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Fan Mail Response: What it Takes to be a Social Media Strategist

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Last week we received an email from a 13 year-old, with an interest in working in the social media field. The following is the inspired, and flattering correspondence:

Hi, 

My name is Terry. I’m 13, and I’m in seventh grade. I’m always thinking about what I want to do with my life, and while I’ve thought of nursing, engineering, ministry, and countless other professions, I’ve never settled on one idea for more than a few days. Except one. When I was in forth grade I saw an article on the Google, Twitter, and Facebook offices, (I think I was on stumbleupon.com and looking at design, which I was in to at the time,) I decided to do further research on them. This led me to looking at more than the offices, but program development, advertising, and things like that that went on in all three. Ever since, on and off I’ve considered jobs at places like Google or Facebook. The two, especially Google, continue to impress and interest me. But recently my friend and I were in class school on our schools MacBooks, we had finished the work early and were just looking at things on Google like the Google Gravity, Let It Snow, and the Google PacMan, when I begun thinking more and more about the work that goes into programs like Google Chrome and the tricks on Google. That night, I was on Pinterest, on the geek section, and found a link to your website. It was something about color, and for the last few weeks I have been thinking about a career at a company like NowSourcing or Google or Facebook. I know that I’m in seventh grade, but I really want to know what kind of work you do, what school you had to go to, what that requires. I’m really, really interested in a career like that in the future, and want to know what it requires. I really hope you respond, because I’m very interested in this type of work.
Thank you,
Terry 
We wanted to publicly respond to Terry, in an attempt to possibly help others understand this field better.

The wonderful thing about social media, SEO, infographics, and so on, is that it allows you to use your imagination, communicate with a wide variety of people, and create identities for people and businesses online. At NowSourcing our degrees range from advertising, and interactive media, to business administration, and journalism. Being motivated and passionate are two key ingredients if you want to succeed in a field like this, as well as setting boundaries with clients, and maintaining good character throughout. Without these things, no amount of talent will give you any long-term satisfaction.
Now, what do we do? a great definition of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) would be: the art of moving to the top of a Google search – that’s what this is really all about. If Google likes you, you’re in. Doing this organically takes a lot of fine tuning, and you can find yourself sitting on the line of being real and sounding like an advertisement. Advertising, in it’s actuality, is not a bad thing – manipulative, and invasive advertising is where people stop paying attention or even become irate - and it’s understandable. As an outsider it can be difficult to see people in promotions, advertising, even public relations, as human – but even the advertiser gets advertised too, and probably hates the same things we all do.
Blogging is a great way of building credibility with Google, but what some tend to forget is that it has to be good and consistent. It is very important to put out interesting, quality content. Which means, in this field, you need to be a bit of a writer. You also need to be able to write on many different subjects, sometimes on a whim. We often use blogs for links, which is a way of getting page views, that’s not invasive. This is also where you would want to launch an infographic, like the Psychology of Color (which you saw on Pinterest), because when it goes viral that page and your website get a lot hits – organically moving you up in a search.
When it comes to the social media side, you are not only building social networks, maintaining them, and creating an identity, but this is where you are the public relations department. How do you deal with a bad review right there on your client’s Facebook page for everyone to see? If you take any public relations courses when you get to college, the case studies show that the ones who take full responsibility, and fix the problem makes it in the end. This is an area where that good character comes in. You need to be honest with your customers, and your clients, and you need to make them happy. Sometimes this can be hard because they don’t actually know what is going to make them happy down the road. You may find yourself in a bind when these situations arise: you’re the expert, but they’re the client. This is why boundaries are so important, and need to be set in place from the beginning.
Terry, your interest seems to be on the more technical side, app design may be something you would enjoy. However, all the previously discussed aspects will be your business at some point – some more than others. I urge you to continue looking into the whole big world that is social media, and keep up with it, because it is constantly changing. There are a lot of areas you could major in when you get to college that would compliment this field, so I would choose one that you may be able to do multiple things with. You may consider blogging, as well. Try sitting down and thinking of what you would really enjoy talking about (maybe new applications, Google, Facebook), create an outline, and then write something once a week or twice a month. This will sharpen your writing skills, help you to be in the know about what’s launching, and by using a site like WordPress to do this, you will become familiar with the tools and mechanics. You can also explore the SEO side through your blog by including keywords, links, and promoting it on social networks. I can say that if you came to me at 22, looking for a job in social media, and I see that you have experience in these areas, and a strong understanding about the latest and greatest technology, I would be very impressed.
There of course are so many other areas, and aspects, but I hope this helps you to get started. To those of you our there who have questions, or maybe also have input for awesome people, like Terry, feel free to comment.
  • http://www.socialmedia-max.com Michele

    Kristina, what an amazing young man – Terry.
    I think it would be great, if he was agreeable to invite Terry to put his questions here so others may respond.
    Cheers

  • Kristina

    Great idea Michele! I’ll see what I can do.

  • Alex Kenemer

    I love this. It makes me feel good about the future haha. Terry, I would also take a look into being a Data Scientist. It’s a new field that doesn’t even have college courses for it yet, but by the time you’re in college, it will be one of the leading professions. It mixes Information Technology with Marketing, using all of the data collected through Social Media and other marketing avenues to analyze and accurately predict future needs for people. Since you are so tech savy and interested in Social etc. I bet this would be a good fit for you as well. Take a look at this blog post on the need for future Data Scientists. http://wikibon.org/blog/data-scientists-a-new-field-a-new-job/ Good Luck Terry!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001039850458 Terry Millsaps

    Hi, I’m Terry. Thank you so much! That means a lot to me. One thing though, I’m a girl, haha. Also, of course I will. Thank you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001039850458 Terry Millsaps

    Thank you so much! That’s really interesting… I’ve never heard of it before. Thank you for the link!

  • http://www.socialmedia-max.com Michele

    Terry, so nice to meet with you, apologies your name could be either male or female.
    I assumed from the image! 
    If my response is delayed, it is because I live in Melbourne Australia.
    So, what if you start asking some specific questions here and hopefully we can answer them.
    Do you enjoy science or the arts? 
    Thanks for coming on board
    Michele

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001039850458 Terry Millsaps

    It’s fine! I get that all of the time.

    I do enjoy science, I find it very interesting, but I’m not very good at it. I’m much better at math- I take a few extra classes in it for fun, and I’m on math team. I do enjoy the arts.
    Also, I will.
    Terry

  • http://cyberlinkmedia.com/ Vasko Tashevski

    Inspirational post!

    I recommend Terry to start following the hot industry blog http://blog.hubspot.com 
    You can learn a lot about online marketing and read fresh social web news.
    Good luck from me 2!

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