If the “not all who wander are lost” adage ever applied to someone, it would be me. Social Media and Digital Marketing represents a third career endeavor which, oddly enough, feels more like a culmination than a departure. I am both a retired professional actor and an academic who worked in higher education. Both experiences and acquired skill sets have helped me tremendously in my transition to digital marketing, content management, and Analytics.
By the time I got to college I had been on or behind one stage or another for most of my life. From school plays and dance recitals to community theatre and high school & independent film projects, I was always either in production or rehearsals.
I attended Wesleyan College on a theatre scholarship and was quickly welcomed into the fold. I earned membership in Alpha Psi Omega and was named Player of the Year in 1996 for my performance as Constance in “Goodnight Desdemona, Good Morning Juliet.”
Later that year I made the decision to withdraw from Wesleyan in order to prepare to audition for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. I was accepted, and in August of 1998 I moved to Pasadena, Ca. While at AADA, I had the honor of working with some of the finest acting coaches in the business. It was a very rewarding time; I learned a lot and grew tremendously. But one thing became apparent very quickly. I am not a film person. And L.A. is not a theatre town.
In January 2001 I returned to the East Coast and settled in Atlanta. As the largest city in the Southeast, it serves as an artistic crossroads for regional theatre, national film &TV production, and music, among other media. It was a good “in-between” city to gain more experience and hone my craft before returning to my original home, New York.
Shortly after moving I met someone who was my age (25), had already established a solid career in broadcasting, and had already purchased a home on his own. I decided that if we were to get serious about each other and our future, then I needed to get serious about myself and my career. The events of September 11, 2001 further fueled my need to find a deeper meaning and a greater purpose.
When we got engaged in the spring of 2002 I had already been working in theatre non-stop for over a year. I was part of the original cast of “Peachtree Battle” produced by the Peachtree Playhouse. The show still holds the honor of being the longest running show in Atlanta Theatre history.
I was in the middle of the theatre scene in the city, making real connections, and really going somewhere. But something felt…wrong. Empty, vapid, meaningless.
It seems like such a long time ago now, and much of that collective good will and national self-reflection came to nothing. But there was a time when many Americans spoke with deep conviction of the personal changes they made in their lives following that trauma. I count myself among them. My decision to give up theatre and return to school to finish my History degree was heavily influenced by the events of that day.
I was married in May of 2003 and returned to school that fall. My intention was to finish that degree, earn a Master of Theological Studies degree and then a PhD in Islamic Studies. My decision to study Islam also came from a desire to try to understand the deeper meaning and implications of 9/11.
In the winter of 2004 I landed a job with the Society of Biblical Literature. My career in higher education administration had officially begun, and it was exciting. I felt that the work I did for them was important and meaningful. During my tenure with SBL I presented papers at Annual and International Meetings of the Society, published articles in the e-Journal, managed a LISTSERV, co-founded a Student-led Leadership Committee, and worked in Meetings Management & Logistics.
I finished my B.A. (Hons) in the History of Philosophy from Kennesaw State University in May 2007. I entered Emory University the following fall and began work on a Master of Theological Studies. During that time, I returned to KSU as a guest lecturer. I also left SBL to work as a T.A. for a professor at Emory and to work as a Collections Processing Assistant in MARBL. While there, I helped curate the Robert W. Woodruff Papers.
The Recession of 2008 put the brakes on the PhD, but by then I was already starting to recognize the growing crisis in Higher Education. I am honestly glad I got off that train. And while I may not be directly using my degrees in my current career path, I most certainly use that education every day.
Both programs were academically rigorous, and research- and writing-intensive. I excelled in both programs, graduating magna cum laude and cum laude, respectively. As you can imagine (and as you can probably tell from this website) I don’t have a problem generating a lot of content!
After six intense years working in higher education as a student, lecturer, administrator, archivist, and independent scholar I became a little directionless. I stumbled into a job as a Sales & Marketing Associate for an Atlanta home builder, and suddenly found myself with hours to fill waiting for people to come tour the model home. So, I did what I knew – I started a blog. While at Candler, I blogged about my experiences there. It only seemed natural to blog about the new work I was doing. To make a very long story only kind of long, I won’t repeat material that can be found here or here. Let’s just say the rest is history!
Early in my life it seemed as if I had been born to dance and sing and keep you generally entertained. Then I spent a little time being Professor Curtis, which was also highly rewarding. I have come to realize that my purpose here is much more broadly defined. I’m here to keep you both entertained and informed. And perhaps sell you a little something along the way…
In today’s world of SEO, with Google’s Social Search preference and Black Hat-smashing Penguin and now Hummingbird, content isn’t just king. It’s the Emperor of the World. To maintain a consistently high page rank, you must frequently and regularly generate authentic, original content. And a lot of it.
Social Media is all about building brand recognition and trust. People don’t trust what they don’t know. So you have to tell them who you are – you have to tell a story. If you’ve read this far into my page, then I have done my job successfully. I’ve been telling you a story – a story about me and my philosophy. In About My Approach, I give you “free advice” about integrating Social Media into your company’s overall marketing plan and discuss the value of Image Design and branding.
Social Media Marketing is less about directly selling a product and more about educating the consumer. At first, you do have to give them something for nothing. It is a trust-building exercise. You must tell them who you are, what your product or service is, and how it can benefit them. You must do this in a way that differentiates your product or service from other competing providers.
One way is by establishing a blog that doesn’t directly sell your product or service, but informs the consumer about the value of adding that product or service to his/her day to day life. For example, my previous employer built ultra energy efficient, eco-friendly homes. I blogged about the company and our product, but I also blogged (and Pinned) about Green Living, Renewable Energy Policy, Sustainable Urban Planning & Transportation Infrastructure, and Climate Change.
It’s not enough to sell someone a LEED Certified home. You have to tell them why it’s important, how it can benefit them and the greater community, and how it can save them money and help keep them healthy. The key to this tactic is in taking a holistic approach to your sales pitch by selling them a product but also educating them about lifestyle choices that enhance and are enhanced by that product.
This can be an especially daunting task if you are not a strong writer. Fortunately for you, I am! I am able to blog accurately and authoritatively on a variety of subjects including:
Pro Tip: If your company or non-profit foundation has been told you need to establish a blog and start generating content and you aren’t sure where to begin, you should look for a journalist or academic to be your blogger. He/she will possess the skills and knowledge base to generate full-length articles quickly and accurately. If your need falls under any of the above subjects, contact me and we’ll start a conversation about your wants and needs.