I woke up this morning with the realization that I’ve never really shared why or how I picked social media as a career.
Since this is something so important to me, I should probably let the internet know why I’m so obsessed with it.
Let’s start with my childhood, where all good psyche stories begin:
My dad has always been the Go-To I.T. guy. He knows just about everything there is to know about P.C. hardware and software. If there’s something he doesn’t know, he can figure it out in a relatively short time.
In 2001 (I was 7), my mom started a business for my dad to do what he did best, for himself. We opened a computer store in a tiny store front room in a small town. Because my mom was homeschooling us at the time, my siblings and I would go with her every day to the store. She handled the customer service, advertising, the accounting, and networking, while my dad did the physical computer work. Sometimes in-office, sometimes on service calls.
Eventually, that small room grew larger (figuratively, of course) and became two separate offices in two separate towns. I grew up in this environment, occasionally being put in charge of phone calls or talking with walk-in customers when my mom or the other office people were unavailable. I’d even help with a few of the minor computer set up things, like making sure an operating system installation would continue, or letting someone know when a clean-up scan was finished.
From the get-go, I had my own email (barbiekid was the username, if you can believe it). I played on Yahoo with their “Avatars” and created emails for each of my favorite Barbie characters. I wanted to write a book. I even used my knowledge of genealogy to create PAF (family tree) files for my characters. Computers and the internet were assistants to my playground. I began with dial-up internet in the house, knew the errors of the AOL era, and was amazed when WiFi became a thing.
Fast-forward to my sophomore year of college. The internet was no longer just fascinating; it was an extension of everyday life. I was starting to use Twitter more, Facebook had only owned Instagram for two years, Snapchat was brand new, and I hadn’t changed majors from pre-acting to pre-journalism. I was working as a Resident Assistant in the dorms. I had gone from being the youngest person in my YSA (young single adult) ward (church congregation), to the fourth oldest.
Valentine’s day (and my 20th birthday, two days after) was approaching and I was feeling VERY single. My freshmen girls were going on All The Dates and I felt kinda lonely and a whole lot sarcastic. How did I deal with those feelings? I turned to Twitter.
What happened next was unexpected and extremely exciting! The official Reese’s Twitter account asked me to be their valentine. WHAT? They said they didn’t want me to be sad, so I should send them a direct message (DM) for a treat.
What was that treat, you ask? They sent me a HUGE box of Reese’s Cups, Hershey’s Kisses, and Jolly Ranchers. FOR FREE.
Later, because I knew they wouldn’t have just singled me out, I looked at their account to see what was up. I found that they were actively responding to quite a few people who were venting about their sucky Valentine’s Day plans, or lack of them, and offering the same thing.
I had already been a huge Reese’s PB Cup fan, but they really locked me in as a customer and brand enthusiast with this move. And we still follow each other on Twitter to this day.
Now, I had just thought that was a really cool marketing tactic, but I soon learned that it was a small effort in a larger movement of social media marketing. I learned in some of my communications classes that news organizations and companies were pushing for more “engagement” on social platforms and that it was separate from traditional advertising. I learned that social media marketing was growing into its own field. And I learned that BYU was creating more classes for social media, along with possibly developing an entire emphasis for social media, if there was enough interest.
Since that day in 2014, I’ve been in awe of the impact made by companies and brands connecting directly with their consumers and clients through social media. Unfortunately, I graduated before being able to see the social media emphasis come to fruition, but BYU is making strides in their efforts. They’ve even started their own professional social media agency! (And YES, I am completely jealous of everyone involved and the students who are currently benefitting from Y Digital.)
And that’s kind of how I got here. Or why I got here.
I’m still working out what it means in terms of a career. Maybe it’s freelancing, maybe it’s working for another company, or maybe it’s something else entirely.
What I do know is that I’m going to have fun with whatever I do. And I’m going to keep my passion for connection alive.