Digital marketing, social media, and other online platforms are rapidly becoming one of the strongest tools in creating online brands and personalities. With the internet becoming the #1 place to share stories and information, knowing how to take advantage of its properties is key to promoting growth and visibility online.
What makes ACMA’s E4Women conversation about digital marketing so special, are the unique perspectives offered by these Asian American women who have spent over ten years in the industry. Phoebe Chongchua, brand journalist, and Melodie Tao, social media specialist, have shared their knowledge and experiences as Asian American women marketing professionals and content creators.
This conversation comes from our E4Women in Media Webinar and Panel Discussion from August 27th, 2020, which you can watch on YouTube. If you’d like to join us for our next E4Women event, visit our Webinars page for more information and updates.
Cathlyn: So, Melodie, can you briefly share your story of when and why you got into the business of Social Media Marketing?
Melodie: I’ve Working in social media for almost a decade, for 13 years, almost as long as it’s been around for business. I started my career in traditional media, with radio advertisement and I realized everything was shifting online. And when I realized everything was shifting online, I noticed more people–including small business owners–were able to have a voice and share their message, to share their businesses. That really intrigued me to get into social media, because I did notice that in traditional lager media company, not everyone always has a voice. It’s mostly the people who have the most money to pay for advertising or the larger corporations. But with social media, everyone even small businesses can have a really large impact.
Cathlyn: Why is social media so important in this digital age, and How can we harness its power to create our own presence and grow our business?
Melodie: So especially now, with the state of current affairs, where a lot of things are shut down and people aren’t allowed to go to certain places, social media is the way you can still stay connected to your community and customers and clients. And it’s really important because it is the place where you can still build up your presence despite not being physically able to go places, so it gives you a voice and it continues to do that when you can’t physically go anywhere. Also, keep in mind, with social media, you are able to be a resource for people. So if you are a business owner or someone who works in a profession where you want to help people, you can use social media to really help people by answering their questions before they ask them, by giving them resources, by being that expert, and helping people in a way that they need. You can also customize your message if you have a plan and strategy on how to do that, and that’s one of the things I help my clients do. I help them be able to customize their message–be able to help their community and their customers.
Cathlyn: Do you have any advice, especially for first-generation folks, on how can they get over the fear of getting their information out there and sharing their stories through social media?
Melodie: Yeah, that’s a great question, and a lot of people I work with, they are afraid to put themselves out there because they don’t want to seem like they’re selling anything, or seem like they’re being pushy. So I always just explain to my clients that, “Hey, you’re not being pushy if you have something that’s really valuable that people need to hear, that people need to see.” So if you can change your mindset about putting yourself out there, that, “Hey, I’m not this cheesy salesperson, but actually providing a resource” then that can kind of get you over the hump of pushing that post button. Now, I like what Phoebe mentioned, and now more than ever, people are using video technology and live video and they’re finally getting in front of the camera. Whereas most people before were afraid to do that on social media, but with the power of technology and the power of just using your iPhone, anyone can get on-screen. It’s scary so you still might not want to push that Live button, but if you can be confident about your message, and clear about what you want to share–that will definitely help a lot.
Cathlyn: Could you also share your story of why and how you got into journalism? And Why is brand journalism such an important evolution in building a successful business today?
Phoebe: I got into journalism because as a young child, I really wanted to investigate, explore and have a front seat to the world–to be able to tell stories, so that’s what attracted me to it. As time went on my role at channel 10 changed; I was there for about 15 years. I toured the last ten years of my career, I became what was called the Community Affairs Specialist. This was really important to me, and I think it was something that I wish I would see more television stations doing today. I connected with the community, did a lot of the things, Cathlyn, like what you’re doing today–for a television station. So more than ever, do we need to see those positive stories. These stories were only left to the end of the newscast. Before that position in a storyline of jargon that you might call the kicker, the fluff piece, just a 45 second sound bite. So it was really important to me to break out when I left Channel 10, to start brand journalism, which is the ability to tell your story and be the media from your perspective or your corporations’ perspective.
Cathlyn: Do you have any tips or suggestions for women out there on how they can overcome the fear of using, or become comfortable, with using social media?
Phoebe: Getting comfortable with social media and getting comfortable with things like Zoom, we can say one good thing came out of COVID, and that’s people are getting in front of cameras, and they’re doing it from their living rooms or their bedrooms. The more times you do this, the better at it you get. What I like to say is for people who want to break into TV, or they want to become a blogger, or a podcaster–I consult and teach on how to become a podcaster–which is the great venue for getting your story out, but really it starts with what is your story. Why are you doing this, what do you have to tell and why should anybody listen. Once you address those questions, we can start to craft a strategy that builds on that. Whether you’re trying to do topical news and you’re trying to stay up on the election and COVID and unemployment, or you’re trying to maybe go a meditiational route. Whatever that is, you’ve gotta know the real reason, and identify who you are trying to speak to, and really start to hone your story in and deliver specifically to that audience. What makes it so great, is that that power of this kind of communication you begin to see a real person. Now, that’s not without saying there’s some negative sides and things get manipulated all the time, and I’m frustrated by what we see today when we see these little soundbites and these clips more than ever, scattered throughout Facebook that are depicting something that is entirely wrong–and we all know the power of post-production. So, I like to say: speak your truth, share your truth and be passionate about what you’re doing and the audience will come.
Cathlyn: In the presence of current racial tensions and especially the ignorance that drive hate crimes towards Asians in the US, what can we do as media creators to better educate those that perpetuate these beliefs?
Phoebe: So, you know for me, I look at this as changing human behaviors is obviously not easy. It’s something that we work on for long periods of time to change our habits, but right now the stakes are so high, right. THe nation is more diverse than ever, yet there’ segregation still going on.I think that I read that census data was showing that most of neighbors are of the same race. And, we still have so much racism and so many things that are just quite frankly disgusting that are happening right now, in this time period. It’s shocking to me. So there’s a lot of hard work that needs to be done. But, there are a lot of things that certainly can make it better, and also make it worse. And social media is that double edged sword. And by that i mean, a lot of us can use social media to discover new things and to think different, but we can also use it to flock together and have meetings with like minded people, and to block out what really exists–the diversity and the need for unification, so how do we stop something like this; you know, if i had that answer, i’d be running the country! But I think what we need to do is, as content creators, as people who are telling stories who are using video , podcasts, webinars, doing things like what you’re doing, helps bring attention to it. But we also have to recognize that this starts at the top. I don’t want to get too political, but it starts with your vote, and it starts with really looking who we have out there speaking for us, and speaking for our nation. So I think that you have to start by curbing that animosity, and creating unity. That to me is such a beautiful thing–if you can bring people together and harmonize. But you gotta stop with calling it the Wuhan Virus, or the China Virus, and really turning people against a particular race.
Melodie: Well, I’m gonna speak a little bit differently on that because most of the people that I work with in my business are small business owners, or they are service providers, and they’re providing a service to people. And the majority of the people that I work with, they want to work with people who want to work with them. But they also want to work with people that respect them. So one of the ways you can attract people to respect you– by using social media to share positive things that you’re doing, to share positive messages, and to try your best to try to not engage with those conversations where people are kind of baiting you to argue, baiting you to take sides. And you see that all over the place. I scroll social media, and I see posts every single day where you can comment, and then someone will come at you and say “Oh my gosh, I don’t want to work with you anymore”. So trying to really just focus on the positive things you can do, and as I mentioned before, being a resource–that can definitely help us create a better narrative on social media. Especially with businesses that are owned by minorities. Right now, we need to have positive perceptions of businesses owned by minorities.