Sophia Sherry has found herself at the intersection of news, communications, and social media throughout her career - enter our latest interview. In short, our featured PLANOLEADER has bridged the gap between these three industries in her efforts as the Social Media Lead for the highly-acclaimed news platform and newsletter, theSkimm. There, Sophia crafts engaging and informative social content that ultimately serves as an extension of the Daily Skimm newsletter. With her focused approach to content and unique cross-industry experience, we were excited to sit down with this marketing maven at theSkimm's office in Flatiron, New York. Discover the full interview below.
Please introduce yourself!
My name is Sophia Sherry, and I lead theSkimm's social media. I was born and raised as a Swedish-American expat in Hong Kong, China, and also lived in Vietnam before moving to Washington, DC. My family lives in Miami, FL now, and I'm in the West Village in NY. When people ask where I'm from, I normally ask, "How much time do you have?"
Before theSkimm what were you up to professionally, what role did digital play in your job description, and what have been some notable moments throughout your career so far?
I started as a PR intern at U.S. News & World Report, where I became manager before joining theSkimm. I knew I loved using digital to tell stories, whether it was by writing a press release or producing a video for social that said something about a company's brand or mission. My creativity grew simultaneously because if you enjoy telling stories, you're motivated to find new ways to tell them. So I built skills in photography, graphic design, videography, and learned how to analyze data to help drive strategy across different social platforms at theSkimm. I credit my two breakout career moments to the female mentors I have. At U.S. News my boss, Lucy Lyons, made me interim communications director while she was on maternity leave. Was a part of me like, 'I'm 23 years old, is she crazy?' Yes. But when you run a department, you quickly have to learn how to solve problems, and how to break down long-term goals into manageable timelines for yourself and your team. You don't have time for self-doubt, especially when someone you respect puts their trust in you. That experience gave me enough confidence to go after a role at theSkimm, where its co-founders and co-CEOs, Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin, saw my creative potential before I saw it in myself. I won't consider myself successful until I bring along young women in the same way that other females helped my career.
Given theSkimm's email roots, talk to us about the company's position on social media (and specifically Instagram).
theSkimm makes it easier to live smarter, and one way we do that is by integrating our content into the existing routines of Skimm'rs. That's why email made sense for us at the start and worked. It's also why investing in our social accounts makes sense for us -- particularly Instagram. It's a platform that female millennials are using every day, so we're making that routine more informative and empowering for them. Instagram also makes sense for us as a storytelling medium because authentic moments work on there. In the Daily Skimm newsletter, we have a no-BS approach to reporting the news, and this attitude carries over in what we post @theSkimm. Sharing raw, unfiltered moments -- that show both team wins and when things go wrong -- is something we love, and actually feel obligated to do. It has helped us engage an audience that's invested in our larger success, and all the behind-the-scenes moments along the way. PS: This does not mean blurry Instagram photos are OK.
There is an interesting dynamic between news and social media, especially in this day and age. What are your thoughts on the relationship between the two and what do you consider when crafting a social strategy that is both compelling and responsible?
Social media is a great place to get news. It gives you the chance to be smarter about the world in an immediate and easy way. Using it to make you more informed, however, is in part up to the reader, and in (a bigger) part up to the organization giving you that info. One post or caption isn't going to be able to summarize a national issue, but it can put that issue on your radar, and now it's up to you to read more about it. At theSkimm we try to be as transparent as possible with our audience -- news and information included. As a non-partisan company, we want Skimm'rs to have the information they need to make their own decisions. Social is one tool we use to build trust and loyalty within our Skimm community.
How would you characterize your day-to-day? Would you say you have a favorite story, post, or campaign you worked on?
One of the best parts of my role is that each day is different. Typically, though, I do a mix of content production: editing scripts, videos, graphics, etc. Data analysis: looking at account performance. Executing day-of content: documenting the 250 bottles of wine someone sent to the office (true story). And long-term content planning: meetings and lots of time in Excel. Regarding a favorite type of post, I'm really proud of the sponsored social content we've produced -- enabling us to turn our social media into a revenue stream. theSkimm has a strong brand, and integrating another company's story into ours is a fun challenge.
Would you say your relationship to Instagram/social media varies when you're off-duty? How has theSkimm inspired you to use social media in smarter ways?
For me, social media is like living in New York. You love it; it's a funnel of creative inspiration, connects you with interesting people and communities around the world, and gives you a place to express yourself. But you also need to know when to take a break. You reap its benefits when you have self-discipline. Off-duty, I'm a pretty private person. Working in social has encouraged me to share more, which has not only impacted my personal relationships in positive ways but has also helped me to define my personal voice and story.
Based on your experience in this industry, what are your top best practices or tips for those looking to plan and share content that is informative and engaging?
- Meet your target audience where they are; you don't need to be on every social media platform.
- A smaller, engaged following, is more valuable than a larger one that is less invested in your brand.
- Content that sparks an emotion will perform better. And, sorry, I have to add one more...
- Data: use it!