Posts in Best Practices
4 things you can do to start your social media career


Over the years I’ve had dozens of phone calls, coffee meetings, and email conversations from lots of professionals from varying backgrounds. Some are interns or entry-level professionals considering a pivot from one field to another. Others are communications professionals who want to transition from, say, media relations, to social media strategist. The very first question I often get asked is, “So how did you get started as a social media strategist?

I’ve written before about the skills you need to become a social media strategist, and I was very clear that a couple of snappy tweets about your favorite show does not a social media strategist makes.

Unfortunately, I can’t have coffee dates with every aspiring social media maven. So here are  some tips I give to folks whenever I am asked about how to break into the field:

Do your homework.

Get acquainted with the digital tools and platforms as well as how to write good, compelling copy. Consider taking a class through Coursera, General Assembly, or Udemy to learn the basics. It also doesn’t hurt to keep yourself current on digital trends - especially when platforms like Facebook are constantly adding and taking away features and tools.

Consider volunteering to manage social media for a community organization.

Now, hear me out. I would normally tell people not to work for free, but if you are totally new to social media, practice makes perfect. If you are a member of a place of worship, sorority/fraternity, or any other community organization, volunteering as a social media manager is a great way to get your feet wet and find out if it is really for you. It also gives you more experience to put on your resume when you are ready to start looking for digital media jobs or consulting opportunities.

Get to know people who are already in the field across industries.

I started out running social media for the NAACP, so naturally, the first digital media professionals in my network were in social justice and advocacy groups. But I also made the effort to network with digital communicators in who worked in the government and corporate sector. No matter what industry you start your social media career in, networking is key. Join professional organizations and meetups in your city, and don’t sleep on online communities! The Social Media Managers Facebook Group is a great place to start. If you are a woman of color wanting to widen your network and meet other social media and digital communications professionals, consider joining ColorComm. They have chapters in DC, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles.

Familiarize yourself with the most widely-used social media platforms, and stay up to date on emerging ones.

If you start with Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, you will be in a good position to apply what you know when managing social media for a company, campaign, or organization. This includes things like Instagram Live and Facebook Live in addition to creating and managing written content.

Don't forget about email. 

While my specialty is social media strategy, I have also had the opportunity to hone my skills as an email writer for advocacy and electoral campaigns. Even if you are sure you want to focus on social media management, getting accustomed to writing and staging emails -- even if it is a simply email newsletter--will make you a more well-rounded professional and will help build your resume.

I hope these tips help those of you who are aspiring digital strategists. I would be remiss if I didn’t leave with one more thing: My book Win The Internet: Best Practices for Twitter and Facebook is available on Amazon. It is geared towards beginners but has some good tips for folks who are new to social media management.


BET Wins With Rapid Response

On Sunday night, Madonna performed an, um, interesting Prince tribute at the Billboard Music Awards. I don't want this to turn into a rant or a shade bonanza, but let's just say it wasn't great. A few moments after the show aired, BET posted a tweet that gave me chills:



"Yeah, we saw that. Don't Worry. We Got You."

BET's social media team has won the rapid response game for the week. Everybody else can go home now.

They know their audience intimately, so much so that they knew how they'd react to Madonna's tribute. And not only that, they knew that their audience was still on Twitter and Facebook talking about how much they hated it.

And not only that, they seized an important moment that had cultural significance. 

Really important things to think about when creating a rapid response to breaking news and events.

What about you? Did you see this tweet when it was first posted? What did you think? 





Interview with the Trillectro Social Media Team

Trillectro3 In my last post I talked about the lessons we could learn about audience engagement from Trillectro 2015, but after publishing the post I realized I had more questions about what goes into live-tweeting a large-scale event. In my professional life I have live tweeted conferences, hill briefings, and speeches but nothing as large as a music festival. So, I did some  homework and got in touch with the social media team for this year's Trillectro festival: Ramya Velury, Heather Cromartie, and Ahad Subzwari. I talked with them about what live-tweeting for events and what they learned from running social media for this year's festivities.

How did you approach your social media strategy and what were your goals?

Ramya Velury:  To be direct and immersive as possible. As much as Trillectro is about the talent, I think we wanted to ensure that it was about the diverse fans and attendees too. The goal was to make Trillectro a topic of digital conversation. As simple as it sounds, it wasn’t necessarily about making it “trend” on social media, but making sure it was experiential as it possibly could be.

Heather Cromartie: I wanted to capture the diverse range of attendees this year. As soon as I would capture people enjoying the festival with their friends I would enable the wifi on my camera and send the images out to Ramya so that they could be posted right away.

Ahad Subzwari: I think it’s most important to tell stories. Everything people want to consume tells a story. The goal was to be as broad as possible, show all aspects of the festival. And as Ramya mentioned, immersion is extremely important. It’s easy to just post photos of what’s happening, but capturing moments and relaying them to an audience is much better.


When live-tweeting an event, you have to keep in mind what story/narrative you want to tell on social media. What was the story you hoped to tell about Trillectro?

RV: It’s only 4 years old, but Trillectro has provided a platform for so many new artists who are reaching new heights in their careers. Everyone who is apart of Trillectro/DCtoBC, from Modi to Greenwood, has an amazing taste in music with a close in ear on budding talent. Part of relaying Trillectro’s story is about harmonizing this new talent with the established ones, making it as detailed as possible.

HC: I would agree with everything that has already been said. I think it was important for us to capture how much the festival has grown and how our audience is shifting and expanding with each passing year.

AS: The story to tell is about growth, discovering new things, and the emotions of a festival. Trillectro has grown, its audience has grown, and the diversity of the lineup has as well. We also wanted to show everyone who the artists we brought really are. Focus on capturing their emotions on and off the stage and also show how people react to the music in front of them. Emotions last a millisecond so it’s vital to be on the lookout for everything that’s happening.


What were some of the challenges of live tweeting such a big event?

RV: Being in two places at once! It’s also easy to get sucked into reiterating the line-up or general tweets because you’re trying to push out as much content as possible. Additionally, making sure you’re aware of things going on outside of the festival too, like if an artist decides to drop an album before they go on stage or something.

HC: I think the most difficult part of live tweeting an event as large Trillectro is keeping things organized. Ahad and I were shooting with wifi enabled cameras which made pulling images to post, incredibly seamless.

AS: Getting high quality images and having all the right content is tough. Our biggest assets this year were having a diverse team of photographers who were constantly moving, cameras with WiFi that can get pictures up ASAP, and a team that’s on the same page. At times words were not even necessary; things just got done.

What did you do to ensure that your attendees participated on social media as well? (using the hashtag, posting pics, etc).

RV: In addition to the hashtag, geo-tagging, posting photos, tweeting, it was important to INCLUDE them in the conversation too. On Twitter, we responded to them and RT’ed them and on Instagram we posted a lot of crowd photos to gauge their interest.

HC: The energy on the lawn was so alive that I honestly just told people to follow us on instagram for more updates, after I snapped their picture. Since I wasn’t spending much time on our social throughout the day, it was the quickest and easiest way for me to spread the word while I ran around gathering content. While we may not be able to post every single crowd photo, we will be able to direct those users to the correct platforms where they can see all of the images from the da

AS: Having photos going up in real-time was the main part of our strategy. We really sought out those moments, as I mentioned earlier, and it was important to have posts go up as close to real-time as possible. When people can see what’s happening on Twitter, as it’s happening, it adds more value. If they see three of their friends post a picture of Kehlani and we have a super high quality image at the same time, it adds to the experience. Also focused on getting attendees on social platforms because who doesn’t love seeing photos of themselves.

What do you hope people gained from your content?

RV: FOMO-- Fear of Missing Out!!-- The photography was amazing and captured the festival accurately. There really wasn’t a dull moment and those that weren’t there, could feel it.

HC: In my opinion, the content gets pushed to shed light on something that people are either already hip to, or are hearing about for the first time. The images shared to our instagram cater to an audience that was already following the festival. The images shared and re-shared on twitter help to spread the word to people who may not be tracking our movements on instagram.

AS: FOMO really is the best way to put it. We wanted to show the festival from all aspect - an “in case you missed it” of sorts. The festival was much bigger this year, so it there were some things that were missed. We made sure to capture it all and have it in a streamlined feed.

What were some lessons you learned from running social for Trillectro 2015?

RV: Staying consistent to the strategy- posting, copy and content.

HC: It’s important to keep things moving throughout the day. It’s important to keep the copy clever and concise, while still engaging the audience.

AS: Accurately capturing the tone/mood/vibe of the day is vital.

Thank you to Ramya, Heather, and Ahad for agreeing to this interview. If you missed Trillectro this year, put it on your to-do list next summer!