Ignite Social Media , in Cary, NC, specializes in helping corporations use social media tools, sites and applications to increase their connection with customers and prospects.
Jeremy Griffin, Senior Copywriter with Ignite, was kind enough to answer a few questions regarding his professional background, thoughts on interactive media, and career advice.
What are some of your past positions and experience in this field?
I have been a creative writer since high school, and maintained my personal blog for several years in college and thereafter. I have also worked in Instructional Design and Online Education at UNC.
What was your major in college/educational background?
I hold a BFA in Creative Writing from UNC – Wilmington with a concentration in creative nonfiction.
How did you get your start in this industry?
I always had a close interest in social media, ever since the days of simple chat rooms on AOL and then on to Friendster and MySpace. I have always spent a lot of time on the internet, so it eventually dawned on me that I should probably try to get a job that would allow me to use that experience for good.
What is your definition of “interactive media”?
Interactive media is one of those ubiquitous terms that everyone seems to know but no one relaly knows how to define. But really, the term as I consider it encompasses any sort of media that can adapt to the user’s needs. That is to say, a website is interactive in that the user can control his own experience – how long he spends there, what information he takes from it, that sort of thing – whereas a billboard or a TV commerical is what it is, either you choose to look at it or you don’t.
How is interactive media used at Ignite Social Media?
Everything we do can be considered interactive media. I’d be so bold as to say we’ve taken a step farther and honed in on the “interactive” aspect more so than the “media” part, though. That’s one of the things that makes social media so important. People can be intimidated and put off by the idea of “media” sometimes, but if you give them tools and better ways to communicate, that fear goes away.
What technology (e.g. Flash, blogs, Final Cut) is utilized most to facilitate the interactive needs of your clients?
Our Director of Technology, Gene Smith, is notorious for his dry sarcasm, his love of the show LOST, and his ability to make anything happen that needs to. His answer to any hypothetical situation is always, “Sure, we can do that.” So there are a variety of tools we might need to use to get the client what they need. Our Multimedia Specialist, Kailee Brown, builds a lot of widgets and badges, so she uses Flash and Photoshop, amongst other programs. Personally, I use anything from WordPress to Twitter to email to write. So I guess the answer here is really “yes, we use all of it.”
What are some of the job roles within Ignite Social Media (e.g. project manager, designer)?
We work a little differently than a lot of agencies who specialize in broader areas of marketing or advertising. Our team works more laterally than compartmentally, as we all have such specific skill sets in which we specialize. I kind of like to think of us as a superhero team, and that we all have our own powers, but really work best as a unit. But yes, we still have project managers, copywriters, account managers, community engagement specialists, a SEO strategist, and some guy named Welch who I have no idea what he does, but he is apparently very good at it. We also have interns who do more than just make coffee, because I have to do that myself sometimes.
What types of skills and experiences do you look for in new hires?
Well, experience in this field is a difficult thing to quantify. We couldn’t exactly put an ad out for someone with 5 years experience in social media marketing, because it wasn’t even a thing 5 years ago. We do like people who are savvy when it comes to new media and social media tools. More so, we like people who are focused and creative, and those who play well with others. Social media takes being social to work, so we like folks who know how to interact well. Also, if you don’t have at least 400 friends on Facebook and 100 Twitter followers, forget it.
Why is it important for companies/organizations to utilize new/interactive media?
The short answer is because they’d better. The long answer is because these technologies are going to exist whether they like it or not, and the competition is going to figure it out, so they might as well. Social media isn’t a “side dish” though. We do campaigns that might last forever, so companies should think about the value of social media before they decide to just tack it on to their current endeavors. Should companies and organizations be using interactive and social media? Eventually, yes, but these are not things that are necessarily meant to be “tacked on” to an existing campaign, so a company shouldn’t start a social media initiative until they are ready to take the time and money necessary to invest in it.
What are some interactive media trends you see on the horizon within you industry?
For me, I’m enjoying the insurgence of Twitter lately. It seems to be really in the public eye and everyone wants a piece of it. It’s a shiny new toy that you either love or hate, but people are still figuring it out. It will take some time, but then again, look at Facebook and how it has accelerated lately. You never know. I also like all of the tools and sites that are built as ways to use Twitter more efficieintly and get more out of it. The thing I find most interesting about Twitter, though, is that it really encompasses the idea of instant gratification and toally fuels the short attention span that the post Gen-X crowd craves. I really love it, and you should follow me @jsgriffin.
What resources (e.g. magazines, blogs, forums, professional associations) do you use to stay up to date on interactive media trends?
I’ll go the Sarah Palin route here: all of them. Seriously, though, there are a few I frequent more often than others, as I spend time using StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit, FriendFeed, and other social bookmarking sites to ge my info. Honestly, though, I think Twitter is as valuable a resource as anything. I follow the people who I know are going to share information that is relevant and valuable to what I do, and I listen to them and check out what they’re sharing. Between those of us in the office, though, I’d say we’ve collectively seen everything on the internet.
What advice/words of wisdom would you give someone planning to pursue a career in interactive media?
It’s not all that fun or interesting, so don’t bother. You should probably just get a job in your dad’s firm somewhere low on the ladder and work your way up until you are a mid-level manager…In all seriousness, though, the world of social media and interactive media is expanding quickly, so you have to learn how to adapt. Find something you love about interactive media and get very good at it. There seems to be a lot of talk about how important it is to be well versed in a variety of things, but in my opinion, all you really end up doing is spreading yourself thin and you might end up doing something you don’t really care about. Pick something you love and be the best at it, and you’ll be ultimately more valuable to employers. Also, get a hobby that does not involve the internet, because you’ll be spending a lot of time on it.