As a communications professional, I’ve always advocated for authenticity and transparency – brands as an open book. Social media cracked those bindings wide open. I expected this to change the way I communicate. I didn’t expect it to change the course of my career.
When I started working at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, a science and engineering university, their social presence was minimal, occasional posting on Facebook and a virtual vacuum on Twitter. But vying for prospective students in an increasingly competitive space as state funding dwindled meant airport billboards weren’t cutting it.
Launching LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, and Instagram, and vastly expanding our reach and engagement on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, the university entered a new realm of brand co-creation, where messaging ran like a lean start-up: iterative, collaborative, able to pivot on a dime. I’ve since moved into digital marketing, an interesting partnership between number crunching and emotional nuance.
More importantly than developing a digital footprint, I developed an appetite for risk. A calculated loss of brand control for the chance to create and connect with a community.
That’s when it clicked.
My mindset had shifted from risk avoidance to seeing it as the key to reward. Feeling uncomfortable was my new comfort zone.
My husband had inhabited this space for years, a born entrepreneur. I was becoming one. This year, we co-founded a marketing, communications, and political consulting agency, and business streamed in. My biggest revenue generator: social media management.
From nonprofits and grassroots organizations to international businesses and social movements, brands we manage are seeing the value of improved customer insights, more opportunities to convert, richer customer experiences, and increased brand loyalty. Plus the competition is already there. Not being in this space is like pulling out your flip phone at meetings and not understanding why Rob keeps getting all the accounts.
Though social media platforms continue to evolve at hyper speed, I tell clients that customer relationships still move at the speed of trust. What social media taught me is sometimes to accelerate your career that means placing trust in yourself.
Danielle Mason is a student in Purdue’s online Master of Science in Communication degree program. The program can be completed in just 20 months and covers numerous topics critical for advancement in the communication industry, including crisis communication, social media engagement, focus group planning and implementation, survey design and survey analysis, public relations theory, professional writing, and communication ethics.
*The views and opinions expressed are of the author and do not represent the Brian Lamb School of Communication.