#STL Thought Leader Brianna Smith Talks All Things Digital Media

By: Nicole Atencio, Minji Choi, Je Ewing, Chase Kohler, & Tiara Wilkerson
2On April 21st, the Midwest’s largest digital marketing conference will be held at Union Station in St. Louis. On our journey to discover how marketing has shaped this community we were introduced to Brianna Smith, a thought leader in the digital marketing industry and a local supporter of UMSL. She is the Director of Marketing and Communications for the 2016 Midwest Digital Marketing Conference. She also currently works as the Integrated Marketing Manager at TeraRecon. Brianna’s personal blog is www.BeingYourBrand.com.
How did you come to develop an interest in Marketing?
It happened in undergrad at Tulane. I know that I always wanted to work business, but I am definitely not a “math person”, so I did not find accounting or finance interesting. I took marketing and found it very interesting. I started following marketing blogs, then I got my first internship and I was just hooked from then on.
Did you have any mentors/instructors around you that helped cultivate your interest
Yes, Ashley Nelson started the social media class at Tulane. It was the first class of its kind, I learned a lot and her experience was immense. Also nearly all my bosses have been very strong women marketers who came a long way quickly. It inspired me and allowed me to constantly challenge myself.
What are your top 3 disruptions in digital marketing for 2016?
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How important is it for social media managers to know what type of company they want to work with?
I think it is more important to find a company you want to work at vs the brand. No matter how great the brand is, you won’t like working there if the company isn’t a good fit. I have found that I thrive best at innovative companies. They are fun, exciting, and challenging in a good way. If you get a job at an awesome sports firm, no matter how much you love the topic, if the company is not a good fit, will come to hate the job, the work, and the company. Don’t just take a job for your career. Don’t settle, we as marketers are in high demand right now.
What content do you mainly cover as a blogger?
It’s changed. I started blogging mostly about brand strategy, but now I pretty much blog about digital marketing as a whole, such as social media, SEO, inbound and a ton of personal branding.
Have you ever had to handle a Social Media crisis?
Yes! My last company was a hosting company and we had an outage and our customer’s sites went down. Statistically it will happen, so we were ready. We had a team together and began communication with our customers through social. I was up all night tweeting to our customers, because social media is a 24 hour commitment. You can’t just stand down, it was a long night!
What is a day in the life of Briana Smith entail?
After I get ready, I check email. Check phone. Check all social accounts for work. Check all personal social media. Repeat. I usually start my freelance work with clients, UMSL, etc. before the work day starts. I then shift to my current job at TeraRecon. It’s a lot of writing, a lot of social and hundreds of emails. Thankfully I work from home so I usually travel around and work at places like UMSL, TRex, or a coffee shop. Come the evening after the “workday” for TeraRecon ends, I usually have an event or class, as I am finish my MBA. If I don’t have either I will go back and do freelance work. If I get free time, I catch up on Netflix shows. It’s a lot of work but I love it. It’s all about balance.
What marketing strategies do you generate to create leads over your competitors?
Some companies use a lot of push marketing. We use mainly pull and inbound marketing tactics. We are constantly working on creating content to nurture our leads and never sell them until they’re ready. It’s a newer approach, but we’re a small fish in a big pond yet a massive competitor.
What would be your advice to someone who wants to become a social media manager?
Your personal brand comes first. They need to focus on that. Why would someone hire me to market for them if I can’t market myself? That was the way I looked it at. Connect with professionals and influencers. Blog. Create content. Promote yourself to who you want to be professionally. So many people ‘Do’ social media, but showcasing what you can do will land you the job much easier. When I moved back to STL the interviews were to see if I was a good fit for the company, not whether or not I was qualified.
What is your role in coordinating the UMSL Digital Conference?
I am the Director of Marketing and Communications. I plan out the entire promotional strategy when it comes to email marketing, blog promotion, PR strategy and leveraging our speakers and sponsors. I do some logistics as well. It’s such an amazing event and I am so grateful to be so involved.
What are some of the most meaningful experiences you’ve had as a social media manager?
Most of them are meeting and working with the people I have admired for a long time. There are so many people you can meet via social media. You tweet someone and they respond and you just think it’s so cool! Danielle Smith is someone I always looked up too and now I’m sitting at lunch with her discussing how I will build a class with her. It’s like working with your hero, it’s insane!
What social network are you are obsessed with, why?
Twitter is always my number one, because it’s where my brand is biggest. However I also love Instagram. Where I can get two likes on Facebook I could get 30 on Instagram. Even though there are no live links on Instagram, the branding capability is amazing. The one that bothers me is Snapchat, I am still trying to figure out how it fits into a company’s overall marketing strategy.