Miami Ad School Toronto’s social media panel this week finally put real faces to virtual personalities we’d been tracking online. “From Online to IRL” (In Real Life), the social media discussion included a five-person panel moderated by Jennifer Stack, Director of Social Media at Anamoly.
Joining her were Matt Stephen (Social Media Specialist, Shopify), Cristina Gardeazabal (Associate Director of Content, Mirum), Matthew Tierney (Managing Editor Team Content, Toronto Raptors at MLSE), Patrick Forestell (Director of Strategy, Studio71) and Catherine Mann (Brand Manager, Social Media, AIR MILES Canada).
The evening kicked off with the first hour dedicated to networking and introductions, with the room buzzing with eager digital media minds exchanging insights about the industry. To encourage viral participation, Miami Ad School came up with a creative side-plan—a competition on Twitter to help popularize #SocialMediaTO throughout the evening.
As questions were set rolling and mics were passed around the panel, one concept was repeated more than any other: Swiss Army Knife. The name served as a convenient metaphor for the ambiguous nature of the community manager’s or social media strategist’s role today. From curating content, to engaging social communities, to managing online campaigns, to collaborating with marketing and advertising teams, a digital content strategist’s job is as diverse as the range of titles that currently exist for this role.
But the Swiss Army Knife metaphor was more durable than that: From being a reporter or an art director to winding up in a start-up as a content strategist, each social media pro’s story forked in starkly different directions. Matt Tierney, who currently manages content for the Toronto Raptors, said, “The constantly changing landscape of social is what drives me. It’s about being your original voice and not being someone else.” A fact that brings an astonishing diversity of people to the social media world.
As the panel discussion moved toward understanding what the future holds for social media professionals, Catherine Mann of AIR MILES Canada suggested, “There is going to be a huge cultural shift to simplicity. People will want to go back to where social media started. Storytelling will go back to its simplest, rawest form.” Mann describes this in context, saying she loves viewing unedited footage of her friends and followers on Instagram, because social media is, at its core, about facilitating human connection.
Matt Stephen from Shopify decided to increase the suspense by suggesting a dramatically different future: “Robots are coming to take over social media!”
Looking for practical tips to help you gain social media mastery before robots take over? Here are a few key takeaways from the panel:
- Frequency matters: don’t be afraid to repackage great content in new ways.
- Community managers should consider design: Adobe Creative Suite is a saviour.
- The Internet can be a dark place. You need to have a thick skin to be successful.
- Digital media roles are ever evolving. Constantly keep your skills up-to-date and never stop learning.
- Tell great stories: storytelling is the foundation of great social media campaigns
- Build relationships offline: there’s nothing more valuable and enduring
To learn more about in-demand social media skills, check out top-rated social media marketing courses near you.