Let me introduce you to Maggie Fox. She is the CEO and founder of the Social Media Group and she is Canadian. She is also the first person in my new SMART Women in Social Media series.
“Why only women you ask? There are so many smart men in social media.”
And you would be right. If you look over at my blogroll you will find many of them enshrined there. I love men and all that they contribute, but there are fewer female voices that make it to the topmost ranks of the new media community. So, here is my attempt to share some of my favorites.
Maggie Fox, CEO, Social Media Group
The Social Media Group, under Maggie's direction, has developed social media strategies for some of the best-known brands in Europe and North America, including Ford Motor Company, SAP Global Marketing, Yamaha Motor, Corbis and Harlequin Publishing.
Q. What drove your initial interest in social media?
My professional background is actually as a TV producer – I went to school for television broadcasting and worked in TV marketing, as a news writer and then news producer for the local network affiliate, which is probably why I'm all about the content. The two never really met, however – I made the transition to producing websites in 1999 and then ran a small interactive agency, which is what I was doing when I started blogging personally in 2005.
Q. Why did you decide to open a pure play social media company? Who was your first client?
In early 2006 I was in a client meeting with some of their agency folks, and one of them, a very senior creative guy who was semi-retired, said he was really interested in how companies could use things like blogs to talk to their customers (the term “social media” was not yet widely used). The client looked frightened, but for me it was literally a lightbulb moment – I had all these years of communications experience and had spent quite a bit of time blogging personally, so understood that space really well… you can imagine the rest.
Q. Where did you get your entrepreneurial leanings?
I'm not sure, but I can remember setting up a “snack bar” at my grandparents' place while I was growing up. They were rather proper people and had things like bugles and bridge mix set out for us every Sunday. I used to grab all the bowls and bottles of bar mix and glasses and set them up on a TV tray in a strategic location. I collected money in a small bowl; my father would point out that I was selling things I had not paid for, but I always considered that to be a minor detail 🙂
Q. Why is SMG’s focus on the large enterprise companies?
Good question, and there are a bunch of answers: LEs have the budgets and scale to do big, exciting work. They understand and value industry expertise and know what they don't know, they're also comfortable with the agency relationship and are looking for long-term partners to help them evolve and transform, rather than just execute one-offs. That being said, with the acquisition of Livingston Communications, we've also acquired a growing not-for-profit practice, which is something we intend to nurture both because it's good to do good but also because giving back is really important to a lot of the people that work for us.
Q. Tell us one thing about you, personally, that people might be surprised to know?
When I was 15, I had a mohawk and was every inch the punk rock girl. That rebellious streak may be why I love this space so much – we're disrupting traditional channels, models and hegemonies that just are not working in the way that they should; they need shaking up. I also find that pretty much every client we get the opportunity to work with has a renegade gene somewhere in there – which means we instantly have something in common 😉