To study the strategies that underly social media marketing, the class was split into four modules that allowed students to delve into various focuses, namely personality, influencer, and corporate marketing. Specifically, we analyzed how leaders in social media structure their content, deliver, and maintain their presence through case studies and in-class presentations. While the course structure was set in stone, the inquiries and conclusions are obviously ongoing, since social media and the rules that govern it are constantly changing. We did manage to understand what techniques are being employed on us as “product” as well as how to leverage social media to help us accomplish our goals.

Since personality marketing is reserved for celebrities or sub-celebrities, I didn’t think it applied to me, although I do recognize the advantages of conveying personality through social media. One of the major points of discussion was the idea of “authenticity,” and whether or not social media influencers had genuine or fabricated presences. It seemed that many of the well-liked and popular figures came across as authentic and did things like interact with fans, post non-curated content, and speak their mind. There is always a question of authenticity, and that is a major problem nowadays, since anyone can meticulously generate exactly what they want people to see about themselves. My takeaway was two fold: 1) social media users appreciate “authenticity” or the visage of it, and 2) social media is easiest when you enjoy what you do.

In my final project, I stressed these two ideas greatly and made the point that using social media in a way that is against your values or passions to simply gain followers rarely works. This idea was challenged somewhat by one of the in-class speakers, Anthony “Pomp” Pompliano, an investor and former employee at FaceBook and SnapChat. His social media presence on Twitter, while large and successful, has little to do with his passions and involves posting economic and political statistics. He discovered his success by constant trial and error, constant following and unfollowing to develop a base of followers. I would argue that his presence is not as powerful as others, even though he has many followers, because a very telling metric of social media power is interactivity. Many of his posts simply function as news snippets for social media users, instead of content that drives engagement.

Now, potentially more than ever, the skill of story-telling and conveying personality is of utmost importance. Gaining someone’s trust and admiration is the difference that will make or break a job interview, getting an opportunity, or catching the attention of an investor. At the end of the day, managers, recruiters, and investors deal with people, and social media is one way to highlight one’s personality in an impressive way. In the past, savvy outspoken salesmen were lauded and often were successful due to their personalities, but it’s not so simple anymore. Marketing is vastly more complex than simply bombarding users with content and hoping the message sticks.

One of my biggest takeaways from social marketing is the idea of identifying an “unmet need” or a “niche audience” that your social media presence will cater to specifically. That is truly the key to success in developing influence, and one can do this by taking a strategic approach to sharing content, being active on social media, and seeing what types of posts stick or achieve a level of virality. This strategy is elaborated on further in my artifact, the social media bus route. Overall, this class challenged me to think outside of the box, question what I truly want as an end-goal, and contemplate the ramifications and ethics that come along with breaking anonymity in the world by expanding a social media presence.