Leanne Johnson’s career in social media is marked by people who gave her a chance.
While studying marketing in the UK, Leanne also worked at a local H&M store, where leadership offered to bring her into their head office to shadow and learn from their team. She says that experience with a big UK retail brand catapulted her career, allowing her to join the workforce with much more experience than her peers.
But to avoid being pigeon-holed into fashion marketing, Leanne also took jobs in the finance industry, tech, software brands, and startups. “I knew the fastest way for me to really understand what would be the right career path would be to go agency side.”
With Skype as one of the agency's clients, the brand quickly asked Leanne to pick up her family, relocate to California, and join them in-house.
Leanne joined Skype just a few weeks before they were acquired by Microsoft.
By having the right escalation process in place, it means even if you fall fast, you fall forward and learn from it.
“My career kind of catapulted again,” she says. Skype, which had acted much like a startup before, would join Microsoft, an enormous organization with a large portfolio of brands.
Microsoft asked Leanne to run consumer services, heading up social and digital across Microsoft. Before the acquisition, Skype could be more nimble and innovate with social media. Now, as a part of a public company, Leanne's team had to be more careful.
She said it could be tricky to hold on to Skype's fun brand and tone of voice while being respectful to the mothership and making sure they weren't jeopardizing the Microsoft brand.
“A lot of it came down to putting the right education and processes in place, having some freedom to test, some budget to innovate, and a very clear crisis communications process. As a part of the larger organization, things go wrong fast, especially with the way algorithms change and with trolls on social media,” Leanne says.
“By having the right escalation process in place, it means even if you fall fast, you fall forward and learn from it.”
In 2014, former Skype CEO, Tony Bates, asked Leanne to join them at GoPro.
Leanne says there were a lot of similarities between Skype and GoPro then. When she came to GoPro as the Director of Social Media, there was no international marketing. When she joined Skype, they had launched in 28 countries with highly connected audiences, but no way to build relationships with them.
Much like her role at Skype, Leanne was now tasked with making social international at GoPro with social handles, localized content, local social influencers, local events, and collaboration with local PR.
“Social is at the forefront of everything we do at GoPro,” Leanne says.
Now, it's less about the channel to market, it's more about the audience and the person consuming the media.
For 2017, they're looking to live social video, messenger bots, and the expansion of advocacy and influencers. Now, as the Senior Director of Digital Marketing, Leanne's role will be largely split between social and digital with a focus on paid advertising.
“The beauty of the role I sit in is I get to see the conversions. Now, it's less about the channel to market, it's more about the audience and the person consuming the media — whether they want to have a conversation or an interaction with the brand,” Leanne says.
“I love what I do, and I love the brand. I'm very thankful for and humbled by the opportunities I've had along the way and the people who have believed in me.”
Leanne's been a member of SocialMedia.org since 2016. Follow her on Twitter here.