6 of the Skills You Need to Make It as a Social Media Manager

DATE:
17 October 2014.
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Recently, I was preparing a presentation called B2B Social Media for a group of my company’s customers. The talk will cover the foundational questions of: why, where, what, how and finally the topic I have come here to discuss: who.

In covering the issues of voice, appropriateness and post frequency, or the “Rules of Engagement” as I dubbed them, I considered the thought process that should occur when a company chooses their social media manager. I realized this is a really important decision. One that impacts a company in a number of deep, potentially damaging ways if not carefully considered and chosen.

Here are the qualities an effective social media manager should display:

1. Wordsmithing

You don’t have to be a journalism or PR major (although that would be great!) but you need to have a way with words. You have to have sharp enough writing skills to write headlines, tweets and status updates that cut through the clutter. More importantly, you have to clearly observe the line between playful/humorous/edgy and inappropriate or tactless. One wrong move and you could lose a customer (or a number of customers) forever.

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You Should Let Your Employees Screw Around at Work

DATE:
14 October 2014.
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Screwing Around at Work
Things aren’t always what they appear to be. For instance, your marketing manager may appear to be playing candy crush on Facebook when she’s actually making note of the growth hacking techniques used to gain more players of the game than there are people living in Australia (true story).

Other times, things are exactly as they appear to be… like when your marketing manager appears to be taking a Facebook IQ test and she’s actually taking a Facebook IQ test.

My point being, I wouldn’t bat an eyelash at either, nor should you.

We learn things every day while at work…it’s only that it’s rarely done while we’re doing our jobs. We learn through reading blogs, through scanning our twitter feeds, from conversations with our co-workers or texts from our friends. I have long held the philosophy that if I need time for “research and development” I’m going to take it. On the clock. And I don’t feel the need to ask permission.

Why? I’m going to use the dark arts of mathematics and logic to make my case.

work-breakdownFirst, let’s make an assumption. Let’s assume that an employer is interesting in having informed employees who are well-prepared for the challenges of the future. Now, I’m going to ask you to take a small leap and agree that in order to be prepared for the future of business (whether it be in marketing, sales, engineering or medicine) a person needs to learn in an ongoing way. Still with me?

OK, so, when is this learning supposed to happen? On my personal time? What personal time?

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5 Steps Toward Changing Your Career Path

DATE:
6 October 2014.
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Ten lightning-fast years into my career I can say with honesty that I enjoy going into work everyday. I feel challenged, valued and I’m encouraged by what the future holds.

It wasn’t always dandelions and roses, though.

I had a lot of indecision in the early stages of my career as an interactive designer about whether I had chosen the right path. I can recall days and nights spent starring blankly into my monitor, mouse heavy in hand, questioning the life choices that had landed me in my specific situation.

After taking a hard look at where I was in my career and where I wanted to be I determined I was in the right line of work, I simply needed to re-dedicate myself to the craft to get from where I was to where I wanted to be.

Although I chose a career transition over a radical change, I’m here to offer practical advice on both. I am still completing the transition from hands-on designer to design manager and creative director, but I can tell you some of the things I did to make it happen:

Step 1 – Volunteer your time

I learned a valuable concept early on in my freelance design career: the best way to get to do exactly what you want to do is to offer your services at no cost.

When a client isn’t paying your rate, you’re much more likely to get creative freedom on a project. The same principle applies to volunteering your time to a professional organization or non-profit. Offer your time and volunteer to fill a role in an area where you’d like to add experience.

I see these opportunities at my day job as well, where management is looking for volunteers to step up on a special project or initiative. When these opportunities align with areas you’re looking to add experience in, volunteer your services.

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7 Reflections from a Newbie Creative Manager

DATE:
30 August 2014.
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newbie-manager
Last October, I was promoted. The promotion was something I had hoped for, wanted and mentally prepared for (or so I thought).

The truth is, the only thing that can set you up for success in management is hands-on experience and reflection. No amount of advice, reading or research can inform on how to use your natural abilities and strengths to excel in management. Similarly, you may not become fully aware of your weakness until they’re revealed under pressure.

It’s important to self-analyze and identify areas for personal improvement. I find myself reflecting almost daily on the successes and failures of my interactions with my team and my time management. In order to improve, you have to take action and expose yourself to situations that will strengthen your ‘problem’ areas.

Here are some of the things I have learned to this point and will continue to focus on:

1. Challenging Myself
Seek opportunity to improve your weaknesses. For me, public speaking and directness with regard to expectations, deadlines and quality of work don’t come extremely naturally. I have started to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. I’ve realized that feeling uneasy about something means you’ve put yourself in a position to strengthen a weakness and you’re nervous because you care about the outcome. Embrace the awkward until it starts to feel normal.

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9 User Experience and Interface (UX+UI) Considerations for Global Web Projects

DATE:
8 April 2014.
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In 2013, I designed the UI and UX for the largest web project I’ve ever been a part of. The design governs around 1800 pages of content (in the primary language); it’s also global, multi-region and multi-language. I was also responsible for designing the UI/UX for a Magento e-commerce instance of similar scope.

I worked independently on the design and made a lot of UX decisions beyond my pay grade at the time with minimal feedback or checking-and-balancing taking place. In short, there was no one else. It was at once extremely stressful and awesome on account of the freedom.

Now, to discuss some of the challenges I faced:

1. Designing for the space hog

If there isn’t a way around building text into your interface (navigation, for instance) build in enough space, or adjust the font in a way that will allow for the space-hoggiest languages.
spacehog

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Automate Your Internet with IFTTT.com

DATE:
7 December 2013.
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Last week I came across a tool that is probably the coolest damn cool I have come across in months. It’s called IFTTT (If This Than That). It automates process on the internet. A simple example is that it will automatically upload any new Instagram photo to Flickr.

I came across IFTTT in trying to automate all of my social activity (tweets, vimeo posts, instagram photos, etc) to dump into my tumblr account as a catch-all. It took about 15 minutes to set up. Beautiful. It’s based on a concept called Recipes. You can create your own from scratch or browse existing recipes and still people’s ideas.

recipes

It can do more complex things, though, like adding any Tweet that your favorite to Evernote, Google Docs or Pocket.

You can set time based rules, such as posting a Facebook status to thank people for the birthday wishes every year, on your birthday. (A bit presumptuous, perhaps, but pretty slick!).

The one that really blew my mind and also widened it was the ability to have your WeMo controlled home lighting change colors based on temperature.

Sidenote: WeMo is a Belkin product line of WiFi, 3G/4G/LTE controlled switches. I’m thinking hard for a reason to drop $50 bones on one of these switches.