Casey Malinowski: VP of Social Strategy
October 25, 2023
This week, we are spotlighting Casey Malinowski, an outstanding VT Marketing alumni, who has worked on many notable projects, including Peacock TV, Keeping Up With The Kardashians: Final Season, and the Will & Grace revival! Casey shared the highlights and challenges of his 10 years in social media marketing and announced his newest adventure: VP of Social Media Strategy at Deep Focus! Thank you, Casey!
In your 10 years of experience in social media and digital marketing, What is the biggest change that has occurred in the industry?
10 years can encompass multiple large pivots and shifts that have happened and witnessing the rise of this field has been an incredible experience. When I first started, social was focused on responding to comments from fans and not on creating original and custom content. Social was kind of an afterthought and it was a secondary role if anything.
These days, we are producing full-on pieces of video material. We work with graphic designers and illustrators to bring fully fleshed out large frame concepts to life that can require a lot more resources than we initially intended in this phase and we have very large teams that continue to expand and expand. It has become a massive team with dedicated people who focus specifically on analytics and social, community management, publishing, and strategy. I've been most excited about seeing how this field has expanded from a role standpoint on the platforms themselves as they've gone through a billion different iterations and continue to do so. Something that is so exciting about working in social media is it's a field that is constantly in flux. Every day, you're stepping in and your job is different from what it was the day prior,
In recent years, the field has a very large split between traditionally accepted social media platforms and what really is a distribution platform. There's a lot of debate around Tiktok in particular: TikTok has social elements but, at the end of the day, TikTok is a consumption and distribution platform for video material. People use this platform to consume content and it's an opportunity for brands to distribute in the same way that they would for YouTube. I think the blurring of lines between what really is social versus not has been an interesting evolution that will continue to evolve.
Some platforms are multi-hyphenate. There is meta, which took on Instagram, and Instagram has continued to expand upon itself. Now, we have threads and after a very exciting launch, 80% of their user base fell off after the first couple of weeks. Thread’s focus was on getting back to actual communication and conversation among users of like-minded interests.
I think the industry as a whole wants to see a return to more engaged and interactive social commentary and conversation that used to happen on these platforms, but at the same time, I don't think the masses really see it that way anymore. People have so much privacy that has been ripped from them. Now, we see a trend towards more closed-door conversations. Even on anything very innocuous like sharing a meme with friends, people are much less likely to tag somebody in the comments section of those as opposed to just dming it to them.
In the Will & Grace revival, your career portfolio discusses the challenge of taking a show that began before the age of social media and reviving it in the modern day. In a task like that, how do you go about keeping a work true to its roots while also making it current and relevant?
I myself being a part of the LGBTQ+ community had a lot of Pride (capital P) to be able to work on a show that ended up launching 1,000 shows and forayed into the space in a way that put representation on the screen. In linear television that had not existed, and they approached concepts and conversations that did not take place in popular media. Stepping into that again, it comes back into the conversation in a very different environment.
We had an emphasis on trying first to remind folks what this show is. what it did, how funny it was, and how incredible the camaraderie and interactions were amongst these iconic characters that have become centered in the Hall of Fame of comedy. That was our first step: flooding the Internet with material. In the beginning, a lot of the initial commentary on the show and our content was very focused on its potential issues. [Will & Grace] was a change maker in the 90s and the early 2000s. Fast forward to today's standards and it has some problematic components to it: it wasn't a very diverse show and its representations of the gay community were very hyperbolized. A lot of the commentary questioned if it was going to be able to live in the new environment.
I worked on the first two seasons to revive these characters and bring them into the current conversation in a very unique and fun way. We had a heavy emphasis on really owning our legacy and trying to highlight instances and moments from episode to episode that were palpable and powerful. We were understanding and aware of the current environment that we stepped into. Most of the writers and producers on the show come from this space and understand this from a first-hand perspective. I know it was a herculean effort to make this happen and I am very happy to have been on the agency side and help guide this.
What is the most fulfilling project or job you have accomplished thus far
I was in an interesting and unique scenario, where I was between roles at the end of last year. As I was looking to define what my next step was going to be and where I wanted to land, I launched my own consulting service. That was the most empowering period of my whole career. I wanted to put myself to the test to see if I could make this happen on my own and whether I actually knew as much as think I knew about this field. It was a fantastic experience. I had pretty quickly generated a number of clients, one of those clients being an agency that I'm now with full-time! It really was a testament to the power of relationships in business: having a supportive network that knows and sees your value and shows up for you when you need it. I did this for six months and generated over six figures of revenue within that time. It was mind-blowing to me and an awesome experience.
You are now the VP of Social Strategy at Big Village! How has your day-to-day life changed with this new job and what does your future look like at Big Village?
We are rebranding ourselves back to Deep Focus! It's a name that was very well respected and understood within the digital space and we are excited to reclaim that. That being said, this agency has been fantastic to work with. I've had the beauty and benefit of working with some of the best of the best across the agency sphere and I am super proud of the teams I got to partner with.
My day-to-day as a VP is thinking 10 steps ahead as opposed to being as focused on what is happening in the moment. I have always thrived on nerding out about workflows and optimizing how things happen, why they happen the way they happen, and who should be making what happen. All of those questions are certainly on the table and things that I've been digging into here in a big way with our client teams and partners. With this field expanding so immensely, we need an understanding of how to leverage people's capabilities most effectively to get the best work done in the timeliest of possible manners. Being able to identify opportunity, bring it to life, and then get it out into the space as quickly as you can is certainly a large task and one that requires very seamless workflows and ensuring that everyone understands when they need to do what where who and how.
We've got some really fun exciting projects that are right around the corner. For me, being able to continue being in this entertainment space and helping to define what the next step looks like for the clients we have now and the clients we hope to get in the future is an incredibly exciting prospect.
Do you have any advice for graduating marketing students hoping to work in digital marketing and entertainment?
A lot of students get caught up in whether they want to go agency or in-house. I cannot stress enough that you will benefit immensely from the agency route. You will get to work on so many different projects, types of brands, and different industries. It will mold and shape you in a massive way and you don’t want to miss out on this early career growth period to expand your understanding of different perspectives and that there are always multiple ways to find a solution. There is no better continuance of education than the agency field.
I also see a lot of folks saying they want to make connections with people who work at places they want to work. First, develop your short list of what companies or agencies you'd like to work with, and identify a few key players that may make the most sense for you to have a conversation with. Do not say, “Here's my resume, we went to the same school, and that's it.” Instead, ask “Who are you? What do you do? What is the most exciting part of this industry?” Often, people are open to taking a quick call. It could be 15-20 minutes. I love doing those calls because it's a great way of understanding the talent that's coming up in the space. I am always a big fan and proponent of expanding the field. Fresh perspectives, especially in marketing, are mandatory.