I’ve often told people that I accidentally fell into social media but nobody ever actually believes me. I think maybe people get the feeling that I always knew what I wanted to do even before there was a name for it, and although that may be true for Graphic Design – it wasn’t true about social media, at least not for me.
I began dabbling in social media way back in the days of Prodigits, at first – I had no idea what I was getting into but I knew that I spent an awful amount of time online, just connecting with people from various parts of the world and getting to know them, that was just something I did to stay out of trouble as a teenager because the things my class mates were doing at the time were things I wasn’t really interested in.
I eventually deactivated my Prodigits account because Mxit and Mig33 eventually came onto the scene, well eventually came onto the scene in my life, and that was a lot easier to use than prodigits, however as time went on and as new sites came onto the market plus with the addition of life happening – I eventually pulled away from social media and life went on.
Then in 2011, I met a guy named Donald Nkomo that brought social media back into my life and that was the start of my love affair with the social media world. Donald told me to sign up on Twitter, at first – I didn’t enjoy it, in fact I deactivated within the first couple of months but a year later I gave it a shot and now … I’m a social media manager with 6-years experience in the market.
My journey was an interesting one, I was recruited by Shaka Sisulu back when I was extremely volatile and snappy on Twitter (those who have been following me for years have seen the transitions happen since crude twitter in 2012), he felt I had something and wanted to teach me how to use the influence I had – starting and engaging in conversations online – to convert that into not only ideas, but into a real way to make bank.
It took me a while to get the hang of it, and then something quite interesting started happening – I began writing, which got me picked up by News 24 as one of their writers for their Voices section, which led to several pieces being written for various publications including Cheka Digital, Huffington Post and Thought Catalog and a whole list of radio and tv appearances. That led to my audience on Twitter growing from just local to international, which resulted in me ending up doing podcasts with Madison Jay for the Madison Jaye Show and being the only South African to feature on the biggest hip hop podcast – The Combat Jack Show with Reggie Osse and Premium Pete. Shaka taught me how to develop intricate social media strategies for my personal brand, and for other brands. Whilst introducing me to people who would challenge what I knew. I had people who I worked with and trained as a result of Shaka, and when I left his agency – I was able to highlight things that I saw and be more of a risk manager. I need to mention that while I worked with Shaka, I was able to learn from other young black people, that being Zimasa Lupuwana, Sibu Mabena, Chief Ntshingila and many more. I watched, listened and applied what I was taught.
I did NOT go to school to study social media, at all. In fact, as we speak I am currently in the process of applying to study and refine the knowledge I have. A lot of what I know with social media has been learnt through trial and error – the drags online, the results on how it affected my work before and how much attention I was getting even offline from it.
I fell into social media, by accident. I look back on my journey and the number of things that I have done and I honestly find myself laughing because if you had asked me when I graduated from the Design School of Southern Africa, with a degree in Graphic Design and multimedia that at some point – I would choose something else over design, I would have told you that you’re insane, but that is really what happened. Shaka gave me the opportunity to move from being a graphic designer – a position where I was beginning to get bored – and helped build me with the little bit of knowledge I had. I still do design work, I still write, I still do photography but it isn’t nearly on the level that I do social media. I luckily found a way to intertwine all my hobbies, all the things I knew and made a way to make them all work – and that is how I was able to increase my value in the industry and with companies. I am a multi-faceted individual and it shows in all that I do.
This journey isn’t for everyone, and I find myself doing a lot of research online – reading up on things, attending various talks, watching tutorials and attending sessions at other companies – as a means to keep learning. Social media in its very nature is an insane beast. It is constantly changing and developing because that is the way that the world is, so if you find yourself learning from people online for free, take the knowledge and build on it – there are plenty people who are willing to impart their knowledge on you just because we all deserve a seat at the table.
My recommendation, a killer social media manager is one that has learnt through trial and error, but has the educational experience and qualifications as well. That’s why I’m so determined to perfect my chosen industry, besides one can never have too much knowledge.