My Social Summer: How I Spent My Summer Before College

This is a guest post written by Hailey Oliff, SoMe’s 2013 summer intern. Hailey will be attending Washington University in St. Louis in the fall.

This summer, while my five best friends were off at camp cheering at the top of their lungs and tucking their campers into bed, I took the responsible route and chose to intern. Admittedly, I was somewhat bitter about not joining them at camp, but as my parents like to tell me – “all things happen for a reason.” I was nervous for my first day working at SoMe, a digital marketing agency in the West Loop, given my little knowledge of social media. But once again, I relied on my parent’s sound advice about keeping an open mind.

To my surprise, there was much more to digital marketing than tweeting every hour. My journey started with lots of research. My task was to help my colleague Peter, plan Leap, a conference for residential real estate agents to learn how to best leverage social media to help them close more sales and reach new clients.

As exciting as it was to send my very first tweet and to have control of the back end of the Leap website, the most enriching part of my experience was seeing how the conference shifted as we faced hurdles and responded to them. At another agency, pivoting the event may not have been allowed, but not at SoMe. I learned planning an event is a fluid process. Nothing is certain and change happens quickly. I learned more than I could have ever imagined about planning and marketing an event, how to talk to clients, and how to present a clear message online.

Madhavi Rao and Aalap Shah, SoMe’s Co-Founders, have been nothing but supportive. They’ve been transparent and constructive when describing how all of the work I put in over the summer had a positive impact on business development and service distribution. The rest of the SoMe team has been just as supportive and helpful throughout this learning experience. They treat me as an equal, except when the subject of college comes up (they are all super jealous!) I appreciate all of their advice, be it the number of hashtags per tweet or whether or not to join a sorority.

Riding to work on the CTA with commuters, and working alongside business professionals, has really made me feel like an adult. I think it’s going to help with this “maturity thing” when I leave for college next week.

In addition to learning social media I have gained some wisdom of my own:

1. Triple check tweets. Writing in 140 characters is an art that takes time to master.

2. When the office is going to get drinks after work you should order snacky foods, not a real meal.

3. Before starting work, let everyone in the office get their coffee. The day will be much more productive after that.

4. Be clear on the dress code or else you’ll be on the only one wearing shorts in a room full of pants.

All in all, I am so glad I came to SoMe to work for the summer. It has been well worth all the times I have had to say the mouthful, “I am interning at a Social Media Digital Marketing Agency.” I did all the things interns should do; I experienced the field and conducted research, but I also experienced a lot of independence in projects and worked with incredible people.

The added benefit of interning early? Next summer, while all my friends are off learning the ropes, I’ll get to do something fun and document it all on Twitter.

Social Travel: Why Your Next Vacation Starts Online

Picture this. You’re surfing Pinterest, and happen upon a gorgeous panoramic shot of the Amalfi Coast. You’ve never been to Italy, but you’ve been dying to go ever since you saw that Buzzfeed article on “The 10 Best Places to Travel in your 20s”—not to mention your best friend keeps updating her Facebook album from her recent trip to Rome. You think, why not? So you jump onto your Kayak app to see if flights are as expensive as you thought, look for a few reviews on TripAdvisor, and do a quick hotel search on Airbnb. In a matter of minutes you’ve booked your dream trip—it was really that easy.

We’re on the brink of a new global travel frontier, and it’s going to revolutionize the way the world has thought about exploration. The phenomenon is called “Travel 3.0”, which refers to a 3rd wave of innovation within the travel industry based on the rising trend of mobile technologies and 24/7 connectedness. The surge in the use of online tools and mobile apps, from every corner of the world, has effectively globalized us.

In an article titled “Travel 3.0: Are We There Yet?” world traveler and Forbes 2013 Social Media Influencer Ann Tran states, “instead of relying on mainstream media to define travel for us, all of us are now empowered to define travel ourselves through our shared photos, tweets and blog posts, giving others a look into travel experiences and cultures they may never have considered.”

Aside from the advancements in online and mobile technologies, the rise of social media has directly impacted this trend of globalization. Smartphones have taken the place of cameras, and allowed anyone with an internet connection to share their experiences on sites like Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest. According to a report compiled by IPK International, “40% of travelers said social network comments influenced their travel planning, while 50% actually based their travel plans on other people’s reviews and experiences.”

While sharing experiences through “social travel” may be one of the biggest uses for social media in the industry, the relationship between the two doesn’t end there. In addition to using social media to find inspiration, get recommendations, and discover places to stay, consumers are turning to social media increasingly for customer service solutions. According to online news and content agency, Brafton, “travel brands must respond to in-transit customers using internet-enabled devices to resolve complaints and mitigate real-time social concerns. Adobe Systems’ Hotel Benchmarking Metrics report shows that consumers use tablets more than PCs to visit hotel websites. Companies can reach smartphone and tablet owners through social networks to prompt last-minute bookings.”

Because of the ease of access to information, as well as the interconnectedness of both consumers and brands, it is important that companies remain transparent and honest in their interactions.

So what’s next for social media and travel? While companies are making leaps and bounds in technological innovation, improved strategies need to be put into place to meet the demand of increasingly social and worldly consumers. We’re not quite at “Travel 3.0”, but we’re getting there!

SoMe asks: What social media outlets do you use for travel inspiration and advice?

3 Steps to Make People Care About Your Company

Bad news. According to David Gardner, co-founder of digital media company ColorJar, no one cares about your company. The good news? There’s ways to make people care. And Gardner knows just how to do it. The Golden Purpose is a method he created with ColorJar to help companies rise above the noise.

Gardner discussed the method at SoMe Digital Media’s July Insight talk, a monthly lunch-and-learn event that brings together Chicago leaders to engage with the community in meaningful dialogue about how social and digital media can grow business.

The Golden Purpose relies on these three questions:

1. What is your remarkable ability?

What is the one thing your company does better than anyone else? For Volvo, Gardner pointed out, it’s safety. Volvo has to compete with a wave of other car companies. But they’ve figured out that emphasizing one component was necessary for them to be seen.

2. Who is your audience?

Don’t go after 100,000 users, go after the superfan and cater to him. To find superfans Gardner gave this tip:

– Invent characters that exemplify your user personas: Build out a character profile for each of your top use cases. Include character name and job title, where they shop, hobbies, what websites they use, where they live, etc. This will help you see your users as living, breathing humans, as opposed to a statistic.

3. Who are your competitors?

More hard truths: No one is unique. Gardner demonstrated this by showing one slide with an image of a unicorn. On the next slide, was the same image but with the horn removed; it was a regular old horse. Once you accept that someone else is doing what you’re doing, you can begin to do that thing better.

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How do you get really good at one thing?

“Simple wins,” says Gardner. “Say no to features.” Most importantly, “don’t get bored with doing the things you’re good at.” Other tips:

• Keep messaging consistent
• Define your plan ahead of time
• Say what you need to say in the simplest
• SoMe Insight returns next month with a new dynamic speaker. Insight events take place monthly.