Jim interviews Soraya Darabi, co-founder and CMO of Foodspotting.com and New Media Strategist for ABC News.
Some people spend their entire careers building toward that one, life-fulfilling, amazing job.
Others will look back as they retire and be able to point to some good jobs, some great jobs, and a few missteps.
But in looking at the career path that 27-year-old Soraya Darabi has already taken so far, it could serve as a blueprint for “How to develop a well-rounded social media resume in the digital age.”
In fact, it is interesting enough that going through her career progression was all that was needed in terms of structure for this interview. As time ran out on us, I knew I wouldn’t get to address a topic that she explores often — the challenges women face as entrepreneurs and the advantages of being a woman in business.
Thus, we didn’t get to delve into what it was like being featured as one of the young rising female stars on the cover of a prominent business/technology magazine, but hey, I’d already been down that road before.
Ironically, we glossed over her first job where we briefly worked together, when she was a Communications Coordinator at CondeNet (now Conde Nast Digital).
And while no job is perfect, here is why Conde Nast is such a great place to work… you get exposure to so many aspects of a business that you can’t leave here without furthering your career.
The overarching mothership has its roots in the publishing industry for sure (making it great for writers, editors, designers, and fashionistas), but their drive into the digital space has been prominent (and in some cases, dominant), giving Generation Y a playground for web designers, writers, and engineers, not to mention iPhone, iPad, and social media platforms. For someone looking to work in PR/Communications, the strength of Conde’s brands goes a long way.
From there, Soraya took a position in a similar situation… a historic publishing brand wading into new media waters — The New York Times. But this time it was all about timing. She started there in September 2007, just as social media really started to explode.
According to Wikipedia, Twitter had 400,000 tweets posted per quarter in 2007, but rose to 100 million tweets posted per quarter in 2008. Additionally, Facebook announced their business pages around November of 2007.
Soraya was there to help pull the “Gray Lady” into the social media age. The key was partnering with key writers that embraced the change, while helping to educate others that needed to be convinced.
So as she evolved into the Manager of Digital Partnerships and Social-Media Marketing, leading an old school titan into the one of the most prominent names in the digital marketplace, why would she leave?
She saw her friends and other entrepreneurs around her out there building their own platforms, not just helping others. She wanted in.
Soraya talks about transitioning from an iconic building in Times Square to a single room in Brooklyn filled with developers, pizza, and creativity. After online file sharing service drop.io was bought by Facebook, that led her to her now full-time gig at Foodspotting.com.
While I don’t remember who said it or what the context was, I do remember the first time I heard about Foodspotting. The person was thinking about current trends, and “manufacturing” a product around the perfect storm of emerging trends. Those were:
– The explosive growth of smartphones
– Geolocation built into those phones
– Improved, “always with you” cameras on all those phones
– Check-in services like Foursquare
– Social networks for sharing information
– Online review sites such as Yelp
– People’s obsession with food
Combine all those elements and you have Foodspotting, a way to find your next great meal. In a city of 18,000 restaurants, New York City residents crave direction on where to go and what to order.
By using the service, users can find great meals, not just great restaurants, and discover them by viewing “food porn” … glorious photos of sushi and Kobe burgers and pancakes dripping with syrup, as opposed to text reviews of lazy waiters.
Our conversation later turned to a topic I had asked her about in a presentation… how to deal with social media fatigue. I mean, after all, once we get people off the phone to come to dinner, and they text someone, check in on Foursquare, view the score of the game, send off an email, and post a tweet… now they have to take out their camera and take a photo to upload to Foodspotting?
She responded that there are basically two solutions…
1) Social media sites will become more niche.
Photographers will gravitate to Instagram, location and badge junkies will be on Foursquare, and those craving the latest news will be on Twitter. She feels the target of those passionate about great dining will end up on Foodspotting.
2) Move away from feeling you HAVE to post, to what you WANT to read and share
There are lots of social media networks, but you don’t have to be on them all. Sure, people in the industry should know about them and check them out. Hence the rapid adoption of Google+. But that doesn’t mean you need to post to ALL networks ALL the time.
Soraya now finds herself posting fewer items per day, fewer times per week, and is favoring Tumblr over Twitter, and Foodspotting over Facebook. Use the network that matches your goals.
Again, for the full interview, I highly recommend giving it a listen:
– Play it below: