Q&A: Strategic Storytelling in Social Media

In preparation for COMDAY 2016 held at Lasell College (Strategies in Social Media Panel: Strategic Storytelling in Social Media), I decided to respond to a list of questions proposed by the program director. 

I won't get to answer ALL these questions live on Tuesday March 8th so why not do it here! I welcome your questions, suggestions, and I will try to be concise. :)

Before we get into the Q&As, I did a little experiment on Google:

What is Social Media? "Websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking." (Ok, this definition from whatis.techtarget.com points to just about anything under the sky, except for when you are alone, not connected to any device. Am I right?).

What is NOT Social Media? (Don't confuse this with "What Social Media is not"). Google can't begin even compute this question.

Fascinating!

Please tell us a little bit about what each of your positions entail and how they involve socialmedia.

I spent about 10 years working as a producer in consulting and digital marketing agencies. A producer is someone who relentlessly drives projects to completions, while empowering the team to do their best work. Graduated with a degree in Computer Science and Math, I was fascinated with the creative side of the business - visual design, UX (user experience), content strategy, analytics, social media.

Social media plays a significant part in this on-going revolution of creating a two-way communication between brands and people. Most agencies have dedicated social media departments and they have grown tremendously in the past decade.

 My company, Feisworld Inc, is a consulting service company and a podcast. Social media is a crucial component for how I engage people in and out of my networks. In addition to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, I'm also exploring SoundCloud, Stitcher, iTunes, Quora, Medium, etc.

What steps did you take, hoops did you have to jump through, in order to obtain a position inyour field?  

As an international student fresh out of college in 2006, not only did I have limited work experience, but my language skills and the extend of my professional network were below average. To add to that, about 10% of US employers (at the time) were willing to hire international students due to work visas and other legal implications.

My first choice was Sapient Cooperation, a very competitive technology consulting firm. On the day of my interview, I was up against 45 Ivy League school students. I got an offer and stayed with the company for nearly 6 years. My suggestions are: a) Start early (I did, nearly a year before graduation), b) Seek co-op or internship programs, paid or unpaid. Experience over paycheck! Northeastern's co-op program gave me more than a leg up.

How do you and your organization use social media?  What was difficult about integrating itsusage?   ­

For Feisworld Inc., we design our own social media plan based on resources, money and time. We have to be realistic. On the flip side,  there's a lot of freedom in directing exactly what we need the strategy to be, what we want to focus on and what we want to learn and test. This is invaluable.

For my employers or my clients (and much depends on who they are), it can be very interesting and challenging at the same time. You will likely have much bigger budget to put into paid media. However, there are also many more constraints, approvals, and (often) unrealistic expectations. Setting client expectation and discuss a "measurement plan" upfront are critical success factors.

What are the benefits and dangers you have experienced concerning social media?

Benefits: Through social media, you can choose to connect with people (you've never met, and possibly will never meet) in a meaningful and authentic way. You can leave a mark, build a tribe, create or contribute to something that matters (i.e. crowdfunding).

Dangers: (Non-threatening side effects) Social media can be the biggest time-sucker. It can also completely unveil private information to companies and organizations, which may impact or limit your employment opportunity.

What initially interested you in your field or position and how has it changed in recent years?

Initially - As a digital producer working in consulting and marketing, I had the opportunities to learn from everyone in every discipline, for free! All I had to do was ask. I was exposed to a multitude of projects and clients very early on in my career.

Today - Nobody said it better than Seth Godin: "When everyone has a laptop and connection to the world, then everyone owns a factory. Instead of coming together physically, we have the ability to come together virtually, to earn attention, to connect labor and resources, to deliver value." He also refers to this phenomenon as the "Attention Economy". Everyone, nearly everywhere in the world, has the ability to make a significant and lasting impact. I shifted my mindset from focusing on big brands, big projects to establish my value, to creating a platform of my own.

­­How do you feel communication trends in general have changed in your field in the lastdecade?  What are the newest trends?

Today - TV, radio, most paid ads, OOH, celebrity-sponsored campaigns have much less impact than they did 10-15 years ago. The word "viral" is often misunderstood.  There is no predictable formula that guarantees success. Viral videos are often the results of randomness, therefore difficult, if not impossible, to reproduce.

The trend, the only "formula" to success is consistency. More than 90% of the blogs have a single blog post. A big percentage of all podcasts have a single episode. Consistently delivering high quality content or product or anything you do is the only path to earning others' attention.

­­Talk about how the internet, and more specifically social media, has changed the role and impact of your position? 

Social media allows me to show my work in front of a global audience. It also allows me to connect with people I couldn't get in touch with otherwise.

What types of careers involving social media do you feel are becoming more prominent today?  Why? 

 Content creators (writers, podcasters, etc.), analysts, entrepreneurs - the only requirement is a laptop and internet connection.

What types of careers are being created by social media?

Social media teams, strategists, content creators, analysts in nearly every company today.

What are the current trends and skills you think employers in your fields are looking for inrecent graduates?  How would one break into your market? ­

The ability to stand out. My friend Dorie Clark wrote a book about this and she did a great job explaining: "How to identify the ideas that set you apart, promote them successfully, and build a community of followers. It’s not about self-promotion. It’s about changing the world for the better while giving you the ultimate career insurance."

The way I see it - choose be different, in a good way. Scenarios: A project manager who understands computer programming; An artist who can teach others on how to do the same; A writer who writes, blogs with a unique voice.

What are some timeless traits or characteristics employers favor?  What traits do you feel willhelp one succeed working in communications today?  ­

Be authentic, be kind. It goes a L-O-N-G way. People will never forget.

It's no longer about being the smartest person in the room. People remember you (and will want to work with you again and again) if you empower others to be their best selves.

Do employers in your field search a job candidate’s social media profiles when assessing themas a potential hire? ­

Yes, more than likely, especially for marketing and communications positions.

Can you discuss an instance where possessing effective writing or speaking skills helped you inyour position?  How important do you feel oral and written communication are in yourpositions? 

Very important and this is especially useful for senior positions. These skills will set you apart from others.

­What is the future of social media in your field/position?

Social media creates opportunities but also uncertainties and chaos. Social media connects us all, but it can also backfire in a way that divides and isolates us more. Social Media is largely connected to technology.  The only future I believe in is "Technology for the sake of humanity." - Not Impossible Lab.

Learn more about how Feisworld can help students in groups and one-on-one to close the gap between school and the real world, and own a concrete strategy and plan of action.