I believe we should all seek to do something meaningful with our lives. While paying the bills is essential, we should try to pursue something that we truly get excited about and enjoy doing on a daily basis. We should try to impact the world in a positive way, even if in a small way.
I'm personally passionate about the convergence of technology, marketing, and the social web. I feel like a huge nerd reading the sentence I just wrote, but it's true. I like to think, learn, and talk about those three things as much as I enjoy playing sports and listening to music. It's how I'm wired. If you're reading this, you might be wired like that too.
So this is a short version of the story of how I went from being a social media participant to a social media content producer to a social media manager, in less than one year...
Up until two and a half weeks ago, I was a tech and business consultant. For the three years prior to that, I had been a consultant with a promising career. I had worked on challenging and interesting projects concerning innovative mobile web sites, IT cost-reductions and, my favorite, identifying social media opportunities for communications service providers.
It was going pretty good. However, my interest in social media was growing. I found myself thinking about the rapidly changing social web on a daily basis. I read blogs like TechCrunch and magazines like AdAge. I listened to podcasts like Buzz Out Loud and kept up with the latest in social media thanks to people I had started to get to know as friends (instead of followers) on Twitter.
I was fascinated by all things social on the Internet and I wanted to further explore the future of the web. I needed a creative outlet. I needed a new "home base."
So, after two years of thinking of domain names, I finally decided it was time to write a blog I'd actualy read myself. I had created several sites and blogs in the past, but this one was going to somehow stand out from the gazillions of blogs out there.
One night, I was watching a Gary Vee video (the kind of Gary Vee video that gets you excited about stuff) when Jennifer Leggio wrote a tweet with a typo. That tweet inspired the name "Social Nerdia" and Gary's video reminded me that working hard was going to be worth it. I asked Jennifer what she thought about the name, and she suggested I buy the domain name.
I had created most of my own previous sites, but I was going to need a really good CMS to be able to pull it off this time. Plus, I didn't really want to spend any money if I could build Social Nerdia on my own. I chose WordPress and was pleasantly surprised.
WordPress was much better than I imagined it to be and it gave me enough flexibility to make Social Nerdia my own. I decided to make purple the main color. I mean, TechCrunch is all about the green. Gizmodo is pretty much orange. Engadget and Mashable both like blue. Most social networks are also blue. UPS owns brown. You get the idea.
I was going to own purple.
After creating the site, I wrote my first blog post. I called it "The Mindblasting Explosion that is Social Media." The word mindblasting came from comedian Russell Peters. In the post I talked about how companies and people were using social media, and even mentioned the now popular "snake oil salesmen" that everyone was trying not to be.
In the months to come I interacted with people on Twitter, created videos that I posted on YouTube, and wrote blog posts about products, news, and ideas. Good friends, my brother, and my wife all started contributing to the site. I was enjoying my new life as a blogger.
Sometimes it felt like no one was reading. Other times, a single post created more buzz than I thought it actually deserved. Google Analytics (and later Woopra) provided great insights, but I knew that content had to be my focus, not numbers. I knew a lot about marketing, but content that people actually cared about was hard to come up with.
One day, I noticed that Andy Milonakis was on Twitter. Andy is an actor/comedian/rapper, but he got started making online videos. I exchanged a few tweets with him and sent him a few interview questions. He answered them. And just like that, I became an interviewer.
Soon I had interviews with people like Alex Bogusky and John A. Byrne.
At first, the interviews were all via email, but one day GM's Christopher Barger changed that. His social media team agreed to do a phone interview with me even though I hadn't mentioned anything about a phone. A phone interview? I had no idea how I was going to record this phone conversation, but I agreed anyways.
Kara Andrade recommended I use BlogTalkRadio, a web site that lets you turn your phone into a podcasting machine. I fell in love with podcasting. I soon bought a microphone and then another one. Skype and I became very good friends. More importantly, I started to have amazing conversations with admirable people. "The Social Nerdia Show!" gave me a platform to talk with people like Loic Le Meur, Brett Erlich, and Bob Knorpp. I connected with almost all of them through Twitter and I'm still in contact with many of them.
There's something about Twitter that makes people more willing to respond, more willing to talk to anyone willing to start a conversation. Some people say it's like a new telephone, but it seems like some people are answering this new telephone much more than the old one. The cool thing about this new telephone is that it lets you be public or private, and always encouraged you to be as transparent and authentic as possible.
One of my favorite interviews was with Matt Moller and Keith Swiderski, Samsung's Social Media Strategists. The interview with them went well so I decided to send them my resume the next day. I knew there was a social media position available in Dallas (where I lived), so I hoped somebody had a contact there. I received a reply soon after. I was told there was a Social Media Manager position...
In New Jersey.
Less than two months later, I moved to NJ to join Samsung Electronics America as Social Media Manager. While I know that the timing was more than perfect, and that my work experience was what ultimately got me the position, I'm quite positive that I would not have gotten Samsung's attention with just an e-mail.
Or anyone's attention, for that matter.
These days, if you want to work in a competitive area that people are passionate about (like social media), you're going to have to get creative and you're going to have to work hard. It might take a lot of long nights of hard work (like when you have to post-produce a podcast that had 18 minutes of silence), and many sacrifices (like moving half-way across the country away from family and friends in the middle of winter), but in the end, the things you learn and the people you get to meet can make it all worth it.
So worth it.
I am very grateful with Samsung and one of goals in life now is to help turn the company into a truly social one. I absolutely love what I do every day and I am excited about the opportunities and challenges that will come in the months and years to come. Not only do I get to think about what a Social Media Manager is, but I also get to be one of the first to help define what one should be.
If I have any advice for anyone, it is this: get started.
Think about where you'd like to be one year from now, learn from people that have more experience than you do, and imagine how you could take it to the next level. Don't be afraid of your dreams and don't be limited by whatever usually limits you.
If you don't know where to start... try WordPress, Twitter, and BlogTalkRadio. None of those tools will do the work for you, and we can't know for sure if they'll be around five years from now, but each of them is a good starting point.
They were most definitely a good starting point for me.
Disclaimer: While I am employed by Samsung, the views expressed on this post are mine and do not necessarily reflect the views of Samsung.