ad campaign ever in 2013:
I initially only targeted Creative Directors/Senior Creatives working at big ad agencies in Brisbane & Sydney (Targeting by Job Titles and Workplaces, not Interests).
After spending $1.56, my ad was shown to 52 people for an average of 70.87 times but only acquired 5 clicks to my webpage and no interviews landed.
I then set up a second campaign, targeting anyone (by removing the Job Titles) working at Brisbane ad agencies (Workplaces targeting)…ones that were listed on Facebook.
The iteration brought the CPM down to $2.63 cost per 1000 people reached, and $0.33 cost per 1000 impressions. How crazily cheap this was back then huh.
Spent $30, acquired 32 clicks to the webpage and landed 5 interviews.
However, I was very naive and didn’t show interest in any of the media buying/account management roles (if you’re a uni student reading this, please learn from my mistake – leave your ego behind and be open-minded about opportunities).
Nevertheless, the campaign allowed me to see the direct results of my efforts.
After further spending some time networking on LinkedIn in late 2013, it finally hit me: Why the fuck am I using social media to land a job in traditional advertising when I’m now clearly more passionate about social media itself?
That’s when I decided to give it a go working in social media instead of traditional advertising, and with the help of a number of people who were very kind to provide me advice and encouragement along the way, here I am now.
Tell us a little about your exciting new role at LadBrokes.
I’ve joined Ladbrokes just over two months ago in a newly created role, so I’m still trying to find my feet and see where I can add the most value to the company.
Other than being the ‘strategic driver’, I envision my role to be the connector between the social media content and acquisition teams. I’ll also aim to streamline the whole social media team with the wider marketing team, as well as other departments. Building bridges and pioneering new strategies.
Keep the good of in-house (extensive knowledge of the industry and consumer behaviours) and improve the bad (speeding up work processes without compromising the quality and no more “we’ve always done it this way”, “that’s how I use social media” or gut-feel approaches).
What are some emerging social trends you’re noticing within the industry?
I see an increase in the creation and consumption of unpolished social content. This is not only easy for us creators to produce, but it also feels more authentic for users to consume, closing the distance between customers and brands.
I don’t think they’ve taken off yet, and there’s so much potential for this technology to help improve customer experiences and research, which will help increase sales down the track.
I don’t argue when people say they don’t see the value of Chatbots, or don’t understand why it could be the next big thing. But just because they don’t see the need for the technology, doesn’t mean the rest of the world shares their same views.
I’d personally love to see VR technology to become cheaper and also serve a larger purpose than being used for just content consumption (e.g. videos and gaming).
As someone whose family and friends are located across the world, it’d be great to have a tool/platform to ‘do something’ together as a group other than just video calls.
For example, plug.dj allows users to join music rooms and take turns to play songs, with everyone listening to the same song at once. You can do it either with strangers or friends – just send them a link to a private room.
The only downside to this platform was that it doesn’t have a database like Spotify, so users are forced to add songs from YouTube. This resulted in the sound quality being inconsistent and also made the user experience tedious.
Spotify has playlists you can share with others, but to me, it lacks a real-time connection with other users.
Facebook did introduce a feature called Watch Party in January this year, but I think it’s only available in Facebook groups not amongst friends/personal accounts.
Facebook Spaces looks appealing, but seems like the VR technology isn’t widely being used/commonly affordable yet.
Another example I like is one of Steam’s VR games called Tabletop Simulator.
When we first connected, I recall that you were on the hunt for a new role. At the time, you had created a Messenger bot to showcase your resume. Can you tell us about this project?
The idea came from the fact that I love interacting with the content I consume. I don’t like watching TV, sports or most movies, because it’s a one-way communication. I didn’t want to just push a myriad of information into the face of the person reading my CV. Instead, I wanted them to have at least some sort of interactive experience, like a choose your own adventure book. You can experience it for yourself here.
“I’d like to look at his past case studies, I think that’s most important.”
“I’m curious to find out why he’s looking for a new role.”
“I’m keen to check out his personal social profiles first.”
It took me about a full day on a weekend to create the first draft, another 6-8 hours spread across a few weeks to refine and finalise it, then a couple of hours for final testing.
Not only have you made a Messenger bot for your resume, but you’ve also proposed to your partner through a Facebook ad!
At the time, I actually didn’t realise it was a cool idea until people told me so, for which I am very flattered. I simply didn’t want to propose in a cliche way (a simple bunch of flowers, kneeling down in a candlelit room), so I kept thinking about how I can utilise what I’m good at to make it a memorable wedding proposal for her – social media ads.
I broke down my girlfriend’s social media consumption behaviour: she only uses Facebook at night, on her phone, and she loves watching DIY arts and crafts videos on YouTube.
In order to capture my girlfriend’s attention within Facebook’s news feed, I firstly needed a relevant page, so I built one called Just For Him – a page for girlfriends to share gift ideas to give their boyfriends. I ran a Page Like campaign to build a sizeable community, then used a Facebook’s custom audience to specifically target the proposal video at my girlfriend on her Facebook mobile news feed.
You can read more about the technical stuff here.
On a side note, my girlfriend loved the idea so much, that she agreed to send out wedding invitations via Facebook (Lead-Gen) ads haha!
What’s your favourite thing about working in digital?
Being able to track and measure the efforts of my work. That and the fact my work can have an impact at a wider scale because it’s all online.
What are some of your favourite things to do around sunny Brisbane when not at work?
I follow a loose routine every weekend: Gaming with my friends in Hong Kong every Friday night, badminton or gym on Saturdays, and brunch at cafes with my wife on Sunday mornings. The rest of the weekend are for freelancing, socialising or running errands… I do create IG stories talking about social media ads or share my own memes every fortnight or so. You can follow me here!
…but overall my life outside of work is probably not as fun as people would expect for someone like me who’s always testing new ideas at work haha!
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I’m a twenty-two year old Digital Marketing & Conversions Specialist based in Brisbane, Australia. With a passion for all things digital and tech, I aim to connect and learn from as many like-minded digital enthusiasts as possible. If you have a passion for emerging technologies and digital practices, I’d love to connect and hear your story.