Nine out of ten companies actively use social media for marketing. That means a lot of people getting paid to spend their days on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, et al. Tableau spoke with two MAPH alumni who have found jobs in an industry that didn’t exist a decade ago.
Sabrina Medora, AM’14, works as manager of social media marketing at the Chicago advertising agency Tom, Dick & Harry Creative—having used her half-finished thesis on feminism and Twitter to get the job.
Tell me more about this thesis.
I’ve always been interested in how linguistics work online. For my thesis I wrote about The Bachelor, when Juan Pablo was the bachelor [in 2014]. This guy was the epitome of all that is bad for women. One of the contestants had sex with him, and for the rest of the episode he was berating her for being easy.
Twitter exploded. Half of Twitter was angered like I was. But a significant number of other women were slut shaming this contestant. It spawned a whole new level of feminist conversation.
So the first half of my thesis was the summary of my findings—where I thought language was going on Twitter in terms of feminism. Part two was about how I used this as a tool to get a job.
And how did you manage that?
A social media manager isn’t just someone who’s on social media all the time. That’s not what makes an expert. What you need is someone with the ability to tell a story. You have to understand how language works on the mind and how people interact.
I told them all about my immersive study of all of these things in Twitter. I leveraged my classes in lit and sociology. I said, with all of these skills combined, you’re getting someone who can tell a brand story to the right people at the right time.
What is your day-to-day work like?
I act as a community manager for the agency itself, which means I create content, I run the social media meetings, I do analytics.
The second and slightly more robust area is I act as a strategist for our clients’ social media. Now we’re executing full-blown, integrated campaigns. I work with our creative team, advise them on best practices, and do estimates and timelines. If we’re doing a pitch to a potential client, I figure out how the campaign we’re proposing can work on digital and social media.
Any advice for humanities grads who want to work in social media?
Humanities is one of the best tools you can have in your pocket because you have those tremendous communications skills. You have a better understanding of how to read a room than anybody else will. You have the ability to dissect text in a whole different way.
Use that to your advantage. Those aren’t just classes that you had to pass. Those are tools you can arm yourself with for the rest of your life.
Alfredo Lopez, AM’10, has the job title “marketing magician” at Camino Financial, a small business lender in Glendale, California, with a particular focus on Latino-owned businesses. Previously he worked as a marketing consultant and cofounded a start-up, Social Chrome.
How did you break into marketing?
I got a job in sales. And as it turned out, I was really, really good at sales. I just had a talent for it.
The job was selling social media marketing services for small businesses. So I wasn't doing any creative work with social media; I was only selling it. But you have to educate yourself on your product. Eventually I started my own marketing firm, Social Chrome, in Los Angeles.
Was it focused on social media?
Social media marketing for small businesses. At the time  social media was a novel concept for a lot of small business owners. Even if they understood the importance of it, they weren’t skilled at using it.
The company didn’t survive, largely for personal reasons. There were three founders, and the other two dropped out.
Your current job at Camino Financial is also centered on small businesses.
When I sat down with the cofounders [twin brothers Sean and Kenny Salas], who are Harvard Business School grads, we really hit it off. I remember saying to them, if you’re looking to target small business owners, I have personally spoken to thousands of them across the country.
Camino Financial is a venture-backed startup. Less than 1 percent of all venture-backed start-ups are Latino-owned. We wear that with some pride, but a degree of responsibility too.
There's nothing exclusively Latino about what we do. We can work with any small business. But Hispanic-owned businesses are traditionally underserved and underbanked. So there’s an opportunity.
What is your day-to-day work life like?
It's not like working a corporate job where roles are very clearly defined. I've done sales, marketing, PR. I've done things that I've never done before. For example, I was able to get them [the Salas brothers] on CNN, NBC, and other media networks.
Any advice for other humanities grads?
Get a sales job. You’ll learn to deal with a lot of rejection, no matter how good a salesperson you are. You get a real sense of your strengths and weaknesses.
The other thing is, think about what kind of organization you want to work for. You can go do marketing anywhere. So find a company where you will feel some level of fulfillment.