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6 Professional Women on Their Working Relationship with Social Media

July 06, 2018 | Filed in: Your Career

Putting yourself out there, cultivating a personal brand, building a marketing strategy for your company, and simply being “seen” is a huge part of so many jobs these days. On the flip side, social media can feel like a major time suck with little to no payoff (puppy photos aside). How do successful women fit social media into their professional lives? We asked an entrepreneur, TV writer, and four other working women to explain. 

1. The woman who doesn’t let social media run her life

“There’s no doubt that social media can be a powerful tool for building a brand. I own and operate five fitness studios: I have five separate Facebook Pure Barre business accounts, one personal Facebook page, a personal Instagram account, a Pure Barre Instagram account, and an Instagram for my online nutrition business, 421Reset—not to mention my many less-utilized accounts on Pinterest, YouTube, and Twitter. I could spend all day, every day, focused solely on social media! The question for me isn’t whether or not to participate in social media, but rather how much time to dedicate to this time-consuming yet incredibly profitable medium.

In an effort to become more social media-savvy, I recently attended the largest social media marketing conference in the world in San Diego. My major takeaway was that I’ll never have the time or desire to be the best at social media. Someone or some brand will always have more resources and time to build better content. And so I changed my competitive mindset from striving to be ‘the best’ to just being more focused and organized with my social media efforts. I had to ask myself, ‘What is my ultimate goal? And how do I optimize my efforts?’ Creating a content calendar and delegating posting duties to one staff member (in my case, my social media-savvy manager, Hannah) are two methods that have helped to elevate my social game—and keep me from going down the rabbit hole.”

—Sami Sweeney, owner of Pure Barre studios; Seattle, WA

2. The woman who uses social media as a ‘digital business card’

I always say that I utilize social media, in particular Instagram, as an extension of my business card. The first thing I do as a consumer is go to a company’s Instagram feed and check them out. In my opinion, it doesn’t really matter how many people follow you, or how many likes you get; what matters is taking the time and effort to create engaging, original content that fits your brand. Social media has been fundamental in growing our Scooteroma business. Our vespa tour of Rome is such a dynamic activity that it’s easy and natural for our clients (and me) to share this authentic Roman experience with a photo or video. And as an added bonus, our Instagram account has become a platform for press, journalists, publications, and bloggers to find us.

—Annie Ojile, founder and owner of Scooteroma and Personalized Italy; Rome, Italy                                            

3. The woman who doesn’t believe in ‘posting just to post’

“Social media is a great tool for sharing your work and creating a place to engage with your audience. THE KINDCRAFT is a digital platform for artisan storytelling, so social media has been key to our growth. It does take a lot of time to put together thoughtful posts: we create highly curated articles about craft, design, and sustainability featuring makers in their studios around the world that we then share on our our Facebook and Instagram accounts. Pre-writing and scheduling posts ahead of time for Facebook and Twitter helps, but I do my Instagram posts in real time. The incessantness of social media does cause me to pause sometimes. I don’t like to post all the time ‘just to say something.’ My rule is that I only post when I have something beautiful or thought-provoking that I am genuinely excited to share.”

—Lauren K. Lancy, founder of THE KINDCRAFT; New York, NY and Chiang Mai, Thailand

4. The woman who came out of social media hiding

“My approach to social media is 100 percent contingent on the nature of my job. Back in 2008, when Twitter was just getting traction, I was a practicing attorney. Law firms are known to research potential and current employees online, so I decided that if I wanted to dive into social media, I had to do it anonymously. I went to great lengths to ensure that my Twitter account could not be traced back to me. I then felt free to vent, post jokes, and share whatever was on my mind at the time. As my account gained followers, I was asked to be on several podcasts, but I only agreed to appear on ones that would maintain my anonymity. At times it felt like I was leading a double life.

Now that I’m a TV writer, my Twitter account is actually used as a selling point to help me find work. I’m still adjusting to no longer being anonymous and to my online persona being scrutinized by a potential employer. Oddly, now that I’m no longer ‘undercover,’ I’m much more reserved. My brain is still adjusting to the fact that the people I work with actually follow me on Twitter and Instagram! In the past, I was comfortable with being whiny, self-deprecating, or just plain silly. Now I’m much more cautious about what I put out there. If I post a joke, it needs to have a solid structure. If I post a photo of my cats, I make sure that my house doesn’t look like a hoarder’s hovel. If I post a photo of a night out, I try not to come off like an attention-seeking lush. It’s trickier now. My new motto is: When in doubt, don’t post it.”

—Kamon Naddaf, TV writer in Los Angeles, California

social media at work

5. The woman who walks a social media tightrope

“Being a digital media editor—especially in beauty, which is so visual—makes it hard to avoid social media. In 2018, it is important for editors to have a presence on social to at least understand how people digest, create, and share content on these platforms. And if you can become an influencer in your own right, kudos. It means you know how to connect with an audience and build a micro brand: your brand. Also, it’s really fun! I love learning about other people’s beauty routines, favorite products, preferred spas to get facials, etc. And I sincerely enjoy sharing my own picks and getting feedback about them from my followers. On the flip side, I know plenty of extremely successful editors who keep their social pages quiet and are very respected in the industry. If you can get the job done best, then no one really cares if you are a pro at Snapchat filters.

That said, you need to be careful if you’re an editor and active on social. I always remember the famous publicist Kelly Cutrone saying, ‘If you have to cry, go outside.’ The same is true, in a way, for social. Don’t use the platforms to complain about your job, your workload, or your coworkers. Of course, you don’t always need to be happy and cheery on social. But don’t make the mistake of specifically saying negative things about your job, because you never know who is watching and how it will be interpreted. That’s what moms and best friends are for!”

—Lauren Levinson, Editorial Director of Spotlyte; New York, NY

6. The woman who sees social media changing the healthcare landscape

“Social media has undoubtedly enhanced how we practice modern medicine. It enables sufferers of chronic disease, who might previously have been isolated in their battle, to be able to reach out and easily connect with others around the world who are in a similar position. It also aids the quick and easy spread of information. The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, where I have worked for the past four years, has a very active Facebook page where if, for example, the Emergency Department is especially busy on a particular night, patients can be advised to go elsewhere if the condition isn’t life-threatening. It also allows for the confidential sharing of ideas between medical professionals regarding workplace protocols, conferences, groundbreaking research, employment opportunities, or second opinions on challenging clinical cases.

As with all facets of society, however, social media has its downfalls. In having open business-style Facebook pages, where any member of the public can leave instant, unedited feedback, complaints are easily misrepresented and exaggerated. Social media has also allowed dangerous and false ideas to circulate faster and more widely courtesy of groups such as the anti-vaccination movement.

As a young medical professional, I have Facebook and Instagram, both of which are private accounts (but searchable). I also have a Twitter account, but I’m not cool enough to know how to work it, so it sits there dormant. I never post on social media regarding work, and I think I have had a grand total of three photos taken at work published to social media (mostly at end-of-year Christmas lunches with other medical colleagues, and of course none including patients). 

Social media has largely benefited the medical community, but needs to be treated with caution. It makes sharing information, keeping up to date with the latest research, and connecting with other health professionals easier, but can create PR nightmares for healthcare providers, and it leaves us all much more open to public critique, depression, and anxiety. Doctors as a profession have one of the highest rates of suicide in the developed world, and this will continue to be a significant ongoing issue in the social media age.”

—Dr. Katie Pilkington, Pediatric Registrar at Monash Health; Melbourne, Australia

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Ashlea Halpern is the co-founder of Cartogramme and editor-at-large for AFAR Media. She edits New York Magazine's pop-up travel blog, The Urbanist, and writes regularly for Condé Nast Traveler, Bon Appétit, Airbnbmag, and Wired. After spending 3.5 years traveling Asia, Australia, the Arctic, and North America, she has settled in Minneapolis, MN—the most underrated city in the lower 48, bar none. Follow her adventures on Instagram at @ashleahalpern and @cartogramme. Read more of Ashlea's posts.

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