Insta-national: Annabelle Smith takes an American business back home

Insta-national: Annabelle Smith sits down with Billabout to talk all things social media.

Annabelle Smith is a digital marketeer who, after residing in New York for two years, is setting up the Australian office of US-based agency, the Digital Brand Architects in Sydney. The 28-year-old Melbourne-born tells Billabout how she’s returning home with a new business in tow.

Can you sum up your time in New York in three words?

Fun. Whirlwind. Inspiring.

Why did you first come to New York?

I moved over here in 2011 and was planning to be here for 3 to 6months to travel and just bartend and have a bit of a career break. Then I discovered how fabulous New York was so I knew I needed to stay and I found a job.

So you’re taking the US company back to Australia?

I’ve been working here for about 18 months and I love the agency, butI knew it was time to go home. I put together a business plan because

I didn’t want to leave the company as it is such an innovative andexciting little agency and they said ‘Fantastic, we’ll do it!’

What does the agency do?

We’re a social media marketing agency working predominantly withfashion, luxury and lifestyle brands. We specialize in digital strategy and execution. Social media is such a fast-paced and evolving industry and is really ahead in the US; Australia’s got a lot of catching up to do!

How is the social media landscape changing?

In the past 18 months there’s been such a shift – brands are seeing themselves as publishers, content creators and curators. It’s moved from having a simple Facebook page and Twitteraccount to creating this amazing content and partnering with online influencers and bloggers to create and share it.

How big is the agency?

There are about 25 altogether and we have a presence in New York andLA. It has that small agency family feel to it, but we work with big name clients so we’re really lucky.

Tell us about some of your bloggers.

I think what really sets them apart is that it’s not just bloggingthat they do. While yes, it’s their full time job for many, they have these other amazing skills. Like the Glamourai – she worked as a designer for Givenchy and she’s a stylist and she’s done design. Jamie Beck is an amazing photographer who produces these beautiful shoots. They’re really successful because they have those other skills and their blog or their social media is a way to amplify that. Instead of a brand hiring a photographer or a stylist, they’re now hiring a blogger who can produce as high a quality work but they have all the social resources as well.

What’s your take on Vine?

Vine during Fashion Week was such perfect timing – to have thebloggers front row creating these little Vine videos was fantastic.

What visa did you come over on?

I came over on a J-1 visa and once I got a job I switched to an E-3.

Advice to someone moving over?

I made an effort not to hang out with Australians too much. It’s sucha little bubble you can get yourself into and then you don’t meet any Americans. Also, don’t give up! It took me a couple of months of serious job hunting and it was frustrating sometimes.

What’s the difference between Australia and the US in the workplace?

Australia and America are very similar, although the directness of theNew Yorkers is different. Australians make a lot more of an effort to get to know you and to build a personal relationship and I’m looking forward to going home to that!

What do you love about the city?

I love the energy of the place and that everyone who lives here is soentrepreneurial and so driven. They’ve moved here from somewhere and they want to make the most of it. That kind of energy is really contagious.

Interview by Shannon O’Meara

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