by Mira Kuhar

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I had the pleasure of interviewing Nicole Spears, a 2014 graduate of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. She is currently residing in NYC and working remotely for Geben Communication, a PR firm located in Columbus, OH. Her official title is “Social Media Manager,” and she works closely with Fortune 500 clients to provide them with social media strategy, content curation, community management, reporting and evaluation.

I was a Scripps PRSSA member with Nicole through my freshman and sophomore years of college, and I truly look up to her as a leader and as a PR professional. She is a large part of the reason I got so involved in the organization and sit on the executive board to this day.

I asked her a few questions about social media because I truly believe that she is a social media powerhouse and that she could provide awesome insight on the industry:

MK: Why do you think social media is important to build consumer engagement?

NS: Social media presents an opportunity for large scale two-way communication. In the past impressions and awareness cut it – but when every marketer dreams of engagement, social media is the ultimate catalyst.

MK: What do you think is the most important upcoming trend in social media and why is that trend important?

NS: In the past week we’ve seen Facebook scale “likes” to “reactions” and Snapchat present customizable geofilters. Platforms are increasingly moving toward hyper-individualization. Whether or not these features will fulfill their hype is TBD, but the trend is important because it shows us that users are increasingly invested in their digital identity. A topic much more impactful…and IMO exciting…than a one-off platform update!

MK: How important is it to find your brand’s voice when you’re running a company’s social media outlets? 

NS: Discovering and mastering a brand’s authentic social voice is a top priority for every community manager. A seamless persona can cross platforms, print media, even product copy while remaining cohesive and approachable. 

MK: In what ways do you use analytics in your daily work and how can an undergraduate get experience with them?

Analytics allow us to evaluate our social media strategy and, when necessary, adjust our approach accordingly. Sometimes that process happens in one day, sometimes it can take months.

Getting hands-on with the free social media evaluation tools out there is key to finding your fit in the industry. Pick a brand – be it your own personal brand, a local nonprofit you could offer advise to, or a national brand you’ve always admired – and take a deep dive look at their social presence acorss platforms. Start with trials from tools like SumoRank, Keyhole, Hashtracking, Quintly and Sumall. (Side note: if taking this on for “fun” sounds anything BUT fun to you, then you probably won’t enjoy the day-to-day in a social media strategy position.)

MK: What’s one piece of advice you would give to an aspiring social media professional?

Form a point of view and stand by it. There are no experts in social media, but there are countless thought leaders. If you think Snapchat is the future of B2C social, tell everyone. Read about it. Write about it. Talk about it. Not only will your passion show, but you’ll learn a lot more that way.

Through hearing Nicole’s opinions and seeing her point-of-view on many different social media-related topics, I gained insight about the industry and what it may entail when I get a job here in the next few months. Seeing the importance of analytics, being able to identify the recent trends and truly understand that social media marketing is a two-way conversation are just some of the most important things to be aware of when working in the industry. Interviewing Nicole helped shape my views and confirm that this industry is definitely the right one for me!