In Conversation with Tanya Phull

She’s Head of Social Media & Content Marketing at Vodafone Australia, so Why Does Her LinkedIn Job Title Say, ‘Cancer Researcher at DreamLab App’?

November 9, 2017

In Conversation with Tanya Phull

Marketing, when done well, can produce amazing results for an organisation, but can it also find a cure for cancer? In this installment of In Conversation, we sit down with Tanya Phull, who is Head of Social Media & Content Marketing at Vodafone by day and Cancer Researcher at DreamLab App by night.

Q. I’m really curious, so I’ll jump straight in. Are you really a cancer researcher?

Yes, I am. In fact, everyone now has the opportunity to contribute to cancer research. The DreamLab App was developed by the Vodafone Foundation in partnership with The Garvan Institute to harness the processing power of your smartphone, when it is idle at night. This is used to crunch data and accelerate cancer research. We wanted to get more people involved in the search for the cure for cancer so, to drive awareness, we recruited hundreds of influencers, from CEOs to politicians, to update their LinkedIn job title to ‘Cancer Researcher at DreamLab App’. It’s a really simple way to make a difference — just download the app and let it work its magic while you’re asleep. I’d love for everyone to find out more at  

Q. That explains a lot. Now, on to your day job.

I head up social media and content marketing at Vodafone Australia, and I also work very closely with our Social Care team. I was really lucky to have started my career in Ogilvy & Mather in Washington, D.C., in the United States. That was where I built a foundation in marketing and, specifically, digital marketing. Being on the agency side taught me how to sell my ideas and gave me exposure to creative variety. After a certain point, however, I felt the desire and curiosity to learn what made my clients tick. That’s when I moved to brand side, first with Commonwealth Bank of Australia and now with Vodafone.

Q. What are your thoughts on the convergence of social media and marketing?

The line between social media and marketing is definitely blurring, especially with social media platforms essentially becoming advertising platforms. However, using social media to mine business insights or to enhance customer service are different applications of social media that typically do not sit in a traditional marketing function, however, many organisations are looking at ways of bridging these gaps to provide a holistic customer experience.

Q. Where does content marketing come in?

For Vodafone, content marketing is about looking for new ways to evolve our storytelling. The Vodafone Australia blog, Red Wire, is a great example of how we’re using content marketing to engage prospective customers — sharing relevant and interesting content and propelling them to take a desired action. Red Wire is a terrific mix of thought leadership, news, and insights on topics that are important to our audience.

Q. How does marketing in Australia differ from that in the U.S., where you started?

When I moved here, one of my first observations was that the sense of humour is quite different. It’s really important to understand cultural nuances in order to create content that is interesting and engaging for your audience. Another thing I noticed is the competitive landscape. Given the sheer distance between major cities, there are maybe two or three key players in each sector. It becomes trickier for many brands here to take risks when the potential gain is comparatively less. In that sense, I feel there’s increased pressure on brands in Australia to be smarter with smaller budgets.

Q. In your opinion, how is marketing going to change in the next two years? 

This is a really exciting time to be in marketing, because there are so many technologies that are going to influence how marketers think about reaching customers. I’m excited about augmented reality because, for the first time, brands will be able to give customers a preview of what it’ll be like to own their products before actually buying them. It’s virtual FOMO, really, and it’ll change the way we drive conversions.

There’s also video. It’s not new, but I believe it’ll become increasingly dominant in the near future. We were lucky to trial the video beta ads with LinkedIn for DreamLab App and, while its early days yet, we are already seeing strong click-through rates and cost per views. I think that demonstrates how much people are craving video content. The ability to produce good video content is going to be key. To design for sound-off and delight for sound-on requires a different approach to, say, producing a TVC. I don’t think we have it 100% right yet, so getting better and nimbler at producing such content is something I expect marketers to focus on in 2018 and beyond.

Watch the full video of In Conversation with Tanya Phull here:

In Conversation with Vodafone's Tanya Phull

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