One Year At Curator: What I’ve Learned

1001744_628491310504990_496151142_n Today marks my one-year anniversary as Curator’s social media strategist.

It was a big move for me because I didn’t just change jobs; I changed industries. I had been a journalist since 2005, and it wasn’t easy to make the decision to transition to something new. I was convinced, though. For one thing, the culture that our principal and founder, Scott Battishill, was building here appealed to me, and that wasn’t something I had seen so much focus on in past jobs.

But the real thing that made me jump was the opportunity to learn new things and self-improve. Sure, I’d been specializing in social media for several years, and I had learned about journalism, but this opportunity with Curator was a career move. I saw it (and I still do) as a test, and as a period of refinement of my skills and myself.

I plan to be here for a while, and in the interest of setting a marker that I can look back at in another year and draw comparisons to, I thought I’d share some of my biggest takeaways from the last year.

Time spent organizing is time well spent

I regularly work with at least seven of our clients, and I have multiple projects going on with each of them at any given time. The only way I keep it all straight is to continually organize. I mean, I make lists and then organize them, and then I make sub-lists, and then I make a calendar and set reminders in multiple places (you can never have too many reminders). It's like Inception for lists at my desk.

It may seem complex, but the time I spend organizing from the outset is way less than the time I’d otherwise spend trying to remember, “what was that thing again?”

Excel is a social media analyst’s best friend

There are a lot of good (and free) social analytics tools out there, but nothing beats being able to isolate and analyze data to fit your exact context, and then present it in a visually legible way. I'm still learning new Excel tricks each week and running into obstacles that force me to dive deeper into the program.

Always schedule time for yourself – personally and professionally

About this time of year – fall – things get really crazy at the Curator offices. Holiday planning is in full swing, and we’re keeping up all our usual activities. It’s easy to bump all the stuff that doesn’t have a deadline off your to-do list.

But often, the stuff that’s most important doesn’t need to be done by a particular time. Me? I schedule time to learn, to read, to write, to exercise – all the stuff that keeps me feeling good and creative, which is really important for the deadline stuff that comes during the day. (How I manage to squeeze all that in is to either utilize weird parts of my day, like the time during my bus commute, or get up really early. Or both. But that’s another post entirely.)

Most importantly – especially since my son was born – I make family time mean family time, and I don’t break it except in the most extreme circumstances.

Work on your presentation skills the way you work out at the gym

This advice actually goes back to something I heard once from the great comic-book writer Brian Michael Bendis, and it applies to anything you want to be good at. If you want to get in shape, you have to go to the gym every day. You can’t go once or twice a week and expect to get stronger.

Likewise, presentation skills need constant refinement. My job is split up 50/50: 50 percent is gathering and analyzing data and the other 50 percent is presenting that data in a way that makes sense to my audience. So even if I’m the best social media strategist in the world, I’m nothing if I can’t effectively communicate my insights.

This is what I tell myself when I get ready to present: It doesn't matter if you know your information front to back; your audience has to be convinced of it.

Next up: Year 2

What I’m most excited about is that today marks Day 1 of Year 2. I’ve got an entire year of experience to put to use, and although I know what I want to do, I know I’ll also learn a whole new batch of things I didn’t expect to.

That’s the fun of a career.

Curator News Feed: June 14, 2013

This week we welcomed the Facebook hashtag, read about Coke's awe-inspiring Wearable Movie, reflected on swag lessons we learned from our favorite "Saved by the Bell" character back in the day, and gained some wisdom from Burberry's recent campaign on living digital. Read on to get the scoop:

Put a Smile On

Maximizing mobile, Harvard Business Review. On a recent flight, I sat next to a gentleman who works in mobile advertising and our conversation really got me thinking about where mobile is going. He described it as the “wild west” of advertising, and I think he’s right. People may be using their smart phones in place of a computer when they’re on the go, but they are not using them in the same way. We’re online on our phones, but not in a browser, and our time and attention is even more limited. In the cab ride after my flight, it’s funny that this article was at the top of my Feedly, as it echoed a lot of his sentiments. Check out the full article for a great overview of where mobile is, and where it’s going. – Matthew

AMD finally gets @AMD thanks to Seattle entrepreneur’s creative charity swap, Geek Wire. We know it might not always be 'cool' to be first to the party, but jumping on a new social network right away has its advantages. Your username, Twitter handle and logins are becoming a new part of your identity. And if you're lucky, it’s also a brand's identity, which they would agree is worth $50,000 to own. This guy was lucky and made his luck work for social good, high five! – Brooke

Domino's Pizza launches new look in Northwest, The News Tribune. We love seeing great coverage of our clients. This story is about Mike Brown, co-op president of the local Domino’s franchisee group, and his new Pizza Theater stores. If you’re in the Puyallup area this Saturday, June 15, stop by from 4-6 p.m. for your chance to win tickets to the Justin Timberlake concert! – Dan

Loving the Midwest, The New York Times. Can a city be a brand? Brooklyn and Portland are two cities that have recently emerged as brands unto themselves. Mention these cities and one has a sense of its culture, lifestyle and, these days, its cuisine. Joke if you will about its status as a “flyover state”, I’ve always felt the city of St. Louis is a strong brand. I loved reading this piece in the New York Times about why this transplant came to embrace St. Louis. – Ann Marie

Excel Is An Art Form: These Beautiful Images Are Proof, ReadWriteWeb. If you're an Excel user like me, you're prone to the occasional day spent hunting and clicking for the right combination of commands that'll get it to perform some mundane task that WHY ISN'T IT EASIER??? So I don't know if this link will leave you feeling awed or helpless, but either way, it'll blow your mind. Tatsuo Horiuchi is a 73-year-old artist who, for the last decade or so, has been creating "paintings" with Excel. These are not the little pixelated, Mario Bros.-looking things you're imagining in your mind; they're really good. So good that some of them have been acquired by the art museum in Horiuchi's home town. Lest you doubt the authenticity of their origin, ReadWrite has a link where you can download the original Excel files and, at least theoretically, reverse-engineer them. Good luck with that. (Props to my friend, Evonne (@evonnebenedict) for tracking this link down.) – Paul

12 Lessons Zack Morris Taught Us About Cool, Buzzfeed. Because Zack Morris taught us all about swag. Important life lessons from “Saved By The Bell.” – Noelle

Burberry Ad Campaigns Blend Music, Fashion and Social, Huffington Post. Maybe it’s because I love the perfume or because I’m actually a fan of the “stodgy” trench coat, but I found it really interesting reading up on some of Burberry’s recent ad campaigns and the creativity that has helped breathe a new life into the brand. My favorite quote from the article that really gets you thinking though came from the company’s chief creative officer: "Digital for me is not a project; digital is a way that we live. If you deal with it as a project, it will always be superficial." – Annie

Put on a Smile, Vimeo. Perusing the web this week I came across a lot of really great campaigns, and this is one of my favorites for Coca-Cola Company by Ogilvy – The Wearable Movie. I love the idea to involve people across the world with such a simple idea: put on a shirt and take a picture, with each shot being a frame in an animated movie. - Chelsey

Mobile wallet users spent $500M in 2012 – nearly all of it at Starbucks, GigaOM. Will all that plastic in our wallets soon become obsolete? At least in Starbucks’ case, it is a possibility. I love the ease of using my iPhone to pay for my coffee in the mornings rather than having to fish out my debit card from the depths of my bag, and clearly, I’m not alone. – Megan