Dr Karen Sutherland is a winner of the Social Media Marketing Institute’s 2020 Best Social Media Educator of the Year Award for Australia and New Zealand. Karen has also won other awards and was a finalist in the Social Media Marketing Institute’s Best Social Media Educator of the Year Award 2019, Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in the UK, a marketing, communication and public relations professional with more than 20 years’ experience working with companies such as ABCTV, Grundy Television, Fremantle Media International , The Australian Red Cross Blood Service and Monash University. Karen is also an experienced provider of social media workshops, coaching and consulting to organisations within Australia and internationally including New York-based social enterprise, Thankful, co-Author of Public Relations and Strategic Communication from Oxford University Press and sole author of Strategic Social Media Management: Theory and Practice due for international release by Palgrave Macmillan in August 2020.
Karen is the Academic Ambassador for the Social Media Marketing Institute, a University graduate with four degrees (communication, marketing, film and TV) including a PhD focusing on social media, a Social Media Researcher with work published by a range of peer-reviewed journals and media outlets, a Senior Lecturer and the Program Coordinator of the Bachelor of Communication (Social Media), social media major and social media minor at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. Karen is regularly invited to speak about social media at industry events and provide expert commentary to the media. We were lucky for her to take time from her busy schedule to share with us her insights into working in the social media industry.
1) Why did you choose social media for your career?
It actually chose me. My first experience with social media was with Schoolfriends.com back in the early 2000s. I began using Facebook in 2007 and really loved it.
After entering academia at Monash University in 2010 after 12 years working in marketing, PR and Communication I began teaching and researching in the social media space. This led to consulting and now co-founding a digital marketing agency called Dharana Digital as well as being a Senior Lecturer teaching and researching social media at the University of the Sunshine Coast.
2) What inspires you most about working in social media?
Its ability to connect, build relationships, support dialogue, foster creativity and constant innovation.
3) Who is a role model or example to you in the Social Media Industry?
People who constantly give back and connect others: Dennis Yu, Assoc Prof Karen Freberg, Mireille Ryan.
4) What excites you most about the future of social media?
Not knowing what is coming. We can guess, but it is never 100% what you expect.
5) Why is continually learning important to you?
It is essential because social media keeps changing. If you don’t continually learn you will always be two steps behind. This is why I never use the term “social media expert”. The technology moves too quickly for anybody to truly be an expert.
6) What advice would you give to someone getting started in social media?
Learn as much as you can by creating your own content first and building your social media presence. Follow people who create great content, connect with others in the field to stay on top of changes and trends, learn the fundamental building blocks of business, communication, marketing and advertising and learn how to conduct in-depth audience research and data analysis.
7) What is it important to be a member of the Social Media Marketing Institute?
It connects you to a community of social media professionals who you can learn from and who can support you. It also provides fantastic opportunities to learn from experts in the form of Masterclasses.
Connect with Dr Karen Sutherland on LinkedIn.