Social media manager Calid Bowen brainstorms on strategy and content creation for Catapult, a Chicago-based marketing agency.
Location: Chicago, IL
Job: Social Media Manager, Catapult Marketing
Education: B.A. in Strategic Communications, The Ohio State University; M.A. in Arts, Entertainment, and Media Management, Columbia College
I began my career in advertising as an account coordinator at a boutique agency called Translation LLC. While doing research for my thesis in grad school, I discovered that Translation was owned by two businessmen I idolized, Jay Z and Steve Stoute. Translation also specialized in partnerships between artists and brands, which was exactly what I was writing my thesis on. I interviewed a few people who worked there for my thesis and expressed an interest in a position after graduation that I eventually landed. It was a young company when I joined, but, during that time, they secured huge accounts like State Farm, Bud Light, and Sprite. I was exposed to some major campaign work and even sat in meetings with Steve since we were such a small agency. It was very hard work, but that experience definitely shaped my career in advertising.
As the social media manager at Catapult, I'm the lead client contact for our Family Dollar account. My team of five is responsible for all of Family Dollar's social media channels, including strategy, content creation and integration, customer care, and reporting. Working in social media doesn't mean you're playing around on Facebook all day. There's a lot of number crunching, budgeting, and spreadsheets that go on behind the scenes. I really enjoy providing leadership and creative ideas for major social media campaigns that are going to reach thousands of people.
It’s important to find a workflow that allows you to be as productive as possible, especially in the ad agency business. There are so many moving pieces, and I had a hard time adjusting to the pace at first. I had to find a process that allowed me to learn and knock out tasks quickly. That solution came in the form of practicing better organization and adding structure around certain tasks. I keep it simple with a to-do list that prioritizes tasks for the day.
My most memorable moment was pulling off a global digital campaign for McDonalds’ Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC). This was the most challenging campaign of my career and the most rewarding. We created content with families from around the world who were positively impacted by RMHC. My role involved all aspects of digital and social media, with the end goal of driving more awareness about RMHC. I was also able to integrate my passion for music into the campaign by producing a music video featuring my good friend Lorine Chia, as well as a concert featuring musician Diggy Simmons.
Creating music has been a lifelong interest, and I've been producing and working in various roles in the industry since college. I love when I'm able to bring my passion for advertising and music together to create refreshing integrated campaigns. I recently wrote a rap song for my clients at Family Dollar for their back-to-school campaign, which I had a blast doing. I've also recently gotten back into the industry as a solo artist with my debut album, AfroBang. The album blends traditional West African inspired samples and rhythms with more contemporary hip hop production. It carries a message of uniting the African diaspora. I'm really proud of this album, and I plan to grow the AfroBang brand internationally as well.
Good candidates always bring passion and have a personal flair. During an interview, I always like to ask what the candidate does outside of work to get a better understanding of their interests and what kind of unique experience they can bring into the office. Building a team that has complementary interests inside and outside of work is a great way to build chemistry.
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz is a great go-to for me. I love the simplicity of the book and how the lessons can transform your life professionally and personally.
"Eliminate all fear and doubt with love." This is a motto that I live by and have tattooed on my left arm. I truly believe in doing what you love and letting that lead your life's journey.
Images by Matthew Adams / courtesy of Calid Bowen