A #SocialConnection

What does it take to be a successful social media professional in today’s ever-changing business world? To gain insight, I decided to speak with social media guru Alyssa Esker.

Photo Credit: Mediabistro.com

Photo Credit: Mediabistro.com

Esker, to simply put it, landed her dream job by working at one of the world’s top public relations agencies, Edelman. She is the account supervisor for the digital team at the Edelman Atlanta office.  Her background in communications, in some respects, prepared her for a career in social media. “I majored in public relations, so I understood the public relations function social media plays,” explains Esker. “I graduated in 2010 when companies were just getting on Facebook, so I had to teach myself a lot of the basics.”

“Social media has a reputation for being a young person’s job,” Esker states.  Contrary to what people generally believe “social media is encompassing everything in the communication space, which affects basically all industries so it’s important for professionals of all ages to get savvy about the social world around them.”

One of the most exciting projects that Esker has worked on, thus far in her career, was for a client in the oil industry. “The client was trying to educate themselves about fracking and how it was affecting the industry and its consumers,” she explains. “We did a massive conversation audit to pull insights on sentiment and the main concerns surrounding fracking, which helped inform the business’s strategy to fracking. It really helped shape the company’s stance on fracking in a way that held it accountable to consumer concerns. “

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Since Esker has entered into the field of digital communications, she explains that there are so many changes that have occurred such as new social media channels, improved analytics, new tools, and the integration of social media in one’s daily life through the explosion of mobile devices. “Technology keeps me on my toes,” she expresses.  Esker foresees wearable technology and augmented reality social media becoming more intertwined with daily life. “When things like Google Glass and wearable tech came out, I had to think about what this means for consumers. It’s really about identifying the trend and the use case for the new technology so that I can be prepared to get my clients to be the first ones to use the technology.”

In order to stay current on trends and movements in the industry, Esker reads a lot, attends local industry events, and is a part of a few professional organizations such as AIMA (Atlanta Interactive Marketing Association), Hypepotamus, which is an Atlanta startup group, as well as, TAG (Technology Association of Georgia). “In this industry you are forever a student as everything changes daily,” she said. “Meeting people who are smarter than you and have their pulse on what’s going on is a great way to stay in the know.”

Photo Credit: Hypepotamus.com

Photo Credit: Hypepotamus.com

As far as predictions for 2014 social trends, Esker says it will be the year of   e-commerce. “We’ve seen companies tiptoe with e-commerce and virtual currency begin to take a hold, but social media platforms are really evolving their abilities to be able to track the ROI of social back to the purchase funnel.” And when it comes to the next big social media platform to take over the digital world, Esker’s insights lead her to look toward Flipboard. “While it’s not necessarily a social platform for communities of consumers, Flipboard has been a social platform that has always been on the cusp of having a major breakthrough in how we digest and read news and content,” she explains. “Flipboard allows curation and personalization of content in a way that traditional media hasn’t been able to grasp, so I see it branching out more into magazines and newspapers as a way to cultivate visual content that is relevant to a specific consumer.”

Valuable Words of Wisdom

What has surprised Esker most within her career experiences, “the breadth of knowledge of social media,” she states. “There are companies that you would think would be really innovative and have a strong grasp on social, but in actuality may not even have a Facebook page.” According to Esker, when starting out in this industry she would have liked to know more about the legal parameters about social media.  “Social media is all about pushing out content, but there are so many things you don’t think of when it comes to the ownership of that content that I have had to pick up to ensure my clients are acting ethically and within legal bounds.”

A few helpful tips that Esker lends for up-and-coming social media professionals: “First, read everything you can about social. Secondly, get involved with the startup tech scene so you can start seeing what’s up and coming. Finally, don’t forget the basics – social media is a communication tool so you need to still understand the traditional side of communication in terms of marketing, public relations and news media.”

One thing is clear, Esker is a Jill of all trades!  Not only does she hold a wealth of knowledge and keen insight about her industry, Esker is passionate about being a social media professional and the work she creates for her clients. Do you agree with Esker’s assessment with 2014 being the year of e-commerce? If not, what are some trends that you foresee in the social media landscape for 2014? Reply below and let me know.

Photo Credit: Kiev, Ukraine

Photo Credit: Kiev, Ukraine

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