Welcome to the “The Ask,” a content series that gets up close and personal with the people of Weber Shandwick Seattle. This month, we sat down with Andrew Killinger to talk about the future of social media, wooden bowls and a possible future in modeling. Here’s how it went:


What do you do at Weber Shandwick?

I lead platform strategy for many of our healthcare, pharma and biotech clients. That means I spend a lot of my time working with content that’s tailored to professionals. Often, we’re trying to teach science to scientists, which is why we have a team dedicated to science communications called Element that is full of super-smart scientists who understand what the heck we’re doing. We work with them to make the science and the message clearer for our audiences.


What brands are killing it on social and why?

I think it’s easy to talk about the bigger consumer goods and retail brands that constantly crush it – you know, like Coke, Domino’s and Taco Bell. But I really love digging into the more niche campaigns that tell a richer story to a more passionate audience.

For example, I really loved what NASA did for the end of the Cassini Saturn mission recently. Essentially 20 years ago they launched a probe to orbit Saturn and it was at the end of its life. So, NASA intentionally crashed the probe into Saturn, and they made a bunch of content out of that moment. They took something that was super scientific and made it an emotional, relatable experience. It really made you care about the mission, the science behind it and the people who were involved.


Snapchat – dead or just resting its eyes?

I don’t think Snapchat will go under, but I don’t see it lasting as the platform it is now. Or gaining back the momentum it had. Facebook has totally punched it in the gut.


What do you think is the biggest challenge clients face on social media today?

I still think that for a lot of our clients, social media is underappreciated and under recognized. It’s assumed to be a turnkey channel when, in fact, it’s the mainstream media at this point.

I think it’s also the fact that we call out social as being a practice when it is really everything that we do as an organization and an industry. Even for a more antiquated industry like healthcare, it’s not a bolt-on channel or medium.


If you had to moonlight a second job, what would it be?

If I wasn’t creating content for the internet, I’d be in some field where I’m using my hands to create something tangible. Like, I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos about woodturning recently. Based purely on that, I’d build a shop in my backyard and I’d just carve wooden bowls all day long.


Content IRL. That’s cool. Honestly, looking at you, you probably have a future as a stock-photo model if you ever wanted to go that route.

Ha-ha-ha. I do have an “everyman” look, don’t I? Maybe I’ll make that a second side hustle. Wooden bowl maker, stock photo model. A modern-day Renaissance man.


Any predictions for social media in 2018 and beyond?

The cliché predictions are artificial intelligence and virtual reality. I think that’s going to be a space that we’ll see more and more of next year.

But I really think that the age of the social start-up is dead. Everyone always asks, “What’s the future of Facebook?” and the answer is just, “Facebook is the world. Facebook is everything at this point.” I mean, nobody is going to disrupt Facebook or Google. These are the channels that control our lives. And I think for the next 5 to 10 years it’s going to be more of a solidification of that, where these big mega-conglomerate entities own our online lives.


So, if that’s where you think social is going in 2018, then what are you recommending to your clients? To just go all-in with Facebook?

Even though healthcare is still a couple of years behind cutting-edge consumer marketing campaigns, the idea of shifting from a destination-focused content program to a distributed shared ecosystem of a program is increasingly important. I think that’s what we’re talking a lot about with our clients in our planning for next year. How do we take this great content that they’ve locked up on their dot-com and turn that into content that our audiences can consume on the platforms they spend the most time? We’ll be spending a lot of time working with publishing partners and Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn to publish that content natively on their channels.


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