Numbers, variables, complex equations, formulas and painstaking assignments – this was what my life was all about until last year. I was enrolled in a Mechatronics Engineering course. Was it something I really wanted to do? Not really. Born into a family of doctors, engineers, accountants and military officers, I was required to opt for a traditional white collar/formal profession. Then, thanks to my ‘want to know more’ nature, wildness and ever supporting mother, things changed for the better.
I was the wild child of the family. My life revolved around art, media happenings, music, advertising, commercials, films and all sorts of bizarre and unconventional stuff. The only person who supported me in this transitional journey was my mother. It was my third semester in engineering when I realised that my true calling was something else – somewhere that would be more visually appealing, interesting, expressive, fun, loud and popping.
flashback: Five years ago, on a sunny and dry September afternoon as I went in for a shower I had a ‘light bulb’ moment, which changed my whole life. I kid you not, it did for real.
I used to follow international entertainment and lifestyle news publications, tabloids and blogs to quench my thirst to ‘know everything happening around the globe’. My light bulb moment was when I decided to create one of my own. Something like a venting space where I could share and discuss the latest happenings about music, entertainment, lifestyle and culture with Pakistani audiences.
I came out, dried myself and discussed the idea with a friend. As we chatted, he showed interest in my idea and that is how I decided to go for this. Collaboratively, we created a Facebook page and called it ‘Metronome’. Why Metronome? Simple; a Metronome is an instrument used in music production and as my friend and I shared a mutual love for loud rock and roll music, we decided to go with the name because we thought it sounded really fancy, classy and pep.
Initially, we decided that we would divide ourselves in terms of content creation; the idea was to make people aware about the entertainment related happenings from around the world without confining ourselves to Pakistan. I was responsible for sharing news updates and happenings about entertainment, fashion, films, art, culture, and my friend (who is a musician) was responsible for music-related content.
Sadly, the plan didn’t work out thanks to internet censorship. In 2011, Pakistan imposed a ban on YouTube, so we could not share the music content we were uploading to a wider audience. My friend backed out from the project and I became the face of Metronome.
I really worked hard to make it what it is today. With over 100,000 likes, Metronome gave me opportunities, learning and experiences that I could only have dreamt of. It gave me an identity, recognition, social reputation and most of all, it gave me the confidence that I could research and explore interesting stuff and work with that.
The next step? Easy. Go for a career transition away from engineering and to a creative field that would allow me the freedom to be creative with research and tap into an audience in an interesting and appealing manner. Voila! Advertising! And hey, I actually completed my engineering degree. Yeah, trust me, I’m an engineer!
flash fast forward: It is 2016 and life is great. Why? Because Metronome is doing well and I am enrolled in a Master’s degree course in advertising (surprising, right?). And the most important part is that I am writing this sitting in a digital agency. So now I am an engineer-cum-social media executive. Am I doing what I love doing? Definitely. My love for research and exploration over the internet worked out in my favour.
Now let me tell you about my life as a social media executive. (So far the journey has been interesting, exciting and happening. And guess what? You learn new things every single day.)
Remember around 191020192181291 passwords! Facebook. Twitter. Pinterest. Snapchat. Instagram. LinkedIn. YouTube. Did I forget any? Well, if you are the social media guy, you have to remember dozens of passwords for every single one of the social media platforms you are handling for your brands – and good luck to you if you are managing more than one, because the number multiplies! I am always logging (in and out) with these passwords.
Monitor the social media platforms with a hawk eye (yes, really): Spam, fake profiles, inappropriate content, irrelevant comments and all the stuff that you see on posts... Yeah, we are responsible for monitoring and managing all this. To do this we need to keep our eye on every single activity taking place on our social media accounts. At the end of the day, you are managing the entire online community and it must look neat, clean and organised, because it’s a brand property, not your fancy profile where you leave things unattended, right?
Respond and communicate: The first thing I do (after entering my office) is to check all social media platforms for comments, messages and queries. That is the most important thing. To communicate, interact and respond to the brand’s audience. You need to personalise and engage with them!
Search, surf and adapt: As a social media executive, what is really important is to have a sense of visualisation. The routine is to keep searching for what is happening globally and locally in the digital advertising business in order to produce good (and better) content than they are. So usually, I am surfing the internet for ideas, advertising campaigns, creative executions and relevant examples that I can then adapt accordingly to the brands I am handling. Trust me, the process is exciting and if you are that person in the team who enjoys exploring stuff and visuals, you would love it – for real!
Make love (and peace) with presentations: Yes, presentations. If you don’t know how to make a presentation, you will learn how by sunset. If you find them boring, make peace with them. If you find them easy, then you will do fine, because making and editing presentations is something that you do every day. Presentations for content calendars and monthly reports, visual revisions, new plans and strategies. You need to master the art of making presentations. Don’t worry, you learn it with time; time teaches you a lot (trust me, it does and it’s for your own good).
Learn to keep it rolling: I have made this statement the motto of my life. Every morning when I come in, I have two things in mind: to explore what is happening in the ad world and to plug those ideas into the brands we are working on. Trust me, if you do not keep up with the pace of what is going on in the industry you are working in, you’ll go ‘peanuts’!
If you are planning to jump into the digital advertising world, here is what you need to know.
If you are someone who enjoys internet more than anything else, and most of all you have the knack to communicate through visuals and words – then this is your dream job!
Daniyal Shahid is Social Media Executive, Creative Chaos.