How One Woman Does Social Strategy (Remotely) At A Company That’s All About Privacy
Meet Lily Rouff- Social Strategist at DuckDuckGo
Lily Rouff is a social media strategist at DuckDuckGo, a search engine that doesn't track you. A feature that's been amplified in the wake of the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal.. Lily, who was hired by DuckDuckGo through PowerToFly, took time to talk to us about how DuckDuckGo's fully remote team is working to block trackers and increase encryption protection so your information stays yours.
Tell Us More About What A Social Strategist Does At DuckDuckGo?
As a Social Media Strategist at DuckDuckGo, I'm part of the User Insights team. For employees, DuckDuckGo is a project-based company, so everyone has the ability to work on multiple projects under a spectrum of topics as long as they work toward the overarching goal. The main goal in my work is to raise brand awareness. Currently I am running the Twitter account (alongside my colleague Daniel Davis) and experimenting with new social platforms for our brand.
You were hired off of PowerToFly and this was a completely new position for DuckDuckGo. Can you tell us a little bit more about this journey and in particular, your experience working with PowerToFly?
I created a profile with PowerToFly because a female-focused platform appealed to me. It was very simple to create one, and from there I was able to sort through job listings. The hiring process with DuckDuckGo was one of the most transparent and challenging (but in a good way) hiring processes I've experienced in my career. I could see that the company values of trust and questioning assumptions were important in all aspects of the brand, even hiring new employees. I really appreciated that (and still do)!
The team at DuckDuckGo is entirely remote as is PowerToFly. As someone new to working remotely what has been the biggest surprise you've encountered?
Yes, we are a fully distributed team. My advisor is located in Japan and our other social media strategist is in Detroit. I love that everyone is all over the world. I think the biggest surprise about remote work is the transparency. Everything we do is in an online project management system, so you can jump into anyone's project at any time and watch the progress. I come from a culture of closed doors in the workplace; this is a very welcome change.
Working remotely can sometimes bring on challenges involving work-life balance as you can find yourself never really "off the clock". How do you maintain a strong work-life balance and what does DuckDuckGo do to help you achieve this?
DuckDuckGo has several processes in place for work-life balance. I've been living in Baja, Mexico since I started working here and I unfortunately came down with a bad bout of food poisoning one weekday. Not only was I met with empathy and understanding when I took the day off, but my advisor made sure that I was resting while I was sick.
Some people say that clear communication can be a struggle when working remotely. What do you think?
I would say the opposite. I've found that being remote ensures that everyone communicates more frequently and clearly. You have to. At DuckDuckGo, not only are all projects transparent, we have weekly 1-1s as well as a weekly all hands, objective, and team meetings where every project manager provides a robust weekly update on their project.
DuckDuckGo is the "search engine that doesn't track you." In light of the recent Facebook scandal, what have you been hearing from users in regards to their Internet privacy and what role can DuckDuckGo play in that?
DuckDuckGo was already ahead of this scandal, informing users of the risks associated with using Google and Facebook, and how to replace those services in your life. We recently ran a study on how the scandal has impacted people's views of Facebook. You can read that here. In addition to being the search engine that doesn't track you, in late January DuckDuckGo released an app and an extension that offer a full suite of Privacy Essentials. This includes tracker blockers, a Privacy Grade, increased encryption protection, and of course, private search. Hopefully we can educate people, and provide them with tools, so that they become proactive instead of reactive when it comes to online privacy.
Social media has changed so much in the past few years and as I mentioned above, it can sometimes (deservingly) get a bad rap. What is your (and DuckDuckGo's) philosophy around social media and how would you like to see social media evolve in the future?
Hopefully social media can evolve to a place where targeted ads and trackers do not lead companies to abuse their users' private information and data; where instead of pushing for revenue, social media fosters and nourishes real community and conversation in a safe space.
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