Interview with Cary Lawrence, Co-Founder, SocialCode

Cary Lawrence

“Data is at the core of everything we do, whether it’s powering creative or pinpointing the best audiences.”

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Tell us about your role and how you got here? What compelled you to be a part of SocialCode?

I am SocialCode’s proud co-founder and SVP of Delivery for our Audience Intelligence product. I have experience on the agency, traditional media, and publisher side, where I focused on digital media. I went to grad school to learn more about technology’s impact on society and communications and eventually landed a role with Washington Post Digital & Slate where I met Laura O’Shaughnessy (SocialCode’s CEO). When Laura asked me if I wanted to help her start SocialCode to solve a key marketing problem, advertising and analytics on social, I jumped at the chance. That was almost eight years ago now.

How is the B2B tech industry different from when you started?

So much has changed since I started! In the early days, marketers were focused on increasing their vanity metrics on social. Brands were all about growing fans and followers versus considering advertising on people-based platforms as a real way to drive business results and glean an incredible amount of information about their most valuable customers. The data and tools harnessed on these platforms today are insurmountable, so it would be a huge marketing mistake for brands to not fully leverage them.

What marketing and sales automation tools do you use?

Salesforce for managing leads and Marketo for marketing automation.

What would you say is the biggest driver for the change in the social media marketing technologies? How does SocialCode distinguish itself from the competitors?

I think marketers today are driven by the desire to bring social media marketing solutions in-house to streamline processes and take more control over their data. In response, people-based platforms are continuing to build strong, native tools that allow marketers to take the reigns. Marketing technology companies are therefore faced with the challenge of creating added value on top of platform offerings, as opposed to replicating functionality. Whether it’s on the reporting and analysis side or in planning and execution, there’s a need to add incremental value.

There are a lot of marketing shops that house data and have modeling capabilities and even more in the media activation space, but there aren’t many companies that bring all of those capabilities together under one roof like we do at SocialCode. This allows us to help our clients sift through and understand an incredible amount of information about who and where their best customers are and quickly activate that data on the platforms where their customers are most addressable. Data is at the core of everything we do, whether it’s powering creative or pinpointing the best audiences.

What are the core tenets of your audience intelligence technology? How could marketers better benefit from audience data for maximized sales opportunities?

Our Audience Intelligence Platform is entirely people-based and everything is resolved down to the individual user level vs. matching on cookies or device IDs. From there, we have the ability to do a ton of advanced segmentation, build out the best customer models, and give our partners the ability to activate these audiences across all platforms, instead of being constrained within the walls of each individual platform. The end result is smarter, faster activation of customer data which results in better ROI and business performance.

Oftentimes, we see that companies have a large collection of data at their disposal but lack the ability to see the big picture and segment and activate the data in a way that drives meaningful impact on their business. We’re able to help brands plan in a much smarter way and eliminate marketing waste. Our audience intelligence software gives brands the opportunity to fully understand who their best customers are, how to find more of them, and identify how much it’s going to cost to reach them. The more brands know upfront, the smarter they can plan and the quicker they can move their data for fast learnings across platforms. Our Audience Intelligence Platform’s bottom line is driving increased performance and a higher ROAS for our partners.

How do you see the digital experience on social media evolving with the maturity of AI/ML and voice? What challenges do you foresee marketers will face in this disruption?

We’ve gotten to a point where there’s a heavy brand appetite for easy ways to manage all of the complexities platforms offer. The people who are building the technologies to solve this challenge will increasingly lean upon machine learning and AI to automate platform processes and allow users to spend more of their time working on higher value tasks. Just as there was a huge shift to find customers on social when they first started spending more time there, as people continue to engage with Alexa and other voice-enabled technologies, marketers will need to identify the best ways to successfully insert their brands into those touchpoints.

How do you prepare for an AI-centric ecosystem as a business leader?

Hire the best talent, foster an environment of constant learning and mindshare, and leverage that expertise to build out our AI strategies.

How do you inspire your people to work with technology?

My goal is to urge each of our team members to use and interact with our software as much as possible because our internal teams are our primary customers in a way. If our teams aren’t able to drive value for clients and help improve our own products, then those products are not going to be valuable when placed in the hands of our customers either.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

Anything that makes my life easier, such as travel apps and apps that have the ability to handle life functions remotely, such as Teladoc or online banking tools. As the mother of two toddlers with little free time, I value anything and everything that makes my life more streamlined.

What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?

I consider myself “old school,” because I still make handwritten priority lists. Being in an industry that’s constantly shaped by new technologies, I enjoy holding on to some of the classics.

What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)

I read a lot of children’s books to my two kids, but when I’m on my own, I enjoy reading stories about people. I also listen to podcasts that tell stories of how other business leaders have built and scaled successful companies.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t take things too personally. When you’re a high achiever, you crave reinforcement, so sometimes constructive criticism can be hard to absorb. The more I learned to depersonalize feedback and step back to think about the greater good of the company, the more I was able to focus on learning and growing in my different professional roles.

Tag the one person whose answers to these questions you would love to read:

Michelle Obama

Thank you, Cary! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

Cary is a co-founder of SocialCode and currently works with clients to help them leverage data to create more personalized and impactful connections with their customers. Before SocialCode, she worked in the Communications and Society Program at the Aspen Institute where she thought about technology’s impact on communications at large. She also worked in the Ad Innovations group at Washington Post Digital, where she developed breakthrough solutions for partners, including custom content, brand integration, audience extension and unique executions. Cary also has roots in the agency world as a former Mullen employee. She holds a Masters in Communications, Culture and Technology from Georgetown University and a BS in Business from Wake Forest University.

SocialCode is comprised of 300+ smart, innovative, passionate, accountable and humble professionals solving big challenges to power smarter, more profitable brands. We are pioneers in technology and engineering, product management, data science, marketing, media and analytics. We are driven by our vision and values, and invest deeply in developing our people to create the greatest long-term value and impact on our clients. We are located geographically in key technology and business hubs, including New York, Washington DC, San Francisco, Chicago, LA, and Austin.

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The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.