Social media manager/producer Ezgi Eren is a pioneer. While youth is not commonly considered a strength when it comes to business, Eren’s generation has the prime benefit of coming of age exactly at the time of social media’s (SM) ubiquity. As early adopters of platforms like Myspace and Facebook, Eren and her peers saw the very beginning of SM. As young professionals, they are suited like no others to make use of the new implementations that arise seemingly every day. It’s akin to the age when the automobile was invented and new uses were prolific.
When Ezgi applied to study Media at the graduate level in 2012, she hadn’t yet decided on the exact path but was sure about working in social media in a creative industry. After internships in fashion, music, and entertainment to familiarize herself with the way each different industry uses social media as much as possible, Eren became fascinated with the constant growth of SM in all industries while the essential skill set was applicable to each with slight variations.
The role of SM manager/producer is such a modern vocation that it often leads to confused looks. Ezgi states, “When I tell people I’m a social media manager it usually takes a few follow-up questions for them to understand what that means. Creative industries have only recently adopted social media as a marketing tool, which means a lot of it is trial and error when it comes to strategies, tools, and even measurements. An app that is popular one year could be extinct the next, which is both terrifying and exciting. I think it’s a matter of great risk and great reward; because SM has the potential to set brands apart in ways that traditional million dollar campaigns can’t.”
Whereas in the past SM was considered a means of individual expression for the public, it has morphed into a virtual business card. SM can be used as a representation of a brand’s identity that connects instantly on a global scale. That’s not to say that the only purpose is to market.
As someone who is at the forefront of this burgeoning profession and successfully works with unique creative individuals, Eren has a vantage and knowledge base which can aid those who seek to follow this path as well as startup companies who are shrewd enough to understand the benefits. Ezgi lines out clear points for using SM with a start-up in order to create a proper business approach. Her notes are:
1. Know who you want to reach
“If you’re creating a social media brand for a start-up, the most important thing to know is who your audience is and where they are on social media.” - who they are, what they like, which accounts they follow, how they interact with these brands on SM, what would they like most about your brand (so you can highlight those front and center). It’s not just about creating content you like, but about fusing your audience’s taste with your own.”
2. Know who you are working with
“When you work as a SM manager for an existing brand, it’s not that it’s easy per se, but you already have something to work off of. You know the primary values of the brand and the pillars and maybe even the visual aesthetic, so you build the SM strategy with those already in the foundation. But for a startup, it’s all a blank slate. All you have is the founder’s vision of the brand. I was lucky because I got to work one-on-one with the founder (Whitney Casey) and even luckier because we had similar ideas and a similar taste. I think the key is to be really open and honest and really communicate what you envision for the strategy, with no reservations. Don’t play it safe in the beginning or be intimidated by trying out different things, that’s how you land on the right strategy.”
3. Be ready for “All hands on deck” situations
“If you’re working for a start-up, you have to be prepared to do more work than you thought you signed up for. You can’t expect to just do your part and call it a day. In start-ups there’s an internal understanding that everyone should be ready to pick up each other’s slack and step in whenever extra help is needed. By their nature, startups take more time and effort than established companies, so you need to be prepared for it. And your reward? The pleasure and satisfaction that comes with seeing the finished work and knowing you had a real part in building something from scratch”.
4.It’s risky, but the rewards can be great
“Working in a start-up is the ultimate high risk-high reward situation, psychologically. A few weeks ago I had a realization of how high the reward can be. We had email blasts that the (Finery) team had been working on FOREVER, mostly our incredible design and development team but there were many times we all contributed from deciding on which images to use down to what subject lines get more attention. Recently, our “weekly recap” email blasts went out, which are the emails that give you a summary of your week on Finery; which items you purchased, what you added to your Wishlist, what the weather will be like in your location over the weekend…so you can plan what to wear, etc. It was so cool and COMPLETE, that I burst into happy tears! Then I called Whitney and she was crying as well, both from sleep deprivation, because she’d been working on the emails, and happiness.”
“If you work as a freelance SM manager, one of the most important things to do is
set milestones and checkpoints for yourself. You can’t imagine how fast time moves and without a traditional corporate structure, you really forget to take a look at where you are. It’s important to pause and have a sort of a “review day” for yourself; celebrate the things that you’re doing right and identify what you need to improve.
Most of the approaches Eren uses are a combination of her business school training, field experience, and understanding of SM; there is one benefit of her experience that supersedes all of these. The prime positioning of her age in relation to SM’s appearance in society allows Ezgi to be aware of a time when SM was only used by the public. Due to this, she was imprinted with the idea that SM not be solely used for business purposes. It is inherent in Eren’s understanding of SM that there be a human factor to it, a personal connection. It’s this facet of her personality and professional application of SM that infuses it with a sense of sincerity. It’s easy to spot in her work and endearing at the same time. This idea is transparent in her last bit of advice as she states, “Being active does not equal being successful. There are campaigns that call for a ‘less is more approach.’ Just as you would carefully refine and select ideas for a traditional ad campaign, you need to have a clear strategy with what you share on SM. You shouldn’t just toss a million things at people. It’s important to find something that you like and that they will appreciate as well. You build that relationship by paying attention to your followers, just as you would anyone else that you want to get to know.”