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How a Nursing Student Pivoted Her Career into Social Media Marketing

Written by:

Howard Tillerman is the Chief Marketing Officer for Making That Sale and an award-winning marketing professional.

Edited by:

Sallie, holding a Ph.D. from Walden University, is an experienced writing coach and editor with a background in marketing. She has served roles in corporate communications and taught at institutions like the University of Florida.

How a Nursing Student Pivoted Her Career into Social Media Marketing

How a Nursing Student Pivoted Her Career into Social Media Marketing

In this engaging interview, Brooke Watson shares her journey from nursing student to social media marketing coordinator, highlighting a significant career shift driven by her desire for creativity and impact. Initially drawn to healthcare for its potential to help others, Brooke’s discovery of social media management marked a turning point toward fulfilling her creative aspirations while still making a meaningful difference.

Now at SpeakrBrand, she discusses her approach to authentic marketing, the art of storytelling, and staying ahead in the fast-paced world of digital marketing. Brooke’s story is a compelling example of finding one’s true calling and adapting to the digital age’s demands, offering insights into the importance of authenticity, innovation, and the future of brand engagement through social media.

Background Overview

MTS – Could you please share your background and how it led you to your current role as a social media marketing coordinator?

Brooke – In college, I initially studied to become a nurse, motivated by a desire to help others and to make a meaningful impact in the world. While working as a CNA, as I completed my prerequisites, I discovered that I not only wanted to help people, but I also wanted to express my creativity. However, I gradually realized that working in the medical field would not allow me to be as creative as I wanted to be. This realization led to feelings of frustration and burnout, initiating a period of introspection.

I began to explore other options while asking myself questions like, “What genuinely interests me?” and “What kind of work seems fun?” Then, I discovered social media management, which struck a chord with me. Eventually, I explored other aspects of digital marketing, including email marketing, SEO, and more.

The turning point came when I encountered a targeted ad for a digital marketing course on Instagram. It truly felt like a serendipitous moment, aligning perfectly with the skills I was already researching on my own. The course, which came with the help of a mentor (shout-out to my awesome mentor!), was a gateway to my first professional marketing role.

Today, as a content strategist at SpeakrBrand, I get to integrate my passion for meaningful impact with my creativity. Using social media, I share compelling stories and connect with our clients’ audiences.

Authenticity in Marketing

MTS – How do you maintain authenticity in your marketing campaigns while still aligning with the business goals?

Brooke – I maintain authenticity by capturing and amplifying the authentic voice of my clients. This requires a bit of research to understand their unique stories, values, and experiences, which are then shared with their audience to form a sincere connection.

Content Creation

MTS – What is your process for creating content that resonates with the audience yet remains consistent with the brand’s voice?

Brooke – My process begins with a deep dive into understanding my clients’ personal stories. This can come from various sources, such as in-depth interviews or written works like books and/or articles. 

Once I’ve compiled everything and have a clear grasp of their goals, I weave the stories into their messaging. This allows the content to not only reflect the client’s personality but also to engage the audience on a more personal and emotional level.

In addition to storytelling, I take note of common words, phrases, and emojis the clients frequently use, which I strategically place throughout their content. This is key to maintaining the consistency of their voice. 

Social Media Trends

MTS – How do you stay ahead of rapidly changing social media trends and adapt your strategies accordingly?

Brooke – There are two things I do that help me stay on top of trends.

  1. I follow many different marketing experts and agencies on Instagram, LinkedIn, and TikTok. Things change quickly in the marketing world, and these platforms keep me up-to-date
  2. Being involved in a community of marketers has been invaluable. Surrounding myself with other marketers extends my radar, helping me catch trends and updates that I would’ve otherwise missed. We regularly share resources — like blogs and podcasts — to keep each other informed and ahead of the curve 

Branding and Sales

MTS – In your experience, how important is branding in influencing sales, and what role does social media play in this?

Brooke – In my experience, branding is absolutely essential in influencing sales. As a marketer, it’s important to remember that people don’t just buy a product or service for what it is (the “what”)— they buy it for the reason behind it (the “why”).

Social media is an amazing tool for communicating this “why.” It’s where brands can share their stories and meaningfully connect with their audience. 

Measuring Success

MTS – What metrics do you consider most important when measuring the success of your social media campaigns?

Brooke – The key metrics that I focus on are closely tied to the specific goals set for each campaign. However, there are a few that I frequently rely on:

  1. Engagement rate: High engagement rates (likes, comments, shares, etc.) often mean that the content is relevant, interesting, and valuable to the followers
  2. Follower growth: A growing number of followers indicates increased brand visibility and appeal
  3. Reach and impressions: This one is important because it helps us understand the scale and spread of the content
  4. Conversion rate: Ultimately, the effectiveness of a social media campaign is measured by how well it drives actions like leads, sales, sign-ups, etc.

Challenges in Social Media Marketing

MTS – What are some common challenges you face in social media marketing, and how do you overcome them?

Brooke – As someone who works in personal branding, the most common challenge I encounter is creating content for a client who has limited materials to draw from. 

It’s relatively straightforward to create content for someone with an abundance of resources like published articles, books, or a history of public speaking and interviews. The real challenge comes when working with clients who don’t have these materials. 

To overcome this challenge, I lean on in-depth interviews conducted within our agency. These interviews are invaluable for uncovering unique aspects of the client’s personality, experiences, and insights that might not be immediately apparent. 

Additionally, I focus on building a personal relationship with the client. This rapport not only creates a comfortable environment for them to share their stories but also helps me understand their perspectives and values more deeply.

Aligning Marketing with Sales Goals

MTS – In your experience, how do you align social media marketing strategies with broader sales objectives? Can you share an example of a campaign where this alignment significantly impacted sales results?

Brooke Aligning marketing strategies with sales objectives is a critical aspect of my work because, in many circumstances, it shapes our entire marketing strategy. Without a clear sales objective, marketing efforts lack direction and purpose.

An example of this alignment at work is in our book launches. The goal is twofold: to boost sales and to provide real, tangible value to the audience. We achieve this through intentional content that highlights key insights from the book and builds excitement for its release. This strategy consistently results in increased sales and strengthens the connection with the audience.

Leveraging Social Media for Sales Conversion

MTS – How do you utilize social media platforms to not only engage with the audience but also effectively drive sales conversions? Are there specific tactics or tools you’ve found particularly successful in this regard?

Brooke – Aside from engaging with the audience, I leverage social media to showcase social proof. This is done by sharing testimonials and user-generated content to build credibility and illustrate the value of our client’s products. 

Interactive content like polls and quizzes are also extremely helpful in providing insights into our audience’s preferences and opinions. 

Evolving Role of Social Media

MTS – How do you envision the role of social media in marketing evolving over the next few years, particularly in terms of its impact on brand building and customer engagement?

Brooke – In the coming years, I predict that social media will maintain its strong influence on brand marketing and customer engagement. 

Currently, we’re seeing a lot of highly polished content. While high-quality content is great, it risks coming across as staged or inauthentic to the brand’s audience. 

Looking ahead, I believe there will be a shift towards a preference for more transparent, raw content. This evolution stems from audiences’ increasing demand for authenticity and reliability in the brands and leaders they follow. People are increasingly drawn to narratives and stories that resonate with them on a personal level. 

With the demand for less refined content, I foresee more brands adapting and creating more raw, personable content. 

Work-Life Balance

MTS – How do you balance the demands of being constantly connected through social media with personal time and self-care?

Brooke – Balancing the demands of staying connected through social media with self-care can be challenging, especially given my interest in social media trends and staying current in my field. To manage this, I’ve discovered the importance of being deliberate about how I spend my time outside of work. 

I’ve done this by creating an active lifestyle outside of work. This includes regularly participating in church events and small groups, taking art classes, and dedicating time to my hobbies. I’ve found that committing to social activities holds me accountable for showing up when I would otherwise never leave my house and spend countless hours scrolling.

It’s also important to schedule rest! 

Advice for Aspiring Marketers

MTS – What advice would you give to future marketers who are just starting their careers in social media and content marketing?

Brooke – My advice to new marketers is to take a proactive approach to learning. I urge you to recognize that while your employer may provide valuable training and mentorship opportunities, the responsibility for your professional growth is on you.

Continuously educate yourself to stay ahead of the curve, letting your interests guide you. Marketing is a broad field, so with enough experience, you may find that you prefer copywriting over design, social media over email marketing. And that’s ok! Find your niche and expand your knowledge. 

Explore industry resources, follow thought leaders and influencers in the field, and stay informed on the latest trends and best practices. 

Additionally, don’t underestimate the value of hands-on experience. Whether it’s through personal projects, internships, or freelance work, applying what you learn to real-world scenarios is invaluable.

Lessons Learned

MTS – Looking back, what is one thing you wish you had known when you started your career in social media marketing?

Brooke – I wish I understood the importance of networking at the beginning of my career. Initially, my perception of networking was skewed. I mistakenly equated it with inauthentic interactions and forcing connections with people I would otherwise avoid.

Since then, my understanding of networking has evolved. I’ve come to realize that effective networking doesn’t mean I have to force relationships with people I don’t actually like. Instead, I get to nurture genuine connections that develop naturally. This realization has allowed me to build a network based on mutual respect and shared interests rather than feeling the need to connect with everyone and anyone.

As an introvert, I had to learn that while networking can push me out of my comfort zone, the benefits are well worth the effort. These professional relationships have supported my growth and provided opportunities for me to offer support in return. The give-and-take aspect of these relationships has been instrumental in my career development.