I gave up social media for Lent once. It didn’t go well. Like most people born in the 1980s, I use digital as a window to view the world and as a chance to reflect what I want the world to see.
Tweeting, checking-in, pinning, posting, writing reviews, creating blogs, building websites; digital not only influences how we communicate but also how we connect, learn, discover and share.
When I was six or seven I decided I wanted to be a journalist. I went to great lengths to prove this point by dragging my Fisher-Price tape recorder around the house, interviewing members of my family. Put simply, I’ve always got a buzz from telling stories, whether visually or in writing.
I love a good plan and have spent a fortune in Paperchase and Scribble over the last few years, filling notebooks with doodles, ideas and quotes. These days other people pay me to tell their stories online, and the audience is now larger than just my mum and dad.
After university, I spent some time travelling (I set up a travel blog to document it, obviously) and working in admin jobs. I then moved into a general marketing role with a focus on customer insight, but it didn’t provide me with enough creative licence, or allow me to reach a large enough audience.
Digital seemed the perfect ‘space’ to move into. It’s constantly evolving (which addresses my low boredom threshold), offers limitless ways to be innovative, and the biggest hook of all – you can reach thousands of people and impact them with your content in an instant.
I arranged to job-shadow other teams (user experience and media) at the company I was already working in, read a ton of books, listened to a lot of TED Talks and sought out interesting people and ideas to inspire me. But looking for digital roles with no solid work experience was always going to be hard.
Around that time, I’d noticed on Facebook that lots of people were taking a shot at turning their passions into profit. They were working in their spare time to get their ideas off the ground and turn them into a full time career. Suddenly you didn’t need a TV or radio advert, or a full page spread in your local newspaper.
You could set up a Facebook page for free and tell all your mates about whatever it is you are promoting (the average Facebook user has 696 Facebook friends, compared to 140 in everyday life). It gave a whole new meaning to the term ‘word of mouth’. The timing seemed perfect and the plan was simple: to help this new wave of small businesses promote themselves online.
I started off by offering my services for free to friends who were getting their own projects off the ground. I did research and put together proposals and established ways for measuring success. The results (and client feedback) were great, but one request I repeatedly got asked was, “Do you do websites too?” “Well, um…no but I know a man who can.”
So I approached a good pal of mine who had experience in designing and building all kinds of webby bits and asked him if he wanted to join forces. Luckily for me he said yes and Good Egg Digital Marketing was born.
What we do has evolved a lot since then – from managing client relationships to having the confidence to turn down projects which don’t quite fit with what we offer. It’s been a massive learning curve. We’ve met and helped all sorts of small businesses from arts & crafts suppliers to local charities.
More importantly, we’ve had loads of laughs. If you are going to go on a digital adventure, I thoroughly recommend you take a partner in crime along for the ride. It brought home another lesson to me: that work can be fun if you find the right focus and the right people to work with.
Telling stories is my passion, but whatever it is you are excited or intrigued about, from computer coding to UX design to writing food blogs, there are so many different ways of learning (check out www.lynda.com). There are also now a number of digital academies offering apprenticeships. And if no one will pay you to do the work that floats your boat, volunteer until you get the experience you need.
Through the experience I gained with Good Egg, I‘m now the social media lead for EDF Energy’s recruitment channels. While there is no typical day in the office, it usually involves communicating with over 60,000 people online.
My digital journey has impacted so many areas of my life, including where I live (London), who I spend my time with (heaps of creative and innovative people), and most importantly my attitude – never take no for an answer.
About the author
In 2013, Bec Burnett co-founded Good Egg, a freelance digital consultancy that specialises in developing social media strategy, visual brand identities, tone of voice guidelines, print campaigns and customer insight analysis. Since then, she has become increasing interested in how women access training and develop their skills in digital. Things that make her excited about digital include Brandwatch React, Twitter’s Periscope and Lena Durnham’s email newsletter Lenny. Bec currently works at EDF Energy’s Employer Brand team in London.
Talk to Bec on Twitter: @BecBurnett