A Look Behind the Handle

By: Amanda Changuris, DOYO Live Breakout Session Leader

When people ask what I do and I reply, “I work in social media,” I’m often met with some interesting responses. When I started working in this profession way back in 2009, people would say things like:

  • “Wait, that’s a real job?”
  • “Oh, so you get to play around on Facebook all day – that’s cool!”
  • “My [nephew/neighbor’s daughter/other young person] says businesses will never last on social media.”

I still get those kinds of responses from time to time, mixed in with a few looks of wildly nonplussed indifference. But these days I’m hearing a more promising phrase:

“Oh, wow! I’ve always wanted to know someone behind a business handle. What’s it like?”

Oh, the Stories I Could Tell Seven years into this career choice (which literally didn’t exist when I was earning my degree in communications/journalism), I’ve collected quite a few remarkable experiences. Most of them taught me something about human interaction.

Crisis Management

Like the time a group of parishioners descended on my company’s social media channels to lobby for coverage of their pastor’s treatment in a residential facility. They were well organized, using a hashtag to unite their voices and posting hundreds of messages. I counted 150 tweets in one day.

Of course, when you’re dealing with medical information, there’s only so much you can say to these concerned parties. Once we were able to sift through the posts to find the pastor’s wife, we told the group we were in touch with her and the flood of messages gradually died down.

The flock taught me a lot of things, including an extra dose of patience I’m sure my mother would have appreciated if I could have acquired it decades ago. They were also an excellent reminder to stay in touch with my sense of empathy.

For me, it was a stressful few weeks as part of a social media team trying to advocate for the pastor and navigate all of the health insurance red tape behind the scenes. For them – and for the pastor’s wife in particular – they’re worried about their loved one recovering from a serious accident. They’re stressed in every way possible, and then the system lets them down.

As you can probably imagine, there were a lot of details we couldn’t discuss online, particularly with non-family members. When we got to the bottom of the issue, we discovered my employer didn’t even make the decision to deny the coverage the pastor was seeking. But we weren’t allowed to tell anyone that – not even the pastor’s wife – because we had to protect the client that made the unpopular choice.

Planning For the Unplanned

Social media can be a lot like my first career out of college: TV news. You can plan out your day all you want, but those plans can go out the window in a flash.

All you can do is prepare to handle whatever the internet throws your way. That’s what I’ll be focusing on in my breakout session at DOYO Live on August 4 in Youngstown, Ohio. Get your ticket today and I’ll see you there!

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