How I Work — Zoë Björnson from about.me
This post is part of the ‘How I Work’ publication. Check it out for more interviews.
Zoë Björnson is the Editorial and Social Media Coordinator at about.me. She studied communications and French at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. Her interests and hobbies include social media (obviously!), food — in particular cheese and how to perfect a cheese plate (check out her You Should Try This Cheese Newsletter), photography, hiking with her chocolate Labrador, and travelling (she’ll be starting her journey with Remote Year this month!).
How did you get into social media?
Growing up in Palo Alto, I was always around the tech industry and saw Facebook and other companies explode around here. My family also works in real estate, so they lease to a lot of tech companies, so it was very present in my life. I never knew I wanted to be part of the tech industry, but I just started out loving social media. Throughout college I did internships with PR companies and social media agencies and then around a year and a half ago I landed at about.me.
What does your daily routine consist of?
It honestly varies everyday! Now that I’ll be travelling, it will vary much more. I usually wake up and check everything — Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Emails, etc. I’m trying to get out of this habit because a manager of mine once told me not to do this because it’s essentially having millions of people yell at you before you even decide what you’re going to have for breakfast.
After that, I usually get a cup of coffee, walk my dog, then do a quick review of the Slack communities I’m in, as well a rundown on Twitter. Then it depends on my priorities for the day, so it can range from writing a blog post or doing research for projects I’m working on.
By the end of the day, I do all of my scheduling and copywriting for the next day. I can’t do it more than a day ahead of time since you never know what’s going to happen (or what unusual holiday there is, such as Cheese Lovers Day). This way I can also see what copy has resonated well with our followers and tweak it based on that. Towards the end of the night, I watch an episode or two on Netflix or read a book to wind down for the night.
What’s your favorite blog?
Right now Medium is my favorite resource to find content, because it feels like a more level playing field of discovery, especially for those who don’t have a ton of followers or traffic elsewhere. Finding people who you actually resonate with and are like you is really powerful and easier to relate it.
Some people I follow and enjoy their work are:
Liza Bennigson: For real talk on what it’s like to be a working mom, wife, and woman.
For inspiring myself to take a step forward, or sometimes a step back.
Madeline Hill: For witty accounts of what it’s like to live as a 20-something in this crazy world.
What’s your favorite book?
Even though I don’t manage anyone, Good Boss, Bad Boss by Robert Sutton is a fascinating book to read from an employee’s perspective. What’s great about it is that Robert Sutton doesn’t only show people who manage billion dollar companies, but also talks about a manager of a NASCAR pit crew or a Chick-fil-A at a mall.
Another book I recently enjoyed is The Dip by Seth Godin, which talks about when you should quit. Most people don’t take enough time to evaluate when they should stop doing something. This little book helps you learn when to quit (and not be ashamed of it!) and when to keep going.
One more is Blink by Malcom Gladwell, which discusses choices we make at the blink of an eye and focuses more on psychology. I just started this one and I’m excited to see how it’ll change my thought process.
What’s your favorite advice you’ve ever received? And what’s one advice you’d give others?
Antonio Neves once quoted the following to me during an especially bumpy time in my life.
“You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.” — Marcus Aurelius
Without being too dark, I think this quote sums up how we should go about work, love, your passions — just about anything in life. This quote helped me make a defining life decision and I’ll carry it with me from here on out.
My advice to others would be to constantly remind yourself of what you love, what makes you tick. We are more often that not figuring out what we don’t like; however, there are a handful of moments as you’re beginning your career that make you want to jump up and down, stay up all night, etc. — follow those moments. Figure out how you can recreate them. Then, they won’t be moments anymore, they’ll be your life.
“Figure out how you can recreate them [those moments]. Then, they won’t be moments anymore, they’ll be your life.”
What are your top 3 work tools/apps that you can’t live without?
- Slack: It’s a place where I go to ask/answer questions and look for inspiration. Two communities I’m in are: Buffer Slack Community & Domino community (a global community for freelancers).
2. Latergramme: Instagram Planner.
3. TweetDeck: Managing Twitter and seeing everyone in one place.
Who are some people you look up at and are inspired by?
- My Mom
As cliche as it might sound her strength and smarts have been something I can only hope for as I grow older. She lives for her children and is my best friend in the entire world.
- Red Gaskell, Social Media at Everlane
I’m constantly inspired by his work ethic and aesthetic. I bought my first piece of Everlane clothing because I loved their Instagram. Red is constantly testing new things and following his passions, I applaud him for that.
- Alyssa Bronander, Social Media at Rent the Runway
I worked with Alyssa at my first internship in New York City and she’s been an awesome inspiration since. She’s fashionable, smart, witty, and so humble. She’s taught me a lot about social media and always made an effort to explain ‘why’ to me when I was starting out in the industry.
- Liang Shi , Designer + Founder of Fun Fun Dinners
I found Liang through an about.me interview — one of my colleagues did, signed up for her dinners, and the rest is history. She is one of the most inspiring people I have ever met. She is constantly busy doing something that she loves and lives a candid and honest life.
What is the hardest challenge you’ve faced with social media?
Knowing where to invest your energy and keeping up to date, but at the same time knowing when to pull back because you can’t do everything, can be challenging at times. It’s a constant push & pull and figuring out the exact science of how you can make your brand powerful on social media isn’t simple.
What are some things you do to save time?
Reviewing my work and seeing what content works and iterating on that helps me save time.
Also asking yourself what are your top 5 priorities of the day so you know what to focus on and be realistic of what you can get done for the day.
Also a big fan of the Pomodoro technique. I found that when I have my mind set on a specific task for 25 minutes, I get it done in 25 minutes or 2 sets of 25 minutes rather than getting distracted with other things and having that same task take double the time. For me using Pomodoro almost feels like a fence for your brain. So I think it’s a great tool!
Do you listen to music while working?
More often than not, I’m working out of a coffee shop so I usually just jam out to Spotfiy’s New Music Friday or Discover playlists. In general, I’m a fan of upbeat music but have my country or R&B days. Lately this song has been on repeat, it reminds me of Hawaii + road trips.
What’s your favorite and least favorite thing about being a social media manager?
Favorite: Social media isn’t permanent. It will be there forever, but it’s not something that will define your brand forever. You can be super experimental, and you can make a typo and it wont ruin your brand. I also like the cross over of community and social media management. When you have a product people love so much they start recommending it and become ambassadors for that product without even knowing.
Least Favorite: The support aspect and when people are having issues and they want you to fix it in 140 characters. Sometimes I’m so traditional, I wish those people can call me so I can help them out. With about.me’s new design it’s been challenging because some people love the new design and are supportive while others miss the old design. So dealing with this has been challenging, but has been an awesome experience. You also get to see the company’s viewpoint and the customer’s viewpoint so you want to help the community but also grow the company so it’s a funny place to be in.
Do you have one rule you try to stick to?
Put your phone on airplane mode when you sleep. It’s simple, but it keeps me from waking up to a screen full of unnecessary notifications.
Could you briefly describe what your social media strategy is?
My focus is getting people to our platform and also celebrating our community. So I try to find people who might not have a large Twitter following, but still have an amazing page and do awesome work — finding those diamonds in the rough.
That’s a big part of the strategy is seeing normal people as “influencers”. If they love and use our product then lets give them the love and respect they deserve back.
Any New Year’s Resolutions?
General resolutions that are broad have never worked for me, so I decided to do monthly goals and break it down on what I want to accomplish on that month.
January’s goal was to read one book (done✓), do 5 Pomodoros a day, and write more (started my email newsletter and wrote 2 Medium posts). For February, I’m working on getting in shape and spending more time outdoors. We’ll see how that goes!