Samantha Tomaszewski, social strategy leader, BuzzFeed, on career in social media audience engagement


Today. We're gonna talk about audience work samantha. I think maybe a useful place to start might be with you. You're of course the social strategists of commerce for buzzfeed. He told me exactly what that means. Yeah so i. Focused specifically on buzzfeed has an entire shopping and commerce. Vertical on that helps generate revenue for the site so i focus on the Social strategy that has to do specifically with. Yeah our shopping. Vertical commerce that we have different facebook and instagram account We should affiliations through the app. Trying to get people to view and hopefully convert and shop from buzzfeed shopping's content and you'll training is actually journalism. Right yes yeah. I went to lehigh. University and i studied journalism political science. So how'd you go from as journalists to to what you do now because they seem slightly not far apart but they of course. Different skills and disciplines. Yeah an. I honestly think this is why i enjoy doing a lot of like student. Mentorship conversations is something that i do in my spare time because i love to talk to students about how i went from my studies university to Where i am now and the kind of important middle pieces. I also worked for huffpost for about three years as an audience editor. That was definitely more than new space before. I made the transition to commerce but it was definitely my treating from school. That got me there where i did study. You know a lot of social media. And i worked for my student newspaper editor-in-chief so i think a lot of practical experience that i get in college was able to help me leverage interviews and opportunities that they did come up after i graduated. This is going to be useful for more. We're about to about to talk about what i don't understand is where does your journalistic thread really still help you today. yeah i think in conversations with students are being active on twitter. And i think yeah. It's definitely helped me again. Even though i am in the commerce face now that i do approach it from maybe a different perspective somebody who has a marketing background or a different sort of training. And i think that's helped me sort of succeed in that role in yet. Maybe look at marketing ecommerce from a different lens at a different angle that kind of that journalistic training and news is still kind of always been like my passionate. My background yes. It's been cool to kind of approach. A new different challenge in like a slightly different discipline. With that lens. so samantha at the stop december. You had a twitter thread which seemed to go on a quite a bit of attention and just gonna take a few moments to read through that for our audience who may not seen it. You say i was on the mentoring cool with a student about to graduate college and she told me that a member of a fairly popular journalism organization gave her some discouraging advice. This person told her not to go into audience work. she was taught. That should be better off working in a reporter all covering political committee even if no one read her work. I was shocked. And that's really the main part of the the tweet you to talk about the kind of skills that you acquire through working in social and how that might help to make you a better journalist editor in chief had of audience etc and basically saying the audience. Work is a valid career path for me. What kind of stuck out with this. And what seemed to be the main thrust of the compensation that audience roles in journalism at least are perhaps not taking seriously as some of the more traditional roles still existent in the newsroom. So can you recap on. Wherever where this threat came from the impetus for that was sure. Yeah i expected to take off as much as it did but obviously it was very encouraging to see that so many people have strong reactions to it. And we're coming out in support of what. I was saying that that was great and i think it was just that i had spoken to the student and i had such like a you know on one hand infuriating but on the other hand like poignant sort of anecdote from her about somebody telling her that she shouldn't go into audience work in that she would be better off being a reporter doing work that nobody was even reading which doesn't really make sense to me. That was just. She clearly had been so affected by being told that even though her passion was an audience. I just wanted to try and you know in my conversation with her. I tried to tell her that. That certainly wasn't true. I've been able to find a path for it myself. But i just wanted to speak to that to the journalism community at large in some way Because i was so shocked that someone would tell like a growing journalists that I'm not asking you to to name drop of course but can you be more specific about the type of news organization. That had sort discouraged her in this way. And i don't even she didn't even name. I don't know the individual who it was and that's obvious he never would. It was about but you know a fairly large digital mu organization in one that does promote journalism and digital media yagi Specific affiliation with the organization. Or anything like that. You know what. I'm trying to get a picture of where that kind of attitude has come from. We're talking about you said digital media company based in the us deny yes legacy your print media. That's what was interesting is that it was coming from somewhere that i wouldn't have expected this sort of advice navy to come from interest and in your experiences this like an isolated event. You hear this a lot. Yeah i mean. I think i've also experienced a lot. Even you know by career so far in you know. Both of the newsroom's i've worked in and buzzfeed Post there obviously. The vast majority of people are incredibly supportive of the audience team. But i do think it is sometimes struggle to get your foot in the door in certain meetings or to get your opinions out by certain journalists. Who may be you know are entrenched in some of these older schools of thought about what even is audience worker. Why is it important. So i think i've seen that. There is still a learning process. Even when i've been in newsrooms trying to do the work that i do cleaning they'll put you off. No no because. I think it is. It is important so i think it's really rewarding when you do maybe get through to somebody who didn't understand how you can help them in. Their story goes viral on twitter. Because you mockup a tweet thread. That does really well. Then they see the value of it. I think there's constantly a need for audience enters to try to prove and show results and data for what they're doing and i do you know have found that rewarding as well to be able to show people like. Here's what we can do to elevate your work like look at works that it's really exciting. So i mean the thrust of that conversation. Was it very much. That audience roles are just not as integral to the newsroom. Or was it that they just kind of look down on a as i said from the beginning like not taking seriously. What was called the main bone of contention like disgust here. Yeah i mean. I think all of those things are potentially depending yet. I think who you're talking to. I think obviously. I was speaking to the student as like a career conversation. She was about to graduate and she was trying to figure out what she should pursue. So i think it was. You know maybe they aren't as integral to newsroom so she shouldn't do it because maybe they're not stability there but again i know i shared with her. You know it's just one experience. But i have. I've experienced stability in far in my career. you know. obviously they're always layoffs in media yet. I think against you that if you wanted to have a future in journalism she was getting told that maybe this wasn't the right path for her. Because i think that was another point in my thread is she has an interest in politics. She was getting told. You know if you wanna go into political journalism you have to be like a beat reporter and that's the only way you can get there but again i don't really think that's true and something else. I tried to outline in my throat is how many great skills you do learn being an audience that can transfer to being reported. You know people who have moved into production or product or any sort of area in media and beyond so. I think i was really just trying to emphasize that it is a valid career path. We shouldn't be telling young journalists that it's not

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