So, You Want to Work in Social Media?

This is a blog post for everyone who wants to work in social and for those of us who currently do. Part truth, part comic relief, this is a rant about some of the daily struggles of those of us who spend our days obsessing over the internet. Because while we’re lucky enough to tweet and poke on Facebook all day, let’s be real, it’s not always as glamorous as it seems.

I often get questions about what it means to work in this industry. Sometimes it’s young college students trying to figure out their next step; sometimes it’s people who are looking to make a career switch; and often, it’s people who are just plain curious. When I get the question, I always preface my answer with the fact that I love this industry, but it’s not for everyone (and that’s with everything, right?).

So if you want to work in social media, I’m going to tackle the very surface level things of what you need to know about this industry. After 7+ years of spending my days working on the internet, these are the top five truths I’ve learned:

 

1- People won’t get it.

People have asked me if my job is full time… on more than one occasion.

At some point you learn that people simply won’t get exactly what you do and that’s okay. You’ll fight misconceptions from friends and acquaintances that you literally just sit on Facebook and Twitter all day. Sometimes, you’ll even fight those misconceptions internally at your job.

If you want a job where people oh, ah and appreciate all the hours and work it takes to be great, this might not be the job for you. Because while your work is important (it’s the front door to a brand), not everyone will understand the backend work and strategic/creative thinking that goes into it.

People won’t get it, but it doesn’t make the work unrewarding. Everyday we get the opportunity to tell our brand, team, or league’s story and interact directly with consumers. That’s pretty dang cool and rewarding.

 

2- But, everyone will have an opinion.

While no one will understand exactly what you do, everyone will have an opinion on how to do your job. Why? Because they also know how to (and have the power) to hit send on a Facebook Post or a Tweet.

Brace yourself. If you want to work in social media, you’re going to come across a whole slew of other “experts”. Be patient, be kind and educate. There will be days when you want to throw in the towel or hand over the keys to let someone else drive, but fight the good fight. Your point of view (rooted in experience) will one day be appreciated and valued over a random opinion.

 

3- You’ll write your own rules.

The one thing I love about working in the industry is that no day is ever the same. Every day there is a new app, platform or trending topic that comes up. One month the flavor could be Snapchat and the next it could be Peach. That’s both the beauty and the beast of it.

When you work in an industry where things change daily, there’s no rules on how to get it done. Oh, all of a sudden Peach is the app of the century? Quick, put together a strategy on that! You won’t always have the answers on process, on best practices and on what the approach should be. You’re the pioneer, the renegade! Be the first to put together a thoughtful Peach strategy and own it.

If you want to work in social, get comfortable with a lot gray area. The one big failure in this industry is never trying, so you will need to take a deep breath, write the rules and own it.

 

4- There’s a chance you’ll suffer from FOMO.

As mentioned before, this industry moves quickly. Whether it’s the latest meme, trending topic or a new algorithm change, there is literally something to learn and keep up with every… single… day.

There are days when I’m bogged down with meetings and have no time to keep up with anything, only to login to my RSS reader (oh hey, old school) to find hundreds—maybe thousands – of unread articles. THOUSANDS OF UNREAD ARTICLES? Oh gosh, what did I miss? Have I failed as a social media manager if I didn’t keep up with every waking second of the internet?

Yes, if you decide that social media is the work for you then you will find a bit of FOMO-like symptoms. Take a deep breath and understand as one human being you can’t read, keep up with it and do it all. Your community and work will not go to waste just because you missed the latest and greatest Digiday article or you weren’t the first brand to activate on Ello.

 

5- It will be exhausting.

When you work in social media, it’s about much more than the big four (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat). It’s really about understanding how people consume online. Knowing that, you’ll need to keep up with the industry very intimately.

This works in tandem with FOMO, but this industry can be exhausting. In a world where it’s already hard to disconnect and turn off work, we work in a world that’s literally 24 -7. If you want to work in social, you’ll need to practice balance… very intentionally. Whether you schedule downtime to turn off your phone or go to exotic places purposefully for vacation where you have no cell service, make sure you take the time for yourself to reset and recharge. It’s all too easy to get burned out in this industry.

 

Bonus- It’s more than posting stuff.

Thanks to @JoeCulotta for bringing this good one up. If you want to work in social media because you think it will be fun to hit send all day (like all the misconceptions out there), then go ahead and walk away. Working in social media is A LOT more than posting things all day.
 
I always say first and foremost I’m a marketer, who happens to study the way people consume online and through mobile. The work you do is rooted in marketing, communications and creative. You’ll be challenged in your thinking nearly every single day. Embrace the strategic thinking that comes with working in social and resist the urge to just push and post. It’s not our job to add clutter to the already crowded internet. It’s our job to add value to our consumer, our fans and brands/teams we work for.

 
No, this article isn’t meant to scare anyone away from working in social media. I love my job, love this industry, love this space. But the truth is it’s a lot more than poking and tweeting all day. You’ll need to take the good with the bad and develop some tough skin, because out there on the internet it’s like the Wild, Wild West.

 


 

What cold, hard truths would you share with someone looking to work in social? Share below!

 

Thanks for reading. 

 

Instagram Stories Is An Opportunity for Creativity

Last week Instagram rolled out Stories. The feature is essentially an imitation of Snapchat. Users get to string together photos and videos that appear in a slideshow format and disappear after 24 hours. Stories do not appear on your profile grid or in the feed.

This seems like an easy opportunity to leverage Instagram Stories like Snapchat; a raw, first-hand perspective. There’s actually a huge opportunity to differentiate how brands and teams use Instagram Stories from Snapchat Stories though. Below are three thought starters on Instagram Stories, with some best-in-class examples from teams and brands:

 

It’s not about function, but about audience.

These tools and platforms are not about function alone, but also about the audience. The natural inclination is to leverage Instagram Stories like we do Snapchat Stories, but think about the audience.

Brands and branded content (done right of course) has been largely more accepted on Instagram than on Snapchat. People flock for raw, first-hand perspective on Snapchat. On Instagram, people flock for great visual and interesting, dynamic content. This opens up the door for doing something different on Instagram Stories than Snapchat Stories. It does not have to be about the same raw, first-hand perspective.

As you start to brainstorm content for Instagram Stories, don’t think about the function alone. Think about your users and the content they crave. While Snapchat and Instagram tools might be very similar, the way audiences currently use them are different. Think audience, not function.

 

Take advantage of the upload feature.

One of the main advantages of Instagram Stories that allows us to think outside the selfie for content, is the ability to upload pre-existing content. This feature opens up a door of opportunity that Snapchat does not allow.

I would compare Instagram Stories more to Snapchat Discover than Snapchat Stories. The ability to upload existing content means that brands and teams can create dynamic programming through Stories. Video work, graphic work, animations, etc. can all be a part of your Instagram Stories. And, since the audience expects content from brands, this polished content will probably be more widely accepted on Instagram Stories versus Snapchat.

Do not waste time with Instagram Stories by sharing players running on and off the field over and over again. The upload feature gives you the ability to do something different. Take advantage of it.

 

Find synergies between your standard post and Stories.

It would be easy to separate your approach to your standard Instagram post and Stories, but there’s an opportunity to find synergies. How can you drive people from your post to your Story and vice versa? Red Bull, for example, leveraged Instagram Stories to have users pick their favorite photo to be used a post.

There are other opportunities here too. If you have a compelling emotional photo as a standard post, can you use Instagram Stories as a function to tell the more in-depth story through video? If you have a picture of one of your players working out, can you use stories to give insight on what exactly the workout was for the day? Find a way to have your post and stories synch up in harmony. They don’t always have to live together, but there’s an opportunity to use them both to drive more consumption of your content.

 

There are a lot of lessons and insights to still be gained with Instagram Stories, but at first glance, there’s definitely a big opportunity here. For inspiration, I’ll leave you with a few teams who have leveraged Instagram Stories creatively (MLB, SF Giants, Callaway Golf and Clemson Football):

 

 

 


 

What do you think about Instagram Stories and its potentional? Share your thoughts below!

 

Thanks for reading. 

 

 

 

A Curated Collection of Sports GIFspiration

Our attention spans are seven seconds. And in case you were wondering, that’s one second less than goldfish. This is an important piece to remember if your job has anything to do with the internet. Every single day, every single second we are in a competition for attention.  Long goes are the day where you can just create content; you have to create good content that stands out from the noise. Dynamic content or content that adds value are the only things that win.

GIFS are one of the good ways to stand out from the noise. The subtle motion and animation catches fans’ eyes. It’s content that’s worth investing your time in to create. Thankfully, there is a lot of inspiration out there if you’re looking to step up your GIF game. Before we get into the content though, remember to keep these things in mind when creating your GIFS:

 

No. 1- Pick your moments.

While I love great GIFS, I think you can overuse them. Take the time to think through a strategy for your GIFS and figure out the moments where you can use them for the greatest impact. GIFS are a treat and not an every tweet thing.

 

No. 2- Avoid redundancy.

I love how teams have started to use GIFS to enhance their play-by-play coverage. That said, it gets extremely redundant using the exact same GIFS over and over again. If you plan GIFS for certain moments (like touchdowns, interceptions, etc.), consider creating several options to pull from so you can mix it up. GIFS can absolutely be repurposed and used again, but there’s a fine line before the content gets boring.

 

No. 3- Find the humor in YOUR brand/team.

Teams often look to find humorous GIFS outside their team, but humorous GIFS can be really powerful when they teams leverage their own footage to give us a laugh.

 

No. 4- Focus on cadence.

GIFS work well on Twitter because they’re short, sweet and quick. If you go about creating graphic-heavy GIFS, make sure the cadence is quick enough to grab and keep your fan’s attention. The cadence is a bit art and science, but play around with the length and movement to understand what works best.

Now that you have these four tips in mind, it’s time to get inspired. Below is a collection of some of the best GIFS I’ve seen the past month or so.

 

 


 

There are a lot more GIFS out there that are worthy of attention. Seen any great ones? Share them below!

 

Thanks for reading! 

How Wimbledon Aced Their Twitter Coverage This Year

Working in social media and sports is a rare beast. There’s a strong need to prep and plan ahead, even though outcomes are unpredictable. When a team or league does plan ahead of time though, it shines through in stellar coverage. Wimbledon’s 2016 coverage is a great example of this.

Wimbledon was exciting on the court this year, but it might have been even more exciting to follow on Twitter. From their partnership with Twitter to and live coverage (for the first time in sports) to the dynamic content, the tournament was not only easy to follow on the platform, but it gave fans the best front row seat around. Below are just a few ways they aced their coverage on Twitter this year.

 

1- Unique, original content.

Social media and sports is an extremely crowded space. Between teams, leagues, media, brands and even fans, there is a lot of content and noise. Standing out means upping your original content game. Long gone are they days when pop culture GIFS and static photos are enough to stand out; people crave original, dynamic and interesting content.

Wimbledon won with their original content game. They caught fans attention and created content they wanted to share, whether it was unique illustrations for weather updates to on-brand GIFS. Below are a few of the highlights.

Take a page out of Wimbledon’s book. Plan ahead of time and build a team that turn around unique and interesting content quickly and efficiently.

 

2- Smart use of live video.

We all know that the industry is buzzing around the power of live. And even though live is all the rage right now, it doesn’t mean that everything should be streamed and Periscoped. It’s important to use live video/Periscope at moments when intimate access and live perspective makes sense.

Wimbledon did a great job leveraging Periscope. They didn’t abuse it, but instead took to streaming strategically and sparingly. From Andy Murray taking in the court by himself to engraving winners’ names on the trophy, they used Periscope in a way that was impactful, interesting and relevant.

Don’t just stream to stream. Think about what exactly the power of live means and leverage it that way.

 

3- Easy + consumable graphics.

Stats and interesting facts are an important component to game and tournament coverage, but we shouldn’t try to cram a ton of information on our fans. Wimbledon did a fantastic job of making their graphics easy and consumable. They didn’t overdo the graphics; they kept a consistent look and feel; and they designed for mobile.

Use stats to tell a story, but understand that fans don’t need to know everything in your media guide. Keep the stats and graphics simple, clean and concise.

 

4- Clean and dynamic GIFS.

Similar to their easy and consumable stat graphics, Wimbledon’s “moving on” GIFS tapped into the power of simplicity. They were clean but dynamic enough to stand out from the noise.

 

5- Focus on consumer engagement.

All too often we focus on what’s going on at the event and we don’t take time to bring in our fans at home. Wimbledon did a good job of encouraging their fans to engage with them, even if they couldn’t attend Wimbledon.

On Twitter they hosted a simple but fun UGC campaign that celebrated Wimbledon Weekend. They put together a guide on how to celebrate Finals Weekend the Wimbledon Way and asked fans to share their celebration using the hashtag #WimbledonWeekend. Not only did they have a strong CTA, but they created a great mini-series of content that showcased the proper way to celebrate with friends and really brought the concept to life.

In addition to the #WimbledonWeekend campaign, they did a good job of asking questions and encouraging other fan reactions.

 

6- Strong use of video storytelling.

All too often in sports we focus on the scores, the outcome and not enough on the emotion of the journey. But sporting events lend themselves to strong emotion and storytelling well beyond the scores. Wimbledon not only told great stories, but they did so with variety and depth. Wimbledon told their story in great fashion from hype match videos to behind-the-scenes content and unique event preparation.

As Wimbledon proves, it’s not about the length of the story, but the content. Tap into the emotion of sports/your brand, find the unique angle and understand why your consumer would care. Stick to those things you’ll create video content that wins.

 

7- Leveraged a bit of humor.

Because this little tweet was too good to resist and we all know a little humor wins.

 


 

 

What stood out to you about Wimbledon’s coverage? Share your thoughts below. 

 

Thanks for reading!

The Problem With The Word Content

It’s time to make a confession: I’m tired of the word content. After years of working in the industry, it seems like there is this notion content will save us from everything. Every meeting, every project, every marketing plan is full of the word content. Content, content, content.

Look, I’m guilty of using the word content all the time too. Content IS a critical component to marketing, but that really isn’t anything new. Good ads have always been good content. Social media and digital have simply enhanced the opportunity for more distribution — and also more competition.

The problem with content now is that it’s become a catchall and an action. The always-on digital landscape, along with the fact that it’s easier and cheaper to create and distribute content, has created pressure for us to produce, produce produce.  We’ve gotten so caught up in producing now that we don’t take the time to define our value, our story and our why.

This constant need to produce has created a content problem in the industry. We’ve created so much content that we’ve cluttered the space. We scream for consumers’ attention without putting ourselves in their shoes. And, rightly so, they’re starting to tune us out.

As marketers, the best thing we can do is resist the urge to simply produce. Content for the sake of content isn’t a win for anyone: Not for you, not for your brand and certainly not for the consumer.

Here’s the thing: Your consumer isn’t waiting for you to push out a piece of content. They aren’t the ones putting pressure on brands (and us as marketers) to produce. We put the pressure on ourselves. We are responsible for this content problem. And, we can fix it.

Instead of starting with the word content, start with your why: What’s your story? What do we want the consumer to take away? What’s our value, the unique value? If you can’t land on a strong story, value proposition and why, then there isn’t a need to produce.

The word content isn’t really the problem. It’s the pressure we feel to produce when we hear the word. To combat this, we must think value and story first before we think about producing.  It’s okay to not be in your consumer’s face everyday; it’s not okay to continue to clutter the space.

Let’s get back to the heart of what matters. It’s about the story, our value and our why. Define that first before you even think about the content and producing.