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.
Kseniya Mahileuskaya's professional journey began in college where she used social media to gather, engage and communicate with local and international students and potential guest speakers for a series of educational courses. After graduating, she moved to the United Arab Emirates and joined a social media agency, and built her own team of successful creative professionals.
Today, Kseniya serves as the Digital & Social Media Senior Executive for the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, a role that combines her passion for traveling with her love for what she proudly claims is one of the best destinations in the world. We sat down with Kseniya to talk about her experiences in the industry and to share her advice for other social media professionals.
What do you like most about your social media role?
It allows me to merge two of my passions: creativity and data analytics. Usually, data analysts are not involved in the creative side. I get the chance to explore both: from making funny TikToks and Reels to delivering extensive analytics reports! Never a dull day!
What are some of the more challenging parts of your job?
One of the most challenging aspects of any social media specialist’s work is the constant need to learn and adapt that new knowledge right away. Our job is bubbling with new initiatives and projects that require immediate action. It can be very challenging to find time to step aside and learn about new trends - to be on top of the wave, but it is also one of the exciting parts of the job.
What’s your favorite social media platform?
My top three are TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram: in my eyes these three platforms are unique due to their content format and the amount of time spent on them. It's only a personal preference as all the other social media platforms are amazing tools to connect to the right audiences based on your objective.
If we were to pop on to your Instagram, who would be on your feed?
It would definitely be family posts and trip/vacation moments. Here’s a social media specialist paradox for you: you never have time for your personal IG!
What about over on TikTok? Who do you follow and why do you find them interesting?
Here are some of my personal favorites:
@procreate: if you're into digital art
@sejsejlija: Experiencing Life near the North Pole
@chantyb97: Parrot stories
As you can see, these are very random choices, and this is the beauty of TikTok! You can find a diverse range of content and interests that matches your own. Those and many other successful TikTok profiles give brands a great learning: tone down on “branded” content and talk to the audience in an authentic, fun, and personal way.
Working in tourism, you must know plenty of places that have great food. What’s your go-to restaurant meal?
That’s a no-brainer. DNA Games Cafe in Abu Dhabi for their creamy and oh-so-delicious mac and cheese. And it’s not only about food: The Great Gatsby ambiance vibe, the staff, amazing set of board games – you are guaranteed to have fun!
The top social media platforms you mentioned are all very visual. How do you coach others on creating effective visual experiences on social media?
The first step of identifying eye-catching content should be taking a step back and experiencing it as a normal social media user with your team! You can do this by asking these questions:
How did the creative make you feel?
Did it make you wonder, ask questions, smile?
Would you stop scrolling once you saw it?
Another way to make sure it's effective is to keep an eye on trending and relevant content within the social platforms. This observation can help you determine what’s relevant to your own audience when working on visuals.
Of course, we know not every post is going to work every time. What advice do you have for somebody who might be experiencing a moment of failure in their career?
Every experienced social media specialist I’ve met, including the best in the industry, describes their numerous failed campaigns and ideas as a learning curve. I’ve learned that in many ways, Social Media is a sphere where every campaign is a “maybe.” You can never know how it will go unless you try it, test it, tweak it, learn from it, and get inspired for the next one.
Never stop experimenting!
What are the essential skills that make people successful in social media careers?
Communication, focus, the will to create, and a storytelling mind.
It is a mix that requires you to have both serious and fun sides. That also makes it unique and exciting! The social media sphere has many sides and is growing non-stop. You can surely find that one side that fits you.
What makes a great social media team?
From my experience, there are two components. The first is having different age groups and interests within your team. Working with professionals of different backgrounds and languages can foster an outstanding culture for creativity.
The second one is SHARING! Having great communication is key to the team’s success. A team can be as professional as it gets, but if you don't effectively communicate, you will not grow or improve.
What advice do you give to young professionals aspiring to start their social media careers?
Try it out! You can find your own niche that would perfectly fit your skillset. Think of your strong sides and what aspect of social media might fit you the best.
But again, most importantly, just go for it! One of the all-time favorite methods for social teams is using "A/B testing.” If plan A didn't work, your plan B will not let you down!
What is the role of technology in social media today, and what tools do you recommend those early in their careers use to stay ahead?
Technology is inseparably unified with social media, not only for DCT, but for all market leaders. It can help you get a clear vision on performance, results, and progress of your smallest idea or a large-scale department campaign, allowing you to adjust, learn and do better.
Analytical tools have always been my go-to. Emplifi combined with social platforms' own insights tools can help you identify your audience preferences and listen to their feedback.
What advice do you have for your peers who are looking for ways to work-life balance so they can be successful in all phases of life?
Work-life balance is vital for creative professions. You need to take a rest to come back with bright ideas and inspiration.
My advice would be to make a plan or a schedule (put alarms if needed) that ensures you take breaks. My go-to tactics are getting some sunlight, meeting up with friends, or simply enjoying hobbies – but the key here is to dedicate some time every day!
Anything else for those who are reading this?
Don't stop on social media only! By that, I mean learn about everything surrounding it: Dark ads, offline advertising, press releases, etc. Get curious about learning new aspects of the digital world and implement those learnings in whatever you do.