Right place, right time: How social media transformed my career
Sometimes it seems like — rarely in life — things don’t really work out the way we intend them to. All we can hope for is that things eventually work out fine in the end. That certainly seems to be the case in my own career. Looking back at where I started and where I am now, I never would have foreseen myself going in the direction I now have.
Last week, I started out on a project at work of moving around my cubicle space at work. My objective was to give myself a little more space and flexibility to set up a dedicated space for photographing products. I do marketing and social media for a small independent retailer, and found that posting my original shots of the products we sell always caught on substantially better with our social media audience than those I obtained from the manufacturers. I assembled lights, a desk surface, a seamless white backdrop and all the other things I needed to set up this space and got it all put together. I was determined to step up my creative game.
In doing that, it got me thinking about how I ended up here, doing what I’m doing as a career. Whenever I have this thought — and I have had it more than once — I start to feel old. I’m only 36, but I feel like someone much older. “When I was in school, there were no social media jobs,” I would think to myself. That is really only partially true. It’s not like one day the Lord extended his hand and boom! Social media. I’ve done a lot of what I do for social media long before I got into social media.
It’s not like one day the Lord extended his hand and boom! Social media. I’ve done a lot of what I do for social media long before I got into social media. I came out of college with a Radio-TV-Film degree, and was heavily steeped in audio/visual production. I’ve always had a fascination with photography. Writing is always something I’ve just done, in one form or another. Opinions? Yep, always there. I was blogging on Blogger before Google snapped them up. I dabbled in podcasting before it was a household term. My first real job out of college was copywriting and producing commercials for a radio station, so really my first baby steps into what I do today were an ass-backwards tumble into marketing.
Stir up that pot and you basically have the embodiment of a social media marketer, and I’m thankful every day that such a thing even exists. Had it not, I’d probably still be burnt out, writing ads in local TV or radio, and feeling truly creative only in my spare time. Being able to utilize all my passions in a singular career has only served to amplify those passions and continually hone my skills day in and day out. The explosion of social media has been the stepping stone that has propelled my career faster and farther than I ever would have imagined only five years ago. That expression is true — do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. As someone who is innately creative, the fact that I get to exercise pretty much every expressive muscle in my body and support my family doing so is a blessing that’s never lost on me.
Five years down the road, who knows what the social media landscape will be. Just a couple years ago, we didn’t know what Snapchat or Periscope were either. When I first came out of college, if I wanted to make a video and have it seen, I either had to get it on public access TV, a media festival or upload it directly to my website (which no one was looking at). A few years ago, I put up a video on YouTube that has been seen more than 180,000 times, and rarely a week goes by where I don’t get overwhelmingly positive feedback on it.
Sometimes it just hits you how lucky you are to be doing something you love.
Originally published at Mark David Zahn.