Q&A with Tim Rickards, Director of Social and Content Strategy

Q&A with Tim Rickards, Director of Social and Content Strategy

Hearsay is excited to introduce you to our new Director of Social and Content Strategy, Tim Rickards! Tim started his career as a copywriter in the SF Bay Area, and joined Charles Schwab’s in-house group following stints at several agencies. Yes, Tim was previously a Hearsay customer!

At Charles Schwab, Tim created a mini-agency dedicated to retirement plan services and built a new team focused on the firm’s B2B businesses, before establishing a new function focused solely on retail client engagement.

Recently, we sat down with Tim to learn how he’ll be partnering with customers to build and execute on content strategy programs.

How did you get into this line of work, and why are you passionate about it?

Out of school I was looking for a practical way to use my writing skills, which led to working at agencies. After establishing myself on the creative side, I wanted to be closer to strategy, which led to account service and eventually marketing. For me, the most interesting part about communications is hitting that sweet spot of useful and compelling. It’s really hard to do, but when these two align it’s possible to truly motivate behavior AND bring someone value.

How did storytelling change during the pandemic? What content themes and channels will thrive in our post-pandemic world?

How we tell stories didn’t change much, in my view...we still talked and wrote and pantomimed, just in a more digital way under lockdown. What we told stories about certainly evolved, at least on the surface, because all of sudden we had a global, common topic of conversation. And let’s not forget the vital and vibrant discussions around social justice, diversity and sustainability. 

It’s clear from usage studies that the pandemic drove virtual communication, and I expect some specific use cases, like medical, financial and retail, to retain much of that increase moving forward. At the same time, our use of new technologies tends to wax and wane, so it’s really hard to be specific about what will thrive. But we show a virtually inexhaustible desire to increase our connective power with other humans, so it’s hard for me to imagine us stepping back from social media channels in a meaningful broad-based way. 

As far as themes go, I expect more discussion of preparing for the unexpected, be that physical health, the weather or the markets. Also, experiences that make it easier to get things done will continue to show traction, even if we see some movements toward the analog/manual as a reaction to the digital/automatic. 

What is the most common mistake that financial services firms make when it comes to social media content strategy and execution?

I think financial services firms do a fantastic job given the considerable restraints and risks that surround social marketing, as well as the fact that most people want to interact with financial content on an intermittent basis at best. On any given day, it’s challenging to present truly useful and relevant information, so review/approval/archiving requirements and an (often) less than enthused audience add multiple levels of difficulty.

That said, we should all focus on what works for communicating in general: Know our audiences as best we can, pick the best channel given who they are, present information we know will be of use, and consistently test and learn our way to progress. It’s a funny thing about finances; people don’t often truly need those services until they REALLY need them, and if we can be there at the right time, we can really deliver true value to everyone involved.

What is a best practice that any social media content administrator or creator can adopt, regardless of technology or team size?

I suggest two things: 1) Be sure to tie social marketing to specific goals and 2) Adopt that test and learn mindset. Without #1, #2 becomes blurry. Without #2, it’s hard to improve on #1. And without both, you run the risk of an ill-defined program that exists for its own sake.

What’s ahead for you at Hearsay? How will you be partnering with our customers?

Once finished drinking out of the firehose, I will be excited to start helping our customers enhance their social and content strategy to get the most possible from their relationship with Hearsay. We foresee a combination of structured and ad hoc engagements based on a particular company’s needs and goals, adapting and improving as we go. Truly, I can’t wait to get started.

Thank you to Tim for sharing more about himself and his new role with us. To hear more from Tim, you can subscribe to the Human Factor, his Substack newsletter, where he publishes Three Interesting Things (3IT) each week, sharing his insight into human behavior and how to communicate. Check it out!

Vivien Wang
As Director of Corporate Marketing, Vivien leads the team in charge of Hearsay’s PR, branding, content and social media. Based in San Francisco, she’s an avid yogi, foodie and linguaphile, and will dare to correct your grammar in three different languages.

Interested in reading more?

Interested in reading more?