Advice From the Pros

How I Broke Into Social Media

“I was the youngest person on staff; I don't recommend that these days.”

Delia Paunescu is rocking at social media. As audience engagement editor at Newsday and amNewYork, she’s on top of the two newspapers’ social channels, but she also keeps up her personal brand across Twitter and Snapchat.

Delia started out as a writer and found her way into social media purely for being the youngest person in her newsroom. While that may have worked for Delia, she warns that age alone is not enough nowadays. Here, Delia passes on tips for aspiring social media pros who won’t be able to rely on their relative youth.

Current job: Audience engagement editor for Newsday Media Group
Past jobs: Social media coordinator for New York Post, social media coordinator for Food Network, assistant editor for Vision Monday, freelance web editor for Parenting Magazine, production intern on Showbiz Tonight
Hometown: Born in Romania, grew up in Tampa, FL
Education: Hofstra University

What do you do as an audience engagement editor?

I oversee the social media team and all our social properties. I’m also in meetings with editors and reporters trying to figure out how social can enhance their upcoming stories and projects, and how those stories and projects can be shaped to have maximum impact on our social properties. ​

How did you get into social media/audience engagement?

​My very first ​reporting job also involved being the social media editor for a small B2B magazine called Vision Monday. I was a retail reporter rooted in the optical industry. I was also the youngest person on staff at the time, so they made me in charge of the Twitter password. I don’t recommend that these days, but it was fairly common practice in 2010.

What’s it like acting as the voice for a large publication?

​It’s great fun but also terrifying. There’s always a fine line between being cheeky and having a personality for your brand and being too off-the-cuff and getting your publication in trouble.​

How do you think social media strategy differs on Twitter versus Facebook or other platforms?

​The platforms are different and the audiences are different. Stories on Facebook ​have a longer shelf life. You never fully know what major brand or celebrity will share your story, when it’s going to grab mass attention or to whom Facebook’s algorithm will show your story. For those reasons, it’s important to really get to know your audience and see what resonates with them.

On Twitter, it’s like a waterfall: information is constantly flowing and any one person will only dip their content cup in so many times throughout the day. It’s important to have something going constantly, but that also means you can play a story several times in the course of a day.

The main commonality for both platforms is that audiences are always receptive to new and cool ways of relaying information. It’s very exciting to see news organizations finally taking some creative freedom with how they present and share their pieces.

What advice do you have for someone trying to get into social media?

First you have to read everything you can. You have to know what’s going on with everything that interests you​ in this field​. When you meet the people ​you’re ideally already following on Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat, the ones ​who are going to help you in your career​, ​you’ll legitimately know what you’re talking about.

You​ also​ have to put yourself out there and ​chat up as many people as you possibly can. You have to ask for what you want, but you also have to do the work to deserve it. Older folks are easily impressed by young go-getters. It’s the “give me a job cause I want one” crowd we steer clear of.

Believe that it’s possible to make it in ​this field. Stick to what you really truly love but make sure you’re as versatile an employee as possible. Modern newsrooms are leaner than ever, so the more you know to do, the better your chances of sticking around.

Who is your favorite person to follow on Twitter?

​This is probably the most difficult question. For that very reason, I made this list of all my favorite ladies on Twitter. It’s amazing to look at during any live event because they all have the most brilliant, non-irritating insights. ​

What’s your personal favorite social media platform?

​Way back when, I loved Xanga. Hated MySpace. Loved Facebook. Loved Instagram. ​Currently obsessed with Snapchat (find me @deliapproved).

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

If you’d like to hone your social media skills, consider taking a class. Mediabistro’s Online Courses offer social media topics that range from a crash-course in social media engagement to an in-depth analysis of social media metrics.

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