Campaign Promotion: The pioneers - Helen Lawrence

In a new interview series sponsored by AOL, Campaign meets Dare's petite pioneer of social media.

Delivering a strategic edge to social media activity for the digital agency Dare is a 24/7 job for Helen Lawrence. Petite and lively, Lawrence works across a client list including Sony Ericsson, New Look, Barclaycard, Vodafone, Sony, Beck's and BMW. The work involves everything from looking at whether a client should be on Twitter, through to talking to bloggers about clients' latest products and campaigns. Her first job at MTV led her to the PR agency Holler, where she worked on digital campaigns for bands and artists. A true digital native, inspiring in her zeal for all things social, she joined Dare three years ago. Here's how she works.

Q: What are your rules for creating content that people want to share?

The three pillars for us are making it entertaining, informative or useful. Content doesn't have to get to ten million people; it has to get to the right people. Entertaining is tricky, because one person's quirky is another person's unfunny. The informative, instructional side of social media is the area I find interesting, especially in retail, where the sites are sometimes built on ancient platforms and change can be hard.

Q: Does the dominance of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc mean that consumers expect dumbed-down content when they go online?

We sometimes go online expecting to get short-form content but that doesn't necessarily mean it's dumbed-down content. If anything, Twitter and Facebook make us more curious and enquiring. We still access long-form content through iPlayer and 4oD, we just pepper that with more bitesized content too.

Q: How important is the ability to comment and debate online for female users?

A site such as MyDaily is obviously a platform for discussion and it has been built around technology, which encourages comment and debate. It's got a specific target community in mind and the social technology in place shows AOL's thought about the technology needed and the quality of discussion it can stimulate.

Q: Do you think there are enough positive female role models nowadays?

Yes, but not enough at board level. Hopefully, we'll see more women move up to senior management. At Dare, with Lee Leggett, we have a wonderful example. The Times Eureka 100 top scientists list has inspiring female role models in it.

Q: Who do you consider to be the most inspirational woman and why?

My choice, perhaps an obvious one, is Martha Lane Fox. She started Lastminute.com and Lucky Voice, she's on the boards of Channel 4, mydeco.com and Marks & Spencer, and she takes on important charity and government work.

Q: Which celebrity do you consider to be the happiest?

Willow Smith is my choice. She's a pop star at ten years old, she's got Will Smith as a dad, she recorded an amazing song with her first single, she's signed to Jay-Z's record label ... Need I go on?!

Q: Is social media more than just an addition to the media mix? If so, why?

Social media's confident, it's moving away from the novelty status and it's integrated into business strategy. There's a focus on the utility side of social media, the way people buy things, recommendation tools, location-based services and so on.

Q: There is a view that social networks manage to gather mind-boggling quantities of data, but struggle to analyse this for advertisers' benefit. What's your view?

The platforms are getting better. Facebook has until recently concentrated on the platform from the user's, not the advertiser's, point of view, and that's right. Twitter is just starting to think about advertising. Through the recession, we've had to prove that we are a robust part of the mix, to look at metrics that clients understand.

Q: Imagine that you were offered this job at Dare subject to background checks and you realised that your Facebook content contains photos and comments that would provoke Campaign's Digital Agency of the Decade to withdraw its offer. Would you attempt to persuade the Facebook founder that his privacy policy is unsustainable?

My blogging does extend back to my final university days when I was sometimes contemplating whether to get drunk or finish my dissertation, but I strongly believe that content is the responsibility of the user. Facebook can't be responsible for uploaded content, its responsibility is to provide a platform that the user can control and make their own decisions within it.

Q: What idea in social media should we be taking more seriously?

Efficiency and effectiveness, especially in charity and government causes. There are amazing collaboration tools available, like open data and knowledge platforms.

Name: Helen lawrence

Age: 27

Works: Senior social media planner, Dare

Lives: Soho, between Wardour Street and Dean Street

Favourite gadget: My new speakers. I just got rid of my CDs and put all my music on the hard drive

Favourite digital journey: Combination of The X Factor and Twitter on a Saturday and Sunday night. Looking at the comments on Twitter completely enhances the experience

Hero of the digital world: Tim Berners-Lee. He's quite hot and, one day, I want him to take me for dinner

Blog Big Yellow Tutu

Tweet @heleniun Followed by 1,688

Following 711

Follow our series of Pioneers and look out for their live Q&As at twitter.com/CampaignPioneer

AOL Inc. (NYSE: AOL) is a leading global web services company with an extensive suite of brands and offerings and a substantial worldwide audience. AOL's business spans online content, products and services that the company offers to consumers, publishers and advertisers. AOL's UK business recently launched MyDaily (www.mydaily.co.uk), its definitive destination for successful, stylish and discerning women. For more information, go to www.advertising.aol.co.uk.