Maitland & Newcastle-based social media manager Glen Fredericks reveals to CHRISTINE BUHAY how he made a successful career change into the world of social media. He shares his views on social media management for Facebook and Instagram in particular …
Could you tell us a bit of a background about you?
While I had a trade background – I was a fitter machinist – I’d found myself reading a lot while operating CNC machines -computer numerically controlled lathes, sometimes the cycle would go for ten or more minutes. It may not be the most illustrious of starting points, but most of the reading materials in a typical metal engineering workshop were men’s magazines – typically People and Picture Magazines. And they’d often have a call out of submissions – humorous short stories, letters to the editor, jokes that sort of thing.
This led to me writing. I’d send in 700 to 1,200 word short stories – depending on the magazine – which paid up to $400 if successful. I had a lot of stories being published in the mid to late 90s. One of the magazines had a contest with the prize being a brand new fridge. 100 words or less, why fridges are better than women. My submission clocked in at exactly 99 words and took me less than 15 minutes to write. Given the cost of a fridge and that it took me just 15 minutes to have it written, printed and stuffed into an envelope, it meant my writing was worth about $4,000 an hour.
Given my creative bent it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I found myself looking for a career change, but I prepared myself for it by doing a variety of TAFE and other courses while I worked as a fitter or a machinist. Desktop publishing and Digital Arts & Media at TAFE and some short courses through the WEA Hunter – Writing For Children, Cartooning for Pleasure & Profit and Freelance Journalism are a few of the courses I threw myself into.
I eventually found myself in web design, and later publishing articles online and earning money through the likes of AdSense and Amazon with contextual ads and product placement.
I progressed from web design to content writing because in the process of freelancing, I’d spend far too much time trying to educate people on the benefits of having a website or online promotion. A lot of my articles would be teaching people how to do it themselves. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’d then do a course in Training & Assessment which led to work as a trainer at an RTO, and also picking up work as a part-time TAFE teacher in web design. When that teaching gig ended I went back to school, so to speak, and did an Advanced Diploma of Music Business. That opened some interesting doors for me even while as a student or perhaps I should say, especially while I was a student. Given my experience and qualifications and my answers to the questions, I was often invited to the front of the class to take over on occasion.
That was in 2012. In 2013 in semester 1, I did what’s called “Selective Study” at TAFE, picking and choosing a variety of individual units and pulling together evidence of “recognition of prior learning” and submitting it for advanced standing. I knew how the system worked. That’s not to imply that I played the system, but I was able to pull apart the units of competency and address each and every element and performance criteria and the critical aspects for assessment.
What that meant was that I was handing in work that I would have wanted handed to me as a teacher. Given the past experience it wasn’t hard to gather the evidence required to pass each unit.
Now I’m working full time for a Barbeques Galore franchise, doing a variety of creative tasks, a large chunk of that being social media.
It’s a very unique position. The owners of the franchise don’t own just one, but two Barbeques Galore stores. I didn’t know it before working there but about half of the Barbeques Galore stores around Australia are company-owned, the other half are franchise. I was very fortunate to find a position vacant being advertised – on their Facebook Page it turned out – for the role, which has evolved and grown in the last six months that I’ve been there. The owners are very pro-active and think outside the box. They knew enough to know they needed to invest in creating a role that would see them expand as a business. They don’t just own a barbeque franchise store, they’ve also released a classy-looking barbeque cook book. I got excited during the interview to hear just what they had planned over the coming months and even years.
What is your focus on social media? What social platforms do you use and why?
You’ve likely heard it before about content being king, and it is. Whether its purpose is to entertain, educate or inform, a real effort must be put into the way it’s written if it’s to be communicated effectively.
Whether it’s publishing lengthy articles at Squidoo, HubPages or Zujava, making a post on Facebook, or keeping within 140 characters for a tweet, you need to bring your A game. Not every single post will be a home run, but you do have to be consistent.
Depending on what I’m doing for myself or a former client, but now with my employer, I’ll use a combination of Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter and whatever else might be appropriate to reaching the intended audience.
For you, what are the key ingredients of a successful social media strategy?
Mixing things up – there’s going to be things I know are going to work, but if I relied on those as my only moves I’d be predictable and boring.
And as spontaneous as ideas can be, I like to write them down and think them through without them being in text field of the status update. I like to make sure my message is clear and free of smelling pistakes.
Don’t post all your best stuff too quickly. Pace yourself. Spread it out. Too often I see someone post three updates within an hour and then there’s silence for a week. That content should have been rationed to post every second day.
What would you say is the best social media platforms to mix?
Definitely Facebook and Instagram.
What is a typical day in your life like?
Every day can be completely different than the one before it. But to break it down to what may happen, it could include any of the following:
* Graphic design
Design of flyers, business cards, certificates vouchers; adding text to photos and images for use on online media; design of logos, packaging, and merchandise.
* Web design
Setting up web hosting, creation of websites and uploading of websites. For instance, www.plumbinggalore.com.au
* Social media
Management of social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and YouTube; investigate other social media platforms for their suitability for the businesses.
Taking photos for print, social media and online sales.
Shooting, editing and uploading video footages.
Writing sales copy for online ads, social media posts and press releases.
* Online sales
Listing products on Ebay, Gumtree, Facebook Groups and Pages; interacting with the customers when feedback or clarification is needed.
When not exploring the wilds of social media, Glen Fredericks is working on a children’s book series. Visit his Amazon author page under the nom de plume (Glen Allen Stadler).
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