With over a decade of experience, Tiff Ng is Founder and Chief Storyteller at The Social Story, a social media agency helping impact-driven businesses share their important work. Based in Gadigal country (which we now call Sydney), she’s passionate about empowering people to tell their stories in meaningful ways through social – pioneering more accessible, inclusive and ethical ways to do so. She’s also a dancer, keeping fit and energised through pole and other dance styles that ‘recharge her soul.’
Last year, Tiff was shortlisted for B&T’s 30 Under 30 ‘Entrepreneur’ award and was made Honouree on the AA122 (Asian Australian) List. Accolades aside, Mavens was drawn to Tiff for her work with B1G1 (‘Buy 1 Give 1’) in which she’s supporting Indigenous communities with a day of digital training for every paid workshop she hosts through The Social Story. Naturally, we had to meet her and find out more.
Tell us about your career to date. How did you end up in communications?
I wish there was a more inspirational story to start this journey off with but some of my earliest inspirations came from the movies that I was watching as a child. Though I was always inspired by politics and the ways that we could create change within the system, I remember watching Ides of March mainly because when else do you get a movie with George Clooney AND Ryan Gosling.
But then you started to see that underbelly of the world of politics and the way that communications could truly transform the world we thought we lived in and kept powerful people at the top.
And so it became a no-brainer to pursue my education in Media and Communications with Majors in American Politics and International and Government Studies. An exchange to Wisconsin, USA was supposed to prime me to take on a career path into political communications.
But something shifted on my trip there and I realised that the world of communications could impact the world at large, outside of the political system. I continued to pursue more internships and work experiences in all aspects of the communications industry before I landed on social.
What drew you to social media over traditional media, PR or journalism for example?
In many ways, it felt like I fell into the world of social media.
As the young intern in a lot of the first jobs that I have, I was often relegated with the job of social media management. But as I gained more experience in this field, I realised its unique potential to create more long-lasting relationships with audiences for a brand.
More than any other marketing platform, social allows you to get the direct feedback from an audience and be more conversational with them. It allowed brands to appear more human and have more touchpoints with them throughout the customer journey.
I was also continuously inspired by the cultural movements that were propelled by social media. This was right at the time of the Arab Spring, #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter movements and my personal favourite, #NotYourAsianSidekick. All of these were enabled by an open-platform that allowed everyone to tell their stories and challenge long-held narratives about race, gender, sexuality and power.
The more I used social at work and as an individual, I realised that this was the ‘marketplace of ideas’’ that they had been writing about in my university readings.
This was the open forum that everyone could get to to share their stories, be heard and eventually create change.
I wanted to be a part of that, excited by the ingenuity and ever-changing nature of social to really push our creativity to communicate in interesting ways.
That’s what has continued to motivate me in this space; the fact that we have to continuously think critically and creatively to communicate in new ways while not letting go of some of the fundamentals of human society, connection, conversation and empathy.
How did you approach starting The Social Story?
Having been in the corporate world for some time, I felt myself burnt out and disillusioned with the endless emails and stress that came with agency life. I wanted to take a short sabbatical to regroup, rest and head back into my career with a renewed sense of excitement.
But what my sabbatical gave me instead was the time and space to really think about what I wanted with my life. I was able to reconnect with my core mission – to empower people to tell their stories. I had found my love of social media early in my career but owning a business was never in my wheelhouse. And yet, it felt like the only way I could be most authentic to my values was to build something in my own way.
I relied on the networks I had built of other business owners and remote workers for a lot of the foundational steps to starting a business. I was able to lean on these relationships for our first logos, websites, contracts and everything in between. Starting from scratch, I was also able to question every decision from the get go to see how we could maximise our impact at every point. This went from the super fund that we chose to crafting an approach that could distinguish us as an impact-driven business, and provide a service no other agency could do.
What does a typical work day look like for you?
As both a social media manager and a business owner, every day looks really different.
Moreover, as someone who has embraced remote and flexible working for five years, that’s how I like to keep it.
Most days still look like fielding emails and Slack messages from both clients and our team members to ensure that the business continues to run. But I like to ensure that I carve out at least two hours of deep work that is concentrated around strategy or creative for our clients and for how we can continue to grow The Social Story.
I also work towards my flow state consistently, recognising the moments when I feel most motivated – which occur early mornings and late evenings.
I try to ensure that my meetings or various appointments occur in the afternoons so that I’m making the most of when I feel most inspired.
Some sort of exercise or self-care usually gets factored in there, whether it’s taking a break to read a book outside in the sun or heading to a dance class to break up my hustle.
Each day brings new challenges and curveballs and the flexibility allows me to juggle all the balls in the air in the best way possible.
Visit thesocialstory.co to find out how Tiff and her team can help maximise your impact, or download your free story activation workbook to better understand the role of social for your business and the impact story that your business holds.