Feature Story

Meghan Peters

Community Manager at Mashable

Social media isn’t going anywhere. As I’ve discussed in past blog entries, it’s becoming an integral part of our lives and our careers.

Well, Meghan Peters’ career is social media. As the Community Manager at Mashable, which provides news, information, and resources for what it calls the “Connected Generation,” she is behind the website’s Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Google+ pages, ensuring its six million followers remain engaged. Read my 1:1 interview with this social media maven where she offers advice on which skills are needed to excel at a career in this field, how she keeps Mashable’s followers engaged, and the role social media has played in her professional life.

Q&A with Meghan Peters, Community Manager at Mashable.com

Q: Meghan, you have a background in journalism. Can you tell us about the career path you followed to move into a more technology-focused field and the necessary skills you picked up along the way to be successful in this profession?

Meghan: While studying journalism at the University of Washington, I quickly realized journalists of the future would need more than solid writing and reporting skills to make it in the news business. I jumped at the chance to do internships at seattlepi.com and chinadaily.com.cn, where I learned HTML, podcasting, video and blogging for the web. These skills were key in helping me get my first job as managing editor of Microsoft’s Jobs Blog. There I continued to build my blogging and multimedia skills, while diving into social media management for the first time. Joining The Seattle Times as a web producer was ideal for honing my news judgment and applying my digital media skills to journalism. The Mashable opportunity was a perfect marriage of my news nose and digital marketing experience, while leaving me with room to grow my social media expertise.

Photo: Courtesy of Mashable

Q: Six million social media followers is a huge community! What are some of the difficulties you face in managing such a large group of people and how in the world do you keep them all engaged?

Meghan: Luckily, I don’t manage it alone. I have a team of two full-time employees and one intern who help post to our various social accounts, respond to comments, manage reader-submitted content, and more. They all do fantastic work and, most importantly, always have our community’s best interests at heart.

As our community has grown, so has the spectrum of their interests. While this can be challenging, we’ve used it as a great opportunity to develop social media presences for our content verticals. We establish deeper connections with readers interested in finance and advertising topics on our Mashable Business Twitter and Facebook accounts while those interested in the intersection of digital and politics engage with us on our US & World accounts.

Q: The role social media profiles play in careers is something I’ve been discussing frequently on my blog. How has your online presence influenced your career and what advice do you have on how other women can best utilize social media professionally?

Meghan: Social media has become my career – though I never would have thought that possible five years ago. To me, this is a testament to the importance of trying new things and not discounting social networking as a powerful tool. I’ve talked to women who didn’t think Pinterest was here to stay when it launched, and now they’re using it to establish themselves as experts in the fashion industry.

That said, how you use social media depends a lot on your profession. While Pinterest might make sense if you work in retail or design, it wouldn’t be the best venue for a pharmacist or insurance broker to share industry expertise. Think about the audience you’re trying to reach and then focus on creating social presences for the networks that attract those audiences.

For Twitter and Facebook updates, I like to follow the 80/20 rule: 80 percent professional, 20 percent personal. Letting followers into your life can help establish trust and more mutual understanding. However, LinkedIn is a must for maintaining your virtual résumé.

I also recommend not getting too caught up in follower counts. It’s more important that you’re reaching the people who are excited to engage with you on social media than reaching thousands of people you never hear a peep from. Social media should be about quality – not quantity.

Q: As a career coach, I’m always emphasizing the value and importance of mentorship in career development for women. Describe your most important mentor and how they helped you achieve success. Describe your most important mentor and how they helped you achieve success.

Meghan: My most important mentor would be the one who’s been there through it all: my mom. She’s had a very successful career herself and always has spot-on advice for work situations. Whether she knew it or not, she instilled core tenets of professionalism in me from a young age, such as accountability, excellence and respect. Adopting her strong yet down-to-earth approach has been critical to my success.

Photo credits: Courtesy of Meghan Peters and Mashable