by Thuli Nkosi and Phumla Malishe
We met Native VML’s Amanda Sevasti at the Livity Africa offices as part of the Digify programme. She is gorgeous, funny and smart – that afternoon we spent listening and staring at her in absolute awe.
For those of us who had not known anything about Amanda and what she does, she is the head of social media at Native VML (which is one of South Africa’s prominent digital agencies). She represents numerous brands, splits her time between Johannesburg and Cape Town and yet still manages to make waves in the digital market.
Amanda had given the team an intense challenge – coming up with a social media campaign for Kit Kat – and we all managed to knock her socks off, much to our surprise (we were rather nervous). We had gone to the beautiful Native VML offices in Sandton which is like a playground. I almost did not want to leave. After the presentation Phumla and I got to ask her a few questions about digital media, her favourite social networks and much more. We chatted and laughed like we were old friends.
Digify: What are your favourite social networking platforms and why?
Amanda Sevasti: Twitter and Instagram. Twitter because of the control one has. Because of my experience as a copywriter, I love the short and punchy pieces of information. I like Instagram because I love the photo sharing community. (She then proceeds to tell us about having had the opportunity to meet of the founder, Kevin Systrom).
D: If your favourite social media platform was a drink, what drink would it be?
AS: Twitter would be champagne (she says, laughing) because it is bubbly and there is a lot going on and Instagram could be a colourful cocktail, like a Pina colada.
D: What do you think will be the next big thing in digital?
AS: Digital is a representation of culture and customisation. The next big thing is plantables. So, me getting into my car and being told “Amanda, you need to buy milk.” On a social media perspective the industry is really unpredictable, but the concept of Snap Chat is interesting.
D: How did you explain your job to your grandparents?
AS: Explaining my job to my dad has been a challenge. I should do a presentation for my dad to explain what I do. (Laughs and continues to explain how her dad thinks her job entails sitting on Facebook all day.)
D: Sum up digital marketing in 5 words.
AS:Exciting, dynamic, futuristic, humanist (as it is focused on people) and equal (it gives everyone a chance to be equal. I wish everybody had access to data and information).
D: What do you think of Digify?
AS: Programmes like Digify are fantastic. It provides proper certification and the participants are well prepared and digitally competent which is vitally important.
D: Who would you say are the most influential people in digital media?
AS: Mark Zuckerberg because he has changed how people communicate with each other. I really like Seth Godin because of his insights and the way he approaches things. Dave Duarte as he is absolutely phenomenal and gets what digital is about. South Africans who are influential on social platforms would be Trevor Noah, Gareth Cliff and Khaya Dlanga.
— Amanda Sevasti (@AmandaSevasti) October 17, 2014
D: How do you think the nature of your work will influence the digital space in the years to come, if at all?
AS: I want us [as a digital agency] to be able to show companies what brilliant things can be done with digital. Teach people how to build their brands so people make money and create more jobs.
D: What is your favourite blog/website?
AS: I really enjoy Zite app, Slate, upworthy.com for feel good stuff and I LOVE Buzzfeed.
D: Interesting Twitter handles to follow?
AS: I think that depends on the person. I follow Khaya Dlanga, Mail & Guardian and Whiskey Brother Shop. I think it is important to follow a nice mix of people and your interests, but also news stuff. Follow accounts you like that cover your interests and hobbies, but not too many people.
And just like that our time with Amanda was done. She is a multi-faceted individual, we could have sat there for hours listening to her and learning more about her experiences in work and the medium she is so passionate about.