Social Media is big business. Worldwide, people spend nearly 2.5 hours a day on average engaging with connected accounts on social media - and it’s more than just conversations with friends and family.
Social media has become a source of entertainment, news, commerce, and so much more. Making sure that content is fresh, engaging, and relevant are millions of social media professionals working with brands of all sizes. Emplifi’s Social Media Superstars celebrates those who have made a big impact for their brand and left a positive impact on the social media industry.
Aura Antonia García is one of them. She is the creative director of Penguin Random House, whose involvement with social media began as a trainee at Prodigy MSN, where one of her first assignments was promoting Bing, the search engine. She has worked as a web editor for a magazine, as a communications analyst for a banking institution, and later as a social media manager for several brands, which helped her understand the need for creativity in the social space.
Today in her spare time, you might see her listening to classical music. She is a mega-fan of Martha Argerich, who is arguably the best pianist in the world today. We sat down with García to talk about her experiences in the industry and share her advice for other social media professionals.
Let's start, and I think I know the answer. What do you like most about your role in social media?
Creativity! Social networks have great potential for those who are ready to tell a story. I currently work with a wonderful leader, our Director of Marketing, who understands, supports creativity, and has built a team ready to take on the constant challenge that is digital.
I also enjoy creating a content strategy and constantly refining that system.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
The fact that it's a high-pressure role. And I think everyone who has a role in social media knows this: there is not enough time, everyone wants to have a presence there. I'm talking about internal and external stakeholders. You have to keep changing, and the content always has to be creative, fun, and on-brand.
But I think that's also what makes it exciting.
What is your favorite social media platform?
None of them and all of them at the same time. Each [social platform] has its own grammar: they are unique in how you interact with others on them.
For example, once I had to open a Hi5 profile. It was horrible. It had glitter and you could turn the cursor into a kitten. But Hi5's target audience was those coming out of high school and into college. The draw there was that you could see who had viewed your profile.
This happened again when Facebook was launched in Mexico. It began to enter the universities first, and since it was an American network, almost everyone began to publish their status in English. Now look at it today, with over 100 languages spoken every day on the platform.
The point is that all social networks are always evolving. They all offer you a way to create hyper-personalization of content for your different audiences. So no, I don't have a favorite social network because they are all my favorites, and having content for each of them is the most important thing.
If we were to pop on to your Instagram, who would be in your feed?
There are a lot of friends, pug stories (because I have pug dogs), poking around in other publishers, and also a lot of restaurants that I like. I follow a lot of classical music and I also follow some brands that are very aesthetic.
What about TikTok? Who do you follow and why do you find it interesting?
TikTok is a much more democratic social network because anyone can create content that generates great engagement. I started following friends and brands, some do it badly and some do it very well. I love seeing LGBTQ couples, and I follow pets, parakeets, and a lot of things.
At the end of the day, I like to follow users who surprise me. For example, there are grandparents who get on TikTok and give you the tips of the day or tell you how to sit correctly. There is a Peruvian presenter who forged a remarkable friendship with his housekeeper, and now they embark on incredible adventures. And there are plenty of accounts to learn from, from tips on professional house cleaning to the difference between sponges to how to paint a pool. The possibilities are endless.
Both TikTok and Instagram are very visual platforms. How do you train others in creating effective visual experiences for different social platforms?
I mentioned that each social network has its own "grammar", so we have to respect that [when creating content]. However, the most important thing is to clearly study what the trends are at the moment. For example, if I go out and post something with my Hi5 shiny cats, it won't work, unless I want it to be a retro campaign and it depends on who it's for. Instead, I encourage people to ask questions. What would you like to see? Why would another user share this content? Do the images encourage you to spread the word?
I think of this documentary about the philosopher Roger Scruton called "Why Beauty Matters". In it, he talks about why we are drawn to beautiful things, not just people or photos, but also the shapes of buildings, flower garden arrangements, and even how someone has set up their desk at work. Beautiful things work for a reason, how can we create beautiful and engaging content?
Some of that obviously comes with experience. Other times, it can be a lesson learned from failure. What advice do you have for someone who might be going through a downfall in their career?
I have had several failures and triumphs. The truth is that many things have gone wrong, and I think that the interesting thing about any professional career is that everyone has gone through it. I've had like three or four things go wrong every day, and some major failures. For example, a post that came out generated a lot of negative attention. It was a mistake and I went home feeling sick to my stomach like it was the worst week of my life. There was all this negativity from users and I thought I was going to get fired. Instead, it turned out to be a monumental learning moment for me.
When you make a mistake, the mistake will look much bigger up close than it does from afar, and if you don't learn from things that don't work out, then you can't evolve. Making a mistake is necessary to evolve so you can look back and see an earlier version of yourself, a kind of a version 1.0.
What advice would you give to young professionals aspiring to start their careers in social media?
Practice a lot. Create content daily, see what works and why, and be the first to try a new platform.
What are the essential skills that will make people successful in their social media careers?
The ability to work under pressure is essential. Being extremely creative is amazing, and so is being able to receive constructive feedback in the right way.
The most important thing: be a team player. There is no way that social media is a solo career. You depend on a lot of people to make things happen, but you also make a lot of friends along the way.
You mentioned being a team player. What makes a great social media team?
I believe that having people from diverse backgrounds is a basic requirement for a creative environment. You may want to have people with a lot of experience, but also people with a fresh mind, willing to learn and gain experience.
It also depends on what you're really trying to accomplish: if you're speaking to a young audience, you might want someone to get to know them behind the keyboard. However, if you're talking to moms, you need someone who knows what they're going through to help you engage with them.
And if you’re a team leader, that's one person who should always be listening. Your job is not just to help them do their jobs, but to help them be better creatively.
What role does technology play in delivering great results for your brand?
Emplifi has been a great help. Proving that your efforts are working is essential, not only for a content strategy, but for practically any strategy. Before Emplifi, I think it's fair to say that we knew things were working in terms of social media, but we really couldn't trust the technology 100%. It's different now because this is a platform we can trust, providing additional data, not just about what works, but what we can do better. And with the platform comes the Emplifi team, a group that is always offering solutions, they are a true partner for our creative strategy.
Creativity and data can go a long way together – measuring content performance with Emplifi is a way to understand our system as a whole and see which conversations are succeeding with our customers. Our digital assets are growing and thriving, and we can't wait to see what's in store for our brand.
What advice do you have for your peers who are looking for ways to balance work and personal life so they can be successful in all phases of life?
If you don't get organized and don't rest, then it becomes difficult to dedicate yourself fully to digital and content marketing. We have a demanding task that requires us to pay attention to what is happening. By being organized, you'll spend less time working and more time creating, while freeing up the time you need to handle a crisis if one arises. So take breaks. Know your limits and when you can disconnect. And also be transparent; Otherwise, you can quickly burn out and backfire on your goals, both professionally and personally.