Talking Twitter with Mara Shapiro
We’re honored to welcome Mara Shapiro, AKA @ChickyMara, to SocialNorth. Mara’s been cooking without a recipe since 19–what? She spends her days in social media and is a mother and wife in her spare time. She reads, writes, has opinions and laughs a lot. This is her story…
SocialNorth welcome submissions from everyone. Whether you’re focused on content, SEO, social media strategy or traditional PR, we’d love to hear from you. Visit our Writer’s Guidelines and share your expertise with our community.
How it all began…
It was June of 2010. I was recently out of work and completely beaten down by my previous role as a trainer at an insurance company. I knew that leaving that job was the best thing that had ever happened to me, but it was hard to see beyond my unhappiness.
Wondering how I was going to market myself to stand out in my specialized field, I opened up the newspaper. Staring at me was an article about Scott Stratten, and how he had leveraged social media to build his brand and his business. I was intrigued,
I knew that I needed to do something different. Was Twitter (and blogging) the solution?
Immediately, I opened up a Twitter account and fell in love. For a girl who talks too much, Twitter was paradise.
Seeing the light…
In October 2010, I was invited to attend the ShesConnected Conference (probably because I was relentless in my campaigning). I wasn’t employed full-time but through my blog and nascent twitter account, I was slowly finding my confidence. I didn’t know anyone except Amanda Kinnaird (and I’d only met her the night before). It wouldn’t be the first time I’d step out of my comfort zone over the next couple of years.
My family wondered how I had friends I’d never met. I couldn’t explain how I could become close to someone on Twitter, except to say that we were drawn together by common interests: work, blogging, kids, books, laughter…That sense of community healed me and continues to nourish.
That first conference was an eye opener for me. There was a whole world in social media, and I wanted in. There, it was cool to be yourself, to share your thoughts and opinions. Finally, I could be ME.
Somehow, a few weeks later, I scored a ticket to the first Blissdom Canada. The night before Blissdom, rooming with Marci O’Connor (we had just met), I found out my father was dying. The outpouring of kindness, support, and caring on Twitter astounded me, especially, from people I’d probably never meet face-to-face.
Finding my voice – and self-confidence – again
After extricating myself from yet another bad work situation, I realized the corporate world was not for me. I couldn’t be in a place that didn’t value what I had to offer.
Throughout my career, I’ve jumped from vocation to vocation, never really finding my calling. It was interesting that every role involved communicating – whether I was writing marketing documentation, planning events, doing product demos or facilitating customer service and product training.
The deeper I delved into the social media world, I realize I wanted to make it my work, my passion. It fit me and was what I was good at. I made it my mission to learn everything I could about social community management. I reached out and absorbed everything I could, making connections through volunteer work.
With sheer will, and the cooperation of others like Leigh Mitchell of the Women in Biz Network, I turned my hobby (that I loved) into a career (that I was crazy about).
I found my voice. And it’s telling me I’m brilliant!
I learned that it’s never too late to find your passion. I found out that uniqueness isn’t a bad thing, and that I don’t have to fit into someone else’s mold or pretend to be something I’m not. I realized that until I found my worth, nobody else would see it, and that I should take ‘When you walk into a room, everyone knows you’ve arrived’ as a compliment.
There’s no stopping me now. Not those who say that social media is a young person’s game. Nor those who say I’m too enthusiastic, too expensive, or just too too too.
If you think you’d like a career in social media, here are some things that worked for me.
- Get on social. Don’t just do it though. BE it. Live it. Breathe it. Believe it.
- Develop a unique voice that’s yours alone. I can’t stress how important authenticity is. People who use social media have no time for sneaky machinations.
- Network (which I’m terrible at) and make connections, not just with people who you think are important, but with anyone who wants to network with you.
- Be open. Keep your eyes out for opportunities. Even if you think you’re not qualified, give it a shot. You never know if you’ve got something magical that they’re looking for and can’t find anywhere else.
- Leverage the transferable skills that you already have (for example, if I was good at math, I may have pursued analytics and not social communication.)
- Volunteer to develop your skills. Live tweeting at events has opened up many doors for me.
- Find a mentor, someone you look up to who is doing great or interesting things. For me it’s Holly Pavlika of MomentumNation and Collective Bias.
- Learn, learn, learn, Read, read, ask questions. Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know. Harness the power of Google. Take advantage of free webinars and newsletter subscriptions.
- Carpe Diem. Go for it. Just do it. Breathe. Be patient.
Read more profiles on SocialNorth
- Lisa Kahn
- Craig Silva
- Deb Lowther
- Barbara Viteri
- Pam Ross
- Trey Whitehead
- Robert Petril
- Sarah Robinson
- Greg Lehman
- Suzie Kummins-Poirier
About Mara Shapiro
Mara Shapiro is a social media addict, blogger, and proof that it’s never too late to reinvent yourself. A former marketer and customer experience trainer, she is now a Community and social media consultant to small businesses. A mom of three, she gives the real scoop about raising teens and mothering over 40 at momfaze.com, and shares inappropriate slices of life, books and products she loves at beniceorleavethanks.com. She has been a featured guest on CJAD Radio Montreal, The Late Shift with Gail Vaz-Oxlade, Bonbon break, Blogher, Huffington Post live, and CTV News Channel, and has been quoted in Brighterlife.ca, Today’s Parent, and The Toronto Star. Catch up with Mara on Twitter (@ChickyMara & @MomFaze), Pinterest and LinkedIn.