Today’s chat is with Codi Dantu, a prolific Twitter presence, and 24-year old social media manager at an award-winning agency. I picked her brain to find out how she landed her role, how she makes social media content for her agency pop and her passion for making connections.

So I want to start off with one of those bigger questions – what is your passion, Codi? What are you passionate about?

Well, I must say I’m very passionate about people and creating relationships with people. I do my best to understand people from all walks of life. So for me, it’s important to create relationships and do that. I create them wherever I go whether it’s at work or when I play soccer twice a week. So I’m constantly meeting new people, and you just never know where your path will lead you when you do. That’s actually how I landed my job as a social media coordinator for my last job, by creating a relationship with a customer. So I’m a big believer in the idea that if you are genuinely nice to people and listen to them, they will be nice to you in return.

So you said you got the job at your current agency through networking. Can you tell me a bit more about how that process went down?

I worked at a Farmer’s Market here in San Diego and I befriended a lot of customers there on a first name basis. There was a customer in there who would always go to my line and talk about random stuff. One day he came in and asked: “so you’re graduating soon. What is it you want to do?” I told him I really want to work in Marketing. Then the next weekend he came with his daughter who is my agency’s operations manager.

So she gave me her card and I e-mailed her right when I got home from work basically saying “I am so interested in whatever position you have.”

They needed a social media manager. Sure enough, I went to interview and did a HubSpot Inbound test. Then they brought me on for a contract, and then I ended up working there full time. So it was really like just a weird kind of just happenstance that it happened at the right time just as I got fresh out of college. I know there’s a lot of apprehension for college students in finding a job. It’s very difficult. I totally understand that – I was sending out resumes almost every day after I graduated. But I just happened to meet this guy and his daughter and that’s just how it happened.

That’s fantastic. And you studied marketing or communication in college?

I studied communication, with a sprinkling of marketing classes.

That kind of story it almost seems surreal in this day and age. So now you’re doing social media for your agency. Can you describe a bit about your process for how you tend to plan content for the agency? And how you go about choosing your themes and topics and planning?

I work in an agency with designers, videographers, strategic directors, SEO strategists, account managers, brand strategists etc. So in terms of planning content, I like to utilize everybody’s expertise and from there we can create content relevant to those audiences.

We take into account agency buyer personas and create content to help them do their jobs better, whether that’s a social media coordinator who’s not sure how to create a social plan or a designer who’s unsure about starting on their path on graphic design. Using that last one as an example, we’ll figure out how we can inspire this designer, whether through a behind the scenes video with our designers, or a blog about graphic design. So I just start really at the ground level by talking with the people that I work with and their thoughts on their challenges and moving from there.

For curation, I gather my colleagues’ favorite Twitter feeds, Facebook pages etc. in one Google doc. I read from those websites and pages almost every other day to gather content.

With all the noise on social media, it’s getting harder to get noticed. How do you make your content stand out? How do you make it pop?

Starting with Instagram, I work really closely with our designers. When we have a creative idea, I like to work closely with them to come up with fantastic images to help get likes and exposure. In terms of photography, there’s a certain way that I like to take the pictures and whatnot. People assume agencies all look alike, but I’ve done my audits and make sure my photos are unique and really emphasize our agency culture.

In terms of Twitter, that’s just a whole another world where you can get lost in the sea of tweets. Rather than add to the noise, I really like to hone in on conversations. It’s not always just how you say things or the graphics that make you stand out, but instead joining conversations about marketing and branding and making friends who chat with you every day. That’s another way to really stand out I think because when you join those conversations and you have something valuable to say, people will remember you.

Of course. Communities are one of the biggest selling points for social media and where a lot of companies and brands tend to fall short when they are only pushing out their own messaging but aren’t being a part of these conversations.

I actually taught a social class with my agency’s interactive director and another coworker. We had a lot of small business owners who were saying they’re not getting any followers or engagement from their posts. As most marketers know, organic social reach is about 1% or 2%, especially on Facebook, and it’s hard to get anybody to like business page content. People don’t go on social to be sold to. So I just tell people to think of social media as a party. When you show up to a party, you don’t talk just about yourself. You try to find out what people are interested in, then share personal stories that apply to their own experience. That personal connection is still something that I feel a lot of businesses lack.

So with your photography, are you mostly doing a lot of culture shots for your agency? Or is it for content for your clients?

I’ve done a few shots for clients. But I really focus my attention on our agency, getting culture shots, people collaborating, our graphic designers at work. I really like to capture in-office as well as when we’re out and about. It’s funny because I really picked up photography when I landed this job, it was brand new to me. Our agency had never had a social media coordinator, so I get to experiment a lot. So there’s a lot you can learn by being in this kind of position.

So you say you’re primarily managing the agency’s own social channels, but I believe you said you do a bit of client work as well right? How do you help them achieve their KPIs?

Yes. I ask a lot of questions. Most people get on social media to generate leads and sales, but others are really just looking for brand awareness. So for brand awareness, I help them think about content that will entice the target audience, whether that’s photos, blogs, videos or graphics. It’s important to be diverse in your social media strategy and try to think outside the box – I suggested things like behind the scenes business videos.

So I asked them many questions about what ROI they’d like to see from social media and then from there, I liked to tie in graphic design work as well like I will make sure of that.

I also make sure in terms of distribution they use 60% curated content, 30% of their own content and 10% offers and sales messaging. You want to make sure followers get value from your account, so you need to share useful or entertaining content that they’ll appreciate. Then you can sneak in some promotional material.

So what do you tell clients when they want a hard line answer about how to get sales through social?

It’s a huge question with a complex answer. One of the big marketing guys that I love is Al Ries. He talks a lot about positioning; you really can’t sell a product or service if you don’t have positioning for your own company. What do people think of when they think of your brand? A lot of companies think okay, I have a quality product, I’m just going to be on social media and people are going to want to buy it. Sure, but there are tons of companies who are probably selling the same thing as you. So how can you stand out? What is it about your brand or product that makes it so special? Social media is where you can do a lot of that positioning.

People forget that social media is a marketing tool – It’s a pathway to sales, not pushing your sale. We’re not performing social media selling, which is a different beast. So social media is just a small part of your marketing strategy, meant to augment your existing sales and marketing strategies.

In your day-to-day, what sort of tools do you use in your practice to kind of be successful at your own job, social media and everything else you do for the agency?

Google Docs is my lifesaver for sharing documents, and I use Google sheets for my calendar. I use Hashtagify to search hashtags that are trending or synonymous hashtags that I can use for our posts. I also use Crowdfire to follow and unfollow people.

For photography, I use Lightroom and Photoshop, for curated content I actually just do it manually. I’m just kind of old-fashioned.

That’s cool. What about keeping organized? How do you stay on track?

I use a physical planner, old school. I really like to write my own. You should see my desk, I have sticky notes everywhere. I really believe there’s power in the pen. I also use Asana to manage my tasks.

Last question: If you had one tip to share with someone who wanted to land a social media position with an agency, what advice would you give them?

Well, that’s a very good question. I would say be very personable and be confident in yourself and your abilities. Even if you feel like you don’t know everything and you feel like you’re under-qualified for a job, I would still send that resume and be confident in what you know and your ability to learn the rest as you go. Be sure to learn as much as you can about where you’re applying and what their challenges are – if you can address your ability to help solve those specific challenges, your pitch will be that much stronger.

Just be true to you and don’t follow what everybody tells you to do with social media. If you try to be like everyone else, then your efforts will be drowned out. So just be you, be confident, and do your research.

That’s a good sort of advice. There’s only one you, and that kind of response will show that you’re really thinking a lot about how you can push the needle for the organization that you’re applying for.

Absolutely. That’s the biggest thing you can bring to the table. Remember, you’re always trying to answer the question of why and what can you bring to the table. Anybody could do your job – but how would you do it better?

Okay, real last question – who’s your favorite Spice Girl, and why?

I am a huge Spice Girl fan actually. I’ll go with Scary Spice because we have the same hair, but I like them all. I like their style, they’re funky in their platform shoes. I mean I like wearing those too. I think that era was so much fun.

Codi Dantu and has been working in Marketing as a social media manager at an award-winning agency in the San Diego area. She coordinates social posts, runs social ads, works with clients on their social media strategies, and plays the role of in-house photographer.

When not being social on social, she enjoys playing soccer, weight lifting, reading, and hanging with family. You can find her on Twitter as @Codishaa.