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Monday, July 29, 2013

How I Came To Work In Social Media


When I tell my friends what I do for a living, they all have the same question: “So you just play on Facebook all day?” I’ve thought about this question many times and have come to the conclusion that that is exactly what I do. At first, I didn’t think the word “play” was an appropriate adjective to explain what I do on social media sites like Facebook. But as I thought about it more and more, I realized that I do not see social media marketing as work. Rather, it is something that is fun to do! The word “play” is usually used when referring to a game or sport. I now like to use it when I discuss my career in social media. Also, to me, social media is a sport.
Before I go any further, I’d like to discuss how I came to work in social media. In the first year of my MBA degree, I realized that my degree is great, but really means nothing without experience. I had been on many interviews for sales positions, but I never really wanted a sales job. Those sales interviews were just a way to strengthen my interviewing skills. As more and more of these interviews passed and I could not find any real marketing opportunities, I began to get disheartened by the thought that it may take a long time for me to find the job I really want. I was also searching for jobs when the economy wasn’t going so well, which only added to my fear of never finding a job I really wanted. It eventually got to the point where I needed some real guidance and help. That is when I went to my internship coordinator.
My first experience at my internship coordinator’s office was an eye-opening one. Right off the bat, she noticed why I wasn’t getting phone calls or interviews (besides the lack of experience). My resume was, for lack of a better term, garbage. Spacing issues, verb problems and lack of clear and precise information made my resume look atrocious. After that first visit to her office, I came out with a much more professional-looking resume. I thought the revised version would land me a job and, hopefully, a career. I was wrong again.
I returned to my internship coordinator’s office after a month or so of having no luck finding a job. That is when she sent an email that changed my life. One of the companies that worked closely with my school, Firm Media was now looking for a social media intern. Right away I got in contact with the COO and arranged an interview for the following week. The interview went extremely well and I got the internship. This was the turning point in my career path.
While I wasn’t exactly sure what I was getting myself into, I knew I needed any experience I could get. My school had no classes on social media marketing or content writing, so I came in as a complete “rookie” so to speak. On my first day, I was extremely nervous and scared to make a mistake. I think my colleagues noticed that and were nothing but polite and supportive, especially my boss who was the head of the social media department. He helped me understand what social media marketing was. My first few weeks were spent researching social media on sites like socialmediaexaminer.com, mashable.com, socialmediatoday.com and whole list of others. This helped me greatly because I was able to read the thoughts and opinions of real marketers, as well as research several areas of social media.
As my internship continued, I became more and more comfortable with the position and I learned a great deal of information. Eventually, I was trusted with trying to reach out to businesses in the Inland Empire (Southern California) to help promote an event called Eat & Be Well. This event helps serve Thanksgiving dinner to underprivileged families. Doing this made me more confident about social media marketing. In fact, San Bernardino’s Single-A baseball team, the 66ers, wanted to become a drop-off point for canned food for the event. This is when I really saw the value of social media. The message I had sent to them in the digital world was actually “coming to life” in the real world! Social media was turning into social networking. Other than actually working at the event itself, this was the highlight of my internship.
After my internship was complete, it was back to the old grind of school and work. I disliked my job and could not wait to get out of it. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen for another 6 months. During those 6 months, I went back to my internship coordinator’s office to see if there was anything she could do to help. By this time, the lady who helped me when I first needed assistance had moved onto another position. The new internship coordinator was just as good and just as helpful. She taught me a new technique for getting into contact with potential employers. The informational interview technique is one of the reasons I was able to learn about the real world of marketing. Through this technique, I was able to speak with many CMO’s and CEO’s of marketing firms who provided me with a plethora of information. I was able to connect with these marketers on sites like LinkedIn, which only helped grow my visibility on the site. These connections enabled me to make even more connections and learn even more valuable tools. These interviews went on for a while before I got the email I had been waiting for. Firm Media wanted to speak to me about an open position. The position was to assist the head of the social media department and work as a project coordinator. It was a dream come true! I started as soon as I could and have not looked back at my old job….and I never intend to!
Now that you have the overall backstory regarding my path to my current position in social media, I hope that you understand why I tell my friends I “play” on Facebook all day. I see the actual “work” as getting to where I am today. Now that I have my job, I get to “play” and have fun with social media. I love that I can be creative and try new ideas. I love that I can see almost instant results. I love that I get to “play” with new technologies and concepts. I love the fact that I can connect with so many people and help them with whatever they need. “Going to work” used to mean going to a job I disliked and could not wait to leave. Now, I can’t wait to go to work. My coworkers are amazing and the environment I work in encourages innovation and creative thinking (unlike my last job). So I guess what I’m trying to say is that I view my job as something that is extremely fun, satisfying, and challenging. Just think of what a sport or game is: fun, satisfying and challenging, right? That is why whenever someone asks me what I do, I naturally answer: “I play on social media all day.”

NOTE FOR CURRENT STUDENTS: I implore you to use every available resource at your school to help you prepare for and find a job. I made the mistake of not using all the resources my school offered, and it took me a lot longer than I would have liked to get where I am now. Also, if you are going to become a marketer, practice your writing! I wish someone had told me this while I was in school. Writing is such a key element to any marketer’s success. Please take the time to hone your writing skills and find someone who can help edit and provide you with constructive feedback.

My Internship Video
video

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Social Media Dashboards - A Review of Do Share, HootSuite, Sprout & BuzzBuilder

For my first blog post, I will be discussing social media dashboards and social media management tools. Over the past week, I have been researching which social dashboards would be best for a high amount of clients and profiles. I started with just looking at Google+ scheduled posts. After a quick search, I came across a Google Chrome extension called Do Share. This extension is not only free, but is also user friendly and easy to schedule Google+ posts with. There are a few drawbacks to this extension. While it is easy to use, it only connects with Google+. As I have many social profiles across many networks, this is a problem. Another thing that I did not like was that you had to have Google Chrome running while signed into your Google+ page for the extension to work. That means, that if you close your Google Chrome browser or sign out of your Google+ page, your scheduled posts will not be posted onto your Google+ page. This becomes problematic when you have multiple accounts that you need to post from.

After ruling out Do Share, I posted a question in a social media forum asking what types of dashboards people like using (you can see the conversation here: Social Media Dashboard Discussion). An overwhelming amount of people suggested HootSuite. I looked into HootSuite and was surprised to see how cluttered the dashboard looks. I have approximately 40 clients with multiple pages, so my dashboard on HootSuite was hard to look at. I like that you can add multiple profiles to HootSuite, but I don't like that you have to manually check each profile you want to post on. This may become problematic when you have to post something simultaneously on four or five profiles on different networks. The chances of you not selecting a profile increase with each profile you possess. I did not dislike HootSuite, but I was not to fond of it either. So, after some consideration, I decided to keep HootSuite in the back of my mind and continue searching.

I then looked into Sprout. Instantly, I fell in love. The dashboard is neatly organized and it is very easy to use. Scheduling posts across multiple networks is key for me, and Sprout allows me to do this. I decided this was the dashboard I would like to use. So I looked into Sprout's pricing and what comes in each plan. As I said before, I will be managing a lot of profiles. Sprout's premium plan costs $99 dollars per month and you can only manage 50 profiles. Once I saw this, I knew Sprout was out of the question.

As the discussion in the social media forum continued, someone recommended a site called BuzzBuilder. I am so glad that they recommended this site to me. I downloaded the free version and soon was on my way to scheduling posts across multiple networks. BuzzBuilder allows you to build up to 100 personas, each with unlimited profiles under them. This is amazing! It is exactly what I was looking for. After researching it more, I came across the keyword integration. What a great tool this is for not only social media, but also SEO. You enter in the keywords and then you can create buzz around those keywords. BuzzBuilder will pull up all relevant items related to those keywords, making content easy to find and share. BuzzBuilder has a one time cost of $97 dollars. After even more research I came across there support plan. The support plan is relatively inexpensive depending on how many months you want to use it.

BuzzBuilder Dashboard:












CONCLUSIONS:
Do Share - Great to use if you are just on Google+ and have a limited amount of profiles.
HootSuite - Great to use with a respectable amount of profiles and is relatively cheap. Just remember to check every account you want to share too.
Sprout - An amazing tool to use if you have up to 50 profiles. I would recommend doing some cost analysis with other products though as this one is a bit pricey.
BuzzBuilder - Perfect for a large amount of profiles. The one time cost of $97 is a plus and the support plan is pretty inexpensive. I will be choosing this dashboard as my main dashboard for all my social media clients.

If you have any suggestions, ideas, experiences or just want to voice your opinion on social media dashboards, feel free to comment below!

Introduction

Hello Everyone! My name is Alexander Valentine and I am 24 years. I currently live in San Bernardino, CA and am currently finishing my MBA in Marketing Management at California State University San Bernardino. I am just starting out in social media marketing, and want to expand my knowledge about social media and online marketing in general. This blog will mainly be used for social media related news, but in the near future it will expand to other forms of internet marketing. Thanks for reading!