Alumni profile - Annie Andoh
The beauty of working in social media is that the industry is always changing, and the way people consume content continues to evolve. My interests very much lie with seeing these changes and being creative with how we connect with people.
What influenced your decision to study History at Queen Mary? Did you have a particular career path in mind?
I had a phenomenal History teacher at school which made me really love the subject and want to pursue it more. I had no idea what I wanted to be, so elected to study something that I was passionate about rather than focus on an end goal for a career.
What aspects of your degree did you find most enjoyable and was there anything that surprised you in your studies?
Being able to discover completely new eras of history was fantastic; the great thing about studying history is that it really allows you to go and explore and expand – and although writing a dissertation is a lot of stress and work, it is so rewarding because you get to delve into something that you are specifically interested in.
What did you love most about the School of History at Queen Mary?
I think the focus on exploration and the wide range of courses available is great, I really liked the fact that I could be on a film history lecture one minute and be in a medieval medicine seminar the next. And of course, I had some really interesting and supportive lecturers too.
What was the focus of your dissertation?
I did a special subject which focused on Oscar Wilde, and the dissertation attached to that was the role of women in the Aesthetics Movement, looking at gender, sexuality, fashion and their contribution to the artistic movement.
Were you involved in any extracurricular activities whilst at Queen Mary?
I wasn’t really one for clubs or extracurricular activities, but I did join the Jazz Band in my final year as a singer.
What historical period do you find most interesting and why?
Whilst I was at Queen Mary, I became fascinated by the Victorian period, and all the contradictions of the era, from sex, to gender to race etc. and at the time the University had a host of lecturers that had expertise in this era. Personally, I am now interested in Pan-African history and the independence movement, and the history around where I grew up in South East London.
You are currently the Social Media Manager for the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. What does this role involve?
In a nutshell, I manage the museum’s social profiles looking at everything from building and monitoring the audience and community that we have online, to creating strategies, promoting exhibitions and general collections, and creating content, and collaborating with other brands and influencers to produce social content.
What are some of the best things about working at the V&A? Which of their exhibitions has been your favourite?
No day is the same, it’s very creative and fast-paced, and it’s a lovely place to work. I work with talented people who all share the same aim, which is to showcase the museum at its best, and it is lovely working somewhere where the goal is united.
I am lucky to now be working for a brand that I truly believe in and in an industry that aims to do good, sharing history, art and culture to the masses to inspire.
Exhibitions is a hard one – whilst I have been working at the museum, the Dior: Designer of Dreams, Tim Walker: Wonderful Things, and Kimono exhibitions have really been amazing to see and be part of working on, truly beautiful and inspiring to see and walk around. But I have a massive soft spot for the first ever exhibition that I visited years before I started working there, which was the Hollywood Costume exhibition.
How have you adapted your social media content since the outbreak of the pandemic, particularly as physical visits to the V&A have been so limited?
Social has become even more important as it is one of the only ways that audiences can keep in contact with the museum while it is closed. We are lucky to have a massive digital archive. Our social content focuses on the stories and histories of the collection rather than specifically on the in-gallery experience, so we were lucky that all we had to do was amplify our activity rather than overhaul it.
What do you think is unique about the V&A for members of the public who have never visited before?
It is in the most literal sense, awesome. The building itself is stunning, it has objects that span 5,000 years, showcasing global cultures and histories. It has the most amazing exhibitions and there is always something new to discover. I’ve been there for more than two and a half years and I’m still discovering places in the building. It has something for everyone, whether you are interested in fashion, photography, ceramics, theatre or just art and design in general – in the broadest sense, it is an eclectic building that you can get lost in – and that is just the free offering, the V&A is home to some of the most spectacular exhibitions you will ever see.
Social media can sometimes be vilified in the media and in the public eye, for example regarding mental health. Given that it is integral to your role and career, what do you think are some of the most positive aspects of social media?
I think with anything that has the power to influence, handling social media accounts and what you use it for is a responsibility. I am lucky to now be working for a brand that I truly believe in and in an industry that aims to do good, sharing history, art and culture to the masses to inspire.
I think social media gets vilified when it is misused to propel false and unrealistic aspirations, and of course trolls and hate speech make it a difficult place to navigate. At its core however, social media is there to connect people and inspire, it has in some ways made the world smaller and built communities for people to come together and spread inspirations, and that is what is brilliant about it; whether it is a silly meme or a social justice cause or finding out that other people are obsessed with the same game as you, there is a lot of power and good that comes with being connected – and that is what essentially, I try to do - keep people connected with the museum, and inspire them to discover new things.
The pandemic has contributed to a huge rise in the use of social media platforms such as Tik Tok. How do you think social media has helped individuals as well as brands and companies cope with the lockdown?
TikTok has boomed over the pandemic, the channel was already growing at an alarming rate but COVID has propelled it into a new stratosphere. It is a rabbit-hole of joy and for what has been a difficult time for a lot of people, it has provided a way for people to have fun and a laugh and be creative – so for mental health and some lightness it has done wonders, even if all you do is watch the videos rather than participate in making them. More and more museums and arts institutions are making their way onto the platform, because it has the power to make museums accessible to audiences that wouldn’t previously consider them.
Are you planning any specific social media campaigns for when restrictions are lifted to encourage people through your doors again?
We have a few things up our sleeves with different partnerships - we can’t go into too much detail at this time, but a few brand collaborations, new channel launches and hopefully a music partnership which will showcase the museum in a new light to new audiences and provide much needed alternative voices.
How did your time and study at Queen Mary prepare you for your career?
With workplaces you must manage your own workload and spin a lot of plates, and I think uni prepares you to be self-sufficient, getting to grips and understanding how you work, how you prioritise doing things and how to work to deadlines. With my degree specifically, writing, research, analysis and being able to form persuasive arguments are skills that I learned which are really important in my everyday life – all these skills are transferrable and are crucial for most jobs out there. You may not think writing long essays now is useful, but when it comes to trying to pitch something to a client, or argue a case for getting budget for a project or simply evaluating something, it is incredibly handy.
What are your hopes and plans for your career going forwards?
The beauty of working in social media is that the industry is always changing, and the way people consume content continues to evolve. My interests very much lie with seeing these changes and being creative with how we connect with people. I’ve been lucky to find a job that I enjoy and an industry that I adore and that challenges me. There is a lot that I want to do, change and work on, so the possibilities and opportunities are endless.
What would your advice be to students interested in studying History at Queen Mary?
Get as much experience trying as many things as possible, and don’t put pressure on yourself to have a ‘plan’. Use your degree to discover more about where your interests lie and focus more on finding out what things you like doing, like research, problem solving, being hands on or not etc., and research what types of jobs are actually out there; there are so many different industries and roles that aren’t necessarily related to your degree that you can get into – so don’t rule anything out.
This profile was conducted by Alumni Engagement Coordinator, Nathalie Grey. If you would like to get in touch with Annie or engage her in your work, please contact Nathalie at email@example.com.