Leigh George helps brands click with consumers
What do art history and social media have to do with each other? Leigh George, MA ’96, PhD ’02, says both involve social objects and the cultural meanings we assign to them.
George studied graphic design and corporate identity as she earned a PhD in branding history and theory through Binghamton’s Art History Department. Now, as vice president in the Social@Ogilvy group in Washington, D.C., she helps clients develop, implement and track strategic plans for brand awareness, customer acquisition, relationship management, online engagement and community management.
“My passion for education, and the reason I went to grad school, was the desire to be part of an intellectual community,” George says. “Social networks support the creation of communities that aren’t tied to time or geography. You can connect with people based on interests you share at any time from any place. That has tremendous implications for business.”
One of George’s success stories involves a client who wanted to persuade people to be screened for a disease. By using emotionally compelling photos instead of text in social media posts, she saw an increase in the number of people completing a screening questionnaire.
She says the key is matching the right content with the right audience and going where the conversations about your brand are taking place. In other words, just because a company builds a website doesn’t mean people will visit. And being on every social media platform isn’t always sensible.
“A business-to-business company CEO called his marketing officer and asked why they weren’t on Pinterest. But the company isn’t targeting 25- to 35-year-old stay-at-home moms. Why be on Pinterest if you’re selling complex IT solutions?”
George also warns people about risks.
“You have a whole generation today that doesn’t know what life was like before social media. What you share on social networks is out there forever. You are creating a brand for yourself with every Facebook post, tweet or Instagram photo. These will be seen by people you’re looking to establish relationships with, either now or sometime in the future.”