social media

Lebron and Basketball; Social Media and Me

When looking around for open full-time positions, one of the qualifications often required is being familiar with social media practices. In interviews, one of the most important questions I hear is whether I know how to track and report on analytics.

My response is usually the same: while I haven’t been a “social media editor,” every job I’ve had has involved using social media tools. I use it to share content, engage the audience, crowdsource, gather insights, and inform the newsroom about what our audience finds compelling or not as well as what they would like to see more of.

One of the biggest social media campaigns I worked on was a Lebron James Poetry contest for The Miami Herald. At the time, I was drafting surveys meant to collect insights on different topics from a network of sources called the Public Insight Network.

Using a feature within the PIN software that tracked the number of people that opened my email with the survey, clicked on the link to the survey, and actually filled it out, I realized that about 10 percent of recipients would actually open the email. And anywhere from no one to two percent of the recipients would actually fill out the surveys. (Some of the extra participants would come in from clicking on the survey link shared on Twitter and Facebook, but the response was much lower than via email.) But there was one factor that would slightly spike up those numbers – when the subject of the survey was related to pop culture, sports, or Cuba.

So Dan Grech, the former news director for WLRN’s Miami Herald News, came to me with this idea to partner up with O, Miami Poetry Festival on a social media campaign. It was July 2010 when Lebron announced he would be taking his talents to South Beach. Naturally, we tied the contest to what was hot in the news cycle (and to our audience).

As a result, the contest received over 1,200 entries – well, over the typical two percent of recipients – and national coverage, including by ESPN and The New Yorker.

So social media may not be my main responsibility, but it is essential in almost every job I do, almost in the way that Lebron is still playing basketball no matter what team he’s playing for.

P.S. Since this was a successful social media campaign, The Miami Herald has continued to organize similar poetry contests even after I was no longer working there.

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Dabbling in Coding and Web Design

Most students go into the workforce right after getting a bachelor’s degree. When I was done, all the rapid changes were occurring in journalism such as shifting business models, replacing old reporters with multi-tasking ones, integrating social media in news, and so on.

With no professional experience and just a degree, I knew I had little chances of landing a decent job in journalism. So I went back to school. The University of Miami had just launched its multimedia journalism master’s program. Perfect timing!

During my undergrad years, I started to dabble in coding and web design, which I did every now and then during grad school as well. At one point, my classmate and friend, Andrea Ballocchi, started working with UM’s Director of the Arnold Center for Confluent Media Studies, Ali Habashi.

Ali gave us one simple site to make for a student organization. Then his fiance asked if we could do a portfolio site for her. That turned out to be fun because she’s a classical pianist. Check her out!

So here are the projects: