November 20, 2022

Rachel Strella

Questions Abound as Social Media Evolves

social media

Last month, I had the opportunity to speak to Shippensburg University students in a class called “Social Media Strategies.” It was the third time I’d spoken to students at the university. This recent presentation was held virtually, as was the one last year, and #Strella TikTok specialist Laney Goff joined me. 

We opened with information about our company, including our core services, how we operate, where we’re located, and who we serve. During the majority of our discussion, we addressed questions the students submitted prior to our presentation. The students tweeted live throughout our presentation, and we enjoyed reading their commentary after we finished talking with them. 

Highlights From Our Talk with Shippensburg U. Students

Below, find the questions the students asked us, summaries of our answers, and the student’s tweets relevant to the topics. 

Q1: What made you want to form your own company? 

Rachel’s Response

It was by default! I was unsatisfied with other jobs after graduating college. What also led me to the path of business ownership was my mentor, who encouraged me to become an entrepreneur. The day she suggested it to me was the same day she attended a social media marketing conference, which left her feeling overwhelmed.

Q2: In this industry, how is running your own business different from working for a company? 

Rachel’s Response

There are pros and cons to both. Which is the best fit comes down to a person’s preference and comfort level. Do you prefer income predictability? Do you want or need flexibility in work hours or work location? Do you want to work in a variety of industries or just one? Answers to those questions help provide clarity about which option will suit someone well. 

I like having variety in my work, and I am comfortable with a moderate level of risk. I also prefer flexibility. Even though I work a lot of hours, I can — within reason — set my own schedule. 

For people who prefer working for someone else, there’s something to be said for the security of a steady paycheck, knowing what to expect, and the undivided loyalty to a single company.

Q3: What would you say are three skills that got you in the position you’re in now?

Rachel’s Response

  • High-level project management skills
  • Communications and writing skills
  • Relentless drive and stick-with-it-ness

Laney’s Response

  • Adaptability
  • Affability
  • Tenacity

Q4: What does your day-to-day schedule look like on a normal day at work? 

Rachel’s Response

As a small business owner, I wear a lot of hats. On any given day, I’m working on:

  • Marketing for my business – My own social media, blog, videos, etc. 
  • Communicating and coordinating with my team – Email, Trello, meetings, etc. 
  • Working with some of our high-profile clients to manage their social media – Editorial planning, preparing for and attending meetings, and reviewing and analyzing dashboards and results.
  • Navigating intra-team or client issues and challenges.
  • Managing special projects.
  • Creating processes – For the tasks I haven’t delegated yet or those that need improvement.
  • Business planning (known as rocks”).
  • Reading, writing, and learning – To expand on and hone my knowledge about marketing, social media, and leadership.
  • Professional development – Such as attending Vistage group meetings or meeting with my coach.

Q5: How do you avoid social media burnout when you're on it constantly? 

Rachel’s Response

“On it” is relative. Truthfully, I am on social media more to check on the work we are doing with our customers rather than using it for my own personal enjoyment or gain. Social media managers understand this reality well. But, I do stay abreast of what’s happening in the social media world so I can better serve our customers. 

Laney’s Response

You have to find a way to keep it fun for yourself. I have personal social accounts, and I have business accounts. I am consistently on both. I don't post much to my business accounts, but I use those for research and networking. I'm also really strict about ensuring I maintain time to step away from my phone and be present with my family.

Q6: What are some of your biggest challenges when working with clients’ social media platforms? 

Rachel’s Response

The obstacles we face come from varied sources. Here’s a list of what we encounter the most.

  • Tech issues – Access to social media accounts, algorithm nuances, changes to how the platforms operate (such as Instagram’s transition to Reels).
  • Client expectations – Aligning our customers' expectations with the reality of what social media can do for their businesses.
  • The volumes of details involved in each aspect of what we do – It’s not as simple as “posting” if you want to do it well.
  • Communities  – Sometimes, clients’ social media followers make our work challenging. They ask a lot of questions. While we immerse ourselves in our clients’ industries, we don’t know everything about their businesses. If clients do not give us answers in a timely fashion, our job becomes difficult.

Q7: What are some of the most common mistakes you've seen from your clients when managing their social media? 

Laney’s Response

The most prevalent missteps I see clients make include:

  • Being too curated.
  • Over-complicating their message (or not understanding what their message should be) to their target audience. 
  • Trying to be active on every platform instead of focusing on the platforms that will serve them best. 

Q8: How do you keep up to date on the constant changes and growth in social media marketing?

Laney and I both have multiple methods for staying up to speed. 

Rachel’s Response

  • Reading! – I review the Social Media Today blog every morning and subscribe to other industry blogs. 
  • Working in it! – We spot new changes very quickly when we log onto platforms to do our jobs. Sometimes, there is no notice, rhyme, or reason for social media companies' changes to their platforms. Regardless, we need to stay on top of them.
  • Talking to our clients – Some of our clients stay abreast of social media news, so they have their finger on the pulse of the latest changes — down the minute in some cases — and want to know how they will affect them. 

Laney’s Response

  • Being active on the platforms. 
  • Our team – It’s immensely valuable to have experts on our team who consistently stay informed about specific aspects of social media marketing. 
  • Podcasts! – I rarely watch TV, and the best way I’ve found to relax is to listen to business and marketing podcasts while doing laundry or cleaning. #adulthood
  • Following official accounts of social media platforms – Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. 

Q9: What do you look for in your best employees? 

Rachel’s Response

Right now, our team is made up of independent contractors who work remotely. However, we plan to transition a few of them to employees and potentially hire several new employees. Regardless of whether our team members are contractors or employees, we look for the following qualities:

  • Alignment with our four core values (Communication, Commitment to Excellence, Relationships, and Service) – Specific “Fundamentals” within our core values demonstrate alignment — for example, being a team player, being coachable, taking ownership, and going above and beyond.
  • Dedication and loyalty to our growing team – We want people who want to collaborate with and elevate each other, not just collect some cash!
  • Flexibility – It’s a two-fold quality: 1) Availability for the specific projects we have (social media never sleeps) and 2) Adaptability to the changes that occur in our industry and to being a part of a small team (also entails coachability).

Laney’s Response

I value people who are easy to work with while not afraid to step in and give their honest opinions on things that could make a difference for our clients or us.

Q10: What does a TikTok specialist do?

Laney’s Response

In that role, I monitor trends and consistently analyze how brands are achieving success on the platform. I evaluate how a client’s brand can leverage TikTok to maximize its exposure. Also, I stay on top of changes that will affect how we use TikTok and our clients’ results. 

Q11: How are you able to market to or bring in new audiences on a platform like TikTok when most of the time, it's people swiping? Is it truly successful, or is it a lot of work for very small results?

Laney’s Response

The most important thing to keep in mind with TikTok or any other platform is that people consume content differently. Not everyone enjoys or is active on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms.

Research has shown that TikTok surpassed the growth rates of Instagram and Facebook in their infancy stages, and people are spending more time-consuming content on TikTok than any other platform.

Q12: Most companies brush off TikTok as a dancing app. Yet there are so many ways to showcase your company, whether it be your personnel or your product.  How do you show or convince clients that TikTok can be a good marketing tool, especially for an audience of people in their 20s?

Laney’s Response

There’s a huge misconception about the demographic on TikTok. What started as an app ruled by Gen Z has slowly shifted to include Millennials, Gen X, and even Boomers.  

There are 136 million active TikTok users in the United States. The breakdown within that number: 

  • 25% are 10 to 19 years old. 
  • 22.4% are 20 to 29 years old. 
  • 21.7% are 30 to 39 years old. 
  • 20.3% are 40 to 49  years old.
  • 11% are 50 and over.

Q13: Would you consider "entertainment" platforms like TikTok a temporary fad or something long-term that’s here to stay?

Laney’s Response

With any social media platform, you must realize it is never guaranteed. Things change rapidly in this industry. That’s where adaptability comes into play. You must stay adaptable if you want a successful career in social media. 

TikTok has changed how we generate content. The platform’s focus on authenticity and the ease of producing original content (not curated) are game-changers that I think are here to stay.

Q14: TikTok has become a major player in the news over the past year. What do you think is the next major area that TikTok will conquer?

Laney’s Response

A lot of people think TikTok is in competition with social media apps like Instagram and Facebook. But the reality is that TikTok is competing primarily with Google and YouTube. You can see this from how their algorithm works; it’s based on SEO and keywords. TikTok appears to be striving to become one of the top search engines.

The Future of Social Media Rests in Capable Hands

Laney and I were impressed by the students’ thoughtful questions and keen interest in the social media industry. We especially appreciated their forward-thinking inquiries about TikTok, its potential for brands, and its emergence as a powerful force beyond its role as a social media platform. Thank you to all of the Ship students who participated! We wish you all the best and look forward to hearing from you in the future about your careers in marketing. 

Want to see and hear our full discussion with Shippensburg University’s Social Media Strategies Class? Watch it now!

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