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How to become a Social Media Director: Qualifications, skills & more

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The world of social media offers an exciting and dynamic workplace, allowing people to combine passion and personality for a unique role. Working in social media in Formula 1 is even more coveted, as tweets can get tens of thousands of likes and retweets from fans almost instantly. With it being such a sought-after industry and career, how can you get a job in it?

We spoke to Motorsport Network’s Jess McFadyen to find out.

How do you become a Social Media Director?

I had no idea what I wanted to do as a career, I only knew two things; I wanted to be successful and I found the world of media fascinating.

One of my favourite films growing up was the early 2000s classic What Women Want starring Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt. It’s set in an advertising agency and, while the film massively over glorified the industry, I was captivated by this beautiful, glamourous world of storytelling. But having no real idea how to pursue that, I chose to study English Literature at the University of Leicester (not my first choice university, which at the time upset me greatly, and which now makes me laugh that it was something that concerned me so much). English is a hugely transferable degree so I felt it gave me plenty of options when I would eventually graduate.

After studying abroad in Geneva for my third year – something I would encourage anyone to experience to really learn about yourself as a person – I returned to the UK for my final year and decided to get serious about landing a job after graduation.

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At the time, a family friend used to work for a ‘little known’ magazine brand called Autosport, then owned by Haymarket Publishing. Haymarket regularly took on graduate salespeople. I had no idea what a media sales executive really was, but a job in media sounded like the right step to be making, and after I passed the interview process I was put to work as a classified sales executive for a business magazine called Management Today.

There I learned about the business of media – how it makes money through advertising, as well as how to persuade people to part with money. From the get-go I found a real passion in pushing the boundaries of what we could offer to clients. That’s always been what has driven me – new ways of thinking and being first to try new ideas and practices. I love looking into the future and coming up with new ideas.

I moved to become an Agency Sales Executive for Autosport.com and it was there that my passion for motorsport and media came alive. I quickly realised that it felt less and less like a job when I could talk about Formula 1 all day!

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And while I was happy, I also noticed how little the company was embracing new media – social media. At the time, publishers and brands were only just starting to embrace social and in motorsport, one of the most inaccessible sports in the world – I could see how hugely important it would be for the industry.

That’s when I moved to Car Throttle – a social-first media start-up company aimed at targeting millennial car enthusiasts. I was one of their first commercial hires, and at just 25 years old and three months into the company, was made their Head of Sales. While navigating the new world of branded content and social first selling, this role also gave me experience in video and social production, content creation, directing, project management, P&L planning, Working for a start-up was life changing – you take on so much more responsibility and variety in your roles because of the small nature of the business.

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Luckily for me it wasn’t long until motorsport came back into my life when the company acquired WTF1. I fully believe in carving your own path in life and this would be the first time I would encourage my CEO to create a new role for me and make me Head of Partnerships for the brand – the brand had never made real money before and it was my job to commercialise it and turn it into a profitable business.

After six months of success – and another round of persuading the CEO – I was made Head of WTF1, managing the entire team, planning our content strategy, and tasked with running the brand as a business and positioning it as a disruptor in the motorsport media space.

It was at this point I started to work on my own brand identity as well, and as own personal platforms grew in audience numbers, I made sure to use that to make a name for myself in the industry and become influential both with fans and with brands and companies that operate in motorsport. Being well known on social media has massively helped in me getting business, partnerships and people willing and wanting to work with me. It’s also meant that I’ve been invited to talk on panels to give my view point on the state of the industry.

After three years as Head of WTF1, I was approached to come back to work for Autosport and its sister brands at the Motorsport Network as Director of Digital Strategy, to apply what I’d learnt and bring a fresh new approach to how we communicate with our audiences.

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Jess McFadyen, Motorsport Network Director of Digital Strategy

Jess McFadyen, Motorsport Network Director of Digital Strategy

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What qualifications do you need?

Having higher qualifications is of course hugely beneficial, but more and more I think it’s becoming most important to have passion in your area and evidence of your abilities. This can be a portfolio of work on Instagram/Vimeo/YouTube. I always ask for portfolio first, CV second.

What should you study in school?

I studied English Literature – a broad subject that gave me a depth of understanding about proper communication, analysis, and creativity at a university where it was encouraged to also take on subjects outside of your major (I did business and politics modules, as well as a study placement working for a publisher). So I would say for anyone not sure exactly what they want to do then a subject like that is a good foundation.

There are more and more media degrees that specialise in content creation – be that broadcast journalism, video and design, communication, and I’d say that those are very applicable.

What other skills are useful?

On the business side of my role: I would say that 80% of my job is problem solving. The ability to see a situation and being able to fix it quickly and in a way that brings positive outcome. Other than (or as well as) that, organisation, forward thinking, innovation and a hunger to learn new things, being able to see the bigger picture or ways that things connect together, searching for efficiencies.

On the creative side of my role: Huge amounts of creativity, empathy or the ability to put yourself into the mind of audiences is key at all times. People skills and the ability to present confidently are also strong traits, working with people and aiming to inspire creativity.

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How can I get work experience?

Everyone dreams of F1, and I don’t blame them, but there are so many smaller series and drivers who need help with their social media and digital efforts. So other than starting your own portfolio (whether that’s via social platforms like Instagram, or a blog) I would always say to reach out to those teams and drivers and offer to help them or to intern for them.

You can also ask to shadow people in the roles you think you’re interested in. It’s a bit harder to do during COVID-19 times, but often can land you real-world experience.

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The biggest thing to remember though is that these people are probably very busy. So have a think about how exactly you could add value to them – not only does this usually pique their interest above a standard “can I come and work for you” email, but it also shows that you’ve thought about their business and what they might need, which shows dedication and research, and a level of care that should make you stand out.

Should I work for free/exposure?

I would always say no. It might be that you don’t get a full time or well-paying job, but if it’s for the experience then it can be invaluable.

Jess McFadyen, Motorsport Network Director of Digital Strategy

Jess McFadyen, Motorsport Network Director of Digital Strategy

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What does a day at work look like for a Social Media Director?

No two days look the same. My job is incredibly varied as it has me working with almost all of our different departments, as well as within our own. So I try and divvy up my time between them depending on what the priority is. Digital is at the heart of everything we do as a business so it’s my job to make sure we’re operating according to best practice and working towards our company objectives. It’s a lot of emails and a lot of Teams meetings (at the moment), but I love that I get to work across the wider business.

A lot of my time is spent with our commercial team, helping to bring to life content campaigns which can take up a lot of time – but they’re important to get right as they keep the lights on! It also helps that my background is in sales, so I can try and help create content that our audience will respond well too, while also hitting client objectives.

My work cycle mainly follows the racing calendar, so during a race weekends I’m leading the creative team who are making assets and social posts to cover the race events in real-time. I’m there to support them and to make sure that our coverage cuts through the noise of social media and gets the best results to hit our KPIs.

During the weekend I also present a live fan Q&A on Instagram after practice, quali, and the race. I do this with our Motorsport.com F1 editor, Jon Noble. On a Sunday night I’m also a guest on the Autosport Podcast.

This article was created in partnership with Motorsport Jobs. Find the latest jobs in motorsport on the Motorsport Jobs website.

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LinkedIn Makes its 20 Most Popular LinkedIn Learning Courses Freely Available Throughout August

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Looking to up your skills for a job change or career advancement in the second half of the year?

This will help – today, LinkedIn has published its listing of the 20 most popular LinkedIn Learning courses over the first half of 2022. In addition to this, LinkedIn’s also making each of these courses free to access till the end of the month – so now may well be the best time to jump in and brush up on the latest, rising skills in your industry.

As per LinkedIn:

As the Great Reshuffle slows and the job market cools, professionals are getting more serious about skill building. The pandemic accelerated change across industries, and as a result, skills to do a job today have changed even compared to a few years ago. Professionals are responding by learning new skills to future-proof their careers and meet the moment.” 

LinkedIn says that over seven million people have undertaken these 20 courses this year, covering everything from improved communication, project management, coding, strategic thinking and more.

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Here are the top 20 LinkedIn Learning courses right now, which you can access via the relevant links:

  1. Goal Setting: Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) with Jessie Withers
  2. Excel Essential Training (Office 365/Microsoft 365) with Dennis Taylor
  3. Interpersonal Communication with Dorie Clark
  4. Cultivating a Growth Mindset with Gemma Leigh Roberts
  5. Project Management Foundations with Bonnie Biafore
  6. Using Questions to Foster Critical Thinking and Curiosity with Joshua Miller
  7. Essentials of Team Collaboration with Dana Brownlee
  8. Unconscious Bias with Stacey Gordon
  9. Learning Python with Joe Marini
  10. Communicating with Confidence with Jeff Ansell
  11.  Speaking Confidently and Effectively with Pete Mockaitis
  12. Learning the OWASP Top 10 with Caroline Wong
  13. Power BI Essential Training with Gini von Courter
  14. Strategic Thinking with Dorie Clark
  15. SQL Essential Training with Bill Weinman
  16. Developing Your Emotional Intelligence with Gemma Leigh Roberts
  17. Communication Foundations with Brenda Bailey-Hughes and Tatiana Kolovou
  18. Agile Foundations with Doug Rose
  19. Digital Marketing Foundations with Brad Batesole
  20. Critical Thinking with Mike Figliuolo
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If you’ve been thinking about upskilling, now may be the time – or maybe it’s just worth taking some of the programming courses, for example, so that you have a better understanding of how to communicate between departments on projects.

Or you could take an Agile course. If, you know, you don’t trust your own management ability.

The courses are available for free till August 31st via the above links.

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Instagram Is Rolling Out Reels Replies, And Will Be Testing A New Feature Which Informs …

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Instagram has added a few more social features to the platform, with Reels Replies being rolled out. Along with the Replies, anew feature is being tested that shows when two users are active together in the same chat.

Reels has been performing much better than perhaps even Instagram ever anticipated. The TikTok-inspired new video format (which officially claims to have absolutely no relation to the former) had some trouble really finding its footing initially. However, Reels has grown massively and while it may not be a source of the most direct competition to TikTok, it is indeed a worthy alternative.

Reels has grown to the point that it has a massive creator program attached to it, and the video format has even been migrated to Facebook with the goal of generating further user interest there. Naturally, with such a successful virtual goldmine on its hands, Instagram has been hard at work developing new features and interface updates for Reels, integrating it more and more seamlessly into the rest of the social media platform. Features such as Reels Replies are a major part of such attempts at integration.

Reels Visual Replies are essentially just what they sound like: A Reel that is being used to reply to someone. It’s a feature that’s been seen frequently across TikTok as well. Reel Replies essentially take a user’s comments, and reply to them in video format. The comment will then show up within the Reel itself as a text-box, taking up some amount of space, and showing both the user who issued said comment along with the text. The text-box is apparently adjustable, with users having the ability to move it around and change its size depending on where it obstructs one’s Reel the least.

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Overall, it’s a fun addition to the Reels format, even if the credit should be going to TikTok first. At any rate, it’s an example of Instagram really utilizing Reels’ social media capabilities, outside of just serving it up as a form of entertainment.

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Speaking of social media capabilities, a new feature might help alleviate one of the most common frustrations encountered across all such platforms. Isn’t it annoying when you see that a friend’s online, but isn’t replying to your chat? Sure, they’ve probably just put their phone down to run a quick errand, but there’s no way for you to know, right? Well, there sort of is now! Instagram is beta testing a new feature via which if both users are active within a chat, the platform will display that accordingly. It’s a work-around, sure, and one that’s currently being tested for usefulness, but it’s still a very nice, and even fresh, addition to the social media game.

Now, the active status will only appear when you are both active at the same time.#Instagram #instgramnewfeature@MattNavarra @instagram @alex193a pic.twitter.com/2chGZP9hr4

— Yash Joshi  (@MeYashjoshi) December 10, 2021

Read next: Instagram Plans On Allowing Users To Return To Its Old Chronologically Sorted News Feed

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5 apps for scheduling Instagram posts on iPhone and Android

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Alright, we get it. You’re an Instagram Nostradamus.

You know exactly what you want to post and when you’re gonna want to post it. Maybe there’s a meme or comment you want to make that you know will be totally relevant for a future moment or event. Or it could be that you’re an influencer and you want to make sure you keep a steady stream of content coming, so you want to schedule posts for times when you know you won’t be active (or won’t have internet access).

You’ll be happy to know there are apps that are specialized for just such situations. So listen up, InstaNostradamuses…Instagrostra…Instadam…Insta…uh…you guys (we’ll workshop it. No we won’t. We’ll probably just abandon that effort completely. You’re welcome) — these are the Instagram-post-scheduling apps for you.

While all of the iPhone apps below are free to download, they all have some in-app purchases.

1. Planoly

PLANOLY

We’ll start with “official partner” of Instagram, itself, Planoly — an Instaplanner that uses a grid to let you plan, schedule, and publish posts (as well as Reels) on Instagram. The app also lets you see post metrics and analytics so you can make sure your post didn’t flop.

Planoly is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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2. Buffer

BufferCredit: buffer / app store

Buffer is another Instagram post scheduler that helps you plan your posts and analyze feedback once they’re published. Use a calendar view to drag and drop posts into days/time slots for easy scheduling.

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Buffer is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

3. Preview

PreviewCredit: preview / app store

Preview offers typical post-scheduling tools and analytics along with a few helpful extras. Get caption ideas, recommendations for hashtags, and more.

Preview is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

4. Content Office

Content OfficeCredit: content office / app store

An Instagram post scheduler with a visual boost, Content Office allows users to plan and schedule Instagram posts while learning “marketing and visual guides to grow your brand on Instagram.” Like aesthetics and using visuals to create cohesive themes? Maybe this is the Instaplanner for you.

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Content Office is available for iOS on the Apple App Store.

5. Plann

PlannCredit: plann / apple store

You’ll never guess what “Plann” lets you do…

Aside from scheduling posts, get content ideas and recommendations, as well as strategy tips to ensure you’re maximizing your Instagram engagement. Ever wonder when the best time to post something is? Plann can offer you some help with that.

Plann is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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